It has been an amazing World Championships here in San Francisco, with plenty of stories to tell. If we had to sum it up with just five cards, here is the five that do it.
The team at ChannelFireball are known for taking formats and finding the answer for them, and in Standard they seemed to have done exactly that with Tempered Steel. The enchantment, and the deck that was jam packed with artifact creatures that revolve around it, was low on peoples' radar going into the weekend, and was instrumental in propelling four members of the ChannelFireball team into the Top 8 here in San Francisco.
The unassuming burn spell from Zendikar, when combined with Grove of the Burnwillows, creates a deadly repeatable package of removal that can be hard to beat. This combination was instrumental in a number of important victories in the Modern format. Finalist Richard Bland made it through to the Top 8 based on a great run in Modern, with Punishing Fire being the difference between his Zoo list and many others. It was his Zoo list being played by the Norwegian National team too, which led to a tense deciding match where Makahito Mihara's Splinter Twin deck also employed the burn spell to create a cat and mouse game as the two nations vied for the title.
There are a lot of flashback cards that have seen good use in both Limited and Constructed, but it wasn't until the 2011 World Championships that Desperate Ravings shined in a big way. Doing double duty thanks to its flashback, it was played in a number of innovative control decks in Standard, including Red-Blue Delver of Secrets, Red-Blue-White Control from Gerry Thompson, and a Red-Blue-Black flashback deck that propelled Patrick Chapin to a 5-1 finish in Standard. On top of this, a number of draft archetypes, including the popular Burning Vengeance strategy, leaned heavily on this card in our six rounds of Innistrad draft on Friday.
Olivia has long been known to be a powerful card in Limited. It was one of the defining cards in Conley Woods' second draft deck, which pushed him on further in what was an impressive thirteen round winning streak. Where it hadn't been seen so much before was in Constructed. Patrick Chapin was the one who showed the world what it could do. He took apart Brad Nelson in the very first round, and played the deck to a 5-1 finish that had many players eagerly trading for the legendary Vampire before the event had even finished.
Jun'Ya Iyanaga's Red-Green ramp deck made the most of Primeval Titan's ability to fetch lands in special fashion, frequently finding Inkmoth Nexus and Kessig Wolf Run to end games at lightning speed from nowhere. When it came to land fetching though, nowhere was finding Kessig Wolf Run more dramatic than in Modern. As an addition to Zoo that can be fetched by Knight of the Reliquary, the powerful red-green activation land was able to punish players with surprise Fireballs all day long. The World Championships would not have been the same without it.