World Magic Cup

This past weekend, we were able to watch perhaps the most exciting spectator tournament of the year: the World Magic Cup. For me, it’s one of the few weekends in the year where I grab my patriotism dial and crank that baby up to 11. I sat at home on my proverbial couch (I don’t actually own a couch, I’m a college student) with bald eagles perched on either shoulder, while I was wearing something like this:

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Sadly, team USA could not get past the top 16. At the end of 3 days of multiple formats, Greece emerged victorious in the final over the most successful team during the first 2 days of the competition, Belgium. While Unified Modern may be an extremely fun format to watch and play, due to the incredible diversity of decks that come out of the woodwork, but it’s not a great one to analyze in an attempt to learn about the Modern format. To illustrate, Kiln Fiend Combo was a very viable deck this weekend, with 3 of the top 8 teams having it in their lineup. That’s ludicrous. With more team Grand Prix and team SCG Opens in the future, learning the tips and tricks before they become common knowledge will give you a big boost. Here are 2 takeaways from the World Magic Cup and team formats as a whole:

  1. Be greater than the sum of your parts. Of the top 8 countries, only one of them, Italy, was predicted to be a true title contender. Countries like Australia and Greece had a fairly well-known player or two, but the other five countries were successful due to their team unity and preparation. If you are playing in a team tournament, make sure that you know your teammates well.
  2. Play to your teammates’ strengths. We saw team USA do this to great effect. Kevin Jones is famous (domestically, at least) for being an incredibly competent Grixis Delver pilot. Despite the deck not being tier 1, Kevin seems to top 8 or win every Modern tournament he enters with it. If you know one of your teammates is proficient with a certain deck, make sure they can play it, even if you have to sacrifice another deck you planned on playing.

SCG Knoxville

Meanwhile, the SCG Tour visited Knoxville for a Standard Open. In one of the most humorous examples of unintentional foreshadowing, Brad Nelson’s article on SCG Premium on Friday was titled “Should I Play B/G Delirium?”. As it turns out, the answer was yes he should have, and he did to great success. Two days after that article was published, Brad was victorious with B/G Delirium in the final over Bradley Hill’s Jeskai Control. The rest of the top 32 had many notable names on the SCG Tour, such as Emma Handy, Brian Braun-Duin, Andrew Tenjum, Caleb Scherer, Chris Andersen, and countless others.

While the top tables were riddled with well-known players, it was also riddled with two decks: B/G Delirium and U/W Flash. The top 8 had 4 copies of B/G Delirium and 3 copies of U/W Flash. Normally, it would be assumed that this trend would not continue further down the results page. However, it more or less did. 15 of the top 32 decks were B/G Delirium, and 10 were U/W Flash. That’s a combined 25 of the top 32 decks, or a staggering 78%. Even notorious brewer Jeff Hoogland played B/G Delirium.

What is happening? This is madness! Is it possible that the format is just these two decks battling it out each tournament? Unfortunately, the answer is yes…for now. Rock, paper, scissors doesn’t work without each of them present, and the same can generally be said for Magic formats. If two decks are dominant, there usually exists a third deck that completes the cycle, and players have been trying their hardest to find that deck.

One possible solution is Bradley Hill’s Jeskai Control deck that made it all the way to the final, despite being the only copy of the archetype in day 2. Before being stumped by former Player of the Year Brad Nelson, Hill defeated both U/W Flash and B/G Delirium in the top 8, showing that the deck is capable of surviving, and maybe thriving, in this format.

The top 32 decklists from the weekend can be found here. Below are my takeaways from this weekend of Standard action.

  1. B/G Delirium and U/W Flash are currently the only tier 1 decks in the format. Houston, we may have a slight problem. When two decks takes up 61% of the day 2 metagame, and 78% of the top 32 metagame, it’s time to do one of two things: either recognize that the archetypes are going to continue to dominate and play one of them, or try your darnedest to find a deck that can compete with them.
  2. Jeskai Control could be a contender. This deck had seen some play previously in the format, but with the constant uptick of B/G Delirium and U/W Flash, control could see an uprising. It’ll be very interesting to see in the coming weeks how the format continues to shape up, and if the answer to our Delirium and Flash problem lies in Torrential Gearhulk.
  3. Revolutionary Rebuff is an excellent Magic card. Well, not really, but it’s seeing a lot of play! Peter Rawlings outlined why the card is good and necessary in this article, and all 3 of the U/W Flash decks that top 8’d were playing at least 2.

This coming weekend, there is no action on the SCG Tour, but the Grand Prix circuit visits Chiba for Legacy. I’ll see you all next week!

Are you looking for a Modern deck that could become the next force to be reckoned with in the format? Read this article by Charlie Rinehart-Jones for a deck that could be just that.

Until next time.

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