The World Magic Cup is upon us this weekend, with 74 nations looking to be crowned the best in the world. Established back in 2012, this is the premier tournament of the year for a much of the community. It gives players not only a chance to earn bragging rights as the National Champion of their country, but for some their opportunity to show that their country is the best in the world for Magic: the Gathering. And this year is the last one.

The competitors join together for two team formats: Unified Sealed and Unified Standard. That provides a good mix for this year’s final iteration of the tournament. But I will focus on the Standard portion of the tournament.

What is Team Unified Standard?

Team Unified Standard is format where a team of three players must bring Standard decks to play against other teams. There is one major caveat with this: with the exception of basic lands no two players may share a card between decks. For example, if player A registers a Llanowar Elves then no copies of it can be registered in either Player B’s or C’s deck.

As with normal team events, each assigned seat matches up each round: player A must face player A, player B must face player B, and player C must face player C. Each player can communicate with teammates, but games must still be completed in a timely manner.

Team Unified constructed provides a mix of constructed gameplay alongside a deckbuilding challenge. With Standard currently at the smallest card pool possible, the real challenge of this format will be in the deckbuilding aspect. Teams must bring three separate decks with no overlapping cards. Concessions can be made—Boros Angels may give up access to Deafening Clarion for its Jeskai Control teammate. But some decks will be inaccessible if their manabases overlap too much.

Decks we could see

White Weenie / Heroic Weenie

I expect a mono-white deck will appear in most teams lists, due to its power and the very few cards that it would share with other decks. However, the red-white version with Sacred Foundry and Clifftop Retreat most likely won’t show up. Simply put, the rise in power level of including red cards such as Heroic Reinforcements does not justify taking away access to other decks by taking the key dual lands.

Jeskai Control / Izzet Drakes

These two decks may be completely different from each other, but they share the same threats and manabase. You can only play one of these on your team, so I’ve grouped them together. These decks are almost certain to appear for every team at the World Magic Cup, due to their consistency and power level.

Golgari Midrange

Golgari is already the most flexible deck in Standard, and it can adapt to most metagames. The deck is simply too powerful to ignore for a team format such as Team Unified Standard. The threat of Doom Whisperer or Carnage Tyrant overwhelms some decks. That plan is backed up by the lifegain of the Wildgrowth Walker explore package to fight aggressive decks. Golgari is pretty much the complete package, and will appear in the World Magic Cup.

Mono Blue / Mono Red / Big Red

These three decks have achieved positive results on Magic Online and in paper, and could fit into three-deck team. They can be inconsistent, and each round could face off against their worst matchups. Due to the nature of the team format though, we will most likely be seeing an increased representation of these decks as the “third deck” after Golgari and either of the Steam Vents decks.

The most common line up for the world magic will most likely be: Izzet Drakes / Golgari Midrange / Mono White and I would be highly surprised if any rogue decks emerge at the tournament. The card pool is simply too shallow at the moment, and I would expect that the players will be focusing on practising their matchup and also focusing on Limited. Team Sealed makes up much of the early part of the tournament, so doing well there will put a team on the best path to victory.

With the changes to how the Pro club works and the larger competitive overall, the World Magic Cup’s cancellation comes as a sore point and will ultimately be missed. Whether watching some of your favorite pro players, or just cheering on someone who plays at the same local game store as you, the tournament has been one of a kind. It’s given many players a unique sense of national pride within Magic.

Magic: the Gathering as a game is evolving; it has to to stay at the top of its game and changes have to be made. By this time next year however, I hope that we are looking forward to the reinstated World Magic Cup 2019.

Side note—go England!

Daniel Roberts (@Razoack) is a UK based player writing about all things Standard. Playing since the release of Gatecrash, he loves nothing better than travelling to European GPs with friends and losing in the feature match area. His best record is 12-3 at GP Barcelona 2017, but he’s aiming for that one more win.

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