World Magic Cup… Fail Report

September 4, 2013

Joel Calafell

Spanish Player
Top 8 PT Kuala Lampur 2008
3 GP Top 8s
Winner GP Barcelona 2009

More Posts (3)

Let me start from the ending in this report…

World Magic Cup… Fail Report – What worked… and what not?

Hello everyone!

Let me start from the ending in this report… Things didn’t go too well for the Spanish team and we ended up with a 3-4 record, and of course out of contention for even Day2.

But whose fault was it? Well, sometimes things don’t really go the way you plan. Of course, there are many things that we did correctly… but many more that we didn’t.

I want this report to show everyone that sometimes, you also happen to do things really bad. And that should help you improve for next times (even if sometimes you happen to be mistaken again). I will share my thoughts and experiences in order to see what our intention was all the time… And how did it all go in the end.

I won’t bore you with a round by round report, but instead looking at the big picture, trying to dissect our Standard and Limited preparation for one of the most important tournaments of the year.

Are you ready?

The Standard preparation

I will start saying I met with the whole team for a full week of preparation, testing and discussion in the same house. Since we expected Constructed to be the hardest part of the tournament, we focused most of our time trying and tweaking almost every single Standard deck in the format, and we tried to build some new ones as well.

The problem with the current Unified Standard format was that it was so dependent on the Ravnica block Dual Lands that it was almost impossible to play three tricolor decks. And you know… In this format that might just mean you can’t really play three really good decks.

In fact, if you look at all the possible combinations, the good decks were even usually overlapped.

Let’s look at what happens if you want to play Jund, for almost everyone considered the best deck in the format:

You can’t play Junk Reanimator, Junk Aristocrats, Junk Reanimator, The BWR Aristocrats, RG…

The need of Blood Crypt, Stomping Ground and Overgrown Tomb (as well as the Innistrad/M13 lands), makes it simply impossible.

Ok, but you still have Auras, UWR Control, Esper to go with! That’s some more Tier 1s to complete your selection and make it competitive, right?

Yeah, that might do it for your second deck choice, but… I’m sure you can now see what is the problem. The third deck would have to be something that couldn’t overlap with any of those lands. It’s quite hard to play a top deck in this format that’s not running Hallowed Fountain or Overgrown Tomb, right? At least, that’s what we thought…

In the end, and after thinking quite some time about it, we got to the conclusion that most teams would be playing these combinations:



RG/Elves/WB Tokens/Monored/Others

Well, that doesn’t really live us with a very open format, does it? And since we expected a Sphinx’s Revelation deck in almost every team, and Jund and UWR to be the most played decks by far, it wasn’t that hard to figure out which would be the most played combination:



Elves/WB Tokens/Monored

Wow! This format might be even less exciting than Block Constructed! It’s not that I’m blaming the Unified format after all, but I truly think it wasn’t the right time to do it with such a land dependant Standard. I wonder if something like Modern would have been more exciting…

Of course, in the end, many teams played different configurations and they even won with them, but most of those decks would just get crushed by a solid UWR or Jund player most of the times.

But what was our final choice in the end? Well, since we didn’t really like any of the Tier 2 that we thought we were forced to play once we realized how much better Jund and UWR were to any other deck in the format right now… We started to ponder on what could we do: But what if…

Was really playing a bad or subpar deck the only solution? We even tried to build several new decks, trying to see if they were good enough. Anything you can think of, really: UR Storm, Monored, Monogreen, Zombies, GW Beats… They would never have a good matchup overall against the two aforementioned.

Then, we saw how amazingly well was Auras positioned in this format, with a good matchup against both UWR, Jund, and even the expected Tier2 decks… It really was so good…

And we discovered that the deck could even function with just HALF of the lands. I’m not kidding. It almost sounded like a joke the first time someone suggested it, but it was sounding like more and more logic as time went by.

Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but in the end, and after testing our manabases a lot, our solution was to Split the UW lands between UWR and Auras, and I still think it was a brilliant idea. With some tweaks, the decks would still remain very consistent, and they would sure be MILES better than any other bad deck that we shall be forced to put into the mix otherwise.

As we expected, Auras went 4-0… But but both UWR and Jund underperformed on our team with 0-4 and 2-2 records, respectively. I guess the only real beating was the 0 points the UWR could gather in our team…

What happened there? And no, It wasn’t because of the manabase, I can assure you.

My opinion is the we had 75 card almost perfect lists, but we played poorly, sideboarded poorly, and even probably mulliganed poorly. We didn’t beat a single mirror match, and we lost against matchups we weren’t even supposed to lose. Bad luck? It could be, yes, but I’d rather say we should have played more. Not more, much more. On MTGO, On Magic Workstation, it really doesn’t matter where, but facing your proxified decks at each other’s in real life even if you think your team is good enough… Just doesn’t work. It felt like our opponents knew the decks much better than we did, and that’s never a good place where to be. After all, we lacked practice, and it paid off.

The Limited Preparation

This is the part of the tournament I ended up playing (I didn’t play in the Standard portion), since we agreed we would all play a different part of the tournament. I guess unless your team thinks you are miles better than them, this could be even a normal procedure in plenty of teams. Even then, the most experienced players could assist much better less experienced and discuss all the moves with them. And that’s what I mostly tried to do with my team.

As a side note, I’m not a big fan of playing games for other players under any circumstance. I think everyone needs to play his deck with the less help possible to really success. Sometimes, discussed plays end up being the worst of all, and they don’t really use powerful tools such as intuition or your own gut to go through a really thinkful situation.

But in this tournament, at least this was good enough for me to lead my team in the Team Sealed building instead. This is something many times might not seem important, but you just waste so much time in the process in Team Sealed building when you don’t have someone to just take the final decision.

Maybe you don’t need that in a team were everyone rates the same cards equally, or, like it happened to me last year, if you have played with those players for years. But when you think you are never going to agree on anything with the rest… That is just sometimes the only solution. Who is right about the correct build? And who isn’t? It would be kind of stupid to discuss such a thing at the event, so our team would have to trust someone, I guess.

Anyway, we had tested the Ravnica format much more than the M14 one, since we expected it to be much more difficult (and indeed, it should always be). Core Sets are more….well, usually like the same.

I can’t even blame with what we opened in the pool, since we ended up with an amazing WB control deck with 2 Corrupts, 1 Planar Cleansing, Doom Blade, as well Quag Sickness and as well Pacifisms accompanied by powerful synergies of Auramancer and Blightcaster. There were several other removal spells in the deck and even some solid creatures.

The second deck was an UR deck with many fliers, 2 Chandra’s Outrage and some “bombs” in the form of Domestication, Opportunity and Shivan Dragon.

But our third deck… Was also a spectacular Sliver deck! With as many as 4 Predator Sliver and Mutavault… It’s even covered here in the “Interesting M14 Team Sealed Decklists” by Frank Karsten.

In the end, the UR deck went 0-3, the WB deck went 2-1 and the Sliver deck went… You can’t even guess it: 1-2. What happened? Again, I’m sure we missbuilt it somehow, because it looked like such a bomb. Yes, there were floodings and all, but maybe we should have played a bunch of Trollhides or Show of Valor in the last slots instead of filling the deck with several good, but useless creatures with the Sliver theme, like Giant Spider or the Rootwalla.

To sum up

Team Spain ended up with a 3-4 result, and I didn’t even felt frustrated after that. I know we weren’t expected to win the tournament, even though the team as a whole worked really hard and we always thought it was a possibility… But that doesn’t man it would have to be easy at all.

This is the second time I have the feeling I was leading the team at the World Magic Cup (I wasn’t the Top Pro this year in my country, but they can respect I’m the most experienced member anyway). But I don’t want that to make me feel worse or to make me feel responsible for what happened, since everyone can get wrong sometimes.

To be honest, I think there were really a bunch of good teams in the event, and I must admit we weren’t even between the favorites. Spain still needs plenty of work to even be considered a respected country in Magic, and it will probably take years until that.

As for the next lines, I’m writing this as some kind of constructive autocriticism for my team: We thought we were very good… and we really weren’t.

There were some attitudes I didn’t like, and it felt like we were already in Day2 without even playing. Of course, the level at the World Magic Cup is no Pro Tour, but that shouldn’t mean you feel better than others just because of that. And that was exactly the problem.

Next time, I hope we just really focus on playing more and better, and improving our edge instead of talking about how good we will be doing at the tournament

I just hope next year I will be in the team again, and we won’t be doing the same mistakes again.

Thanks for reading!

Joel Calafell.


Was this really the best place where to play the World Magic Cup?

The World Magic Cup event site (it was the same used for Pro Tour Amsterdam 2010) was hot as hell, and I find it hard to believe Wizards couldn’t think of it before planning the tournament there again in the middle of August.

At least they tried to help with some fans and ice-creams, but I’m almost glad I didn’t have to play a second day there…

What’s going on with hotels in Amsterdam?

Be warned any of you when you travel to Amsterdam in search for a Hotel that is not super expensive. This is the second time I end up in a super-crap hotel, with almost inhuman conditions… We paid for extra taxes we didn’t even know about over and over again, and we were forced to pay everything cash since they couldn’t accept credit cards at all (Really?). I even found cigarettes under my bed when I came into the room for the first time. Had anyone really cleaned that between guests? I hardly doubt so…

But the worst of all was when they told us that our room wasn’t including cleaning service at all… That’s pretty laughable… Specially when after our several warnings they ended up cleaning our room anyway. Wasn’t that your policy? It feels like they want to cheat on you all the time until you realize.

Of course, Amsterdam is an amazing city overall and I like it a lot, but every time I have traveled there I have had a problem or another with hotels. What’s the matter with that?

Keep going with the World Magic Cup!

Of course not everything will be negative in my report today, and I would really like to congratulate Wizards once again for making possible a tournament such as the World Magic Cup. Without being atop of the professional events, it’s still one of the most special events you can ever play in Magic. As well as having the chance to represent your country, Team formats have already demonstrated how demanded are by the whole player community.

Couldn’t you just see this as a sign that all the players want to have this feeling also at their local PTQs? Are we really that far from seeing the Team formats coming back for the Pro Tour Circuit in the end? Let this count as another vote!

Bonus, the decklists we used during the Standard and Limited portions of the event:


Gwr Slivers

1 Hive Stirrings
4 Predatory Sliver
1 Manaweft Sliver
1 Megantic Sliver
2 Sentinel Sliver
1 Steelform Sliver
2 Blur Sliver
1 Battle Sliver
1 Sliver Construct
1 Rootwalla
1 Giant Spider
1 Woodborn Behemoth
3 Hunt the Weak
1 Verdant Haven
1 Lay of the Land
1 Door of Destinies
9 Forest
4 Plains
3 Mountain
1 Mutavault



BW Control

1 Banisher Priest
1 Capashen Knight
2 Griffin Sentinel
1 Fiendslayer Sentinel
1 Auramancer
1 Charging Griffin
1 Blightcaster
1 Siege Mastodon
1 Stonehorn Chanter
3 Accursed Spirit
1 Deathgaze Cockatrice

2 Corrupt
3 Pacifism
1 Quag Sickness
1 Planar Cleansing
1 Doom Blade
1 Liturgy of Blood
9 Swamp
8 Plains



UR Fliers

2 Academy Rider
1 Scroll Thief
1 Phantom Warrior
2 Goblin Shortcutter
1 Goblin Diplomats
2 Marauding Maulhorn
1 Shivan Dragon
1 Nephalia Seakite
1 Seacost Drake
1 Trained Condor
1 Warden of Evos Isle
1 Messenger Drake

3 Chandra’s Outrage
1 Claustrophobia
1 Volcanic Geyser
1 Opportunity
1 Domestication
1 Fireshrieker
8 Island
9 Mountain





4 Think Twice
4 Sphinx’s Revelation
3 Syncopate
1 Dissipate
3 Snapcaster Mage
3 Augur of Bolas
4 Restoration Angel
4 Azorious Charm
1 Izzet Charm
2 Pillar of Flame
2 Warleader’s Helix
2 Supreme Verdict
1 Turn-Burn

2 Glacial Fortress
2 Hallowed Fountain
4 Steam Vents
4 Sacred Foundry
4 Sulfur Falls
3 Clifftop Retreat
4 Island
2 Plains
1 Moorland Haunt




4 Voice of Resurgence
4 Avacyn’s Pilgrim
4 Invisible Stalker
4 Geist of Saint Traft
4 Ethereal Armor
4 Spectral Flight
4 Rancor
4 Unflinching Courage
2 Fiendslayer Paladin
2 Silverblade Paladin
1 Increasing Savagery
1 Abundant Growth

2 Hallowed Fountain
2 Glacial Fortress
4 Temple Garden
4 Breeding Pool
4 Hinterland Harbor
3 Sunpetal Grove
2 Forest
1 Plains




4 Huntmaster of the Fells
3 Lifebane Zombie
3 Olivia Voldaren
3 Scavenging Ooze
4 Thragtusk
2 Garruk, Primal Hunter
1 Dreadbore
1 Doom Blade
2 Rakdos’s Return
2 Tragic Slip
2 Putrefy
1 Abrupt Decay
3 Bonfire of the Damned
4 Farseek
4 Woodland Cemetery
4 Blood Crypt
4 Overgrown Tomb
4 Stomping Ground
3 Dragonskull Summit
2 Swamp
1 Forest
2 Kessig Wolf Run
1 Rootbound Crag


1 Doom Blade
2 Abrupt Decay
2 Golgari Charm
1 Demonic Rising
1 Lifebane Zombie
1 Curse of the Death’s Hold
1 Bonfire of the Damnes
3 Liliana of the Veil
2 Underworld Connections
1 Barter in Blood



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