The first round of the inaugural Legend of the Five Rings World Cup is in the books and it was a doozy! Whilst there were definitely some similarities in line ups, we also have seen some off the wall and off-the-meta decks pick up game wins, glory and confounded casters!

The standings after round 1 look like this:

Group 1
Sweden completed a clean sweep over the Brasil, including a glorious victory by DirtyDeed's Copy Of Unicorn over Emrano's Lion/Crane honor rocket. Both players had tremendous boards appearing and disappearing. A timely Unleash the Djinn was the turning point for the Swede, with Emrana being unable to deal with the overwhelming board-state that followed. A key Border Fortess play kept a Lion offensive in check, sending home a Matsu Bersker who doesn't understand how to use fans or speak without growling.

There was also a great play by Swedens's legostreck  in a Crane mirror vs Brasil's zorzo. Legostreck telegraphed a stronghold poke with a lone Savvy Politician, revealing Entrenched Position in a military conflict. Zorzo decides to take Lego at his word and offers no defense, instead saving his forces for the inevitable larger political conflict. You can watch the VOD to see what happens next.

The Italy vs Belgium contest had the Italian's closing out some hard fought games to grab the W with a handy 2-1 win heading into week 2.

Group 2
Greece are fielding one of the more highly anticipated line ups of both players and decks. A strong 3-0 outing was a great starter for them. A recommended match was cult-hero Demagogue's new  Phoenix vs Chilean Nimuro's Lion out of HMT.  Dema is known for approaching things from a different angle, and this list is no different. He is splashing Dragon, but no Hawk Tattoo's in sight, instead capitalizing on the strength of Tattoo Wanderer's who can help sneak past the plague of Dragon mega-unit's that are becoming so very common.

The Netherlands recorded a 2-1 victory over Malta. 

Group 3
One of the games of the round was multiple cup-winning Scorpion die-hard Wydwen representing Germany up against the mad wizardry of Bill Kirils phoenix/lion combo. There was a bit of controversy related to someone in Bill's house listening to the stream, but the game itself was a great exhibition of skill, deck building and the promise of what top level L5R should be. I won't spoil this game for you, instead I'll say that if you are going to watch one game this round please make it this one!

Group 4
A game that is worth watching for its potential meta implications is the Dragon mirror where we see USA's Bill Jnr with the traditional Crab splash and Grabba01 with the newer Uni version out of Keeper of Void. I have heard a lot of talk about Crab splash being the superior version of the current God Tier Dragon clan, chiefly because of how it performs in the mirror. This game is a great counter-position. Getting Spyglasses to stick is hard, but Grabba01 managed to and it paid off nicely for him.

Group 5
Little bit of controversy in the Australia vs Poland series! The Grinder vs Gnimish match was restarted due to no chess clocks, with Gnimish taking out that match with great game-play and a fortunate Ring of Earth grab. 

Simcof (that's me!) got off to a blinder of a start with a Scorp/Dragon variant  against Madavaster, but had to restart due to chess clocks again. The second game was much harder, but Simcof was saved by bell when Madavaster revealed a Blackmail which was not in his decklist, right at the tail end of the game.

One of the craziest games put to stream was the Dragon mirror that serial tournament winner Toreadory had against the most recent discord league champion qkieu. The first four turns produced zero conflicts as each player built fate and hand size, desperately looking to get a Pathfinder's Blade to stick on the table. Toreadory plans to write an article soon about that match, so I will leave it to him to talk through that craziness. At one point both players had a combined 60 cards in their hand.

The Russia vs Switzerland match-up demonstrated Group 5's prowess in owning clock-based controversy. Russia's Gene (Yogo_Airi) struggles to manage his time and calls GG with a minute left on his clock, vs Anfalas with over 33 minutes left. Players anecdotally talk about the frustration of coming up against very slow players, at least in the Discord league we have empirical evidence that is does happen! The stress of the big game is real!

Group 6
Game of group here was France's YodaSenei squaring off against PurplePotato from the Philippines. Potato is regular fearsome contestant during the Discord leagues and not afraid to throw away standard meta-choices in favor of independent thought. Yoda selected a pretty aggressive Phoenix/Dragon splash with Hurricane Punches. PurplePotato however decided to try something quite different. Deciding that Hawk Tattoo is so good that it belongs in any deck, I offer you this unique take on Crab.

Yoda managed to get some early breaks in, but Potato was fighting back with a huge board lead by the mighty Kisada (whose mind was addled with a rapidly deploy Cloud the Mind).  Potato struggled to convert this board advantage into province destruction and let the mighty Phoenix rebuild their board and eventually close the game. A great back and forth game and worth a watch.

We'll be back same time next week to report on week 2. Please feel free to get in touch with us with us if you have any highlights from your armchair over the week!

A huge shout-out to Mind's Desire for curating together this VOD playlist and the tireless efforts of the many casters in multiple languages ensuring the word gets out about this great tournament series!