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Digital Dissuasions: The World Championship

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The letter S!ixteen of Magic: The Gathering's best and brightest have assembled in Amsterdam this week to face off against each other in the World Championship. Testing for a tournament like the World Championship is an extraordinarily difficult task. Learning one format well is difficult enough, but players at the World Championship have been charged with learning four different formats to be played over three days of competition.


Today, we'll be taking a look at the Constructed formats being played at the World Championship. Magic 2014 is up and running on Magic Online and we can be sure the players competing in Amsterdam have done their homework. We'll be examining the most successful Magic Online decks in the early days of Magic 2014 Standard and Modern. Let's jump right into the competitive deep end of Magic Online with some Standard decklists!

Standard


Jund has established itself as the deck to beat in the new Standard format. Magic 2014's Scavenging Ooze provides a potentially very large body while padding its controller's life total in the process. The new Jund list has more creatures and less removal than its predecessors; the higher creature count significantly increases the impact of the deck's Bonfire of the Damned while allowing the deck to combat early aggression from Burning-Tree Emissary strategies. The veritable onslaught of removal is followed up by high-impact creatures that threaten to take a game over entirely by themselves.


Olivia Voldaren and Huntmaster of the Fells both have the ability to win a game on their own when left to their own devices. Farseek accelerates the deck into its powerful four-mana creatures. The board-dominating creatures leave control opponents with no choice but to tap mana during someone's combat step or main phase; this gives the Jund player the opportunity to haymaker his or her opponent with a big Rakdos's Return or Garruk, Primal Hunter. We can expect big things from Jund this weekend at the World Championship. Reid Duke, Platinum pro, recently used the deck to secure a Grand Prix victory in Miami and there's a good chance we'll see him piloting this again at the World Championship.

kingsammycat's Human Aristocrats
Standard – 1st Place, Magic Online Premier Event #5738650


Black-White Human decks picked up a lot of steam when AJ Sacher used the innovative strategy to win a large Standard event. The latest Black-White Human lists on Magic Online have begun to incorporate red into the strategy to take advantage of the power offered by Falkenrath Aristocrat. Magic 2014's Xathrid Necromancer provides the deck with a level of longevity that has been previously unattainable. Cards that used to be nightmares for the Aristocrats deck like Bonfire of the Damned have become much lower hurdles, even when miracled in a timely fashion. This deck is very weak to Curse of Death's Hold, a card that some Jund lists have adopted in the sideboard. However, the deck's ability to apply constant pressure, the explosive starts, and the powerful endgame make this a deck to watch for the World Championship.


LMBee's Green Caller
Standard – 4th Place, Magic Online Premier Event #5738650


Magic 2014's Garruk, Caller of Beasts has spawned a newish archetype that takes full advantage of the new mythic rare's ability to win a game out of nowhere. Before Magic 2014, I tested versions of this archetype with blue for Prime Speaker Zegana. Garruk, Caller of Beasts does a beautiful job replacing the Simic mythic rare in these types of decks, providing similar card advantage and threatening to win the game out of nowhere with Craterhoof Behemoth at a moment's notice. The deck is, however, very weak to Bonfire of the Damned and Olivia Voldaren. An early removal spell or two followed up with Bonfire of the Damned or Olivia Voldaren will often leave this deck wondering where all its cards went. The deck does offer up something that is probably on par with Hexproof in terms of pure power level. The deck's major weaknesses may be glaring at times, but a timely Garruk, Caller of Beasts with a good +1 is usually enough to claw your way back into the game. Similarly, a Wolfir Silverheart will often go over the top of Bonfire of the Damned if an opponent has already used the majority of his or her removal spells. This deck has incredible potential and will only get more powerful if the format oscillates away from removal spells and becomes more about board presence.


Banky409's Mono-Red
Standard – 6th Place, Magic Online Premier Event #5738650

Main Deck

60 cards

22  Mountain
Mutavault

25 lands

Boros Reckoner
Chandra's Phoenix
Hellrider
Thundermaw Hellkite

16 creatures

Bonfire of the Damned
Burning Earth
Pillar of Flame
Searing Spear
Shock

18 other spells

Chandra, Pyromaster

1 planeswalker

Sideboard
Mizzium Mortars
Possibility Storm
Ratchet Bomb
Rolling Temblor
Shock
Thunderbolt

15 sideboard cards



Magic 2014's Burning Earth has breathed new life into the Mono-Red strategies that have seen scattered success over the last few months. Chandra's Phoenix; Chandra, Pyromaster; and Burning Earth have all given this deck a big boost of power. It's pretty much the norm for players to be casting spells of three different colors right now, and you can be sure that Burning Earth is going to force an opponent to already be ahead or find himself or herself taking massive swaths of damage for every spell cast for the rest of the game. This is one of the few strategies to emerge that seems like a real nightmare for the Jund deck. The constant barrage of aggression followed up by Burning Earth may be too much to handle even for a play set of Thragtusks. This deck's current power level is so high that I wouldn't be surprised to see it become the new top dog in the format. We can expect at least a few players to be piloting this at the World Championship and I expect the deck to perform very well.


Modern

Today, we'll be watching Modern in the second day of competition. The final three rounds of Swiss and the Top 4 elimination matches will be Modern Constructed. Since the printing of Voice of Resurgence, the Modern format has been defined by Birthing Pod strategies on Magic Online. Modern is a wide-open format, and it's the format of the Top 4, so most players competing in the World Championship will likely test it more than other formats. Let's take a look at what we can expect to see on the tables.

_Nukesaku_'s Robots
Modern – 4–0, Magic Online Daily Event #5738651


Robot aggro decks have reestablished themselves as the aggressive decks to beat now that Birthing Pod decks have pushed the aggressive red-green decks out of the format for the most part. The deck gets some blisteringly fast draws that are sometimes capable of winning as early as the third turn. Cranial Plating in conjunction with Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus give the deck a terrifying long game and punish players for tapping out. The success of the aggressive Robots strategy is largely dependent on how much hate shows up for the deck. A lot of Ancient Grudge could push this deck into obscurity at any moment, but the combo and control decks of the format are such that there isn't room in people's sideboards at the moment. The deck can easily overrun midrange green strategies like Birthing Pod, it's capable of racing the combo decks, and Inkmoth Nexus and Blinkmoth Nexus are great in the Jund Matchup, but the deck's matchup against the Red-White-Blue Control strategies is very bad and the potential popularity of that deck may scare people away from submitting to their robotic overlords.



Chicken Littles of the world have been proven wrong for the ten-millionth time in a row; Jund has seen continued success since the banning of Bloodbraid Elf. The most successful Jund players on Magic Online have begun playing Ajani Vengeant and occasionally some number of Olivia Voldaren. The deck has all the tools it needs to defeat any opponent and its consistency and lack of bad matchups make it one of the most difficult decks to address in the Modern format. Every card in the deck is incredible; there are no weak links. The deck's ambitious mana-base may be something to worry about, but the mana bases of Modern are such that it shouldn't be an issue unless someone decides to break out some Blood Moons.



Birthing Pod decks have been enjoying a lot of success in Modern since they added Voice of Resurgence to their arsenal. The deck abuses Melira, Sylvok Outcast's interaction with persist. With a Melira, Sylvok Outcast in play, Kitchen Finks and Murderous Redcap enter the battlefield without -1/-1 counters when they persist back. Sacrificing Kitchen Finks one thousand times to a Viscera Seer nets you 2,000 life, while sacrificing Murderous Redcap repeatedly creates a machine gun that kills anyone and everything that's in the pilot's way, and usually just kills the opponent. The card helps the deck protect itself from disruption, it combos nicely with Birthing Pod, it even increases the power of cards like Reveillark when your opponent has successfully turned off your combo for the remainder of the game. The deck has a tremendous long-game plan and an active Birthing Pod is always churning out card or tempo advantage in one way or another. This is probably going to be one of the most-played decks at the upcoming World Championship; it looks strange on paper, but it plays beautifully.



Red-White-Blue Control strategies have been doing serious work in recent times. The deck has all the tools necessary to fight any and every opponent. (Notice a theme among successful Modern decks?) Efficient removal, countermagic, and card draw grind the opponent's hand into nothing and the game is eventually closed with a big Sphinx's Revelation. The deck usually plays a few Snapcaster Mages as its only creatures, but there's an occasional Restoration Angel or Augur of Bolas sighting in 4–0 lists from Daily Events. The deck has obvious weaknesses to true card-advantage engines like Life from the Loam, but those types of interactions are a bit slow for the current format and the Red-White-Blue deck is able to thrive in an Aggro/Combo/Midrange format.


Be sure to tune in to all the action unfolding this week at the Magic World Championship. Check out the live coverage today and Sunday to watch the best players in the world face off to decide who will be crowned the best of the best.




Player Championship Webcast Schedule

City Wednesday, July 31 Thursday, August 1 Sunday, August 4
Amsterdam Noon Noon 9 a.m.
Los Angeles 3 a.m. 3 a.m. Midnight
Chicago 5 a.m. 5 a.m. 2 a.m.
New York 6 a.m. 6 a.m. 3 a.m.
Rio de Janeiro 7 a.m. 7 a.m. 4 a.m.
London 11 a.m. 11 a.m. 8 a.m.
Paris Noon Noon 9 a.m.
Berlin Noon Noon 9 a.m.
Moscow 2 p.m. 2 p.m. 11 a.m.
Tokyo 7 p.m. 7 p.m. 4 p.m.
Sydney 8 p.m. 8 p.m. 5 p.m.





 
Jacob Van Lunen
Jacob Van Lunen
@JVLTMS
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Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published.

 
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