The Kaldheim Championship draws ever closer—just one week away. Now it's time to get our prognostications in order with our coverage squad of seers including:
- Play-by-play commentators Marshall Sutcliffe, Eilidh Lonie, and Haiyue Yu
- Expert roles chaired by Paul Cheon and Mani Davoudi
- The news desk team of Maria Bartholdi, Cedric Phillips, and Riley Knight
To start our look ahead, we began by asking for their player to watch across both Leagues and among Challengers—everyone outside the leagues who qualified for the event. Here's what our coverage team came up with:
|Paul||Gabriel Nassif||Luis Scott-Vargas||Christoffer Larsen|
|Marshall||Carlos Romão||Ben Stark||Willy Edel|
|Eilidh||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Eli Kassis||Willy Edel|
|Mani||Martin Jůza||Yuta Takahashi||Arne Huschenbeth|
|Haiyue||Ken Yukuhiro||Chris Botelho||Nicholas Price|
|Maria||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Stanislav Cifka||Willy Edel|
|Cedric||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Eli Kassis||Brad Barclay|
|Riley||Andrea Mengucci||Luis Scott-Vargas||Brad Barclay|
|Corbin||Martin Jůza||Luca Magni||Brad Barclay|
|Meghan||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Eli Kassis||David Inglis|
For the MPL picks, it's no surprise that reigning World Champion Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa leads the way, perhaps best summed up one way.
Cedric: "I'm trying to imagine PVDDR losing multiple matches in a tournament. I'm having extreme difficulty completing this task."
Among Rivals, the only players with multiple picks were Luis Scott-Vargas and Eli Kassis. However, since one of those LSV picks comes from Paul "best friend of LSV" Cheon, let's focus on Rivals League leader Kassis.
Eilidh: "His deck and card choices for [each] Kaldheim League Weekend were spot on."
Meghan: "He's always been a solid deck builder, and he's been testing with a great set of players, too."
Cedric: "Though he leads the Rivals League with 31 points, he isn't talked about in the same way others are in Rivals. That changes this weekend."
As for the largest group of competitors, the Challengers, our group sees two headliners—Magic Hall of Famer Willy Edel and Scottish standout Bradley Barclay fresh off his Zendikar Rising Championship win.
Corbin summed up what Barclay offers: "The Iceshark has been a pillar of his Scottish community for two decades, and the world finally properly met him when he won the Zendikar Rising Championship. I can't wait to see how he follows that up as the defending champ."
But there was plenty to say for picking Edel, too.
Maria: "Willy Edel has made the Top 8 of four Pro Tours—need I say more?"
Marshall: "The feisty Brazilian Hall of Famer qualified via an Inside Esports Open on MTG Arena, and he's here to show these internet kids that he's in the business of winning matches of Magic, and baby, business is a-boomin'."
Which, I think, means that Edel is doing well at the moment. But our "pick three players" was just a warmup for our outstanding opinionators before the big one: their pick for the one player who they know will make the Top 8.
|Coverage||One to Top 8|
|Eilidh||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa|
|Maria||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa|
|Cedric||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa|
|Meghan||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa|
A pick for Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa isn't exactly going rogue, but the reasons are compelling.
Maria: "I made the mistake of not picking Paulo to win Worlds last year, and I've regretted it every day since. So I'm picking Paulo this time! Staying on top of the leaderboard for the MPL is not easy, no matter how good of a player you are. You've got to play amazing opponents round after round, pick the right deck each weekend, and, oh yeah, win most of your games. His success in the league so far really is stunning, and I am optimistic he can turn it into a good showing here."
Eilidh: "He's a genius and quite possibly the greatest Magic player of all time. How can you not pick him?"
There are, however, some less obvious picks to consider. Both Mani and Corbin went for Martin Jůza. That might not sound like an outlandish prediction given he's a Magic Hall of Famer, until you consider his recent 0–11 record at the February Kaldheim League Weekend.
Mani: "Martin's success at the professional level has often come when he's trusted his intuition and made deck choices that suit his strengths/understanding of the format. With the current state of both Standard and Historic, these are qualities that can be heavily rewarded, and I'm looking forward to a memorable zero-to-hero performance from Jůza at the Kaldheim Championship."
Perhaps the boldest prediction comes from our newest commentator.
Haiyue: "My pick is Chris Botelho to make Top 8. He is a player that is generally one step ahead of the metagame and is willing to think laterally and explore unconventional solutions to problems. His technical play is also of a high level. Finally, his relaxed attitude is his strength—he can see the humour in situations (like when he won GP Portland with a
It's worth noting that Chris was active on social media, begging for
Really excited about the upcoming Historic Anthology 4.— Chris Botelho (@CBotelhoMagic) March 5, 2021
Nothing in particular comes to mind, but I'm hoping it gives us some neat cards to really shake up the format. pic.twitter.com/3CfwfqgCfC
For fans of Constructed Magic, there's something for everyone at the Kaldheim Championship. Corbin can't wait for Standard to start off each day and decide the winner on Sunday:
Corbin: "We saw in the February Kaldheim League Weekend that the metagame was still clearly sorting itself out, and with a much larger pool of competitors, I'm really excited to see how things have evolved over the past month."
He wasn't alone in looking forward to the Standard action.
Eilidh: "I'm loving Standard right now. The decks are varied, enjoyable to watch and play, so I hope this event's meta remains as diverse as the Kaldheim League Weekend's."
Meanwhile, here are Paul and Cedric explaining why they're looking forward to the Historic rounds on Friday and Saturday:
Paul: "The banning of
Cedric: "With the banning of
Maria, meanwhile, had this unexpected contribution:
Maria: "I am a big fan of Historic. I have a favorite deck, and I bet you can guess which one."
Maria isn't alone in having a favorite deck. We asked our crew what deck they were most hoping to see make a splash.
Mani: "I'd love to see if a
Marshall: "I'm really curious to see if White-Blue Control in Historic has a fighting chance to solidify itself as part of the now more amenable metagame. It has won tournaments but has failed to become a go-to deck in the format. With such powerful tools at its disposal and the absence of a certain Elder Giant, maybe now is the time?"
Maria: "Obviously I'm going to say White-Black Auras here. I love the list played by Greg Kowalski at a League Weekend a couple months back. It has lots of super-fun and powerful tools to dismantle your opponent's hand, protect your creatures, and draw cards.
How about Standard?
Riley: "Izzet Flash is a deck that has been flirting with top-tier results without ever quite securing them, and I'm convinced it's just because the perfect build hasn't been discovered. You want a playset of
Haiyue: "I would love to see a
Kaldheim, of course, is the new addition to both formats. Which cards from the latest expansion does our team hope to see getting the job done?
|Coverage||Kaldheim Card to See|
Next, it's wildcard time. Predicting that good players will beat other good players and that good decks will face other good decks in two good formats can only take us so far. The real juice is here: what's the boldest prediction for this tournament?
Haiyue: "Someone will attack into
Meghan: "A player will take three turns in a row!"
Mani: "I think we will see five unique archetypes in the Top 8 of this tournament."
Marshall: "I think that three Challengers will Top 8 this event, which is kind of a lot when you look at the list of MPL and Rivals players in the field. Go, Challengers!"
So far, so reasonable. Next, a couple of intriguing suggestions.
Corbin: "It's been almost a decade since he first appeared, but we'll see Tibalt in the Top 8!"
Riley: "Someone will cast an
Now, a little bit of wish fulfilment.
Maria: "Someone will win a game with a giant, flying
Cedric: "Mono-White Aggro will be the best-performing deck in Kaldheim Standard. You can take that to the bank, cash the check, and go buy the nicest
One caster decided to go deep—and very specific.
Paul: "Historic Prediction: Somebody will put two copies of
But there's always somewhere deeper to go when you ask for a wildcard.
Eilidh: "One of the casters or players will turn into a cat."
Our wildcard prediction, incidentally, is that one of the casters or players will not turn into a cat.
But we saved the biggest one for last, the one we know you can't live without, the one that will linger long in the memory—in honor of Kaldheim, what's the most "metal" card in Magic?
|Coverage||Most Metal Card|
We'll leave it to you to work out how some of these answers got past the checks of our team, but here's how our top three responded.
Maria: "The correct answer here is
Haiyue may be making her first appearance commentating a Set Championship, but she's clearly already won this particular conversation.