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Retrospective on 2011 World Championships

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Friday I gave you my day one breakdown, with stories from the event's first day. Here are my stories from the rest of the event, from the mundane, to the fantastic, it's been a memorable event in many ways.

The Results

In a ChannelFireball dominant Top 8, it was the Japanese MOCS player Jun'ya Iyanaga and Britain's Richard Bland who were battling in the finals, with Iyanaga winning in just three quick games. I will be the first to admit that the idea of a non-ChannelFireball player winning the title in a Top 8 that was half composed of them, seemed almost crazy. Just by attrition alone, but we quickly learned that the non-Tempered Steel decks that made it to the Top 8 were almost all completely capable of the matchup. The lone exception being Conley Woods vs Craig Wescoe which went to the wire and looked as if Conley would also be knocked out in the Quarter Finals.

Best Impressions

Conley Woods - Let no one doubt this man's capability when it comes to competition, his dominance this weekend was impressive and portends a very exciting future in the coming years.

MOCS - The MOCS started out as a fun side interest, but has grown to be a proving ground for the future greats of Magic. I expect great things from it and the competitors it breeds.

PVDDR - Paulo received his EIGHTH Pro Tour Top 8, his FOURTH Worlds Top 8. That's... insane. Truly. His performance this weekend was excellent and given a boost by Conley during Modern, he received this latest Top 8. Though he lost in the quarter finals, let no one overlook the accomplishment this young man has already received, and just let yourself wonder for a few minutes at what he might do in the coming years as he continues to mature and compete at the highest levels.

Owen Turtenwald - The Player of the Year race has been exciting for these past few years, this year was no different. Three Top 8 competitors were capable of winning the title of Player of the Year depending on how they finished, but it turned out that all of them were eliminated and Owen's seven Top 8s were enough to carry him to victory.

CoverItLive - Some new tech that coverage explored this tourney as a way to live blog / report on matches and events as they happen. I liked it a lot and am eager to see it used more down the road.

My One Memory

While not completely true, I find that most events I attend are dominated by one play, player or event. At Pro Tour San Diego it was LSV's undefeated run during Swiss. From Grand Prix DC I remember Brad Nelson winning the event after thinking he couldn't make the Top 8. From Pro tour San Juan I remember Paulo's first round loss which had historically meant he couldn't win the event, a record which he broke. Grand Prix Columbus had the ruckus around an unfortunate turn of phrase and a DQ for it.

My one memory for this World Championships will be the Game 5 between Craig Wescoe and Conley Woods where Conley appeared dead with little hope of surviving the next few turns much less coming back to win the game. And then watching him go into the tank and process the state and how exactly he had to play to get the out and come back to win the match. Just brilliant play which, to steal a term from a Starcraft 2 commentator named "Artosis," it "gave me nerd chills."

Keep on (Food) Truckin'

One of the things I enjoyed at this Worlds was the opportunity to eat at some of San Francisco's best food trucks as they rotated through the parking lot outside the hall, bringing delicious meat (and veggies) to the masses. From Kung Fu Tacos to Arki to Bacon Bacon; the food was delicious, reasonably priced, and a sure highlight of the trip for me.

Surprises

I wish I could say that Japan's dominance at Worlds was a surprise to me, and I guess Iyanaga's success surprised me a little. But, in truth, the Japanese team looked sharp immediately out of the gate. With Makahito Mihara on the team I had no doubt that they'd be powerful and well equipped. I had hoped America might retain the team championship, but I can support Japan's success given their high level of competency and play. Congratulations!

Friends, Old and New

As with every major Magic event, one of the greatest effects is that it brings people together from wide geographic regions. It was awesome to get the chance to finally meet lots of people who I've only known digitally. I won't try to list them all as I'll inevitably hurt someone's feelings as I mistakenly leave them off the list. You all are awesome and amazing people and I eagerly await the next time our paths cross!

Community Cube

I am happy to report that the Community Cube has finally officially launched. Expect more about it, it's inaugural draft, and who took it home in the next week or two as Stybs and Rich Castle (Inside the Deck) bring you article and video about the event!

Batons or Torches

One of the primary missions of this trip was to prep and work with Stybs (aka my replacement.) We worked on reporting on an event, interviewing, and I made introductions everywhere I could as he would need to be able to interact and work these events with these connections I've built over the years.

This event only reinforced my belief that Adam is perfect for this job and has a great mind for this type of job as he is eagerly working to bring new content, new ideas, and new awesomeness to the site.

It's Not Really Over

This event marked the 'end' in a number of ways. Being the last Worlds of the current system, the last time we will currently have a Worlds team competition. It was also the last tournament that Level 5 judge Sheldon Menery would ever judge as he will ascend to "Emeritus" status and instead focus on playing and enjoying the fruits of his many years of labor. Sheldon is a great man, and someone I am honored to call a friend. It's been a joy to work with him over the years and I will miss seeing him in his red shirt as he head judges another event. However I am comforted knowing that he will still be around and I'll see him at future Magic events.

This was also obviously my last Magic event as a non-Wizards employee, in many ways it felt unusual to abandon many of my previous chores and tasks during events such as interviewing and talking to pros with my camera rig. It's been an amazing opportunity and cannot wait to transition to the Wizards side.

Front page image credit goes to Diana Styborski, wife to Adam "Stybs" Styborski.

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