Shared Discovery – The 2011 Worlds Top 8 by Rob Wagner

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Hi all, did you watch the Worlds coverage? The UK’s very own Richard Bland made the finals in a very exciting top 8 for UK fans, and we even got the UK-friendly Norway team losing the finals of the Teams Competition while we were at it – great night in! The top 8 was notable for having 4 Channel Fireball members in it but only one made it past the Quarter Finals and the remaining player lost his Semi Final to eventual winner Ian Aga, Jr..

So what lessons can us regular players take away from all this then?

Well, the first thing is that Worlds is a multi-format event and we shouldn’t automatically assume that these decks are the cream of the crop. How did our top 8 actually do on the first day?

  1. Conley Woods, 6-0
  2. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, 4-2
  3. Luis Scott-Vargas, 5-1
  4. Jun’ya Iyanaga, 6-0
  5. Josh Utter-Leyton, 5-1
  6. Richard Bland, 3-3
  7. David Caplan, 6-0
  8. Craig Wescoe, 6-0
Four excellent performances, but 3-3 from Richard and 4-2 from Paulo are definitely sub-standard. The Channel Fireball team as a whole performed less well than you would have expected going into the event and I do not really think that their deck is that great on the balance of things. Basically, you can point at 4 top 8’s and try to infer that it’s a good deck or you can look at the 1-4 record in the top 8 and the sub-expected records in the swiss and perhaps consider that the deck might not be up to scratch.
Interestingly, the winner of Worlds basically came down to one match and one special game – Conley vs Wescoe Game 5. In the game itself, Wescoe would have won had he drawn one more non-Geist creature the whole game (or simply another removal spell) as he would have had fuel for his Moorland Haunt in the last attack. It could have been more complicated than that, but I think on the whole the UW deck is favoured due to sheer number of Nekrataal effects and more Moorland Haunt (pair up the decks, Memnite vs Doomed Traveller isn’t fair).
Regardless, if UW wins that round then it gets to play the GR Kessig Wolf Run deck and the usual Fish vs Ramp matchup takes its course before UW faces Richard Bland in the finals. As Grand Prix Hiroshima tells us, the Green version of the Mirran Crusader deck is favoured due to having mana acceleration and Gavony Township to go over the top. Therefore, if Wescoe had drawn a single creature more in game 5 Richard Bland would likely be the World Champion. Curse you Wescoe!
With the result as it was, the white aggro deck without counter spells lost to the ramp deck, which went on to Inferno Titan out the Birds of Paradise aggro deck (same old story). Some people think that Richard mulled too much and got mana screwed too much to have a fighting chance in the Finals, but his deck isn’t realistically beating 4 Slagstorm and 4 Inferno Titan without hefty levels of cheating.
So, Wescoe was the king-maker all along.
What can we take away from the top 8 though?


Well, Wolf Run is still good and spamming Titans onto the battlefield can just beat a bunch of decks. I’m also taking it that no matter how good you are and how much you think people are under-prepared for you, Tempered Steel just isn’t a good enough deck to try to do well in an event with a lot of rounds. One thing I am interested in from day 1, however, is Patrick Chapin and his super-team’s interest in a 4-colour control deck led by Olivia Voldaren and splashing for Ancient Grudgemust be a genius to think of that!


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