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Quaterfinals: Thundering Past

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The letter T!his quarterfinals matchup features two of the more experienced teams in the field. Hungary, led by Silver Pro Tamas Nagy, made it to the semifinals in last year's World Magic Cup and is looking to at least match that performance. Austria, led by Silver Pro Thomas Holzinger, had multiple Pro Tour Top 8 finishes on its roster, and was one of the favorites going into the event. The two teams now had to duke it out in the quarterfinals, and the format was Team Unified Standard.

There are two important aspects of Team Unified Standard: the coach and the decks. The teams had different views on both of them.

As for the coach, Austria chose to let the relatively inexperienced Marc Mühlböck sit out, which enabled the veterans Thomas Holzinger and David Reitbauer to be at the reigns at their matches. In contrast, Hungary chose their most experienced player as their coach. "I can focus on two matches at once," coach Tamas Nagy said," so I can help and give advice for Blue-White-Red Flash and Jund, the two decks that are difficult to pilot."

As for decks, Austria had gone for the popular configuration of Gruul aggro, The Aristocrats, and Blue-White-Red Flash, whereas Hungary had chosen Jund, Blue-White-Red Flash, and Green-White aggro deck. The Green-White deck in particular was picked because it had no overlap with Jund and Blue-White-Red Flash, but the Hungarians were not satisfied with it. "The Green-White aggro deck is really bad," Gabor Kocsis told me. "The Austrians call it a kindergarten deck. But they are good friends of ours, so they are allowed to say that." Tamas Nagy agreed and expressed his regret that they hadn't put a mono-red deck with Burning Earth in that seat. So, the Hungarians did not have much confidence in their Green-White deck, but they hoped that their matches with Jund and Blue-White-Red Flash, coached on both sides by Hungary's pro point leader, would go in their favor.


Austria and Hungary: two teams filled with friends face off in their quarterfinal match.

Manuel Danninger from Austria (Gruul Aggro) vs. Gabor Kocsis from Hungary (Selesnya Aggro)

In Game 1, Kocsis kept a good hand that could cast Loxodon Smiter on turns two through four. Nevertheless, Danninger took those three Loxodon Smiter out one-by-one. He double-blocked the first with Strangleroot Geist and Flinthoof Boar, used Ghor-Clan Rampager to deal with the second, and had Mizzium Mortars to destroy the third and final elephant. Danninger then followed it up with too much pressure for Kocsis to handle.


Austria's coach, Marc Mühlböck, watches on as his teammates battle it out against their opponents.

In Game 2, Kocsis kept a mediocre opening hand, and it didn't work out. It started going downhill when Kocsis lost his Ajani, Caller of the Pride to Strangleroot Geist and Hellrider. These hasty creatures put Kocsis under a lot of pressure, forcing him to spend his Oblivion Ring to take out Hellrider. That, however, left him without an answer to Danninger's follow-up threats: double Thundermaw Hellkite. The Dragons flew in for the kill shortly after.

After the match, Kocsis partially attributed his loss to his inability to draw one of his sideboard cards. "I didn't draw any Unflinching Courage, which is really key to the matchup," he said.

Austria takes the first match, triumphing over a "Kindergarten" deck.

Thomas Holzinger from Austria (Blue-White-Red Flash) vs. Adorjan Korbl from Hungary (Jund)

"In the first game, I got pretty lucky," Korbl summed it up. Holzinger had to mulligan down to five and was stuck on two lands, not even having blue mana to cast Think Twice. In the meantime, Korbl drew the better half of his deck. All the removal cards in the Jund deck are pretty bad against Blue-White-Red Flash, but instead Korbl drew Liliana of the Veil and Rakdos's Return. After he stripped his opponent's hand, Holzinger conceded.

For Game 2, the Hungarians had drawn up the game plan of actively playing threats into countermagic, and that's exactly what happened. Korbl was jamming a threat each turn, while Holzinger was trying to answer each of them. Olivia Voldaren met Counterflux. Thragtusk fell to Turn & Burn. Chandra, Pyromaster was Negated. Due to those exchanges, Holzinger had no time to draw cards with Think Twice, leaving him behind and out of answers. Indeed, on the subsequent turns, he had no answer for Huntmaster of the Fells and Liliana of the Veil. Holzinger was hoping to find a Sphinx's Revelation to replenish his hand, but he never drew one. In the end, after the players had been trading off cards one-for-one all game, it came down to the following: Korbl had more threats than Holzinger had answers.


Hungary evens things up, as the result comes down to the final match remaining.

The teams were now tied, and everything came down to the third match. The Hungarian coach Tamas Nagy sat ready.

David Reitbauer from Austria (The Aristocrats) v Ervin Hosszú from Hungary (Blue-White-Red Flash)

In Game 1, Hosszú had multiple Azorius Charm to keep Reitbauer's Xathrid Necromancer under control in the early turns. This provided Hosszú with enough time to sculpt the game. In particular, he was able to find the perfect answer to Reitbauer's Lingering Souls. The first two tokens fell to Thundermaw Hellkite, and when the next batch of tokens entered the battlefield, Hosszú used Restoration Angel to blink his Thundermaw Hellkite. This gave him another enters-the-battlefield trigger, leaving Hosszú without any spirit tokens. That was good enough to close out the game.

In Game 2, Reitbauer had a blazingly fast draw with double Champion of the Parish on his first two turns. However, he lacked a fourth land to cast the pair of Falkenrath Aristocrat in his hand, and Hosszú swept the board with Supreme Verdict. The top of Reitbauer's deck did not provide him the much-coveted fourth land, but a Duress instead. It revealed that Hosszú was holding Sphinx's Revelation, Thundermaw Hellkite, and Archangel of Thune. Although the card-drawing hit the bin, Hosszú's fliers immediately hit the battlefield on the subsequent turns. Archangel of Thune started dishing out counters, and the huge flying creatures crashed in for lethal shortly after.

Austria 1 – Hungary 2

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