Day 1 Coverage

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Day one has come to a close here at Grand Prix Taipei, with 270 players whittling down to 64. It may have been a small field, but it was a strong one, with many well known players showing up to try and earn for a few more Pro Points before the World Championships in just under two weeks. On top of the field at the close of play are two very well known Japanese players, Shuu Komuro and Osamu Fujita, who are joined by a relatively unknown local player, Way Chan. The attrition level was high amongst the rest of the Pros, with many names missing the cut. Makihito Mihara, Tomoharu Saito and Shuuhei Nakamura to name but a few. Stay tuned here at Magicthegathering.com, while we follow those that did make the cut, and see just who can battle it out for the top 8.





EVENT COVERAGE

  • 9:02 p.m.: Round 8: The last Quick Questions for the day
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 8:21 p.m.: Round 8: Miller Tsai vs Martin Juza
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 7:07 p.m.: Round 7: Yet More Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 6:34 p.m.: Round 7: Shingou Kurihara vs Makihito Mihara
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 5:20 p.m.: Round 6: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 4:27 p.m.: Round 6: Morris Ming Sung vs Marcio Carvalho
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 3:54 p.m.: Round 5: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 3:15 p.m.: Round 4: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs Olivier Ruel
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 2:43 p.m.: Round 3: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Info: Day 1 Players By Country
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Playerlist
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • 11:07 a.m.: Sealed Deck Construction
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • 10:09 a.m.: Grand Prix Trials
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff



 
  • Saturday, November 29: 10:09a.m. – Grand Prix Trials
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • As always before a Grand Prix, there are a serious of Trial tournaments to give players a chance to win the much desired trio of byes. While some Trails are played out in local stores over the months leading up to the event, there are always a handful of last-chance Trials held at the venue the day before. Yesterday, four were run and naturally, we have the winner’s decklists for you to check out.



     
  • Saturday, November 29: 11:07a.m. – Sealed Deck Construction
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • For such a small field, it’s certainly packed full of name players, and many of them appeared to have been seated in pairs, thanks to the alphabetized seating arrangements. Ideally, we’d try to sit with one of these players to see how they work their Magic, but with so many Pros, who to choose? The finalists from last week’s Grand Prix Okayama, Makihito Mihara and Kazuya Mitamura were seated near each other. Mihara trying to piece together a four-color good stuff deck while Mitamura was assembling an aggro concoction on the back of a pair of Rhox Chargers.

    Olivier Ruel, sat opposite 2007 Player of the Year, Tomoharu Saito, appeared to have opened a Black/Red monstrosity, boasting a Caldera Hellion, and was looking to splash both Green and White either side of it. Rookie of the Year hopeful, Aaron Nicastri was heaping up a collection of fatties next to a Where Ancients Tread, and over at the back of the hall, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa was surrounding a Violent Ultimatum and a Realm Razer with playables, but trying to decide if his Blue was better. Player of the Year race leader Shuuhei Nakamura could only laugh as Chikara Nakajima swooned over his Flameblast Dragon and Hellkite Overlord, while Nakamura’s Esper build merely looked solid at best.

    As round one got underway, those with byes, including our top-heavy Pro contingency sat down to practice playing with their latest creations. It must be intimidating for those already playing to look down the back of the hall and see a Pro Tour’s worth of talent (possible exaggeration) preparing to enter the fray in a couple of hours.




     
  • Saturday, November 29: 2:43p.m. – Round 3: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • What is your favorite shard or Color Combination in Shards of Alara Sealed?

    Yuuta Takahashi
    “Naya”
    Olivier Ruel
    “5 Color I guess, unless I’m aggro”
    Makihito Mihara
    “Naya and Jund”
    Marcio Carvalho
    “Jund”
    Shuuhei Nakamura
    “Esper”
    Martin Juza
    “5 Color, by far!”


     
  • Saturday, November 29: 3:15p.m. – Round 4: Guillaume Wafo-Tapa vs Olivier Ruel
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • As round four got underway, two of France’s most well known Magic players squared off against each other. But wait, aren’t we in Taiwan? Yes we are. Both Olivier Ruel and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa have flown in from Okayama on the Grand Prix trail, and despite the odds being somewhat stacked against it, were playing each other in their first round of play today. It’s not the first time they’ve played against each other today though; they’ve been playtesting this match all morning.

    “We both have very good decks,” Olivier offered. “He has Violent Ultimatum, but I think his Necrogenesis is more annoying.”

    After Wafo-Tapa mulliganed, both players developed their board with mana and men, until Wafo-Tapa wiped out everyone’s lands with a Realm Razer. Ruel held a reasonable defense with his Carrion Thrash, causing somewhat of a standoff. An Executioner’s Capsule broke the game out of its stall, and followed it Ruel with a medium-sized Caldera Hellion. Ruel’s Carrion Thrash allowed him to stay ahead, trading with a Topan Ascetic and getting back a lowly but not insignificant Dregscape Zombie. Wafo-Tapa dug for answers with a Gift of Gargantuan, giving him an Elvish Visionary, before playing a Kresh the Bloodbraided. A Fleshbag Marauder capped Kresh, and Ruel then played a Corpse Connoisseur, burying another second copy of itself, before digging back his Courier’s Capsule with a Sanctum Gargoyle. Wafo-Tapa played a Mosstodon, but a post combat Jund Charm from Ruel took that down as well, after it had blocked the Dregscape Zombie. Eyeing up an opposing Graveyard full of Unearth creatures, Wafo-Tapa gave up on Game 1 and reached for his sideboard.

    Ruel 1 – Wafo-Tapa 0

    Olivier Ruel
    Wafo-Tapa again chose to draw. Neither player were in a hurry to commit and creatures to the table, until Ruel dropped his Corpse Connoisseur on turn five, again burying a duplicate of the 3/3. Wafo-Tapa played the dreaded Necrogenesis, and a Jund Battlemage. Ruel could only attack back with his Connoisseur, and pass the turn. Wafo-Tapa added a Cavern Thoctar to his team. Ruel pondered his play. He now had seven mana and a 3/3 facing off a Necrogenesis, a token making Battlemage and a 5/5. The 3/3 swung in at the Thoctar, representing the Jund Charm in reserve, but Wafo-Tapa let it through. Ruel simply played a naked Sanctum Gargoyle with a shrug and passed it back.

    Wafo-Tapa’s hand was a monster. Ruel leaned over the table counting his opponent’s mana, correctly guessing that he was potentially facing a Violent Ultimatum if Wafo-Tapa could draw a third Red source. Wafo-Tapa sank into the think tank before feeding a single Saproling to a Predator Dragon and sending it in with the Thoctar. Despite being on 11 life to Ruel’s 18, he looked to be well in truly in control of the game. Ruel flipped through the cards in his hand, weighing up his options before blocking the Dragon with the Gargoyle and shrinking it lethally with a Grixis Charm. Ruel then used his Jund Charm to kill off the Jund Battlemage, before finishing off the Thoctar with his Fleshbag Marauder and playing an Executioner’s Capsule. Still missing the Red mana he needed to deliver his Ultimatum, Wafo-Tapa could only pass the turn back. His Necrogenesis giving him an almost endless stream of blockers, and a cycled Resounding Thunder dealing with the increasingly threatening Sanctum Gargoyle. A Bloodpyre Elemental killed off the Connoisseur, and the board was finally clear on both sides. That is until Wafo-Tapa made Saprolings out of his latest victims. Ruel tried to buy some time with a Kiss of Amesha, but Wafo-Tapa had a Swerve. Ruel frowned, read the card and they were on to Game 3.

    Ruel 1 – Wafo-Tapa 1

    Wafo-Tapa
    Both players sideboarded again, and this time Ruel took the opportunity to draw. With the clock running low, both players sped through their turns, Wafo-Tapa playing a turn four Kresh, the Blood Braided. Ruel cycled cards in search for an answer for the Mythic Rare, while Wafo-Tapa did some digging of his own with Gift of the Gargantuan. An Executioner’s Capsule took out an Elvish Visioary, clearing way for the Fleshbag Marauder to knock out Kresh. Ruel then Corpse Connoisseur’d up a Dregscape Zombie, only to lose the 3/3 to a Resounding Thunder and taking a Dreg Reaver to the face. Ruel Unearthed the Dregscape Zombie, attacked and then fed it to the Caldera Hellion. Wafo-Tapa again dropped his Necrogenesis, both Graveyards pregnant with promise.

    Time was then called, only giving Wafo-Tapa a narrow window to finish Ruel off. He attacked Ruel down to 7 and then dropped him to 4 with a Blightning. Ruel agonized over what to discard, knowing that each creature he would throw away would only come back to bite him. Ruel then played a Bant Obelisk, giving him the Green mana needed to save himself with his Jund Charm. The game looked like it would end in a draw, but Ruel reached for the result slip and filled it out in Wafo-Tapa’s favor, explaining that he had scooped for Ruel plenty of times in the past, and draw did nothing to help either of them.

    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa defeats Olivier Ruel 2-1



     
  • Saturday, November 29: 3:54p.m. – Round 5: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • Which card do you least want your opponent to have in their deck today?

    Olivier Ruel
    “Broodmate Dragon.”
    Martin Juza
    “Caldera Hellion.”
    Zac Hill
    “Empyrial Archangel. I have no way to deal with it, not even attacking for 8.”
    Aaron Nicastri
    “Necrogenesis.”
    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
    “Broodmate Dragon.” (Although Juza and Ruel both said that the card Wafo-Tapa secretly feared and desired was Covenant of Minds.)
    Yuuta Takahashi
    “Blister Beetle.”


     
  • Saturday, November 29: 4:27p.m. – Round 6: Morris Ming Sung vs Marcio Carvalho
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Morris Sung, Taiwanese National Team member 2006 and 2007, won the die roll and elected to play first. Marcio Carvalho told me this morning that he secretly celebrates whenever his opponents do that, so he was probably silently cheering at that moment. When Sung then mulliganed, Carvalho asked the table judge if he could quickly go to the bathroom, no doubt unable to contain his joy but not wanting to give the game away.

    Sung’s third turn Woolly Thoctar ran straight into a Bant Charm from Carvalho, who then dropped a Rhox War Monk into play. Sung dispatched the Monk easily with a Bloodpyre Elemental, and then removed a Stoic Angel from play with an Oblivion Ring. Carvalho had a Ring of his own to free his Angel, and with the help of a Guardians of Akrasa, began to swing through the air for 4. Sung bashed back with a Knight of the Skyward Eye and hasty Hell’s Thunder, but couldn’t muster much more of an attack. Carvalho’s Angel dropped Sung to 8, before he added a Bloodpyre Elemental of his own. Sung couldn’t find any answers to the Angel, or Carvalho’s full grip, and packed up for Game 2.

    Carvalho 1 – Sung 0

    Sung and Carvalho
    “You want to play first again?” Carvalho asked with a poker face, to which Sung replied “Yes.” Carvalho even managed a sigh as he presented his deck. Sung again mulliganed, and Carvalho finally allowed a smile to cross his dial.

    Carvalho made the first play with a turn two Dragon Fodder. The Goblin Tokens were able to swing in unopposed on the following turn, and were joined by a Vithian Stinger. Sung finally had a play on his fifth turn, a Bloodpyre Elemental for the Stinger. A Wild Nacatl came down for Sung, but lasted roughly half a second before a Branching Bolt cleared the way for the Tokens to keen assaulting his life total. Carvalho played a Jungle Weaver, but Sung had Oblivion Ring for that. However, he also had a fist full of land that did nothing to stop the Goblin Tokens and the Wild Nacatl that had by then joined them in the attack.

    Marcio Carvalho defeats Morris Ming Sung 2-0



     
  • Saturday, November 29: 5:20p.m. – Round 6: Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • What is the most important card in your deck today?

    Yuuta Takahashi
    “Woolly Thoctar. I have Rafiq of the Many, but it’s just a splash.”
    Martin Juza
    “Vein Drinker.”
    Makihito Mihara
    “Vithian Stinger.”
    Shuuhei Nakamura
    “Esper Panorama. My mana is not good.”
    Kazuya Mitamura
    “Rhox Charger, I don’t have anything great.”
    Marcio Carvalho
    “Crumbling Necropolis.”


     
  • Saturday, November 29: 6:34p.m. – Round 7: Shingou Kurihara vs Makihito Mihara
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Makihito Mihara may have won last week in Okayama, but he came into round seven needing to win the last two rounds today just to make the cut to day two. And naturally, so did his opponent, Shingou Kurihara. Both players joked that two more pro points this weekend would definitely make the World Champs in a couple of weeks a lot easier, but they both agreed that two loses and a draw would be dicey on the tiebreakers at best.

    Both players had turn one Akrasan Squires, and got in some early damage, Kurihara following up with a Knight of the Skyward Eye and Kurihara, another Squire. Neither player could find a third land, but Kurihara pulled forward with a Druid of the Anima and a Sigiled Paladin. Mihara could only grin as Kurihara found a third land and played a Rhox Charger. When the whole team came in on the following turn, Mihara began to count the damage, before picking up his four permanents with a chuckle.

    Kurihara 1 – Mihara 0

    Mihara
    Mihara sideboarded a heap of cards, swapping sleeves over to the new cards, to which Kurihara quizzed him.

    “Changing to anti-beatdown?”
    “No, I’ve sideboarded the same cards every round”
    “Ahh, you built your deck wrong! Why not sleeve up the extra cards?”
    “I only have 42 sleeves” Mihara replied with a laugh.

    Mihara lead with a Jungle Shrine, and an Island, but again had no third land. Kurihara again lead with an Akrasan Squire, curving out beautifully for a second game in a row with his Exalted beaters. Mihara cycled a Viscera Dragger, and a Ridge Rannet before finding a third land, but by now Kurihara had a multitude of men and they were all turning sideways. Mihara could only laugh at his misfortune as he packed up his cards in a match that barely took 10 minutes, including Mihara’s transformational sideboarding.

    Shingou Kurihara defeats Makihito Mihara 2-0



     
  • Saturday, November 29: 7:07p.m. – Round 7: Yet More Quick Questions
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • What is more important in Shards of Alara Sealed, good mana or bombs?

    Kazuya Mitamura
    “Bomb cards.”
    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
    “Good mana… Well, I’ve never had trouble with it, so I guess it’s actually bombs.”
    Tiago Chan
    “Bombs. All decks have bad mana. Regardless of what they tell you, everyone’s mana is bad.”
    Zac Hill
    “Good mana, it’s not close. I had all the bombs you could ever want in a trial yesterday, and exactly zero mana fixing, so those bombs sat either in my hand, or in my sideboard.”
    Aaron Nicastri
    “Bombs, no question.”
    Makihito Mihara
    “Bombs”


     
  • Saturday, November 29: 8:21p.m. – Round 8: Miller Tsai vs Martin Juza
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Last night, Miller Tsai won the third of four Grand Prix Trials to earn himself three byes in today’s tournament, but going into the final round of day one, he found himself on the brink of elimination. His opponent, fresh from the top 8 at Pro Tour Berlin, was Martin Juza.

    Juza won the roll, chose to draw, and was then forced to mulligan. Tsai briefly stalled on two land while Juza got in a quick hit with a Rip-Clan Crasher, but managed a third land on the following turn, making a Court Archers to hold back the attack. Juza added a Jund Battlemage and a Blood Cultist to the table, while Tsai failed to find a fourth land. When Juza added an Undead Leotau to his board, Tsai quickly packed up his cards.

    Juza 1 – Tsai 0

    Despite being forced to play in Game 1, Tsai took that choice voluntarily in Game 2, leading with a turn one Akrasan Squire. Juza wasted no time erasing it with a Magma Spray. Tsai regrouped with a Dragon Fodder and a Knight of the Skyward Eye while Juza cracked a Grixis Panorama for a Swamp. “Desperate times,” Juza said with a sigh, playing a Fleshbag Marauder to take down one of the Goblin Tokens. His following turn yielded a Savage Lands, before taking 6 from the Knight and remaining Token. A Naya Battlemage from Juza was Excommunicated, before he was attacked down to six life. Instead of replaying the Battlemage, a sixth land allowed Juza to play his Vein Drinker. Tsai sent in the team, and the Vampire blocked the Goblin while Juza dropped to 1. Juza’s draw step gave him a Forest that allowed him to replay the Battlemage and add a Rip-Clan Crasher to his team. The Vampire ate the Knight, and just when it looked like Juza might pull it out by the skin of his teeth, Tsai plucked a Resounding Thunder off the top.

    Juza 1 – Tsai 1

    Juza made the first play in Game 3 with a Druid of the Anima, while Tsai fetched a Mountain with his Jund Panorama. Marcio Carvalho came over and confirmed that Juza was X-2 and in Game 3. “I should be X-1, but I screwed up Big Time last round,” he replied “wait, don’t write that down,” he asked me with a grin. Tsai again made some Dragon Fodder, while Juza made a Hissing Iguana. He looked somewhat awkward as he offed one of the Tokens with a Magma Spray to allow the Iguana to get in for 3 before adding a Bloodpyre Elemental to his team. Tsai played an Akrasan Squire and a Seaside Citadel, giving him access to all five colors on his next turn. “Domain!” Juza exclaimed, “that’s new.”

    Juza untapped and sank into thought, wondering if the Blue mana would bring some new, as yet untold terror for him. He played a Fleshbag Marauder, killing the remaining Token and used a second Magma Spray on the Squire, clearing Tsai’s meager board and allowing his glass-jawed team to get in for 7. “Is that a Jund Charm, or what?” Juza inquired as Tsai untapped. Tsai could only frown as he played a Metallurgeon and an Oblivion Ring, removing the Iguana from the game. Soul’s Fire knocked the Artifact Creature aside and Juza attacked down Tsai to 1 life. A Tidehollow Sculler came down, revealing a lethal Resounding Thunder and the Vein Drinker, which Juza couldn’t play with only four land.

    “It’s a tough decision I know” Juza laughed, as Tsai slid the Thunder under the Sculler. “I’m still gonna attack though” he reminded Tsai, who was forced to block anyway, returning Juza the burn spell to finally finish him off.

    Martin Juza defeats Miller Tsai 2-1



     
  • Saturday, November 29: 9:02p.m. – Round 8: The last Quick Questions for the day
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • Play or Draw in Shards of Alara Sealed?

    Kazuya Mitamura
    “Draw.”
    Olivier Ruel
    “Play maybe, but most decks should draw. If I’m playing against control I would draw.”
    Marcio Carvalho
    “Draw, never play.”
    Shuuhei Nakamura
    “Draw.”
    Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
    “Draw, the games are slow.”
    Tiago Chan
    “Draw.”
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