Magic: The Gathering Rarities: Magic's 1996 World Champion Card

Hello and welcome, players, collectors, and fans of all things Magic: The Gathering! We have covered quite a bit in the "Rarity Showcase" series. We've looked at the cards that celebrate company achievements, and the myriad major life events of its creator. Today, we are starting to look at something quite a bit different: cards that are one-of-a-kind but exist in a public capacity. This article in particular will look back to 1996, a championship Magic tournament, and its wondrous prize: the 1996 World Champion card.

The full art for 1996 World Champion, a one-of-a-kind Magic: The Gathering card awarded to Tom Chanpheng for his win in the world championship tournament. Illustrated by Christopher Rush.
The full art for 1996 World Champion, a one-of-a-kind Magic: The Gathering card awarded to Tom Chanpheng for his win in the world championship tournament. Illustrated by Christopher Rush.

In 1996, professional players playing competitively in the World Championships were mandated to use at least a few cards from every set devised thus far. This is the way that the foundations for the Standard format were laid, although the format's rules are obviously different now. Players were rather forced to play Serrated Arrows or Autumn Willow (or anything from the set, although Arrows was the typical pick) from Homelands because the set was absolutely underpowered. Truly, it was a lawless time.

Enter Tom Chanpheng. The pro-Magic player from Australia was armed with a mono-white deck that had a sole copy of Sleight of Mind but forgot to register his Adarkar Wastes, his only source of blue mana to cast the card. According to the rules of the governing body in charge of these tournament events, Chanpheng was forced to slot in basic copies of Plains to compensate.

Tom Chanpheng, against practically all odds, still won this world championship tournament. As such, he received the coveted prize, a single, one-of-a-kind, copy of 1996 World Champion, illustrated by the late, great Christopher Rush. The printing plates for this prized card were all destroyed afterwards, ensuring that there would only ever be one copy of this card.

1996 World Champion, a one-of-a-kind Magic: The Gathering card that was awarded to Australian Magic pro player Tom Chanpheng for winning the illustrious championship tournament.
1996 World Champion, a one-of-a-kind Magic: The Gathering card that was awarded to Australian Magic pro player Tom Chanpheng for winning the illustrious championship tournament.

You can find the 1996 World Champion's decklist by clicking here. To this day, Tom Chanpheng still has the sole copy of this card, locked up in a screw-down case. Such a trophy is priceless now, and there is no likely chance that he will ever part with it for all manner of reasons.

Are you interested in learning more about rare Magic: The Gathering cards? Will Wizards of the Coast likely print any more one-of-a-kind cards? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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About Joshua Nelson

Josh Nelson is a Magic: The Gathering deckbuilding savant, a self-proclaimed scholar of all things Sweeney Todd, and, of course, a writer for Bleeding Cool. In their downtime, Josh can be found painting models, playing Magic, or possibly preaching about the horrors and merits of anthropophagy. You can find them on Twitter at @Burning_Inquiry for all your burning inquiries.
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