The Curious Incident of the Belgian Team at the World Magic Cup, Part 3

If you missed Part 1 and/or Part 2 of this series, read them!

So it turns out describing match by match is plain boring so I went for a slightly different approach in part 3 of my article about the WMC. Instead of giving you all the details, I focused on certain game states in an attempt to teach you a little bit more about how I approach these kind of things. The report starts in round 7, as nothing interesting happened during the first few rounds. Hope you guys enjoy.


It was 6:23 when round 6 ended. We had just lost our sixth round to put us at a 3-3 record. This meant that round 7 would decide everything. A win and we would get to play in in day 2. A loss and we would be out just like last year.

We were paired against Ecuador in that round and in game 1, Emmanuel had a very hard puzzle to solve and he asked me what he should do. The puzzle looked like this:


And this is what I thought:

Using the -2 ability from [card]Domri Rade[/card] will not be useful this turn so we should look at the top card of our library first before we make another decision.

So we looked at the top card of our library and it was a Forest so nothing changed.

And then I thought some more. And this is what I thought:

• Emmanuel is already at 7 life which means that he will have to block both the [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] and the [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card] next turn.

• Emmanuel can double-block the [card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card] with [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and [card]Hellrider[/card] and chump the [card]Loxodon Smiter[/card] with [card]Elvish Mystic[/card], but this way Emmanuel won’t have any creatures left and it will be very hard to win if Mr. Cedeno has another creature. So I decided that it was better to stay aggressive and find a way to win the next turn.

• Two attacks from [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] is only 10 damage and this would put Mr. Cedeno at 4 life. So we need to find a way to deal four extra damage.

• If we play [card]Hellrider[/card] before the attack we already have one extra damage. So this means that we still have to find a way to deal three extra damage the next turn.

• The [card]Hellrider[/card] will then have to block because we only have 4 lands and can’t play the [card]Arbor Elf[/card] without tapping the [card]Elvish Mystic[/card].

• If we play the second [card]Hellrider[/card] next turn and attack with it together with the [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card], we have another two extra damage. This means that Emmanuel will need one extra creature that can attack next turn.

• If we tap the [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] to play the [card]Arbor Elf[/card], we can block with the [card]Arbor Elf[/card] and this way we will have the [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] to attack next turn which will be the last one damage.

And at this point I knew that the solution to the puzzle was to play the [card]Hellrider[/card] and the [card]Arbor Elf[/card] this turn. Then attack with [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] to put Mr. Cedeno at 8 life. And next turn play the second [card]Hellrider[/card] and attack with [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card], [card]Hellrider[/card], and [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] for exactly eight damage.

But by the time I had figured this out, Emmanuel had already continued playing and I was playing as well so I did not get the time to tell him what to do.

And it turned out that Emmanuel had not found the solution. He had not played the [card]Hellrider[/card] and had to chump with [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and [card]Arbor Elf[/card] and this meant that his opponent was still at 9 life.

But two minutes later it appeared that Emmanuel had gotten lucky because his opponent had played a [card]Kalonian Hydra[/card] instead of two smaller blockers, which meant that Emmanuel could kill the Hydra with [card]Domri Rade[/card] + [card]Hellkite[/card]. And this way the Hellrider could not be blocked which was exactly 9 damage.

So Emmanuel won this game and a little bit later also the match. And Vincent also won which meant that we got to play on Day 2 and it made me feel like this:


At dinner that night Emmanuel and I discussed how we felt about our Standard decks. I said that I really disliked the Golgari control deck and he said that he was having troubles with the R/G deck because it was not the type of deck he liked to play. So we decided that on Day 2, I would play R/G and he would play Golgari control.


Day 2 started with Return to Ravnica Team Sealed deck. And this time we only opened one planeswalker, a [card]Vraska the Unseen[/card] (we had opened three in our M14 Sealed). But because one broken mythic/rare is not enough, we also opened [card]Progenitor Mimic[/card], [card]Ruric Thar, the Unbowed[/card], [card]Crypt Ghast[/card], and [card]Consuming Aberration[/card]. And we also opened very good uncommons like [card]Unflinching Courage[/card], [card]Warleader’s Helix[/card], and [card]Trostani’s Summoner[/card].

Our three decks were very good once again and we quickly won our first round against Luxembourg and our second round against Thailand. And in the third round we were paired against France again, and lost, but this did not matter because France had also won against Luxembourg and Thailand, which meant that we ended second in our pool.


Our second pool consisted of Austria, Ukraine, and Brazil. In the first round we played against Austria and I had to play against David Reitbauer who was playing WBR Human Aristocrats. And I won because this time I was playing a real deck and not Golgari control.

Unfortunately my win was not enough. Vincent lost his match against R/G and Emmanuel did not get further than a draw against UWR.


In the second round we played against Ukraine. I played against Mr. Ovsyannikov and I won 2-0 but both games were very close. In game one there was a puzzle which was very hard to solve. It looked like this:


And this is what I thought:

• I don’t like [card]Angel of Serenity[/card].

• [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] does not kill [card]Angel of Serenity[/card].

• Mr. Ovsyannikov had to wait for his fifth land for 3 turns and did not play anything in the meantime, so his hand is probably full of good cards (like [card]Thragtusk[/card] or another [card]Unburial Rites[/card]). Mr. Ovsyannikov also has [card]Unburial Rites[/card] with [card]Thragtusk[/card] and another [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] as targets in the graveyard. This means that my opponent will be playing a lot of Thragtusk/Angels in the next turns and he will probably kill me within three turns.

• I have two options and both require me to get lucky if I still want to win. So the best way to decide which option is the right one, is to calculate which one gives me the best chances.

OPTION 1: Activate [card]Domri Rade[/card] to look at the top card. If I hit [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card], I put my opponent at 2 life but after this my opponent will just reanimate his second [card]Angel of Serenity[/card] and I will need to get a second [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] the next turn to win. And there is a 1.22% chance that this will happen.

OPTION 2: Ultimate [card]Domri Rade[/card], but then my good friend Domri will die and I won’t have anything left. If I do this, my next three draws need to be non-Elf non-[card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] creatures if I want to win. And there is a 3.94% chance that this will happen.

So I decided to go for Option 2.

Then I drew a [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card].

Then I drew [card]Flinthoof Boar[/card].

Then I drew [card]Hellrider[/card].

And then I knew that Option 2 was the right option.

Both Vincent and Emmanuel were still playing when I finished. Emmanuel was up against another control deck, this time Esper control. Vincent was playing against B/R Zombies and as I turn around to look at his game, he resolves a [card]Sphinx’s Revelation[/card] for 5 and takes control of the game. Seventeen turns later, Vincent finally killed his opponent with [card]Restoration Angel[/card]. Emmanuel, to no one’s surprise, was still playing at that moment.

After this we had one win and one draw. Brazil had lost against Austria which meant that we could not draw the next round (a draw would eliminate Brazil).


After the match, Mr. Hagon came to our table and asked Vincent and I if we could come with him behind the curtains. I wanted to say no because of stranger danger but Vincent convinced me that it would be fine and that they just wanted to ask us some questions.

Once we arrived behind the curtains, we had to wait very long because Ireland was still playing against Belarus. I needed to go to the loo but Mr. Hagon did not allow me because the match could finish any minute. Ten minutes later we could finally go into the news desk area, where I got to sit in between Vincent and Mr. Sutcliffe. And when the match finished, Mr. David-Marshall started to talk to team Ireland and I asked Mr. Sutcliffe if it would take long because I really needed to pee and he said “These usually take about a minute.” Seven minutes later, Mr. David-Marshall finally finished his interview and we were told we would go live. Except that we didn’t go live. Mr. Sutcliffe talked for 30 seconds before sending the camera to Mr. Hagon for another 7 minutes. At this point I had to start pushing my hand on my pee pee so I would not wet myself.

When our interview was finally over, I ran out of the news desk area and quickly confirmed with the judge if I could go to the bathroom.

And he said “OK, but I’ll be keeping an eye on you, understand?”

And I said, “No,” because I knew what keeping an eye on someone meant and he couldn’t look at me when I was on the toilet.

Then, I went out of the toilet and ran to the feature match area, where we would be playing against Brazil for a Top 8 spot.


I played against Willy this round. I knew Willy from previous tournaments and from television so I was happy that I did not have to play against a stranger this round. It was a very tense match because a lot was at stake and my heart was beating really fast the whole time. In game one I had two difficult puzzles to solve. The first puzzle is described in part 1 of my WMC report and the second puzzle looked like this:


And this is what I thought:

• I like [card]Domri Rade[/card] but only when he is on my side of the table.

• Willy did not play anything before turn 3 so his hand is probably full of fat creatures (one of which is [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] which he revealed with his Domri).

• I already used my own Domri to get an [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] so I don’t know if I will draw a land next turn.

• There is no way that Willy will race double [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] on turn 4 and 5.

• If I want to play my [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] next turn, I will need to play my [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and make sure it doesn’t get killed by [card]Domri Rade[/card].

• If I want to make sure my [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] doesn’t get killed by Domri, I need to do at least 3 damage to it.

So after this I already knew that I would be playing my [card]Elvish Mystic[/card] and that my [card]Flinthoof Boar[/card] would be attacking [card]Domri Rade[/card]. But I still had to decide whether I should play my [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] or my [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card]. And then I remembered that his hand is probably full of fat creatures and if I didn’t kill the [card]Domri Rade[/card] this turn, I would have to kill it the next turn so I played the [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] and killed his [card]Domri Rade[/card].

After solving these two puzzles I won game 1 very easily. But Willy won game 2, and in game 3 I missed my fourth land drop twice while Willy was making all his land drops and played a [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] on turn 5 against my lonely [card]Strangleroot Geist[/card] and 3 lands. Fortunately, I drew my fourth land just in time so that I could play Hellrider and put Willy on 3 life. Willy had to think very hard now. He was holding a [card]Zealous Conscripts[/card], but he was exactly 1 damage short of killing me. So all he could do was play [card]Flinthoof Boar[/card] and a [card]Scavenging Ooze[/card] and hope I didn’t have another haste creature or a [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card].

And then I drew a [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card] and showed it to Willy.

And this is how Willy’s face looked when I showed him the [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card].


After I beat Willy I went to check on Emmanuel’s game. Emmanuel was playing against Mr. Abe and they were in the middle of game 3. Mr. Abe had just resolved a [card]Jace, Memory Adept[/card] and it was looking like Emmanuel was going to lose but there was not much time left in the round so it seemed like it would come down to the amount of cards left in Emmanuel’s library.

So I asked Emmanuel and Xavier: “How many cards are left in the deck?”

And Xavier, who was watching this game, said: “I don’t know exactly but we are playing a 61-card deck after sideboard because we did not know what to take out.”

And then we all started to laugh because I had clearly told Emmanuel at the beginning of the tournament that it was never right to go up to 61 cards after sideboard, but this time it was the right decision which was funny.

We ended up winning that round because both Emmanuel and Vincent drew while I beat Willy. And this meant that we made Top 8 and this made me feel like this:

Screen Shot 2013-09-03 at 2.52.06 PM

After high-fiving Vincent, Emmanuel, and Xavier, I could see that Willy was really disappointed and that he did not agree with how things went. So as he was walking away, I decided to go talk to him and ask him what was wrong.

And he said: “C’mon Marijn, you know what’s wrong.”

And I said: “No I don’t…”

And he said: “Vincent played so slow this game. He took forever to shuffle and to mulligan.”

And I didn’t know what to say now so I didn’t reply.

And after this he asked: “Do you think he would have played this slow if he needed a win?”

And I didn’t want to reply to this either but eventually I said: “I guess not, but it’s just really hard to play quick when you know a draw is enough to make it to the next stage.”

And Willy agreed on this and because he was my friend he wished me good luck for the Top 8 and gave me a hug.


I had dinner with Kelly, Ms. Durnez, and Jan that night. And Kelly was talking about how awesome Amsterdam was and how she had visited the Rijksmuseum and how she had bought 2 dresses because she did not own any with the color RAL 4002 and RAL 6010 and how she had eaten ice-cream and she said a lot more things which I don’t remember because I was not listening.

And when she stopped talking I said “That was very interesting. Tell me more!” because that is being polite.

And then she said some more things and at one point I heard she was talking about The Red Light District and how we should visit it on Sunday because she was sure I would love that area. But I told her that I hated red and that this was probably not a good idea and she agreed.

That night I dreamed about how it would be to win the World Magic Cup. And I thought about how everyone would be very proud of us and how everyone would be cheering for us and how they would hug us because we had won. And usually I don’t like it when people hug me but this time it would not matter because it would be a Dream Come True.


My match in the quarterfinals was not very interesting. In game 1 I got completely destroyed because Raphael was on the play. Game 2 was a little bit more interesting but I don’t think I could ever win. On turn 4 there was one final puzzle which I’d like to share with you. The puzzle looked like this:


And this is what I thought:

• Raphael had mulliganed this game and seemed happy with his keep.

• Raphael has only 2 cards left in hand. The only thing I am sure about is that there is no [card]Mutavault[/card] in there because
Raphael would have played it as his third land.

• It is very hard to figure out what cards Raphael is holding because he curved out perfectly (after his mulligan) and thus did not give us any extra information.

• I have only one land in hand ([card]Stomping Ground[/card]) so I will definitely play this but I need to decide my next play before playing the [card]Stomping Ground[/card] because I need to know if I should take 2 extra damage.

• I need to play either my [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] or [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] this turn and need to figure out which is the correct play. And if I want to play the [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] I have to pay 2 life for my [card]Stomping Ground[/card] (go down to 10 life). I have three options:

OPTION 1: Play [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and attack with it. Then if Raphael has [card]Rancor[/card], I will have to chump-block with [card]Hellrider[/card].

OPTION 2: Play [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and don’t attack with it. Then if Raphael has [card]Rancor[/card], I will either have to go down to 4 or block with [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] and both of these options are not good.

OPTION 3: Play [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] on his [card]Druid’s Familiar[/card], I can attack with [card]Hellrider[/card] and [card]Arbor Elf[/card] (which would bring Raphael down to 13) and then I don’t have to take 2 damage from my [card]Stomping Ground[/card].

And I decided to go for Option 3 because I wanted to stay aggressive against a deck with 4 [card]Revenge of the Hunted[/card] and I felt like there was a good chance that Raphael had [card]Rancor[/card] since he did not get the opportunity to play it yet.

Unfortunately, all this did not matter because Raphael had the perfect follow-up in the form of a big, bad Wolf Warrior ([card]Wolfir Silverheart[/card]), followed by a [card]Rancor[/card].

When Vincent lost his match against Yann Guthmann I knew it was GAME OVER. We had come very far but our third consecutive loss to France turned out to be one too much. Emmanuel and Xavier were clearly having a blast in the feature match area and despite already being eliminated they kept playing their match against Timothee Simonot. Vincent and I were already out of the feature match when Emmanuel yelled:

“I am winning this one!!”

And Vincent and I could only laugh. Now that it did not matter anymore, the Golgari control deck could finally win a match.


At 2:34 p.m. Kelly and Ms. Durnez returned from visiting the Nemo Science Center. I told them we had lost in the quarterfinals and that I was very sad. Kelly wanted to comfort me but she was wearing a red T-shirt so I didn’t let her. And she was clearly upset because of this and said that hating red is ridiculous and that she would prove this by going to the Red Light District and that I would love it. And I didn’t want to go but Kelly said that she wouldn’t take no for an answer, which meant that she would be unwilling to accept a refusal. And because I had promised Kelly to do something together after I got eliminated, I decided to give it a try after all.


On the tram to the Red Light District I had a flashback of game 2 against Raphael Levy and I thought about another option which I did not think off during the game. It was:

OPTION 4: Attack with [card]Hellrider[/card].

If I did this there were 2 possible scenarios.

OPTION 4A: Raphael blocks with [card]Druid’s Familiar[/card]. I can then kill his [card]Young Wolf[/card] with [card]Mizzium Mortars[/card] and Raphael will have nothing left but 3 Forests and an [card]Arbor Elf[/card].

OPTION 4B: Raphael does not block because he knows I have 4 [card]Ghor-Clan Rampager[/card]s in my deck. After this I can play my [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] to block.

After thinking very hard about this, I decided that this would have been a much better play and I was sad because I might have let my team down, which means that I disappointed them by not doing something that they were expecting me to do.


After 10 minutes we arrived in the Red Light District and it was a very strange area. The area seemed to be full of lingerie shops with red lights but the mannequins behind the window were moving like real people. And all the mannequins were waving and winking at me. And I did not know what to do. I was not sure if all the winking and waving meant stranger danger or if they just wanted to comfort me because I had just lost in the quarterfinals. And when I passed a window that had blue lights instead of red lights I decided to give it a try and go inside.

And then I didn’t know what I was doing any more.


And with that I end my story about the WMC. Losing in the quarterfinals of a big tournament once again was certainly disheartening. But this time I wasn’t even sad. I started this tournament alongside three people: one of them, Vincent, was already a good friend to begin with but the other two, Emmanuel and Xavier, I did not really know. But after three days of playing Magic together, these three people had become real friends. And that is all I could hope for.


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