223 players qualified for the New Capenna Championship, and with two days of competition across a revamped Standard familiar Historic formats with seats at the Magic World Championship on the line, the stakes could not be higher as the competitors began play on Friday.
Entering the tournament, 13 seats at Magic World Championship XXVIII had already been claimed by those who performed well at the Innistrad and Neon Dynasty Championships, as well as defending champ Yuta Takahashi. But that meant that the rest of the 32-player field was wide open to be filled this weekend.
In addition to the top six finishers at the New Capenna Championship, the top five season World Championship Qualifying Points leaders from the combined MPL and Rivals League plus the top eight Challengers would round out the field. While it was possible no one would guarantee themselves a berth on Friday, it was the all-important first step to put themselves in position and several players were in position to secure a spot on points if things broke their way.
Or, as Cedric Phillps eloquently put it, you want to be in the box.
The Battle for the Box
After seven rounds of play, two players remained undefeated: Stefan Schütz and David Inglis. And they both did it the same style, taking Jeskai Storm in Standard and Golgari Food in Historic.
🎊Congratulations to #SNCChamps Day 1 undefeated players and teammates David Inglis and Stefan Schütz!— PlayMTG (@PlayMTG) May 21, 2022
They took the field by . . . storm with Jeskai Storm in Standard and Golgari Food in Historic. Fantastic work, see you both tomorrow!🎊 pic.twitter.com/Q98pd4kaU5
Inglis was in a strong position, but kept a low-key too at the World Championship race. "I'm just going to keep taking things one match at a time and hope the numbers work out at the end of tomorrow."
While Inglis chases it, three other players can play much more comfortably knowing that thanks to performances that earned mathematical locks for the World Championship: Greg Orange, Yuma Koizumi, and Simon Nielsen.
🎉Congratulations to Greg Orange, Yuma Koizumi, and Simon Nielsen, who are heading to #MTGWorlds!— PlayMTG (@PlayMTG) May 21, 2022
All three players locked up their seats at the World Championship with 5-2 records on Day 1 of the #SNCChamps, putting them at the top of the Challenger field. Congrats again!🎉 pic.twitter.com/GQ2zDD87mX
For Pro Tour 25th Anniversary champion Orange, who entered Friday in a strong position and turned in a 5-2 performance to secure his invite, it was a stressful Day One that ended with the result he was playing for.
"In Standard I just played the Angels deck because I kept losing to it, and I played Phoenix because it's what I played in the last two Championships so it's basically my Historic deck of choice at this point," he explained. "I was just hoping for enough wins in this event to make sure I qualified for the World Championship. I was definitely a bit worried when I saw the deck breakdown and saw that basically no one was playing Angels. It was probably not the best choice but it was good enough to go 2-1, which is basically all you can ask for from a deck."
The Citrus Assassin struck. Now, he can set his sights on the Top 8 knowing that his ultimate goal is secured already.
For "Sleep-in" Simon Nielsen, things also got off to a stressful start as he dreamed about living up to his nickname..
I dreamt that I overslept the check-in time for the New Capenna Championship and missed Worlds because I didn't got to play.— Sleep-In Simon Nielsen (@MrChecklistcard) May 20, 2022
Woke up with my heart beating, but managed to fall back asleep. Then I had the same dream again 🙃
He did make it on time, if you were wondering, and then turned in a hot start to the day that gave him enough of a cushion to lose the last two rounds of the day but still earn his spot at the World Championship.
And he did it dancing all the way.
"It's hard to be too stoked after losing the last two rounds of a day, but I am psyched to be qualified for [the World Championship] now," he explained. "Just gotta keep up the focus and see what else I can get out of this weekend!"
Joining them is Yuma Koizumi, who continued his run of steady performances this season, locking in his spot with a matching 5-2 finish on Friday.
Historic and Standard Format Challenge Deckbuilders
It's been a few months since we've seen players take to Standard at a Championship event, but with the release of Streets of New Capenna it would account for most of the Magic played this weekend.
Frank Karsten broke down the Standard and Historic metagames, and covered why most players chose the decks they did. Esper Midrange deck featuring
The archetypes below Esper Midrange look like they could have been taken out of Standards past: Storm, Jund, Mill, and Vampires were all well-represented in the tournament, as was the Naya Runes deck that leaned on
After three rounds of Standard play Friday, the results looked like something out of Modern: a Storm deck led the way.
Nine Storm players went undefeated, while Esper Midrange and Temur Control also delivered a handful of the tournament's 28 3-0 players after the Standard rounds.
Talk about things you don't see in every Standard: a dozen copies of
Over in Historic, the trio of decks that defined the Neon Dynasty Championship - Golgari Food, Azorius Control and Izzet Phoenix - had undergone some changes in the months since. While the Food deck looks largely the same, the Phoenix decks picked up a key new piece in
But it was Azorius Control that fell off the map, leading to a field that looked like this:
While Izzet Phoenix was the most popular deck in the field, it was clear that players showed up to the New Capenna Championship ready to cut down some Birds. And after four rounds of Historic play, it appeared that the field had done just that: just three
Day One's Biggest Plays
With so much of the field battling for their shot at the World Championship, one might overlook the the drive to win New Capenna Championship! The tournament provided a number of fun and memorable moments on Day One, starting early this morning with a classic Riley Knight introduction.
Since the release of Streets of New Capenna, Standard pushes more than anytime so far this season to play three colors in your deck, and with a new cycle of tri-lands bolstering the excellent dual lands and other nonbasic lands, such as the channel lands from Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty. Some players cut down to just one or two basic lands in total.
And some other players were ready to take advantage of that.
With Inglis and Schütz leading the way, just over 100 players will return for Day Two of the New Capenna Championship. Three World Championship seats have been claimed, and several more are sure to be by the end of Saturday.
Shota Yasooka's 84 World Championship Qualifying Points put him at the head of the league pack, with Reid Duke and David Inglis right behind at 78.
But those three are chased close by logan Nettles at 75 points, after his narrow 4-3 Day One record to keep the dream alive, but more at 72 points: Austin Bursavich, Piotr Głogowski, and Márcio Carvalho all playing on Day Two as well.
While three Challengers locked their seats up, five more will be claimed. Tristan Wylde-LaRue and Nathan Steuer made the Day Two cut, but Jim Davis will have to sweat it out to see if his 58 points will be enough, just like Camillo Lukesch sitting on the sidelines all weekend with 57.
Who will win the Worlds races? Who will earn a spot in the Top 8 and play for the chance at the title? Coverage returns for the New Capenna Championship Day Two broadcast, live beginning at at 9 a.m. PST May 21 at twitch.tv/magic!