1998 World Championships
Standard Day Preview
Jack Lewis Stanton
After finishing a strong 7-0 to top the leader board after day one, Jon Finkel was pleasantly surprised, though he wouldn't let it change his choice of decks, "I chose my deck before I came and pretty much thought I'd play it. The 7-0 finish clinched it."
Also at 7-0 after day one, Sigurd Eskeland also chose his deck prior to coming to this year's championships. "It's familiar to me, solid, and fits my style of play," mentioned Sigurd. "I expect it should get me a 4-3 or 5-2 recorrd."
At the lower end of the feeding pool, Terry Tsang of Team Canada, 2-5 after day one, said in order to have a chance at finishing in the money. "Sligh is the only thing that can get me a perfect record on the day."
In general, most players polled stated that it was familiarity that was the driving force in their decision for today's competition and that they had practiced for weeks leading up to it. Those decks most likely to be seen are as follows:
A perenial favorite at any major tournament, Sligh is the odds on favorite to show up en masse at today's contest. Consistent, most players with records at or above 5-2 will seriously consider playing the Sligh as it could end up giving them the record necessary to coast into the top eight after day three. However, this strategy could backfire if a majority of players are playing the deck. Similar deck match-ups are never good for those trying to make the cut and could lead to a reversal of fortunes. Still, the power of the Sligh is amazing and it's allure could be too much for many.
Called Cuneo Blue by many, it packs an assortment of counters (12-16) and Steel Golems as the kill card. This year's European Championships, where Draw-Go was seen in large numbers, has many players wondering if the large Euro contingent will stick with the deck and play it today. This has led many to prepare sideboards with more anti-Blue than usual. If the Draw-Go shows up in force, it'll make for some interesting matches.
Living Death Variants
After the success of Living Death decks at the US Regionals and Nationals, the deck type has become a favorite of many players internationally, especially with the release of ExodusTM. Survival of the Fittest, Spike Weaver, Recurring Nightmare, and Reclaim should make strong appearances in many of the deck variants.
With Matt Linde's US Nationals title due to his playing of a White Weenie deck, the arch-type has seen a resurgence in popularity. One of it's strong points is it's ability to handle decks centering around combos or enchantments and artifacts. Aura of Silence, Soltari Visionary, and Disenchant are seeing renewed usage due to the popularity of Prosperity/Bloom and Oath of Druids decks. Still, most players interviewed on day one consider the White Weenie a deck that will not show up and thus, are not preparing very heavily for it.
One of the more popular decks among the Pro Tour elite, the ProsBloom still retains a favorable reputation and could be seen on several tables about the tournament hall. It's weakness is that many players are preparing heavily against the Oath of Druids deck, something that directly affects it's playability.
With several players finishing at 5-1 during the US Nationals, mono-green has finally come into the limelight after being a non-tournament viable deck for a very long time. Spike Weavers, Oath of Druids, Spike Workers, and Eladamri's Vineyard power the deck. Whether or not it shows up in today's tournament remains to be seen, but many of the better players say they've tested extensively against it over the last month.
Oath of Druids
Randy's Buehler's standard day win at the US Nationals with a White/Green Oath of Druids deck got many looking in that direction when they first began testing for Worlds. With about 10 different flavors to chose from (Blue/White/Green, Blue/Green, White/Green, and Green), players are tweaking their decks to suit their personalities. Still, the decks are being heavily metagamed against, and it's not known whether this Oath hate will effect its viability.
-Jack Lewis Stanton