The World Magic Cup is the most fun Magic: The Gathering tournament. Representing your country is a true joy, and doing it while playing your favorite game is amazing. I’ve managed to qualify for the World Magic Cup for four years in a row now (three times as captain, one as the WMCQ winner). Of that I am exceedingly proud.
Qualifying is easier in some countries than in others, which unfortunately makes Americans less likely to care about this tournament. With Nationals back, I hope it will drive more people to try to represent their country at the World Magic Cup.
This year, Team Italy reached the Top 4 for the third time in a row. Mattia Rizzi, Adriano Moscato, and I were defeated by the Japanese monster team in three very close matches (well, two out of three).
Deck building was very complicated and it drove us crazy! We were locked onto Mono-Red/Temur/U/B Control for a long time, until we decided that Mono-Red was underpowered without the Abrade–Chandra–Glorybringer package, and that Temur couldn’t really exist without them.
So we started exploring. Four hours before the registration deadline, we were about to play U/W Eternalize, but then we turned to U/G Pummeler for on its solid Gift and Sultai matchup.
Pummeler isn’t a broken deck or anything close to it—it’s a fine third choice that can easily win its match on turn 5, or get annihilated and drowned by removal spells.
It has good Sultai and Gift matchups, an okay Temur matchup, and a pretty bad Mono-Red/Control matchup.
Let’s get into it.
Andrea Mengucci, Top 4 at World Magic Cup 2017: Team Italy
After trying the deck on MTGO, I brainstormed with teammate Jason Chung, captain of Team New Zealand, who was locked onto U/G Pummeler for a couple of days already and was advocating the full 4 Bristling Hydra + 1 One with the Wind plan. I wasn’t sold, and I liked Greenbelt Rampager a lot against Mono-Red since it gave me the time to breathe and find my combo pieces.
You have to treat the deck as a combo deck and not as an energy deck. Electrostatic Pummeler plus Larger than Life is a two-card combo, and Blossoming Defense and Dive Down make sure you can proceed safely.
Don’t dump your energy on Longtusk Cub or Hydra if you already have the combo, and make sure that you know when you can’t win in a fair way. In that case, you need to save energy or Larger for a topdecked Pummeler.
I lost at least two matches because I used too much energy and then drew Pummeler, or used my Larger than Life to deal a little damage, then drew Pummeler and didn’t have a way to get it through.
The sideboard is mainly for control and Red, since you don’t need much for Energy decks.
Against Temur and Sultai you won’t sideboard in much, since the only bad cards in the deck are the Greenbelt Rampagers.
I like to board in Unsummon versus Sultai and Temur with Glorybringer and Spell Pierce (on the play) and Negate (on the draw) against 4C Energy without those annoying creatures and with more removal spells and planeswalkers.
The matchup is okay. I went 3-0 versus Temur and Sultai, and 0-2 versus 4-Color Energy with more removal spells.
I did not face a single Mono-Red deck in the whole event, and that’s strange since it was the most popular deck and also the best one.
I did plenty of testing against Adriano Moscato (our Mono-Red pilot), and the matchup felt slightly unfavorable but overall manageable.
Gift is favorable since you both goldfish, but yours is faster and more consistent.
I ended up losing to it at the World Magic Cup against Austria, but they also reanimated Angel of Invention on turn 4 on the play, which is kind of unbeatable (I was actually short 1 energy to deal them 72 on turn 5, since 36 wasn’t enough).
Blue-White Control is a much better matchup than Blue-Black Control since they don’t have cheap removal spells, which are great against you. Fumigate, Settle the Wreckage, and Cast Out are what they have to interact with your combo, and post-sideboard you have Negate and Spell Pierce to easily deal with those.
I defeated U/W Approach and lost to U/B Control at the WMC, and that’s pretty much what I expected.
Team Italy proved once again that friendship and cooperation is what you need in those events, and Italians do it best!