After 10 rounds and two days of play, these are the Top 4 players of Magic World Championship XXVII. They'll return on Day Three for an elimination bracket that will crown the next World Champion.
Ondřej Stráský entered the MPL ahead of the 2020-21 season as a resurgent player. After planning his retirement from high-level Magic competition, he put in a string of winning performances that culminated with the trophy at Mythic Championship VI and a seat at Magic World Championship XXVI.
To return for Magic World Championship XXVII he showed just how good the "Czech House" testing team—with fellow Magic World Championship XXVII competitor Stanislav Cifka—was at finding, perfecting, and playing the best Standard deck against the toughest field in the world: the Magic Pro League. Locking in a first-place finish for the season, Stráský continued his march through the top players in the world with an undefeated 7-0 streak to claim the top seed for the Top 4 playoff.
Finishing second now just won't cut it.
"I'm better at Constructed, and had a lot of rounds of Constructed, which is good. I'm just not good at Limited, so [I'm] going to practice hard."
The "King of Faeries" Yuta Takahashi knew his strengths. The longtime player rallied into the Rivals League then battled through to the end, claiming the fourth Magic World Championship XXVII slot through 2020-21 Magic Rivals League season performance.
His experience and insight into how he'd succeed in the World Championship was foretelling. After beginning with a rocky 0-3 start in Limited it was all on his Constructed approach to keep his hopes alive. Rattling off seven straight wins to claim a clean win-and-in to the Sunday Top 4 playoff, Takahashi's patience and perseverance despite the nerves paid off—and he will continue to chase his career dream of becoming the next World Champion.
"I really want to be a on a card,” he explained, “but I will try to play my best without being overwhelmed!"
At the close of 2018, Jean-Emmanual Depraz led the French national team to victory at the World Magic Cup. His ascendant year in the MPL led to a finalist finish at Mythic Championship V which earned him a seat at Magic World Championship XXVI as his loss in the Mythic Championship was to then-reigning World Champion Javier Dominguez.
Battling through the Magic Pro League, Depraz's road to Magic World Championship XXVII took him through the MPL Gauntlet—the final showdown after a full season battling the rest of the top Magic league. Clinching one of the three slots available in the MPL Gauntlet, Deprez's quiet focus and preference for grinding decks led him to rally through Magic World Championship XXVII to return in the Day Three Top 4 playoff.
"The World Championship is just the biggest accomplishment for any Magic player,” he said, noting that appearing on a future “card is quite a big motivation!"
In 2006, a 17 year old Jan Merkel shocked the world—and the German Magic community—winning Pro Tour Kobe, his first premier event. It would be more than a decade before he returned to the top of the game, rising with MTG Arena all the way to his second career Top Finish at the Zendikar Rising Championship.
That finish unlocked the Challenger Gauntlet, and while he didn't make it to the Top 4 there his finish was good enough to try again at the Rivals Gauntlet—succeeding to make it to his first small field showdown with Magic World Championship XXVII. Joining forces and testing with some of the game's best, he again proved his lifetime of skill edging out teammate Matt Sperling in a tiebreaker showdown to appear in the Top 4 playoff.