When the New Capenna Championship Top 8 began on Sunday, we had already closed out much of the story of the 2021–22 season. A whirlwind of play on Saturday led to most of the remaining seats at Magic World Championship XVIII being claimed, but there was still the ending to the story of the New Capenna Championship to write–plus a final few World Championship invitations to unfold.
It had been a long road here, both from the 15 rounds played across Friday and Saturday but also the entire season setting up the stakes for the Top 8. The top six finishers would automatically earn a seat at the 32-player World Championship later this year, and how the eight players finished on Sunday would determine the remaining few on the fence whether they were in or out.
The Upper Bracket
The Top 8 playoff didn't disappoint. The first thing that would be decided is who would advance out of the upper bracket to the Title Match, with each of the four quarterfinal matches also serving as a World Championship qualifier. And in play befitting of the stakes, each went the distance–a full three games each to determine a winner.
Longtime competitor Jan Merkel kicked off the day, showing the power of his off-the-metagame Jeskai Hinata, Dawn-Crowed deck as he took the opening match from Inglis' Jeskai Storm, one of the breakout decks of the tournament. With the win Merkel moved on to the World Championship and the rest of the upper bracket.
Next up was a meeting of two former Players of the Year. Mike Sigrist was making his fourth career Top Finish, while the Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka moved into a tie for sixth place on the all-time Top Finishes list with his 10th.
In the epic back-and-forth match that followed, players traded wins as board states swung wildly between Sigrist's Grixis Vampires and Yasooka's Jund Midrange. In an ending befitting two longtime players, it was a throwback Kiki-Jiki (or at least a
On the other side of the bracket, Hisamichi Yoshigoe continued his incredible underdog run this weekend. The Japanese player picked up Magic just a couple of years ago but has found ever greater success on Arena. He defeated fellow first-time Top Finisher Karl Sarap to guarantee that his surprise run will keep going at the World Championship.
In the last quarterfinal, Simon Nielsen and Zachary Kiihne faced off in a grindy Esper Midrange mirror that saw Nielsen narrowly prevail.
Four different decks comprised the remaining four slots of the upper bracket, and the battle of midrange decks intensified as Nielsen squeaked out a victory over Yoshigoe, and Merkel was able to ride his fliers to victory over Sigrist.
That set up the upper bracket final between two longtime European experts. It was the seventh straight match to go the full three games in the playoff as the players demonstrated the wide range of strategies that excelled in Standard at the New Capenna Championship. After three grueling duels, it was Merkel's Hinata deck that was able to swing through and secure the first seat in the Title Match.
That sent things down to the lower bracket, where final seats at the World Championship would be decided. The first match came between two competitors who earned their seat in other ways, and it was Inglis who was able to storm off against Yasooka to advance.
The last player with the chance to punch their own ticket to the World Championship was Karl Sarap, who was making his first Top Finish and had fallen short in his quarterfinal–but still held his Worlds destiny in his own hands. In yet another game three with everything on the line, Sarap's Jund deck came through.
It was a surreal moment for Sarap, who fought through nerves to accomplish more than he dreamed of entering the weekend.
Magic World Championship XXVIII Invitees
With that, the Magic World Championship XXVII field was finalized.
Congratulations to the outstanding #MTGWorlds field!— PlayMTG (@PlayMTG) May 23, 2022
These 32 competitors will battle for the title of World Champion this fall. 🏆
Mark your calendar for an incredible event, October 28-30, 2022. pic.twitter.com/BnZHqwRYwc
The six players who earned World Championship invitations from the New Capenna Championship:
- Jan Merkel
- Mike Sigrist
- Simon Nielsen
- Hisamichi Yoshigoe
- David Inglis
- Karl Sarap
But because several of those players had already earned invites to the World Championship, that created a passdown invitation in the points races, which additionally meant that Jakub Tóth would advance from the League race. It also meant that Lukas Honney would earn the final invite in the challenger points race.
Was feeling really down today, but talking to @RLYKNGHT put me right back into completely surreal mood of realising that I actually made it to Worlds. Huge thanks to everyone who made this possible, mainly @IvanFloch_ and @OndrejStrasky— Jakub Tóth (@Flashjack711) May 22, 2022
I'M GOING TO WORLDS LETSGOOOOOOOO— lukas261997 (@HonnayLukas) May 22, 2022
The Lower Bracket
After back-and-forth midrange battles ruled the day–the first nine matches all went to a third game–Yoshigoe and Sigrist decisively won the next pair of matches. Sigrist's value-oriented Grixis Vampires deck was able to outlast Sarap's Jund midrange, while Yoshigoe was able to produce enough early pressure to knock of Inglis' surprise Storm deck.
That set up a match between two players with very different resumes. Sigrist is a former Player of the Year who was making his fourth Top Finish, while Yoshigoe was a relative newcomer to Magic–having first played Magic in 2020. But one thing they shared in common is that they were both qualified for the World Championship, and both still had a chance to win the New Capenna Championship.
The match that followed was an incredible show of topdecking power, as both players traded haymakers and games. It all culminated in an amazing moment for Yoshigoe, and his own reaction says as much about his triumphant weekend as anything else.
That left just one more match to decide who would face Merkel in the final: would Yoshigoe's underdog run continue, or would Nielsen earn his way back to a rematch?
As it has so often in this Standard format,
Rocking out to music the way he has through the entire tournament, Nielsen was able to consistently build a board advantage and in two decisive games he defeated Yoshigoe and advanced to the Title Match of the New Capenna Championship.