World Magic Cup Preview

Get ready for the World Magic Cup, the action will start  on Friday, November 18, and will feature representatives from 73 countries. The tournament takes place in Rotterdam and features multiple days of team play, starting with three rounds of Kaladesh Team Sealed before moving on to Team Unified Modern for the rest of the weekend, as teams of four from 73 countries compete to become World Magic Cup champions. $250,000 is also up for grabs for top finishing teams, with the winning team receiving $48,000 evenly split between the four teammates.

The World Magic Cup has a tradition of bringing out the most electric emotions from both competitors and fans. Here are a couple of highlights from the last few years:

The World Magic Cup meme that will live on forever. Fun fact, the cameraman for this shot is Shawn Kornhauser of Walking the Planes and Enter the Battlefield fame. This is one of the moments he is proudest to have captured on film, as the varied display of emotion across all the faces captured in this big moment—Team USA losing to a topdecked Bonfire of the Damned, and the advancement of eventual World Magic Cup winners Team Chinese Taipei—makes this a clip you can watch over and over and still find things you didn’t notice from a prior viewing.

Funny enough, this particular clip took on a life of its own and has been turned into gifs and loops on a variety of channels (much to the chagrin of the Team USA competitors of that year, who get to live this moment again and again every time it’s mentioned. I’m probably not helping with that either, so sorry!).

Another instant classic came from 2013, as the finals of that year came down to one match, one game, and one big draw step. Personally, this is one of my favorite clips to feature Rich Hagon in the commentator booth.

Timothée Simonot, the French competitor in that match, has also made the rounds in Magic news once again with his Twisted Color Pie Magic Online Cube submission.

Raphaël Lévy, the winning team captain from 2013, will return this year as France’s national champion.

The win, which put Denmark on the map and started two Danish players on their path deeper into the Pro Tour, came from a series of comeback plays, including the now famous “Daneblast” in 2014’s World Magic Cup.

We will see both Martin Müller and Simon Nielsen, two of 2014’s World Magic Cup winning team members, representing Denmark again in 2016.

A fun moment from second time Top 8 country Scotland last year was one of 2015’s World Magic Cup highlights. Scotland knew they were playing for a chance at the Top 8, but only found out that they had made the cut once their match was completed. The reaction, as you see, involves team members Martin Clement and Stephen Murray tackling coverage floor reporter Tim Willoughby in excitement upon hearing that they were through.

And of course, it’s hard to forget about Team Italy’s win in 2015. This event was also the launch of Andrea Mengucci to the top of the standings, as only a few months later he earned his second Pro Tour Top 8 with a second place finish at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. Mengucci will return this year as Italy’s team captain.

Here’s all you need to know about the WMC in Rotterdam:


We begin on Friday morning with what is arguably the toughest test of teamwork in the whole weekend. All four team members sit together, and are given one of the ultimate puzzles in the game: twelve random boosters (featuring Kaladesh this time around). From these packs, they have to construct exactly three Limited decks, each with a minimum of 40 cards. That includes basic lands, of course, so you can expect each team to actually use somewhere between 66 and 70 cards from their boosters across the three decks. You may be wondering at this point why only three decks, when there are four players on the team? Under the rules of the WMC, each set of matches requires three team members to be in the frontline, actually handling their deck weapons of choice. The fourth member sits out the session, but only as far as not having a “personal” deck to play. Instead, that fourth member moves between the rest of the team, offering all kinds of support, ranging from a kind word after a crushing defeat to words of inspiration ahead of a must win matchup, and from strategic insight into the perfect line of play at a key moment.

What makes Team Sealed such a challenge is that the power level of cards now have a very different look to them. That’s because twelve boosters is a lot: it’s a lot of removal, it’s a lot of mechanically-aligned synergies at common, it’s a lot of artifacts, it’s a lot of rares and mythic rares. All of that combines to give the teams a lot to think about. Just contemplating the rares alone, this is a very different activity than your normal Sealed Deck build. As a rule, you’re going to be able to find a home for every decent rare you open. That’s always been true for artifacts, but with three decks to choose from, it’s highly unlikely that any given color rare won’t have a deck that wants it if you build appropriately.

The decks the teams end up with are likely to be highly synergistic, have a high power level, have strong and dedicated game plans, and are all round likely to be much, much better than the average Day One deck at a Sealed Grand Prix.

There’s a time limit: 70 minutes for four people to make three decks from twelve boosters, with cards not in the starting main decks allocated to only one player’s sideboard (meaning there will be three distinct sideboards, not one large shared one). Once the teams do that, it’s time to put their Sealed decks to the test with three matches against teams on a similar record (so a team on 2-0 will face another 2-0 team in Round 3). The matches themselves are comprised of three individual matchups. There’s no weird seat-swapping mid-match and no choosing who you play. Whoever registers Deck A on both teams plays each other, and the Bs and Cs line up the same way. For an overall match win, two of your players need to claim victory in their own personal matchup.

After the lunch break, from Round 4 onwards, the format is Unified Modern.Unified simply means that any card, aside from basic lands, can only appear in a single decklist within each team. That may not sound like much of a restriction, but it’s actually a huge deal. Many of the best decks in Modern rely on particular sets of non basic lands to function at optimum efficiency. If you want to read an Unified Modern format prime you can find it on our site: here’s Part 1 and here’s Part 2.

Four rounds of Unified Modern close out our Day One action. That’s where we make the first cut, with teams finishing 49th and down (in our likely field of 73 nations) sitting out the rest of the weekend on the sidelines. Traditionally, the cut has been to the Top 32, rather than 48, and one interesting effect of this change is that, no matter how small the nation or MTG community, everyteam will feel that they have a legitimate shot at making Day Two.


Day Two begins with a single round of utter carnage. The 48 surviving teams from Day One get split into eight groups of six. For example, the Number 1 overall seed will be joined by Numbers 16, 17, 32, 33, and 48. The reward for being either the first or second seed within a group (the Top 16 from Day One overall) is to receive a bye for this first round of Day Two. The other four teams in the group go head to head (in our example, 17 faces 48, and 32 plays 33). The winners of this Unified Modern match advance, the losers are out. That’s right: sixteen straight knockout fights to start Day Two.

Once that slugfest is out of the way, there’ll be four teams left standing in each group. Next up comes three rounds of group play. The top seed plays the bottom seed, with the middle two playing each other. From then on, it’s result-dependent for who goes on to play who. The two winners face off, and the two losers do the same. In the winners’ bracket, whichever team gets to 2-0 advances to the next stage of the competition, and has nothing to do in the final round of group play, they’re just through. In the losers’ bracket, it’s back into desperation mode, with the winner staying alive and the loser (now at 0-2) heading for the exit. The two remaining teams in the group (both at 1-1), play each other in the final round of group play, to decide who joins the 2-0 team in the next phase, and who joins the 0-2 team in being shown the door.

All of that gets the field to just sixteen countries. They’re again ranked 1–16 and put into another group. Number 1 joins Numbers 8, 9, and 16, while the Number 4 overall seed ends up in a group with Numbers 5, 12, and 13. Then it’s a repeat of group play: get to two wins (either 2-0, or needing that final round shootout) and you’re through. Reach two losses (either insta-elim at 0-2, or an agonizing final round shootout loss) and you’re gone.


On Sunday, the remaining teams face off in a single-elimination bracket. All matches are best two out of three, and, just like the rest of the tournament, two individual match wins gives your team the match overall. Incidentally, if you’re worried about someone on the team not getting to play, there’s no need. The rules specifically state that everyone has to play in at least one session per day. So, if someone is the coach during the Sealed portion on Day One, they have to be one of the three Modern pilots in the afternoon session. If someone doesn’t play during the Top 32 stage, they will (assuming their team advances) play on Saturday afternoon in the Top 16. On Sunday, however, there’s only one team lineup. You choose your three players to pilot your Unified Modern decks, and the fourth member of the team works as the coach throughout the day. Incidentally, you can change who plays which deck in the Top 8. What you can’t do, however, is switch which deck belongs in which seat. So, if your decks on Friday afternoon are Affinity in Seat A, Dredge in Seat B, and Bant Eldrazi in Seat C, those exact same decks will be in those exact same seats on Sunday.

So, here’s the summary:

Friday morning: 73 teams, three rounds of Team Sealed
Friday afternoon: 73 teams, four rounds of Unified Modern
Teams 49–73 eliminated.

Saturday morning: Unified Modern, one round, teams 17–48. Teams 1–16 get a bye.
16 losing teams eliminated. (32 remain)

Saturday morning (a little later): Unified Modern, three rounds, groups of four teams. Two wins to advance, two losses for elimination.
16 teams eliminated. (16 remain)

Saturday afternoon: Unified Modern, three rounds, groups of four teams. Two wins to advance, two losses for elimination.
8 teams eliminated. (8 remain)

Sunday morning: Unified Modern Top8, single elimination matches.

If you’d like a “Team to Watch” handy Guide for this WMC, Brian David-Marshall has put together this for you all.

You can watch all three days of the WMC live on or YouTube Friday, Saturday, and Sunday beginning at at 10 a.m. local time (CET). If You can’t catch the action live, replays of the broadcast, after each day concludes, and all the round by round coverage and deck techs can be found over on YouTube, so you can catch every moment when it better fits into your day.


The World Magic Cup live action will be casted by:

  • Play-by-Play Commentators: Marshall Sutcliffe, Tim Willoughby, and Gaby Spartz
  • Color Commentators: Luis Scott-Vargas and Simon Görtzen
  • News Desk: Rich Hagon and Brian David-Marshall

and there will be Text Coverage at the World Magic Cup coverage page.

Deck Lists: Every Constructed feature match write-up, as well as select articles on the coverage page, will feature decklists once Round 14 of the tournament is underway. Top 8 decklists will be posted once Day Two wraps up, and the other best Unified Modern decklists will be published no later than Sunday afternoon.

If this is not enough for You, You can follow MagicProTour and the hashtag #MTGWMC on Twitter,  and join the conversation.


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