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Magic World Championship XXVI Elimination Bracket Highlights

February 14, 2020
Adam Styborski

The Elimination bracket is the first must-win moment for the competitors of Magic World Championship XXVI. While losing in the Draft brackets means you have a second chance—and this is it. Taking two losses here, well, eliminates the competitor from the tournament.

Four players' dreams of a World Championship trophy ended here.

Pozzo Pulls Through

Fans of Sebatian Pozzo can take heart: He notched a 2-0 record in the bracket to advance to the Play-In on Starday. He started by defeating fellow Argentinian Matias Leveratto in epic fashion: Mono-Red Aggro against Leveratto's favorite Temur Reclamation deck.

Pozzo clinched the decided game after pushing Leveratto to 1 life in a battle of Embercleave against Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath. Leveratto began to climb back into the game gaining life from multiple Uros coming down. With one, then two, copies of Wilderness Reclamation going it looked like Leveratto would repeat his Mythic Championship III victory after he began to scry as deep as he could go.

But it was Pozzo with Torbran, Thane of Red Fell and the Embercleave Leveratto couldn't answer that stuck around that closed the victory.

Of course that was the first step for Pozzo. Next up to battle was Thoralf Severin with White-Blue Control. He recounted his tale of battling to earn his trip to the Play-In.

For the first game, "I was on the draw and my first opening hand had one land, so I mulliganed and the six card hand had one land again." Pozzo said. "I missed land drops for several turns and was always behind, but it took Thoralf a long time to find a Dream Trawler. I knew the whole time that I was likely to lose—against control the first turns are so important. The turn he played Dream Trawler I attacked with all my creatures. I played Embercleave into Dovin's Veto, and then I played a second Embercleave and he Veto'd that too. I was out of cards and he won."

But then Pozzo's chances turned around. "In Game Two he mulliganed to five but it was still a close game," Pozzo said. "He had Shatter the Sky, but I had enough afterwards. In Game Three he never drew a [battlefield sweeping] effect. I top decked the fourth land for Torbrand and that was enough when I attacked with all my creatures."

Who Can? Kanister Can.

Piotr "Kanister" Głogowski also earned a swift 2-0 entry into the Saturday Play-In. Against the reigning World Champion, Kanister had two games that played out exactly the way he wanted them too.

For their first game, "Javier had a decent start but I had Goose into Trail, and when we both played our five-drops Korvold won me the game. His Kenrith didn't do much," Kanister explained.

"Game Two was the same but it's easier after sideboarding because I brought in more removal. After drawing both Epic Downfalls, Korvold forced him to chump block and I won afterwards," Kanister said. "I played the way I wanted to play."

The next battle was a tougher matchup for Kanister: Jean-Emmanuel Depraz. "Jean-Emmanuel is playing Temur Reclamation. It's the matchup I fear the most," Kanister admitted. "But his version is geared toward mirror matches and White-Blue Control, so he dropped some of the cards good against me like Gadwick, the Wizened. His main deck Mystical Dispute is also not very good."

"Game One was really long and drawn out," Kanister said. "I started out again with Goose into Trail on turns one and two. I was playing out aggressively and used discard spells to leave him without action, and matched him one-for-one. He played two Wilderness Reclamations. I played two Thrashing Brontodon. Eventually I played Korvold and he had trouble stopping it. It forced him to spend a lot of his resources, and I won afterwards.

"Game Two he mulliganed to five on the play and played a few copies of Uro, Titan of Nature's Wraths," Kanister said, "but I played my Korvold and he couldn't come back from being stuck at four lands."

Dependable Depraz

Jean-Emmanual Depraz may have lost against Kanister, but he pulled together two other wins to move on to the Play-In on Saturday. The first match was against resurgent star Ondřej Stráský.

Stráský pushed Depraz to three games and nearly took over the deciding game with two Planeswalkers, but Deprez turned the corner. Despite a hand full of countermagic for Strasky, Depraz used triggers and his own spells to ensure he could clear out Teferi, Time Raveler and set up his own Wilderness Reclamation. Once the value engine was going, Stráský fell further and further behind until Niv-Mizzet, Parun ensured the door for Stráský was closed.

After losing to Kanister is fell to fighting Andrea Mengucci for who would keep their World Championship hopes alive. Depraz shared the tale.

"In Game One the main two cards are Storm's Wrath and Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath," Depraz said, referring to the key cards he needed to survive against Mengucci aggressive red deck. "I went looking for them with Castle Vantress before Mengucci's explosive turn after Light up the Stage."

"I scry and see both Uro and Storm's Wrath. I choose to draw the Wrath first and not take damage from having to play an untapped shockland for Uro. I'm at 3 or 4 life and play Uro—but just before I untap again there's a risk Mengucci could play a creature and Embercleave," Depraz explained. "After that I drew Expansion // Explosion and ended the game."

"In Game Two I'm on the draw and I get to bring in all my removal spells," Depraz said. "I played Scorching Dragonfire on his Anax to ensure Storm's Wrath could clear away everything and not leave Satyrs behind, but I'm short on cards to play Uro from the graveyard."

"I drew Scorching Dragonfire just before he could attack with his Torbrand. I could Dragonfire my Brazen Borrower to cast Uro right away, but I waited one turn and was able to Uro because he played Anax and I could use my Scorching on that instead."

Toffel Takes It to the Next Level

The story of Toralf "Toffel" Severin is how two White-Blue Control players showed the world the biggest play of the day.

Ondřej Stráský bounced back from this opening Elimination bracket loss by eliminating one of the favorites to win it all this weekend.

But Stráský would have his hands full with Severin surging back from his earlier loss to Pozzo. As two control decks facing off, the games went all the way toward the time limits of the round and would be the last Magic broadcast for the day.

Anyone who had doubts about Severin had them cast aside as he set up and masterfully executed a play to force Stráský to deck himself—and end his World Championship chances. You have to see it unfold to believe it.

Press "F" in Chat

Of course, Severin and Depraz both earned wins that also eliminated players and whittled the field down to the final 12 to return Saturday. Here's who fell in the battle to be the best in the world.

  • Reigning World Champion and tournament favorite Javier Dominguez make an unexpected exit, putting an end to one of the most dominant runs Magic has ever seen.
  • Matias Leveratto would not find his fairy tale ending this time, falling from the competition with a 0-2, 0-2 record over both his brackets. In fact, he played nine total games and went 1-8 over them—an unfortunate run to be sure.
  • Another fan-favorite, Andrea Mengucci, fell after earning a 1-2 record in Elimination, notching a strikingly different performance than his teammate Seth Manfield that locked himself for Top 8 by the end of Friday.
  • Ondřej Stráský was forced to retire from the World Championship in spectacular fashion by falling to Severin. The rising MPL star now turns his attention to his 2020 partial season at the next Mythic Invitational.
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