World Championships 2023

MTG Worlds Report

The Worldly Counsel at the

World Championships

Author: Zen Takahashi

Hello everyone!

Two months ago, I had the incredible privilege of competing in the World Championships! Last year, while outlining my personal goals, I aimed to qualify for a Pro Tour again, with the lifetime stretch goal of competing at the World Championships. Surprisingly, I achieved both goals early in the year by winning the Australasian Regional Championships in March.

From that point, I was determined to give my all to this tournament, treating it as a likely once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. For someone of my caliber, it felt like conquering Everest, and I was committed to maximizing the experience!

The Team

For Pro Tour March of the Machine in May, I assembled the Worldly Counsel team – a mix of familiar faces and new connections from Twitter. Despite not achieving stellar results in Minneapolis, the team chemistry was strong, and I enjoyed collaborating with everyone. We decided to join forces again for Pro Tour Lord of the Rings in July, introducing some new players to the mix.

In Barcelona, we bonded in a countryside mansion, two hours from the city, and our camaraderie translated into success with three team members making it to the Top 8!

Following our triumph in Barcelona, nine of us qualified for the World Championships. Unfortunately, Ben couldn’t attend due to the arrival of his newborn. We brought in Lorenzo Terlizzi and Tommy Ashton to round out our solid ten-person roster.

Worlds 2023 - Team

The team was as follows:

Christian Calcano – USA

Dom Harvey – Canada

Hunk Yu – Taiwan

Joseph Karani – Canada 

Lorenzo Terlizzi – Italy

Marco Del Pivo – Italy

Miguel Castro – Spain

Sean Goddard – United Kingdom

Tommy Ashton – USA

Zen Takahashi – New Zealand

Additionally, Andrea Mengucci, Eduardo Sajgalick, and Yung-Ming Huang joined us in the Las Vegas testing house for limited testing. Over Discord, Alex Rohan, Charalampos Kikidis (Mogged), Nick Price, and William Poor provided valuable support during our preparation.

Construction Preparations

We commenced constructed testing in mid-August, fresh from our Barcelona endeavors. Although Wilds of Eldradine hadn’t officially been released, spoilers were starting to circulate. We hit Cockatrice to playtest with the new cards in existing decks and dabbled in brewing some of our own creations.

I was in charge of focusing on the aggro decks and Domain Ramp. I spent a few weeks trying Mono Red, Mono White Humans, Azorius Soldiers and Domain Ramp. Christian Calcano and I also were working on a Boros Convoke list, which was quite promising early on in testing, but we ultimately gave up as the mana base was just too poor. 

For Mono Red, the addition of Embereth Veteran as an extra one-drop marked a significant improvement. The absence of Abrade in the metagame also prompted a bold move – to play Urabrask’s Forge in the main deck, a card we dubbed as red’s Wedding Announcement.

This proved highly effective against the midrange decks, which were the popular decks at the time.

Despite my initial fondness for Mono Red, its struggles against the various Esper midrange decks, and the prevalence of Mono White Midrange at the time, led me to put it aside.

I’ve always loved white aggro decks, so Mono White Humans and UW Soldiers both peaked my interest.

However, I quickly dismissed Mono White due to its vulnerability to sweepers. Even with Mishra’s Foundry, Wedding Announcement and The Wandering Emperor for resilience, it still fell short of beating cards like Brotherhood’s End and Sunfall.

On the other hand, UW Soldiers emerged as a promising contender, dominating Mono White Midrange and Domain Ramp decks thanks to its counterspells. Yet, its unfavorable matchups against Mono Red and the Esper midrange decks, positioned UW Soldiers as more of a metagame-specific choice, prompting us to “park it” for potential future consideration.

Venturing into Domain Ramp, the addition of Virtue of Persistence felt like a big addition to the deck, as having early interaction and lifegain was pivotal against the aggro decks. We decided to focus on being black based instead of white, so we while we still played Leyline Binding, we opted for Drag to the Bottom over Sunfall (four mana vs five, and not exiling for Virtue felt important), and re-working the mana base to allow us to play Duress and Cut Down in the sideboard.

This bolstered our performance against aggro decks that had proven challenging for Ramp previously. However, we didn’t build correctly with Up the Beanstalk – we recognised it was good, but we tried to just fit it into our current build instead of going back to the white-heavy list with Sunfall, which left us somewhat underwhelmed by the card and the deck overall.

In hindsight, this was a major error from us.

Virtue of Persistence WOE

In the midst of all this exploration, Rakdos Reanimator emerged as a breakthrough deck within the team. Faced with the dominance of Mono White Midrange and Mono Red Aggro, alongside the ascent of Golgari Midrange and Domain Ramp, Rakdos Reanimator convincingly triumphed over all four of these decks.

Its ability to go over-the-top of midrange and ramp decks, while excelling in the aggro matchups due to Cut Down, Bloodtithe Harvester and sweepers, made it the team’s preferred choice. At that moment, which was about three weeks before the event, it honestly felt like we had successfully broken the format.

However, the weekend before Worlds was the Japan Open – a major online event that brought many of the top players from across Japan, and we expected the results from the event would have major implications for the metagame. Unexpectedly, Esper Midrange was the most popular deck, with Mono Red and Golgari Midrange also being quite popular.

This was a major concern, as these Esper midrange decks were a tough matchup for Reanimator.

However, we still felt good against Golgari and Mono Red, as well as the Mono White Humans deck that took down the event, so I ended up deciding to stay on Rakdos Reanimator. In the end, half the team played Reanimator while the other half swapped to Esper Midrange. For a detailed account on Reanimator, you can find the article here.

Worlds 2023 Rakdos

Limited Preparations

I began my limited preparation a week after the set was released on Magic Online.

As a team, we rely heavily on 17 lands data, and so my preference was to dive into the format a few days after release when the data sample size was substantial. The team primarily focused on organizing single elimination drafts on Magic Online so we could review all eight players’ draft logs afterwards for a thorough review.

Limited testing took a back seat for me initially, as I felt that most of my learnings would come from the in-house drafts in Las Vegas.

Instead, I prioritized playing standard and studying my teammates’ draft logs and decks.

In the early days of the format, I liked the Jund colors a lot, with Rakdos being a personal favorite, followed closely by Golgari and Gruul. I steered away from white and blue due to their perceived shallowness, though I maintained a willingness to draft Boros.

Hopeless Nightmare WOE

Once we got to the house and started drafting a lot, a clear metagame emerged, characterized by the red aggro decks, the green midrange/ramp decks, and the blue tempo/counterspell decks.

The dynamic unfolded where red beat blue but lost to green, green conquered red but struggled against blue, and blue faltered against red while trumping green.

Recognising this strategic landscape, we acknowledged the value of drafting blue. While still considered inferior to the Jund colors, we expected the Jund-colored cards would be sought after in the drafts at Worlds, which meant blue was more likely to be open. The pod draft environment also favored facing green decks, making blue a more appealing choice than in the online setting, where red aggro decks were more prominent due to cross-pod pairings.

Dimir and Izzet emerged as viable blue decks, while Simic and Azorius were still best avoided. Surprisingly, white proved to be the weakest color, finding compatibility with just Boros. We learned that Orzhov was a trap, as it was heavily dependent on cards like Hopeless Nightmare, Hopeful Vigil, and Stockpiling Celebrant, all of which were sought after for other decks and hence challenging to assemble at Worlds where people would rate these cards highly.

After all the drafts in the house, my personal preference was inclined towards the red aggro decks, particularly Rakdos.

As my drafting experiences deepened, I leaned more towards building hyper-aggressive Rakdos decks, comparable to Boros in speed, but excelled in going wider due to the rat token makers. In particular, Sugar Rush and Gnawing Crescendo were two cards I liked a lot – the former allowed you to trade up your 1/1 rat tokens with a big creature while drawing a card, while the latter set up lethal attacks in a similar fashion to Imodane’s Recruiter.

Although I did still rate green highly, the major issue with the color was that it was quite shallow in commons, but the strength of its uncommons meant that often multiple people in the table start in green and are reluctant to move off it and hence you end up fighting over a limited pool of playable commons.

Another major revelation was that the Threaten-effects, Twisted Fealty and Eriette’s Tempting Apple, were both fantastic cards that I was happy to first pick. Although these types of cards are historically bad, they were excellent in this format due to the metagame dynamic I previously mentioned.

They enabled the red decks to overcome the green decks. The additional damage that both these cards dealt was also significant, especially the wicked role on Fealty, as it allowed you to play the card more aggressively since you were still sizing your creatures up even if it wasn’t a lethal attack.

Twisted Fealty WOE

In the end, I was happy to draft most archetypes, but with a bias towards the red decks. The depth of red’s commons and the strength of all its color pairs contributed to this preference. My favorite deck from the format was this hyper-aggressive Rakdos deck that I drafted in the testing house – I went 3-0 with it, and had two turn-four kills and multiple turn-five kills!


The Testing House

In Barcelona, we all arrived on Sunday, but this time around we decided to arrive on Saturday instead to give us four full days in the testing house. Since the weather was quite hot, we made sure to get a house with a big swimming pool where we could go for a quick dip between testing sessions.

Our days in the house were very structured.

  • We would start each day at 9am, where we had a meeting to cover off our plan for the day and do a discord call with Alex, Nick and Mogged, who updated us with their constructed learnings while we were asleep.
  • At about 9:30am, we would fire off a draft/split up for standard testing until 1:30pm, where we re-grouped to discuss our learnings from the morning session before taking a break for lunch/going for a swim/tidying up the house.
  • At 3pm, we started our second session of the day, which involved setting a plan for what we wanted to cover off and then start another draft/split up into more standard testing.
  • We would finish up at 7:30pm to recap what we learned and grabbed dinner.

After dinner and a bit of a break, at around 9pm, we had our evening meeting sessions.

This was the main meeting of the day, and would extend for about two to three hours.

On Sunday, we had our first main limited meeting, and on Tuesday, we had our constructed meeting where we split up to finalize our decklist/sideboard plans. On Wednesday, the final night, we had our second main limited meeting. 

A pivotal moment in the testing house was when we started exploring Esper Midrange more after its success at the Japan Open and the weekend’s Magic Online challenges, and realizing that the deck seemed well positioned, but also that Reanimator was quite poor against it.

This led to an abrupt shift towards Esper Midrange on Monday and Tuesday, as people started to panic about the viability of the Reanimator deck.

To make matters worse, on Tuesday night, Lorenzo, having done quite badly with Reanimator in testing, decided to make himself “feel better” by playing games against Mono Red, a deck we perceived to be a good matchup for Reanimator. He went on to go 2-12 in games, which completely crushed his morale.

It was at this point half the team decided to swap to Esper Midrange. They then spent the entire Tuesday evening testing frantically and working with Mogged and Nick late into the night to figure out a list. In the end, Calcano, Lorenzo, Hunk and Dom opted to play Esper.


Meanwhile, the rest of us decided to stick to Reanimator, partly due to our belief in its viability against the non-Esper decks in the field, and our overall familiarity with the archetype.

We did our sideboard mapping for the deck on Tuesday evening, and since we had some time, I decided to play some games of Mono Red vs Miguel on Reanimator, in the hope that we could change our fortunes from earlier with Lorenzo. Unfortunately, things started to look even worse, as I went 9-1 against him in pre-board games.

It was around 1am at this point, and fatigue and low spirits had set in. Miguel, feeling defeated from the set, decided to head to bed while Joseph and I joked about swapping to Mono Red. A genuinely concerned Miguel then pleaded with us to stick with Reanimator before going to sleep. 

After Miguel headed off, Joseph and I spent some time joking about how high we were on Mono Red a few weeks back, and how we felt our list was superior with Urabrask’s Forge. Since we were both feeling restless, we decided to just build a list up and played some game against Golgari Midrange, and the deck showed a lot of promise. It should have been a bad matchup, but with four main deck Forges and a couple of Witchstalker Frenzy, the matchup felt favorable.

At this point, we decided on a last-minute switch to Mono Red.

Cruelty of Gix DMU

Exhausted but determined, we crafted a sideboard plan and finalized a 75, and re-submitted our decklist at 4:30am. We only got to test that one matchup, but we relied on a lot of theory crafting and past experience with the deck. Anticipating the possibility of changes, I set an alarm for 10am, and asked Mogged and Nick to test the deck if they had a chance. 

I woke up to a flurry of messages from Mogged, who said he tried our deck a bunch overnight, and while he praised our Mono Red list as being superior to the stock version, he still felt that the deck was not a good choice, and we should stick to Reanimator. In my completely exhausted state, I just lay on the couch half-awake with my eyes closed, trying to figure out what to do.

An equally exhausted Joseph came down from the second floor, and when I asked him what we should do, he said he wasn’t sure and that he would just do what I did. Meanwhile, a panicked Miguel, who woke up to the news that Joseph and I had switched, came up to us and pleaded we swap back to Reanimator

After a brief period of indecision, I decided to go back to Reanimator. Ultimately, I felt that Reanimator’s Mono Red matchup wasn’t actually as bad as the games from the previous night indicated, and Mono Red also had a bad matchup against the Esper decks.

Overall, I felt that Reaniamtor was better against the rest of the field, and while the deck may have not been the best choice anymore, at least we had a good plan and understanding against all of the top decks, whereas if we played Mono Red, we would just be relying on what we threw together last minute the night before.

A final shift back to Reanimator was met with joy from Miguel. We spent the rest of Wednesday drafting before our limited meeting in the early-evening. After that, we went out to a Texas BBQ restaurant for a celebratory dinner after a great few days of preparation

Day 0 – Thursday

We checked out of the Airbnb in the morning and moved to a hotel next to the venue, where I’d be spending the next five nights with the two Italians, Lorenzo Terlizzi and Andrea Mengucci!

After checking in, I met up with Simon Nielsen, one of my closest friends from Magic. We grabbed lunch and visited Omega Mart, a massive three-story reality game/escape room with stunning interactive art installations.

It’s challenging to explain, but it revolves around a family that owns a supermarket (Omega Mart) in Las Vegas and discovers special minerals, which lead to paranormal activities.

I won’t spoil more; if you’re in Las Vegas, I highly recommend the experience! We spent a few hours there, uncovering the core storyline, but I think it would have taken another ten to twenty hours (or even more!) to discover all the relationships between the different characters. 

In the evening, we had the player’s dinner at the venue, and I watched a draft between some teammates before heading back to the hotel early for a good night’s rest.

Day 1 – Friday

I woke up to the blaring sound of Lorenzo’s alarm, accompanied by his enthusiastic display of morning push-ups and music. Thankfully, I managed to get a good night’s sleep and woke up feeling refreshed. Pulling back the curtains, the colossal Las Vegas sphere with its yellow-faced gestures greeted me—a quirky start to the day.

Entering my first draft pod, the competition was fierce with Thomas Menchin, Seth Manfield, Matti Kuisma, and Sean Goddard on my right, and Rei Sato on my left.

Despite starting with strong picks like Agatha’s Champion, Candy Grapple, and Rat Out in pack one, the absence of green and red cards led me down a mono-black path in pack one.

Red and green were clearly being cut, while blue and white were quite open. However, they were the wrong blue and white cards – I wasn’t seeing any Faeries, which is what Dimir is about, and I wasn’t seeing any Stockpiling Celebrant, Hopeful Vigil or Hopeless Nightmare, which is what Orzhov is about.


Going into pack two, I was hoping to establish my second color – I knew black should be open in pack three. In particular, I wanted to focus on picking up two-drop and four-drop creatures, since black is light in those, and I could prioritize less on three-drop creatures and removal spells, since black was plentiful on those.

Early in the second pack, I picked up two Flick a Coin and two Grabby Giant, which basically put me into Rakdos. I wasn’t seeing any green cards, which closed the door on Golgari, but picking up those four treasure makers meant I was now keeping my eyes open for cards to splash.

Heading into pack three, I now had a bunch of removal spells but was really short on creatures, especially two-drops. This was especially a concern since I was looking to be an aggressive Rakdos deck. I managed to pick up three premium three-drop creatures in the third pack (two Lord Skitter’s Butcher and Totentanz, Swam Piper), but I unfortunately didn’t pick up any more two-drops.

My final deck was an aggressive Rakdos deck splashing Agatha’s Champion off two Scarecrow Guides and four treasure makers.

The main issue with the deck was that it was an aggro deck with bad two-drops, which was a major concern.

However, the rest of my deck was quite powerful and I had some strong synergies. I expected to go 1-2, and 2-1 if I was lucky or 0-3 if I was unlucky.

The first round went smoothly with a swift 2-0 victory. Round two against Matti Kuisma‘s Gruul deck went to a third game, where my last-minute sideboard decision (Scream Puff over Sugar Rush) led to a regretful loss, as I got stuck on four lands with a Scream Puff stuck in my hand whereas Sugar Rush would have allowed me to attack for lethal on a turn he tapped out.

In the third round, I lost to a formidable Boros deck, and finished with a 1-2 record, closely aligning with my initial expectations.


After the lunch break, it was time for the Standard rounds. When the metagame breakdown was released the day before, it didn’t look particularly good for Rakdos Reanimator with Esper Midrange being the most popular deck, but I was just hoping to just dodge it and play against decks without counterspells.

Thankfully, the standard rounds went really well!

I started with a quick 2-0 win over Mono Red Aggro, which included a turn four Atraxa, Grand Unifier. I then managed to beat Esper Midrange in three grindy games, winning the first game by chaining multiple copies of The Cruelty of Gix, and then winning the third game by out-grinding him with two copies of Decadent Dragons that managed to steal two copies of Virtue of Loyalty, which I happened to have the mana for to cast. 

Round three saw me triumph in two quick games against Golgari Midrange, a favorable matchup for my deck. The final match was a showdown against Mono White Humans, where I secured a victory in the first game by topdecking The Cruelty of Gix at a critical moment and dominated the third game by efficiently handling my opponent’s creatures before setting up a turn five Atraxa.

After a poor start in Limited, I was stoked to go undefeated in the constructed portion to finish the day with a 5-2 record, and I was now in 15th place in the standings! This was similar to the last Pro Tour in Barcelona, where I went 1-2 in the draft before going undefeated in constructed on Day One.

I was now just hoping that Day Two would go better here than it did in Barcelona!

We went out to a great sushi restaurant that my friend Calum recommended, where Simon taught me that a “bunnicorn” does not in fact exist, and is just a crossover of a bunny and a unicorn. I got back to the hotel slightly later than I hoped, but managed to go to sleep right after!

Day 2 – Saturday

Once again, I woke up to Lorenzo’s Italian rap music, as he did his morning push-ups before jumping into the shower and singing at the top of his voice. The entire mood of the room was positive, as both myself and Lorenzo made the second day of Worlds, while Mengucci made Day Two of the Limited Open. 

Pod 2 awaited me for the draft, and, in true World Championships fashion, the competition was no walk in the park. To my right were Chris Ferber and David Olsen, and to my left, Eli Kassis, Philippe Gareau and Javier Dominguez

I started the draft with a first pick The Goose Mother. Since I wanted to avoid being in Simic, I basically saw this as a card for Gruul or Golgari that I could splash. From there, my draft was very straight forward, as good red and green cards kept flowing my way, while I didn’t really see many cards from the other three colors. I was happy with my deck after the draft, and I felt like it was a 2-1 deck with a possible shot at 3-0 if I got lucky.


In the first round, I got paired against David Olsen and his Azorius deck. His deck was quite bad, which he admitted to as well, and he was also in the worst color combination. Unfortunately, in the first game I punted really hard where I miscalculated combat damage and went for a Twisted Fealty thinking I had lethal when I was in fact one damage short, and died on the swingback.

Had I left blockers up instead, the game would have gone on a few more turns and I could have drawn out of it. I managed to come back and win the second game, and in the third game he mulliganed to five on the play, so I assumed I had the game locked up. However, he got a Curiority onto his Snaremaster Sprite early, and I failed to draw any of my removal spells to deal with it, and he ended up drawing seven or eight cards off it and I lost a close game.

I only had myself to blame though after punting that first game.

In the second round, I beat a solid Golgari deck with a Mosswood Dreadknight that I had passed to him. In the final round of the draft, I was paired against Philippe, who had a fantastic Rakdos deck with Lord Skitter, Sewer King.

I knew about his deck because Javier had told me about it before the final round and basically said I wanted to dodge it if possible, and his remarks made perfect sense as I got run over in two completely one-sided games.

Talking to Philippe after the match, it sounds like it was quite a high-powered draft, so most people had strong decks. It was unfortunate to go 1-2 in the draft again, but heading into the constructed portion, I was still alive for Top 8, so I just needed to keep my head down and stay focused on the coming rounds.

Mosswood Dreadknight WOE

My first Standard match was against Lorenzo, my roommate for the weekend, who was on Esper Midrange. I lost the match in three close games – we both had mana issues in one game each, while the game I lost came down to multiple Wedding Announcements that I just couldn’t handle. 

My next round was the craziest match of the weekend, as I got paired against Bant Control, and we went to time in game one. We both saw our entire decks, and by the time the game ended, the cards left in both our decks were ones we’d already seen and put on the bottom with Atraxa, Grand Unifier/Memory Deluge.

The game basically came down to us digging for our copies of Mirrex and trying to out race each other with Phyrexian Mite tokens while also dealing with each other’s tokens. Since a draw would have been bad for both of us, he kindly conceded, as I had lethal with Mirrex the following turn while he needed two more turns with his. 

Going into round thirteen, I was alive for Top 16, so I still had a lot to play for. I once again got paired against Esper Midrange, and I lost the match in three close games. In the final round, I was paired against Marco Cammilluzzi, and we decided to take an intentional draw so that we could both finish in the Top 40 for US$9000 each. 

In the end, I finished in 34th place.

After starting the day in 15th place, it was gutting to go 2-4-1 on the second day, especially since it felt like a bit of a repeat of the previous Pro Tour where I went 6-2 into 3-5 over the two days. Ultimately, though, this is one of the toughest fields you can compete in, so I was sure I would be satisfied with the result once some time had passed. 

After beating me a few rounds prior, Lorenzo managed to run the tables and make Top 8, going 6-1 on the day! It was awesome to see my teammate and friend make the Top 8, and I felt really proud of the Worldly Counsel team.

Once Lorenzo was done with the photoshoots and interviews, we rushed down to the second floor of the convention center and managed to catch Mengucci win the last round of the Limited Open to make the Top 8 as well, which meant he was now back on the Pro Tour!

Eduardo and Joseph also managed to both make the Top 32 of the Limited PTQ, which meant they were coming back the next day for a shot at the Pro Tour invite! 

We headed to our team dinner shortly after, which was fantastic and the mood was at an all-time high as we had many people to root for the next day! After dinner, I was planning to go to the slumber party where Elijah Wood was going to be DJing, but I decided to instead head back to the hotel to help Lorenzo test his quarterfinals matchup against Simon.

Unfortunately, since we had to spend some time building up Simon’s version of the deck, we didn’t get to play too many games, but the matchup overall seemed positive for Lorenzo. Simon is a fantastic player though, and the Soldiers deck is complicated to play, so I likely wasn’t the best practise, especially since I had two mojitos in me from the team dinner. 

Day 3 – Sunday

I woke up feeling a bit hungover from the night before, so I decided to sleep in a bit before I headed to the venue. As I got there, Lorenzo fell in the quarterfinals, and then I heard Mengucci had lost in the Top 8 of the Limited Open. 

With some unexpected free time, I seized the opportunity to join a team draft, forming a formidable trio with Ken Takahama and Joshua Willis against the powerful lineup of Sean Goddard, Benton Madsen, and Derrick Davis.

Our hard-fought 5-4 victory, culminating in the third game of the final match, marked yet another triumph, extending my undefeated record of four wins in team drafts this year at Pro Tour/Worlds.

Since there were no events, I decided to walk around the hall and it was awesome to see people from all over the world enjoying Magic in various forms – whether it be playing commander, cosplaying or collecting pins or artist signatures. I also ended up doing some shopping, which included picking up a playset of beta Dark Rituals, as well as a playset of Time Spirals from Three for One! I’m really excited to play these in my legacy decks! 


In the evening, I got to attend Miguel’s Vegas wedding, which was a truly unique experience. Miguel and his partner are planning to have an official wedding back in Spain as well, but since they were here, they thought it would be fun to do a Vegas wedding since their proper wedding was likely not for a few more years.

I thought the whole thing was going to be a bit cheesy, but it was actually stunning, and the whole ceremony was heart-warming!

Afterwards, we all went out for a lovely dinner at an Italian restaurant in one of the big casinosThe dinner was the only time I ended up going to a casino while I was there. Since I don’t gamble, I didn’t have much interest in it, but it was interesting to observe the whole experience.

All the bright lights and the loud sounds from the various machines definitely over-stimulated my senses, and it was also devastating to see all the elderly people mindlessly sitting at the slot machines, just inserting coin after coin almost in a robotic manner.

Post-Event – Grand Canyon and The Strip

Going to the Grand Canyon had always been something I’ve wanted to do, and since I wasn’t sure if I’d ever visit Las Vegas again, I decided to stay a few extra days to check it out.

I think America has some absolutely stunning landscapes, and before Pro Tour Dominaria a few years back, I got to visit Niagara Falls, which was an amazing experience too.

I was especially excited about the Grand Canyon since we don’t have deserts in New Zealand.  

It was well worth the experience, and I loved just how untouched and endless it was. I appreciated how calm and peaceful it was compared to the busyness of Las Vegas. If you’re ever planning to go to Nevada, I highly recommend making the trip for it, even for the day – it’s honestly something you don’t want to miss!

On my final day in Las Vegas, I checked out the taco place that many Magic players were recommending, and they were definitely the best tacos I’d ever had before (not that I’ve had a lot of fantastic Mexican cuisine living in New Zealand).

I went for breakfast, but it was so good I came back for lunch a few hours later. I also walked around the Strip – it’s not really my kind of thing, but it was still fun to check out. It did make me grateful to live in New Zealand though where I’m close to so much greenery, and I was ready to head home!



Although I fell short in the end, the World Championships experience lived up to the high expectations I had!

The tournament itself was amazing, as I got to compete in the toughest field the world had to offer, but more importantly, just hanging out with my friends and teammates leading up to, and during, the tournament was just so much fun. 

Having just formed eight months ago, I am really proud of where the Worldly Counsel team is at now. We’ve successfully put three people into the Top 8 of Pro Tours and one person into the Top 8 of Worlds in a short period of time. We’re currently doing a review of the season, but I’m excited for where the team is headed next year, and I’m confident we will continue to put up solid results! 

In my next article, I will be going over the Rakdos Midrange deck in Pioneer, which I recently played at the Regional Championships. The deck has had some key deck building developments over the past few months, and I think it is one of the best decks in the format now.

Keep your eyes open for that if you’re planning to play in any Pioneer tournaments soon!

Till next time!

Zen Takahashi

@mtgzen on Twitter 

About the Author

Zen Takahashi is a seasoned writer and mainstay on the Three for One Trading writing team. He is an avid Eternal player from Auckland, New Zealand and enjoys competing in local Legacy events and playing Old School over webcam with friends.

Previously, he was a Silver Pro for multiple years and his results included five Grand Prix Top 8s, a 27th place at Pro Tour Amonkhet, three consecutive online Regional PTQ wins, and he co-created the Modern Dredge deck.

Nowadays though, he primarily plays Legacy, his favorite format, but he also branches out into Pioneer and Modern.

Zen Takahashi

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  • Living-End-Primer-Cover

Modern Living End Primer

August 18th, 2023|Constructed, Highlights|

Zen Takahashi played Living End during the Lord of the Rings Pro Tour in Barcelona. Now he's ready to share some insights on this powerful Modern deck including the card choices, what hands to keep and how to sideboard against different opponents.

  • Winners-RC-Sydney

Regional Championship Report – Sydney

July 6th, 2023|Constructed, Events|

Zen Takahashi played Mono White Humans in Pioneer during the Regional Championships in Sydney! Find out all about what deck he played, what useful tips and tricks he had up his sleeves and how it all went down in his latest article! Bonus insider info on where to get the best truffle pasta in Sydney!

  • Rakdos-Cover

Rakdos in Standard

May 24th, 2023|Constructed, Events|

Our author Zen Takahashi competed at the Pro Tour in Minneapolis, shortly before re-qualifying for another Pro Tour. Both times he played Rakdos: Reanimator and Midrange! In his latest article, he compares both experiences and goes over each of the two decks in detail.

  • Bloodtithe-Harvester-Art

Standard Grixis Midrange Primer

March 22nd, 2023|Constructed, Events|

Zen won the Australasian Championship with his Standard Grixis Midrange deck a few days ago. Lucky for us, he didn't take a break and wrote an in-depth primer for the deck including sideboard tips and card choices for us! Prepare yourself for future Regional Championships or Qualifiers, because you'll be either playing this deck or playing against it.

  • Goblin Guide Cover

Boros Burn in Modern

January 19th, 2023|Constructed, Highlights|

Our author Zen Takahashi is feeling nostalgic, so it was time for a break from Pioneer and time for Modern Burn, Modern Boros Burn, to be precise! As usual Zen gives you a detailed overview of the deck, nice tips and tricks on how to maneuver it around the Modern meta decks and a useful sideboarding options, based on his experience.

  • Kroxa,-Titan-of-Death's-Hunger-THB

Rakdos Midrange in Pioneer

December 29th, 2022|Constructed|

Zen Takahashi is not done with Pioneer yet! For the Regional Championschip in Sydney, he and his team of over 10 other players tested different decks extensively until they came up with their own twist on the popular Rakdos Midrange deck.

  • Thalia-Guardian-of-Thraben-Art

Mono White Humans in Pioneer

October 26th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

Zen Takahashi takes a closer look at his newest favorite deck in Pioneer: Mono White Humans! As usual, you can expect in-depth tips and tricks as well as a sideboard guide from Zen, who was already very successful with his Pioneer decks in his Regional Championship Qualifiers.

  • Grist-the-Hunger-Tide-Art

Best Cards in Modern – Multicolor [2022]

October 6th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten multicolored cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

  • Otawara, Soaring City Art

Best Cards in Modern – Lands [2022]

October 4th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten lands in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

  • Pithing Needle Art

Best Cards in Modern – Artifacts [2022]

September 27th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten artifacts in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

  • Lightning Strike Artwork

Mono Red Primer for Pioneer

September 12th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

This time, Zen Takahashi writes in depth about his Regional Championship Qualifier Deck: Mono Red in Pioneer! That means we get a Primer for Mono Red Burn and Mono Red Frenzy. He also doesn't spare any details about key matchups in Pioneer and helps you to play your way around them!

Best Cards in Modern – White [2022]

August 5th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten white cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

Legacy Reanimator 2022

June 14th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

If you are looking for a Reanimator Primer in Legacy, look no further! In his article, Zen Takahashi gives you everything you need to know about Reanimator: Which hands to keep? What are your opponents playing? How to sideboard? All these questions and more will be answered right here.

Blue-Red Ensoul in Pioneer

June 3rd, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

After a longer break, our author Zen Takahashi is excited to get back into Pioneer and crush the first PTQ season with his version of Izzet Ensoul. You can read all about the new and old decklist as well as mulligan strategies and other tips right here!

Best Cards in Modern – Green [2022]

May 27th, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten green cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

Auckland Eternal Weekend Report

April 28th, 2022|Constructed, Events|

Our author, Zen Takahashi, spent an Eternal Weekend in Auckland where he played tournaments of Vintage, Old School and Legacy. Real Power Nine, no proxies allowed! You can read all about what decks he played and how it went right here on our blog!

Best Cards in Modern – Red [2022]

April 20th, 2022|Constructed|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten red cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a Top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

Top Ten Decks in Legacy 2022

April 1st, 2022|Constructed, Highlights|

In our latest article, Zen Takahashi analyses the best Legacy decks and comes up with his Top 10 Legacy decks of 2022. If you are curious to find out if your deck made the cut, or simply interested in what's going on in Legacy these days, keep on reading right here!

Best Cards in Modern – Black [2022]

February 28th, 2022|Constructed|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten black cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

Rainbow Dredge in Modern

February 16th, 2022|Constructed|

Today’s article is all about Dredge in Magic: The Gathering, more specifically, Dredge in Modern. Zen Takahashi, one of the creators of Rainbow Dredge, took a look at the history of the deck and its current state in the meta. He’s also going over different iterations of the deck, as well as all the current sideboard options available.

Best Cards in Modern – Blue [2022]

February 4th, 2022|Constructed|

We asked our seasoned team of authors a tough question: What do they think are the best ten blue cards in Magic the Gathering's Modern format. We then went a step further and created a top 5. Learn what they think about the very best cards of one of the game's most popular formats.

Blue Zenith in Legacy

January 14th, 2022|Constructed|

Zen takes a look at a new deck that did surprisingly well in recent Legacy online events. Green Sun's Zenith and blue Counterspells are the engine in this midrange powerhouse.