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China National Championship Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 10:15 a.m. - LCQ Winning Decklists

    by Chapman Sim
  • A total of ten Last Chance Qualifiers were held yesterday, granting the finalists of each flight a highly coveted invitation to today's main event. Of the twenty slots, five went to pilots of Valakut, pretty much confirming everyone's suspicions of the Red Green deck's resurgence.

    Blue based control decks are still in force despite Jace, the Mind Sculptor's departure. Players who love to lay Islands have simply switched over Jace Beleren, alongside previously rarely witnessed Venser, the Sojourner and Liliana Vess, to desirable effect. Splinter Twin Combo decks remain viable as well, despite the lack of "mind-sculpting".



    An assortment of rogue decks have also appeared, proving the point that the bannings have created a much more creative environment for players to exercise their imagination.

    Primeval Titan wasn't the only green card that returned. One player was able to overrun his opponents with little green men with the help of Ezuri, Renegade Leader and the forgotten Garruk Wildspeaker. Another was able to poison everyone with his Glistener Elf and multiple pump spells.

    Honorable mention goes to the Tezzeret Combo deck, previously sensationalized by Martin Juza, which uses Spellskite to protect Kudoltha Forgemaster to tutor up an end-of-turn Blightsteel Colossus for an instant kill!


    Deck Archetype Quantity
    Valakut 5
    Blue White Control 2
    Blue Black Control 2
    Splinter Twin Combo 2
    Black-Red Vampires 2
    Mono-Black Control 1
    Tezzeret Combo 1
    Red Deck Wins 1
    Elf Stompy 1
    Blue-Green Infect 1
    Green-White Aggro 1
    Boros 1
    Total: 20

    Ding Yi - Flight #1 Winner (Valakut)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Zhang Yiyu - Flight #1 Winner (Blue-White Control)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Jiu Liang - Flight #2 Winner (Blue-Black Control)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Lin Nan - Flight #2 Winner (Splinter Twin Combo)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Wei Guowei - Flight #3 Winner (Black-Red Vampires)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Li Meng - Flight #3 Winner (Mono-Black Control)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Xu Qian - Flight #4 Winner (Tezzeret Combo)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Zhou Xiang - Flight #4 Winner (Valakut)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Ren Shaopeng - Flight #5 Winner (Red Deck Wins)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Sui Xin - Flight #5 Winner (Splinter Twin Combo)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    Evolving Wilds
    10  Island
    Mountain
    Scalding Tarn

    23 lands

    Deceiver Exarch
    Spellskite

    8 creatures

    Batterskull
    Dispel
    Gitaxian Probe
    Into the Roil
    Jace Beleren
    Preordain
    Splinter Twin
    Spreading Seas

    29 other spells

    Sideboard
    Batterskull
    Combust
    Dragon's Claw
    Mutagenic Growth
    Pyroclasm
    Twisted Image

    16 sideboard cards



    Zhao Tianhang - Flight #6 Winner (Elf Stompy)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Xu Nan - Flight #6 Winner (Valakut)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Wu Yunhao - Flight #7 Winner (Valakut)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Li Xifan - Flight #7 Winner (Blue-Green Infect)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Chen Xi - Flight #8 Winner (Valakut)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Wang Peng - Flight #8 Winner (Blue-White Control)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Wang Xinchang - Flight #9 Winner (Black-Red Vampires)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ



    Wang Zhiwei - Flight #10 Winner (Boros)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


    Zhang Qiao - Flight #10 Winner (Blue-Black Control)
    China Nationals 2011 LCQ


     

  • Saturday, 11:45 a.m. - A Brand New Standard

    by Chapman Sim
  • As Aaron Forsythe previously mentioned, "Jace, the Mind Sculptor is appearing in winning deck lists an alarming percentage of the time, with Stoneforge Mystic appearing almost as often. For reference, 88% of the decks in Day 2 of Grand Prix Singapore contained multiple copies of Jace, and almost 70% of the Day 2 decks contained Stoneforge Mystic."

    If you happened to have just emerged from a Remote Isle or a Deserted Temple, here is a little update for you. These two cards will pretty much cease to exist in Standard with effect from 1 July 2011 (yesterday), unless players choose to play with the "War of Attrition" Event Deck, which is tournament legal only if kept entirely intact.

    This promises to be a fresh change for anyone who has been paying attention to the Standard Metagame in recent months. No more turn three Batterskulls cheated into play via Stoneforge Mystic. No more losing to Jaces when you aren't playing with Jaces yourself. Most importantly, no more dreaded Caw Blade mirrors causing excessive draws!

    It is believed that the departure of these two cards will cause several previous old decks to reemerge and cause new brews to sprout out. Are you ready to face a brave new world?


     

  • Saturday, 12:30 p.m. - Metagame Breakdown

    by Chapman Sim
  • Three rounds of Standard have concluded and players are moving into their Draft Pods as we speak. While they get busy deciding their picks, let us take a quick glimpse at the metagame right here.

    39 players have decided to play with Primeval Titans to go along with their Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles while 37 blue-black mages have opted to go against them, preferring to run Spreading Seas and Tectonic Edges alongside their countermagic and suite of removal spells. Both these two archetypes alone make up slightly more than half the field.

    The format is not without innovation though. We see 11 players choosing to attack with little red men (Goblins) and another 11 choosing to attack with little black men (Vampires), all accompanied with efficient burn or spot removal. Assembling lethal combos is still a viable strategy. Splinter Twin continues to threaten turn four kills, while some Tezzerators prefer to kill their opponents with Blightsteel Colossus! Many rogue decks litter the field as well, but only time will tell which are the good ones which float to the top!

    Deck Type Number of Players % of Field
    Valakut 39 28.888889
    Blue Black Control 37 27.407407
    Mono Red 11 8.148148
    Black Red Vampires 8 5.925926
    Blue White Control 7 5.185185
    Splinter Twin 7 5.185185
    Blue Black Tezzeret 5 3.703704
    Mono Black Vampires 3 2.222222
    Infect 3 2.222222
    Eldrazi Green 2 1.481481
    Mono Black Control 2 1.481481
    Blue Red Control 2 1.481481
    Death Shadow Combo 1 0.740741
    WG Birthing Pod 1 0.740741
    Esper Aggro 1 0.740741
    Soul Sisters 1 0.740741
    Jund 1 0.740741
    RUG 1 0.740741
    Boros 1 0.740741
    WG Control 1 0.740741
    Tempered Steel 1 0.740741

     

  • Feature Match: Round 3 – Deng Jun (Splinter Twin) vs. Xu Liang (Valakut)

    by Chapman Sim
  • Xu Liang is no stranger to the featured match area, having placed in the Top 8 of China Nationals last year. After losing to a mirror match, he has been paired against Deng Jun who is armed with the controllish Splinter Twin combo deck. This matchup promises to be exciting, since both decks are able to come back from nowhere to suddenly reduce opponents from twenty to zero.

    Game 1

    Xu won the die roll and led with an unexciting Mountain. Deng had an equally boring Island to go with his turn one Preordain. Overgrown Battlement hit play on turn two with a freshly played Forest but Deng was quick to "remove" the Forest with Spreading Seas. A second copy of the defender ensured that Xu would have no problems with green mana and Deng could only dig deeper with a second Preordain, holding mana up for Mana Leak.

    Xu Liang

    Double Explore on Xu's next turn brought him up to a total of a potential of at least eleven mana on his next turn. Deng was not about to let him ramp to astronomical numbers and decided to send one of the Overgrown Battlements Into the Roil.

    When Xu tried to resolve Primeval Titan, Deng shocked him with Deceiver Exarch untapping his own Island, before he Mana Leaked the Titan. Xu heaved a sigh of relief when Deng tapped not four, but three mana for Jace Beleren, a tell-tale sign that he had not drawn any Splinter Twins yet. Xu seemed pretty much out of gas as he played his last relevant card in his hand. Unfortunately for Deng, it was a Green Sun's Zenith, fetching Primeval Titan. A second copy of Deceiver Exarch tapped down the Titan for a turn but it was unable to stop multiple Valakuts from dealing lethal damage.

    Xu Liang 1 - Deng Jun 0

    Game 2

    Both players had to mulligan and Xu was on the receiving end of double Spreading Seas on his first two green sources. Fortunately, he was able to resolve an Overgrown Battlement in between and proceeded to cast Explore on his third turn.

    Deceiver Exarch jumped out at the end of Deng's forth turn and threatened to connect the dots but he did not have the namesake enchantment once again. Instead, he was holding on to twin Dispels, Mana Leak as well as a Mutagenic Growth, a new tech utilized all weekend to combat the uncounterable Combust.

    Deng Jun

    When Xu passed his 6th turn with no play, it prompted Deng to ask, "You've got nothing as well?". Xu could only join him in a quick bout of hearty laughter.

    A manually-drawn Valakut was able to keep Deceiver Exarch at bay, thanks for a fulfilled Khalni Heart Expedition. After drawing more than half his library, Deng finally tried to attach Splinter Twin to a Deceiver Exarch, but that was promptly thwarted by Combust. Two successive Primeval Titans met successive Flashfreezes and the game went into a standstill.

    Gitaxian Probe revealed Nature's Claim from Xu's hand, decent insurance against a second copy of Splinter Twin. More protection came along the way as he drew into with a second Nature's Claim and Beast Within. Comfortable to play the waiting game, Xu bided his time until he finally drew Green Sun's Zenith. He tutored out Avenger of Zendikar, creating 17 tokens to end the game in swift fashion.

    Xu Liang 2 - Deng Jun 0


     

  • Saturday, 2:00 p.m. - Drafting With Yu Chao

    by Chapman Sim
  • Good players are not lacking in China and I have the honor of sitting down with Yu Chao today. Beneath his gentle demeanor, he is a deceptively strong opponent you do not want to encounter. Currently the highest rated player in China, Yu Chao is possibly known for his exceedingly superior drafting capabilities. He made Top 8 of his Nationals last year, no thanks to the constructed portion (he went 3-3 playing Jund), but because he went 6-0 in the booster draft portion. Let us sit down and see what insights he has to offer us for his first draft of the day!

    Booster One (New Phyrexia)

    Yu was happy to open a Lashwrithe but his happiness was very short-lived. Black dried up almost immediately and Yu could only be content with two Blighted Agents and Glissa's Scorn by pick five. This twist of events was not totally unfortunate though, as Infect seemed pretty open to him. He managed to snag a Vapor Snag and eventually tabling another two Blighted Agents and double Psychic Barrier, giving him a relatively good start.

    1st Lashwrithe
    2nd Glissa's Scorn
    3rd Blighted Agent
    4th Conversion Chamber
    5th Blighted Agent
    6th Leeching Bite
    7th Vapor Snag
    8th Blighted Agent
    9th Psychic Barrier
    10th Blighted Agent
    11th Psychic Barrier
    12th Chained Throatseeker
    13th Scrapyard Salvo
    14th War Report


    Better Than Red Sun's Zenith!

    Booster Two (Mirrodin Besieged)

    Being already heavily cemented in Blue Green Infect, he was faced with the decision of Blightwidow and Plague Myr. Red Sun's Zenith did not even interest him as he flipped it behind the booster without hesitation. He decided to go for the infectious Giant Spider and followed up pick two with Plague Myr. Core Prowler gave him a light touch of proliferation and a second Blightwidow joined his pile soon after. He was able to pick up a couple of Steel Sabotages and a Pistus Strike, giving this color combination some required sideboard removal spells.

    1st Blightwidow
    2nd Plague Myr
    3rd Core Prowler
    4th Blightwidow
    5th Steel Sabotage
    6th Mirran Mettle
    7th Viridian Emissary
    8th Phyrexian Digester
    9th Pistus Strike
    10th Steel Sabotage
    11th Ogre Resister
    12th Neurok Commando
    13th Kemba's Legion
    14th Phyresis

    Booster Three (Scars of Mirrodin)

    Yu was not blessed with good luck though and was forced to counterdraft Geth, Lord of the Vault before picking up a couple of Untamed Mights. He lamented that the 3rd booster did almost nothing to improve his already solid deck, and was relatively disappointed with the outcome. He was able a pick up a Sylvok Lifestaff to go with his quadruple Blighted Agents, but that was about it for him. Overall, this booster was not merciful to him and he would have liked to receive some bombs in his color.

    1st Geth, Lord of the Vault
    2nd Untamed Might
    3rd Fume Spitter
    4th Silver Myr
    5th Untamed Might
    6th Disperse
    7th Sylvok Lifestaff
    8th Vedalken Certarch
    9th Twisted Image
    10th Carrion Call
    11th Withstand Death
    12th Bleak Coven Vampires
    13th Riddlesmith
    14th Whitesun's Passage

    When asked if he was able to go 3-0 with this deck, he humbly mentioned that it would not be an easy task. "2-1 would be a more realistic score but I honestly would not mind winning the pod." A quartet of unblockable "infectors", a light touch of removal, pump spells and countermagic should allow him to go all the way. Good luck, Yu!

    Yu Chao
    Yu Chao (Blue Green Infect)
    China Nationals 2011 (Standard Draft) Pod 1


     

  • Saturday, 12:30 p.m.: Quick Questions - What is the best deck in Standard now and why?

    by Chapman Sim
  • Zhang Zhiyang (2 GP Top 8 & Worlds Team Champion 2009)

    "Blue Black Tezzeret. Because it is all-rounded and wins easily."
    Xu Su (4-time Nationals Top 8)

    "Red Deck Wins. Too many quality red cards in the format. "
    Du Xue Tong (GP Kuala Lumpur 2009 Top 8)

    "Blue White Control. I couldn't beat that deck all day. "
    Ding Yi (2008 China National Champion)

    "Valakut. Good winning ratio against most other matchups and offers a consistent way to win. "

     

  • Saturday, 3:20 p.m. - Draft Dilemma Deliberation

    by Chapman Sim
  • The Scars of Mirrodin block has been very enjoyable to draft so far and so many strategies in varying colors have proven to work. Such an interesting block is not devoid of conundrums. Here are some of the commonly encountered decisions drafters are facing in recent times.

    Volt Charge or Grim Affliction

    There is still much discussion between the Pros on this issue and trust me, its a situation that comes up pretty often. While Volt Charge has the ability to kill bigger creatures and finish off an opponent at low life, Grim Affliction has the possibility to alter the board in conjunction with the help of Fume Spitter, Instill Infection and its spread of infect creatures. It really depends on the deck you have but when the luxury of opening this booster last is absent, it creates a rather agonizing decision. Blinding Souleater is pretty close behind as well, but let's not complicate matters for the time being.

    Best "Phyrexian Mana" Common?

    I am referring to the cycle of Porcelain Legionnaire, Spined Thopter, Pith Driller, Slash Panther and Thundering Tanadon. A couple of these commons show up all the time in the same booster and all seem pretty good on their own. Personally, I like Pith Driller most since it deals with its blue, white and red counterpart. The green monster seems too risky to cast sometimes but threatens to end games really cast if their opponent fails to remove it. Porcelain Legionnaire hits like a truck on full gear though, and Slash Panther is pretty good at punishing an opponent with a slow draw. What do you think? Will you pick Gremlin Mine over these five?

    Most Bombish Common of the Block?

    Shriekmaw was ever accused of being in the wrong rarity slot since it was better than a ton of rares during its time. More recently, there is probably a common that is more deserving of such malice. I am referring to Fangren Marauder, a card so efficient and easily splashed that it is almost a bomb on its own.

    For one, it's monstrous size makes a pretty reliable speed bump and turns all "Shatter" effects into Divine Offerings. For any beatdown deck trying to reduce your final life points to zero, they can forget about activating their spellbombs or replicas and be extra wary of attacking with artifact creatures.

    Perhaps the only drawback is that it costs six mana but then again, most dragons and angels of such porportions cost about the same. Whatever the decision is, the award certainly isn't going to Plated Seastrider.

    Infect or no?

    While many agree that the power level of infect has gone down due to the infect creatures being in all colors now, it remains a force to reckon with. It has also been said that drafting infect is like contra-trading, something with a high risk and high return but could potentially get your fingers burnt. Just last round, Yu Chao managed to pick up the signal that Infect was open and was rewarded with four Blighted Agents. The burning question is, what do you need to get in your first booster before taking the plunge or are you able to switch gears in booster two or three?


     

  • Saturday, 4:15 p.m.: Quick Questions - What is the best card in each rarity of New Phyrexia for Limited?

    by Chapman Sim
  • Liu Yuchen

    Mythic: Batterskull
    Rare: Phyrexian Metamorph
    Uncommon: Dismember
    Common: Volt Charge
    Yu Yin (2008 China National Champion)

    Mythic: Batterskull
    Rare: Life's Finale
    Uncommon: Fallen Ferromancer
    Common: Volt Charge
    Lei Qiang (Two-time Nationals Top 8)

    Mythic: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
    Rare: Life's Finale
    Uncommon: Enslave
    Common: Blinding Souleater
    Nu Jun (Ex-Nationals Finalist)

    Mythic: Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite
    Rare: Life's Finale
    Uncommon: Enslave
    Common: Volt Charge

     

  • Round 6: Feature Match – Wang Xuan Ji (Black-Green) vs. Jia Bin (Blue-Black)

    by Chapman Sim
  • Both players are well known among the local community and drew loud cheers of applause when they were invited to the Featured Match area. Jia Bin happens to be a four-time Nationals Top 8 competitor and is on his way to a perfect 6-0 record. His opponent and good friend, Wang Xuan Ji has promised to put up a good fight. With that, they shuffled up and began the match amidst their friendly banter.

    Game 1

    Wang won the die roll and opted to draw, so Jia capitalized on the speed boost with a Copper Myr into a turn three Serum Raker. Wang replied with Carapace Forger and Phyrexian Rager and prepared to return fire. Myr Sire on the opposite side promised to slow down the beats, but Jia declined to block with it, presumptively having a trick up his sleeve. Tumble Magnet hit play after combat and Jia made use of this opportunity to kill the Carapace Forger with Grim Affliction before Wang could achieve Metalcraft.

    Wang Xuan Ji turning up the heat.

    Viral Drake from Jia attempted to keep Wang's Acid-Web Spider at bay, but an activation from the Magnet and an ensuing attack brought Jia down to 12. Wang himself was at 14, having taken two hits from the three-powered flier.

    Trying to bolster his army, Wang added three creatures to the board in the form of Maul Splicer. Jia dropped Necropouncer in preparation to trade with a Golem and lighten the assault, but Wang pressed the advantage with a splashed Quicksilver Geyser, sending both fliers back to Jia's hand, then tapping down the Germ. When Wang attacked with his entire team, Jia destroyed the other Golem with Steel Sabotage and went down to just 4 life.

    Not having enough time to deal with the incoming horde and Tumble Magnet activations, Jia could only scoop up his cards as his opponent dropped a second Maul Splicer into play.

    Double Maul Splicers take the game.

    Wang Xuan Ji 1 - Jia Bin 0

    Game 2

    Wang pondered for a moment before deciding to mulligan, then berated himself for making that decision upon flipping over the top few cards of his deck. Jia Bin tried to console him and told him he shouldn't have looked to spare himself the heartbreak, to the amusement of the spectators.

    Both players had relatively slow draws and it was Jia who was beating down this time, with a turn two Myr Sire and turn four Serum Raker. Being color-screwed, Wang could only stare at his Iron Myr, three Forests and a lone Island and pass the turn.

    When Myr Sire came crashing in again, along with the relentless flier, Wang used Unnatural Predation on his Iron Myr to kill Myr Sire. Feeling like it was no big loss, he simply summoned Lumengrid Gargoyle and Necropouncer on succeeding turns. Tumble Magnet made its appearance for Wang again, but he was unable to do anything without drawing any Swamps. Piston Sledge attached onto the Serum Raker added insult to injury and Wang could only delay his inevitable death with Quicksilver Geyser.

    Jia Bin wins Game Two, and both proceed to the rubber match.

    Wang Xuan Ji 1 - Jia Bin 1

    Jia Bin ready to counterattack, with mana gods on his side.

    Game 3

    Myr Sire appeared for Jia on turn two, but once again Wang was facing mana problems. Being stuck on two Swamps this time, he was forced to discard Dementia Bat, Withstand Death and Birthing Pod on consecutive turns. Jia wasn't about to loosen up and added Serum Raker and Lumengrid Gargoyle to his board. A third land finally appeared for Wang, which enabled him to cast Phyrexian Rager. Jia took it out with Grim Affliction and crashed in with his team, prompting a concession.

    After his defeat, he could only blame his lackluster luck as he revealed a hand of Pristine Talisman, Glissa, the Traitor and Mimic Vat. Clearly, powerful bombs don't mean anything if you don't have the mana to cast them.

    Jia Bin wins Game Three and takes the match to go 6-0.

    Wang Xuan Ji 1 - Jia Bin 2


     

  • Saturday, 6:30 p.m. - Mono-colored Mania

    by Chapman Sim
  • It has been quite some time any format has seen that much "mono-coloration". It seems that while two-color decks remain popular, some players have decided that they never want to be color-screwed for the entirety of this tournament. Let us take a look at all the single colored decks which I have witnessed today. Ironically, it seems to be a colorful world out there!

    The little red men are back! Alike the highly fanatical Goblin Guide, its fellow buddies like Goblin Chieftain, Ember Hauler and Goblin Wardriver also have equally strong desires to crash into the red zone. Teaming up Haste and Battle Cry can literally make opponents cry. Players who prefer not lose to a well-timed Pyroclasm or Slagstorm can opt to toast their opponents to a crisp with multiple burn spells which fuel Shrine of Burning Rage and then finish them off with Koth of the Hammer.

    Mono black control decks with a minor infect theme has also proven to be popular. Harnessing the power of Lashwrithe in combination with Phyrexian Crusader and Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon, it has been able to kill at alarming speeds. Efficient removal like Gatekeeper of Malakir, Go for the Throat and Black Sun's Zenith is also generally quite good against the field. Since the days of Cabal Coffers (which is close to an alarming 10 years ago), we have seldom seen any decks running more than 20 Swamps.

    Players who swear by white mana have the option of overwhelming their opponents with weenies and equipment. More than one player was seen trying to complete Quest for the Holy Relic in an attempt to demolish the opposing board with Argentum Armor. Another approach is to use Puresteel Paladin to draw multiple cards with Flayer Husks and an assortment of Swords of different shapes and sizes before equipping them for free. Oh wait, there are some Tempered Steel decks running around too although, to be fair, it contains more artifacts than actual white cards!

    The little green men are back as well! Not having to face the previously easily tutorable Sword of Feast and Famine, Vengevines dumped into the graveyard via Fauna Shaman can finally attack at ease again. Usual suspects like Ezuri, Renegade Leader and Elvish Archdruid team up with Garruk Wildspeaker and Eldrazi Monument for lethal amounts of damage. Beast Within remains an important spell to remove opposing Planeswalkers and Titans in a pinch.

    And as always, blue players are enjoying punching up their opponents with a myriad of efficient Merfolk spearheaded by Lord of Atlantis. The ability to create a Standstill while protecting their best threats with Force of Will remains a potent and powerful strategy. (WHAT? Wrong format! Oops!)

    Now the question is... Where is the mono blue deck in Standard?


     

  • Round 7: Feature Match – Jia Bin (Blue-White) vs. Li Chen (Red-White)

    by Chapman Sim
  • Game 1

    Li won the die roll and decided to play first, possibly indicating an aggressive deck. However the action started before any turn could begin, as Jia Bin revealed Chancellor of the Annex from his hand. It helped by delaying Li's Gold Myr from entering play on turn three instead of two. In the meantime, Jia had Oculus equipped with Sylvok Lifestaff but Li decided to kill it with Contagion Clasp. Vulshok Heartstoker hit play, pumping the Gold Myr and bringing Jia down to 18.

    Despite drawing a card off Oculus, Jia found himself stuck on three land and could only summon Accorder Paladin then throwing him the equipment. Jia decided to trade his only creature with his opponent's Vulshok "Gray Ogre" Heartstoker but Li was quick to replace the fallen comrade with Vulshok Replica.


    Jia Bin surveys the board.

    Having no creatures to cast, Jia could only drop Grafted Exoskeleton and pass. Li surprised him with Metallic Mastery, grabbing Grafted Exoskeleton, equipping it onto Vulshok Replica, then attacking for five poison. After combat, he sacrificed the 3/1 and dealt another 3 poison to Jia. With the Contagion Clasp on the table, it seemed that he was going to win soon, but Jia was quick to dismantle it with Divine Offering. Li sighed as Jia seemed to be gaining control over the game and stared at his remaining two creatures in play, the industrious Gold Myr and an Immolating Souleater.

    After casting a Mycosynth Wellspring, Jia was able to reach seven mana to drop the angel that had been in his opening hand. Cycling a Panic Spellbomb, Li was able to slap Forced Worship on Jia's Chancellor of the Annex but continued to shake his head in despair as he watched Darksteel Sentinel whittle away at his life points.

    Jia Bin wins Game One.

    Li Chen 0 - Jia Bin 1

    Game 2

    Before laying any lands, Li could not resist asking his opponent. "No effects?"

    "I didn't draft four of that!", Jia retorted.

    Li gave a small laugh before casting Gold Myr, Pristine Talisman and Kudoltha Ringleader on successive turns. Jia Bin, having a seemingly slow draw, was able to only cast Strider Harness on turn three, Viral Drake on turn four and then Trigon of Thought on turn five.

    Ironically, it was the drake which was first to get infected by Li's Contagion Clasp. Attacking with both the Ringleader and the Myr, he was able to take his opponent down to 13 life. Jia's slow deck continued to punish him and he decided to chump with his 0/3 Drake, while digging for creatures with his card drawing artifact. He took another six from the dynamic duo, dropping to a mere 5 life now. With a grip full of cards, he mulled over his options and eventually decided on Tine Shrike, leaving mana open for Steel Sabotage but that was hardly enough. Li slammed Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer, erasing Jia's board with his combat phase, and then Kuldotha Flamefiend on his next turn to seal the deal.


    Li Chen is back for revenge.

    Li Chen wins Game Two.

    Li Chen 1 - Jia Bin 1

    Game 3

    The winner of this game would go undefeated and both players knew they wanted the pristine record. Jia made a trip to Paris and was happy with his fresh six.

    Jia curved out perfectly with a first turn Sylvok Lifestaff and a turn two Mortarpod to take out Li's Gold Myr. Kemba, Kha Regent made its debut appearance this match and Jia wasted no time in throwing both his equipment onto her. Things did not look good for Li at all, since he was facing a 3/5 cat-cranking machine by turn four with nothing on his side of the battlefield.

    Two cats entered the battlefield next turn and it seemed that the game was over. Blisterstick Shaman and Slash Panther could not stop the incessant wave of cat tokens, but Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer was able to keep the felines at bay temporarily.


    Kemba at the far end, with her horde.

    Jia stumbled upon his third equipment of the game and proceeded to put the freshly drawn Strider Harness on Kemba. He was happy to play the waiting game, since he was now producing THREE cat tokens each turn. Jia contemplated attacking with his swarm but after some math, he decided to hold it off til the next turn. As expected, he attacked with seven tokens, losing two, and reducing his opponent to six. Another attack next turn ended the game and Li could only bow down to the swarm of ferocious felines.

    Jia Bin wins Game Three and goes undefeated!

    Jia Bin 2 - Li Chen 1

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