Magic World Championship XXVII 2021 Day 1 Live Coverage
Welcome readers, it’s finally time to kickoff the Magic: The Gathering World Championship XXVII! The Championship got underway this morning with the prospective champions competing in Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft for the first three rounds of competition. Rounds 4 and 5 will be Swiss rounds of Standard Constructed today, and the Swiss rounds will continue on through tomorrow (Saturday 10/9) for rounds 6-10. The players who manage to accrue seven match wins over the first two days will automatically qualify for the Sunday Top 4 playoffs.
Last year’s World Championship Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (PVDDR) is looking to defend his title, but he has a long road and some fierce competition standing between him and the championship.
All play for today has concluded, and the results for day one are in! We’ll be back again tomorrow as the Standard Swiss rounds continue and we get ever-closer to determining the Top 4 and finally, the World Championship. Perhaps the highlight from today was the performance by Ondřej Stráský, who managed to go completely undefeated in both Draft and Constructed with a 5-0 record.
The official Magic Twitch channel will be running live coverage with commentary for all three days starting at 9 a.m. PST. Here’s the coverage team, and you’ll find the Twitch stream embedded below:
World Championship XXVII Qualifications
Players had to qualify for eligibility to compete in the World Championship either by finishing in the Top 4 of the Rivals League or MPL standings at the end of the regular season, or by placing highly at one of the three post-season Gauntlet. You can see how each of the Championship competitors earned their slot in the following graphics:
Standings and Brackets
Day 1 Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Draft – Rounds 1-3
Draft Pod #1 Table and Decks
Draft Pod #2 Table and Decks
None of the players in Pod 1 felt that their decks were particularly strong – most players were either lacking in synergy or lacking in Rares and Mythics with raw power. There seemed to be a general consensus that the packs in the first pod were generally not great. PVDDR was able to take the first match win of the day in a 2-0 against Rei Sato with some relentlessly strong topdecks.
In the second pod, the packs had more to give. We saw a couple of interesting pivots in the color choices as the draft went on – Seth Manfield, for example, started off with a couple of strong cards in white blue, but shifted completely to green white when the blue cards started to dry up. In the second feature match, Manfield faced off against Noriyuki Mori. With both players at an 0-1 match record, Mori was able to take the 2-0 match win with an aerial beatdown while Manfield struggled to find his land drops in both games.
The next feature match was also in round two of the second pod, and we got to see Arne Huschenbeth take on Eli Kassis with his aggressive Gruul draft deck against Kassis’ Dimir control. Kassis was able to keep the board under control in game one, but took a beating in game two. In the third game, Huschenbeth was never able to find the third land. The final nail in the coffin was when Kassis’ Drownyard Amalgam milled three straight lands off the top of Huschenbeth’s deck, putting Kassis to a 2-0 match record.
Our first featured match of round three also followed Eli Kassis, who was looking for an easy 3-0 after a quick win in game one against Sam Pardee’s Orzhov deck. However, Pardee wasn’t going to go out without a fight, and the top of Kassis’ library did not want to cooperate as he flooded out in both games two and three. Stuck with only creatures that can’t block against Pardee’s board full of threats, Kassis was defeated 2-1 and it was Pardee who went on undefeated with a 3-0 match record.
The second featured match from round three saw Yoshihiko Ikawa putting his Azorius deck head to head against Ondřej Stráský’s Orzhov. In the first game, mana issues made for a non-game as Ikawa was never able to find a white source and no castable blue cards in hand as Stráský continued to build his board. Game two was much closer, with Ikawa fighting to keep Stráský’s more aggressive deck at bay. Stráský started out with a strong start, including an Intrepid Adversary “kicked” once early, and Ikawa was forced onto the backfoot from the very beginning. In the end, although Ikawa threatened to stabilize, Stráský played excellently and was able to overpower Ikawa for his third match win.
With the third round of Midnight Hunt draft completed, the Limited portion of the World Championship has concluded, and we move on to Standard Constructed.
Day 1 Standard Constructed Rounds 4-5
|Deck Archetype||# Decks||% Field|
|Mono Green Aggro||3||18.75%|
|Mono White Aggro||2||12.5%|
Standard Constructed Decklists
Alrund’s Epiphany is the specter hovering over the Standard portion of the World Championship. Nine out of the sixteen players (56%) entered decks built around Alrund’s Epiphany, while the other decks are specifically tailored towards defeating the extra turn decks.
With Izzet Epiphany decks taking up large portions of the metagame at recent competitive tournaments and often posting high winrates, some have been already been wondering if the card will need to be banned out of the format. As the Izzet Epiphany deck was first breaking into the meta, Mono Green Stompy became the other most played deck in Standard because of the beat downs it can dish out to the slower Izzet decks.
Now, Epiphany decks have begun to adapt to the Mono Green and other aggro decks that are being deployed against it. Izzet Turns is still popular, but a new Grixis version of the deck has shown up to the World Championship that’s more stacked with removal to help keep the big green monsters in check.
Standard Feature Matches
The first featured Standard match put this Mono Green vs. Alrund’s Epiphany paradigm to the test, with Sam Pardee piloting the former against Ondřej Stráský’s Izzet build. Stráský couldn’t have hoped for things to go much better, as he was able to keep Pardee at bay long enough to chain Galvanic Iterations and Epiphanies to victory in both games for a quick 2-0.
Mono White is another deck that’s being leveraged against the Alrund’s Epiphany meta, with the hope that it can also go under Mono Green or keep up with the big creatures through the use of Intrepid Adversary and Luminarch Aspirant. In the second featured match of round four, Yoshihiko Ikawa attempted to out-aggro PVDDR and his Mono Green list using Mono White. Unfortunately for Ikawa, PVDDR always had Blizzard Brawl at the right time – a key card in the matchup – and was able to overpower the Mono White deck 2-0.
In the third featured match, we got to see Mono White, this time played by Rei Sato, take a shot against Grixis Turns played by Matt Sperling. In game one, Demon Bolt did work against Sato’s creatures, and it was enough to push Sperling to a game one win with a storm of Epiphanies.
Sperling made the very interesting move of subbing out all the deck’s copies of Alrund’s Epiphany and Galvanic Iteration for Mind Flayers and Malevolent Hermits, creating a much more creature-oriented strategy for game two. The sideboard juke wasn’t enough though, and Sato managed to overpower Sperling and take the match to 1-1. In game three, Sato put up a good fight but Sperling was able to hold his opponent off long enough to get Lier, Disciple of the Drowned to stick onto the field. The value generated from Lier was too much for Sato to compete against without an answer, and so Sperling secured the match win with a 2-1.
The first featured match of round five showcased a battle of the two Epiphany combo decks: Izzet, played by Ondřej Stráský, pitted against Grixis played by Matt Sperling. In the first game, Stráský was able to setup the combo first due in large part to Unexpected Windfall, which he was able to cast three times in one turn. In game two, Sperling was able to hit Stráský’s hand hard with Go Blank and Duress from the sideboard.
Sperling was able to take the win in game two after a long strategic battle. Two copies of Malevolent Hermit on Sperling’s field held back Stráský’s Epiphanies long enough for Sperling to set up the Epiphany/Iteration combo for himself. Sperling continued to hammer the discard strategy in game three, but a well-placed Test of Talents from Stráský took the Go Blanks out of the game, and a Teachings of the Archaics drawing three cards helped keep him in the game.
Several turns later, Stráský managed to resolve another key Test of Talents, this time against Duress. Not only did the Test counter the spell, but it also removed two copies from the graveyard and prevented them from being recurred with the Lier, Disciple of the Drowned that Sperling already had sitting on the field. At the end of a long and grindy game where Expressive Iteration kept the cards flowing for both players, Stráský was finally able to assemble and execute the Epiphany chain for lethal damage with birdies, taking him to an impressive 5-0 undefeated record in day one.
In the next featured match of round five, we got to see Noriyuki Mori’s homebrewed Azorius Tempo deck face off against Sam Pardee playing Mono Green. The tempo plan played off in game one, with Mori managing to keep Pardee’s beaters down just long enough to squeeze out the win through damage in the air with Legion Angel and Cave of the Frost Dragon.
Pardee’s sideboard tech managed to sneak out the win in game two. The one-of Devouring Tendrils took out one of Mori’s key creatures, and a surprise Choose Your Weapon doubled the power of an Old-Growth Troll for the surprise win out of nowhere.
All three games were close, but in the final game Pardee was able to create a blowout with Snakeskin Veil at a key moment. Pardee was able to claim that game three win, putting his overall record to 4-1 and closing out the matches for the day.
We’ll be back again tomorrow and Sunday for continued comprehensive coverage of World Championship XXVII so you won’t miss out on any of the action. See you then!