The MTG World Championship



Coming on October 28, I’ll be competing in the Magic: the Gathering World Championship. Playing against the very best players in the game makes Worlds a much different experience from any other tournament. While I’ve had my share of MTG success over the years, I’ve never won first place in a tournament at the highest level of competition. Becoming the World Champion would be the culmination of a lifelong journey for me.

Moreover, Worlds has a special place in my heart because of my extensive history with the event. By my count, competing this year will have me tie Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa as one of the people who has played in the most World Championships since it became a small-field event back in 2012 (as Paulo won’t be competing this year, we’ll both have played seven out of ten times).

A nearly perfect run

I had a nearly perfect run of attendance from 2012 to 2018, but I never took it for granted. Thousands of great players work hard every year for a chance to play Worlds, with only a small handful actually making it. I always treat every year as though it could be my last chance.

And after narrowly and disappointingly failing to qualify for the last two Championships, it felt as though my last chance might have indeed come and gone. But with consistent finishes in the MTG Arena Set Championships this season, I punched my ticket for one more try.

Please indulge me with a trip down Memory Lane as I look back on my previous World Championship experiences.


2012

In 2012, I qualified as the Magic Online Champion. I was an underdog who’d never finished in the money at a Pro Tour, and I was going up against legends of the game like Jon Finkel, Brian Kibler and Luis Scott-Vargas. Some people felt I wasn’t qualified to be there, and I admit I had some doubts of my own.

© 1993-2022 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Deck: Modern Zoo
Record: 2-10

In many ways, I proved them right and finished in dead last place. Most tournaments have a “cut” or drop people after a certain number of losses. But there’s no mercy rule at Worlds, and you keep battling no matter how badly things are going.

This was a painful experience, but only renewed my determination to come back and set things right. I’d prove to everyone, most importantly myself, that I could hack it at that level.

2013

In 2013, I raged back and found myself in the finals, up two games to zero in a favorable matchup. Sadly, I couldn’t get that last win and I failed to become the World Champion.

© 1993-2022 Wizards of the Coast LLC

Decks: Modern Bogles & Standard Jund

Finish: 2nd

Even a decade later, this remains the biggest match of my career, and I didn’t come out on top. There’s only one way to vindicate this loss, and it’s to win the event in a future year.

2014

Decks: Modern Storm & Standard G/B Constellation

Record: 7-7

2015

2015 was the year I failed to qualify.

2016

Decks: Modern Jund & Standard Temur Ramp
Record: 7-7

2017

In 2017, before the cut to the Top 4 playoffs, second place through fifth place were all tied with nine match wins. I sat there agonizing over whether or not I’d make it on tiebreakers and only got my answer when I looked over and saw the other four players lined up for celebration photos…

Deck: Standard Temur Energy

Record: 9-5

2018

Deck: Standard R/B Chainwhirler

Record: 8-6


As mentioned, I sat on the sidelines for the last two Championships, and now I’m back for one more try.

Someone recently asked me if I’m a better player now than I was back in 2013. Today, I have a stronger foundation of experience and knowledge. But back then, I was sharper and had an unlimited amount of passion for the game. I could happily play Magic all day every day and never feel bored or stressed out. Such a thing is more difficult at age 33 with work, life, family and social responsibilities that refuse to wait on pause.

Regardless of the answer, I’ll need to use every drop from both wells - experience and knowledge, plus passion and work ethic - if I’m going to win this year. And I do intend to win this year. After all, every chance at Worlds could be my last.

Author: Reid Duke

Magic the Gathering Hall of Fame, Member of Team CFB UltimateGuard

Magic runs in the family for Reid. When Reid was five, his mom came home one day with two Magic starter packs for him and his brother Ian. They both hardly knew the rules but they muddled through as best they could with the rules inserts. 26 years later, Reid’s now one of Magic’s most successful and respected players in the world. Learn more about Reid.