Blog Archive: Day 2

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7:42 pm - John Avon Speaks
6:18 pm - Turning the Tables on Tsuyoshi
4:34 pm - Gone but Not Forgotten
3:46 pm - Last Man Standing or An Affinity of Mirrors
2:21 pm - Who was that Canadian Man?
1:42 pm - Deck Tech: Oops…Make that Mono Blue Control
1:07 pm - Deck Tech: StationWorks
11:31 am - Cool Sideboard Tech!
10:42 am - Standings by Archetype
10:13 am - Ad Affinitum: Undefeated Day One Decks
  •   Sunday, July 25: 7:42 pm - John Avon Speaks
  • John Avon is one of the most popular artists to ever paint a landscape. He is best known for his beautiful Arena lands but his Portal lands might actually be among the prettiest pieces of artwork to grace the game. I had been trying to talk to John all weekend but there was a human barricade up at all times. His fans kept a long line at his table for as long as he was willing to sit and sign. When they were up to the maximum number of signed items they would politely trot to the back of the line and wait their next turn with just as many cards for the next go round.

    Finally, I just elbowed my way in to talk with him about his work. I was surprised to learn that his favorite pieces of Magic artwork are his Mirrodin Forest and Tree of Tales. Mirrodin marked a change in how John approached his work. In the past he would assemble his reference and scan it into the computer painting the final piece. Illustrating a metal world presented some unique challenges and he found himself painting from his sketches and pencil drawings--an experience he found enlivening.

    John Avon gets much love up in the club.

    "When I was doing those pieces I would actually go to say to my wife, 'Darling I love my job!'"

    We did not get to speak for very long and with no end to the line in sight, Avon found himself actually signing money that fans handed him to purchase prints and artist proofs. He also had original paintings available for sale including his Portal Second Age Armageddon which was priced at around $900 USD.

    He has a mural of Mountains in the upcoming Champions of Kamigawa and a whopping thirteen cards in the set overall--a total he called "unprecedented". Fans of John Avon can find out more about the artist at his website

  •  Sunday, July 25: 6:18 pm - Turning the Tables on Tsuyoshi
  • Youn Ming Huang was hungry for the win.

    Tsuyoshi Fujita's star burns just a little brighter than everyone else's in the room. He first rose to notoriety when he made the Top 8 of Pro Tour Tokyo in 2001--the first Japanese player to achieve that level of success. He has made the Top 8 of countless Grand Prix tournaments and has won two of them--Kyoto as well as last year's GP Bangkok. He is also the Japanese National Champion and many are predicting big things for the Fujita led team this year--individually and in the team competition.

    When he won the GP last year it was at the helm of a Goblin Bidding deck. It was the first time most of the world had heard about the new deck and the addition of the new archetype sent ripples throughout the metagame and changed its shape for the looming World Championships. At the time the best deck was widely considered to be the G/W/U Wrath based Wake deck. Goblin Bidding was so powerful because it nullified much of Wrath's power thanks to the hasty Goblin Warchief.

    Since that event, Goblin Bidding has become a centerpiece of Standard format. Although it has been toppled from the top spot by the ridiculous power and speed of Affinity, Goblins are still very much a viable deck. In fact, when Tsuyoshi won his Nationals it was also with Goblins although without the power of Bidding.

    He was without Bidding this weekend as well. He was also without Goblins, Mountains, or any of the cards associated with his last two major victories. He was playing a green-white Slide deck that relied on Wrath of God and Eternal Witness recursion. After a shaky 5-2 start yesterday and a gloomy prediction about his fate today he has yet to lose a match on Day Two. If he could win his 12th-round feature against Youn Ming Huang he could draw into a GP Top 8 for the umpteenth time in his career.

    It was only fitting that Tsuyoshi should have to battle his way past the deck he popularized at last year's event as Youn was hoping his Biddings would trump Fujita's Wraths and allow the Taiwanese player his first entry into a Grand Prix Top 8.

    It was late in Game 1 when I walked over to the feature march area. Fujita was up against the ropes and had to put his Eternal Dragon and Duplicant in the way of a Clickslither that was backed up by a Siege-Gang. Youn ate a bunch of tokens and the creatures traded. Fujita untapped and Wrathed away the rest of Youn's board.

    Youn drew a second source of black for his Bidding but with the Duplicant in the yard he had to wait for a second Warchief before he could feel confident in his Bidding. He played the Warchief and passed the turn.

    A turn later, he cast the Bidding and named Goblins. Fujita named Shapeshifters. When attempted to remove the Siege-Gang with it, Youn threw it at an Eternal Witness that was going to chump block otherwise. The Duplicant traded with a Piledriver and his Solemn Simulacrum traded with a Warchief. Fujita fell to a dangerously low five life.

    He played Astral Slide on his turn and passed the turn only to have to figure out how to cope with another Patriarch's Bidding. To make matters worse this time, Youn had drawn a Skirk Prospector and fueled his spell by sacrificing it and the Warchief. It appeared that he would be able to finish Fujita off with is Siege-Gang but the Japanese National Champion was not going to scoop it up without a little math.

    He thought and thought and finally cast Gilded Light in response to the Bidding meaning that he could not be burned out by the Siege-Gang--this turn anyway. When everything came into play, Fujita returned his Duplicant to land on a Warchief--it was flung at an Eternal Witness-- and then he cycled out the other Warchief with a Secluded Steppe. Youn shrugged and passed the turn to try and kill Fujita during his upkeep--his friends cringed in horror when he announced that he would be passing the turn.

    He got Tsuyoshi down to one and tapped the last of his lands and sacrificed his Prospector to deal the killing blow but Tsuyoshi drew a roar from the crowd with another Gilded Light. He Wrathed during his main phase and seemed physically exhausted from his efforts.

    Tsuyoshi Fujita would NOT be defeated!

    Youn was out of gas and glumly passed the turn. Tsuyoshi drew an Eternal Witness and that was pretty much the fist half of the double-header since he could bring back a Wrath, Gilded Light, or Renewed Faith every turn. Once he demonstrated that he was not going to run out of cycling cards, Youn scooped.

    The Taiwainese player went down to five cards on the play when his first two hands did not pass muster. He drew out of it fairly well but Tsuyoshi had an early pair of Slides and he could control the board at all times. When he played a Sundering Titan that he had boarded in and took out Youn's black sources, the Top 8 aspirant shook his head and conceded.

    His friends scolded him for his play in Game 1. He had left three points of damage on the table--three points that would have killed his opponent. After Fujita removed the two Warchiefs he forgot that three of his Siege-Gang tokens from the previous turn did not have summoning sickness. Had he remembered they would have played a third game.

    Instead Tsuyoshi Fujita was in a position to draw into the Top 8 of a GP for the ELEVENTH time in his stellar career.

  •  Sunday, July 25: 4:34 pm - Gone but Not Forgotten
  • There was no question which deck was my favorite on Friday evening during the Trials and on Saturday during Day One of the main event. Thailand's Pulperm Phungprachit played a green combo deck he called Thai Breakfast that was a blast to watch in action.

    The deck was a hybrid between Sameer Merchant's Elf and Nail deck and the popular Beacon Green decks from block constructed with a few unusual goodies thrown in for good measure. At one point yesterday I watched Pulperm kill an Arc-Slogger and draw five cards for his effort. With Blasting Station and Fecundity in play he cast Beacon of Creation for eight insects. When they came into play he put eight individual triggers for the Blasting Station--it untaps whenever a creature comes into play--on the stack and as they resolved he shot one of the insects at the Arc-Slogger and continued to do so until it died. Each time he flung a token at it he drew a card for the Fecundity.

    I don't know if it was good but it was sure fun to watch. Pulperm did not advance to Day Two and ended up somewhere in the mid hundreds as far as the standings with a 4-3 record without the help of any byes. I personally watched him lose at least two critical Game 3s when he did not take full advantage of his decks complicated interactions. The deck certainly warrants a closer look and at the very least could be a fun deck to take to your local Friday Night Magic tournament.

    Who knows? Maybe with a little tinkering it could be a fun deck to take to the 2004 Magic World Championships in San Francisco.

    Thai Breakfast - Pulperm Phungprachit
    Designed by Apiwat Pod Niyomjoy

  •  Sunday, July 25: 3:46 pm - Last Man Standing or An Affinity of Mirrors
  • Let me hear you say Joe Soh!

    Round eleven saw Joe Soh and Kwan Ching Yuen settle into the feature match area. Both players were with Affinity. Joe was 9-1 while Kwan was the last man standing at 10-0. Joe is considered to be Malaysia's best player. He won their National Championship last year and although he did not successfully he defend his title he did make it onto the National team again this year. He rolled his eyes at the foolish question when asked what deck he played in the Standard portion of this year's championship. For this young Malaysian there is only one deck to play in Standard--Affinity.

    Kwan also played Affinity at the Singapore Nationals. He posted a 5-1 record losing only to a mono-black beatdown deck. He was not able to match that performance during the Limited portion of the event and failed to qualify for the up coming World Championships. With a 10-0 record today he seemed the likeliest candidate to qualify for Pro Tour Columbus this weekend.

    He went up one game on Joe pretty quickly when a Shrapnel Blast finished what a Cranial Plated Ornithopter started. Both players reached for their sideboards and Joe began shuffling in Furnace Dragons and Pentad Prisms. Kwan--who had won two mirror matches already on Day Two--merely brought in Electrostatic Bolts.

    A recent spy photograph of Kwan Chin Yuen.

    Neither players sideboard came into play for Game 2. Kwan drew the Ravager/Disciple combo and had just enough damage and life loss to finish off the rising Malaysian star by eating all his permanents during combat. I asked Kwan about his sideboard and his success in the mirror today.

    "I do not like the Furnace Dragon plan without Skullclamp--it is too inconsistent. The match-up comes down to Cranial Plating and fliers like Ornithopter. I just want to get their fliers out of the way so I just bring in the Electrostatic Bolts." You can't argue with his 11-0 record.

  •  Sunday, July 25: 2:21 pm - Who was that Canadian Man?
  • Itaru Ishida can read your mind!

    When I looked at the design credit--simply, Canadian Man--on Itaru Ishida's decklist I wondered if it was a reference to the MIA Josh Bennett. It turns out that Canadian Man is the inexplicable nickname for the similarly MIA Akira Asahara who designed Ishida's Seedborn Muse U/G control deck. I have been calling the deck Seedborn Control in the metagame breakdowns but the Japanese call it Nazo Deck.

    The deck is a card advantage machine with Thirst for Knowledge, Krosan Tuskers, and Eternal Witnesses to retrieve them. The deck has Oblivion Stone where Blue-White decks normally have Wrath and it can also use Pyroclasm for additional creature control from the sideboard. What makes the deck unusual is the inclusion of the maximum number of Seedborn Muses allowable by DCI law. The Muse allows the deck to have all of its mana untapped on the opponent's turn to be able to put as much mana as possible into counter battles.

    Ishida, fresh off his second place finish at Pro Tour Seattle, claimed the deck was designed to excel in a control heavy field, citing the ability of the deck to have all of its mana available on the opponent's turn as critical in Condescend on Condescend action. He did not think it was the right choice this weekend and cracked a rare on-camera smile--trust me…that is the equivalent of a cheese-eating grin on you or me--as he discussed the deck's bad match-up against Affinity.

    He was facing Kuala Lumpur's own Freddy Wong in round ten. Freddy was just what the doctor ordered for Ishida with his blue-white control deck. Ishida cycled a Krosan Tusker five times in the first game thanks to a little help from the ubiquitous Eternal Witness. He also cast three Thirst for Knowledges. He ended up in an overwhelming advantaged position as far as mana and was able to beat down with his Witnesses. Wong looked for an answer but after a short battle over a Plow Under--Ishida won that battle thanks to having all his mana available from Seedborn Muse--he conceded.

    Freddy Wong chillin on the scene with a gangsta lean, knowwhatimeeeeaaaan?

    Game 2 followed a similar pattern. Ishida kept cycling his way to land and spells with Tuskers and Witnesses. Once he could get a Seedborn Muse into play with counter back-up he did so and Freddy fell shortly thereafter.

    If Ishida can duck the Affinity decks at the top tables and feed on the control decks in the middle of the pack he might be able to sneak his way into yet another Grand Prix Top 8. Of course, if he does make the Top 8 it is unlikely he will be able to keep ducking the issue.

    Itaru Ishida - Nazo Deck
    Designed by Akira Asahara aka Canadian Man

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    11  Island
    Wooded Foothills

    24 lands

    Eternal Witness
    Krosan Tusker
    Seedborn Muse

    12 creatures

    Echoing Truth
    Mana Leak
    Oblivion Stone
    Plow Under
    Thirst for Knowledge
    Wayfarer's Bauble

    24 other spells

    Plow Under
    Viridian Shaman

    15 sideboard cards

  •  Sunday, July 25: 1:42 pm - Deck Tech: Oops…Make that Mono Blue Control
  • Russell Thio is a control freak.

    Oops…I listed Russell Thio's deck in the archetype breakdown as one of a bunch of U/W Control decks bobbing in the middle of the field. He was in sixteenth place after Day One with a 6-1 record but with Mono Blue Control not Blue-White--with Mahamoti Djinns no less!

    Thio is one of a crop of young Singaporean players that includes Ding Leong and are expected to make their presence on the Pro Tour known before very long. As he sat down in the Feature Match area for Round 10 he was facing off against Masahiko Morita. Morita was playing Affinity and was sitting at a higher table than any of the other Japanese players in the tournament.

    Thio stumbled in his mana development Game 1 while Morita had a heady Affinity draw and ran him over. In Game 2 he destroyed all of Morita's mana but a Blinkmoth Nexus with March of the Machines and had a Vedalken Shackles with the mana to make good use of it. It looked like he might be able to take control of the game despite another torrid start from the Japanese player but a Glimmervoid set off a Shrapnel Blast when the Singaporean player tapped out to cast Thirst for Knowledge at the end of his turn.

    Mahamoti Control
    Russell Thio

  •  Sunday, July 25: 1:07 pm - Deck Tech: StationWorks
  • You get two formats for the price of one in this entry as we look into the secrets of the Japanese StationWorks deck. (StationWorks is what I have been calling the deck. The Japanese call it Hijiki, which is the name of a food. Contrary to the naming conventions of past combo decks it is not a breakfast food.) Not only is it a new deck to add to your Standard gauntlet but you can toss it right into your Mirrodin block playtest decks as well--with the exception of a couple of sideboard cards the deck springs entirely from the artifact block.

    The deck revolves around returning artifacts from your graveyard to play and it can do this several different ways--Salvaging Station, Second Sunrise, Roar of Reclamation, and--most importantly--Myr Retrievers. To go off the deck requires a Salvaging Station, two Myr Retrievers, and a Krark-Clan Ironworks. The two Myr Retrievers can be exchanged for one another infinitely. Each time you sacrifice one of them for two mana from the Ironworks you can get the other back and have the mana to cast it--it is a loop.

    Masashi Oiso and Tomohiro Kaji are not really siamese twins.

    With a Salvaging Station in play you can untap it each time a Retriever hits the bin--returning a Conjurer's Bauble or Chromatic Sphere to play. Now you are drawing infinite cards and can also continually sacrifice those same baubles for infinite mana which can be any color since you wash it through your Chromatic Spheres.

    From there it is just a matter of finding a Pyrite Spellbomb to kill your opponent. (Not hard to do with infi mana and card drawing BTW)

    There were only two players running the deck this weekend. Former Rookie of the Year Masashi Oiso gleaned the deck from this year's Rookie of the Year contender Tomohiro Kaji--the deck's designer. Both players made it to Day two but Kaji just squeaked in with the final berth.

    Oiso won his eighth round to improve his record with the deck to 6-1-1 and was facing off against hometown hero and GP: Hong Kong Top 8 competitor Terry Soh. Terry was playing G/W Slide and although he took the first game he could only look on while Oiso caught him tapped out twice and was able to combo him out.

    Kaji lost his first round today and was battling another Top 8 competitor from GP: HK--Chi-Chung Hwang. Chi-Chung was playing U/W control and they were moving onto Game 3. Kaji thought for a long time before keeping a hand with double Xantid Swarm and none of the combo pieces save a Fabricate. Chi-Chung had no trouble deciding to keep as he stared at double Cloudpost and March of the Machines--he was missing blue mana to cast it though.

    He sighed on his third turn as he still did not have the blue just two Cloudposts and a Plains. Kaji had cycled a Sphere to play Xantid Swarm on the second turn and tapped out to Fabricate for Ironworks on turn three. Turn four saw an Island on the top of Hwang's deck and that was all she wrote folks. There was nothing that Kaji could do from that point with all of his land save two Glimmervoids being of the artifact variety.

    While frustrated with his performance, he was happy to see Oiso doing so well with his creation and hoped he would be able to experience the Top 8 vicariously through him provided he can dodge any March decks that may lie ahead.

  •  Sunday, July 25: 11:31 am - Cool Sideboard Tech!
  • Tsuyoshi Fujita is a Karaoke God.

    Now that is just cool…

    Tsuyoshi Fujita was playing his green-white Slide deck in the eighth round against Ding Leong with Affinity. Tsuyoshi is the recently crowned Japanese National Champion who introduced the world to Goblin Bidding while winning Grand Prix Bangkok a year ago. His opponent is a young talent from Singapore who won the last GP to be held in this fine town.

    It was Game 3 and on the second turn Tsuyoshi whipped out a Relic Barrier and proceeded to tap one Ding's lands during his opponent's next upkeep. He followed up with two more and after a Wrath of God was able to lock up three quarters of Ding's mana each turn. This bought him the turns necessary to set up his Witness/Slide action and from there it was just a matter of going through the formalities before securing the match win.

    Go go Relic Barriers!

    The Relic Barrier never costs any mana beyond the initial investment and it kept knocking the Affinity player off of his tempo. Nick Wong nodded approvingly at the card, "In this match-up it just like casting Rampant Growth."

  •  Sunday, July 25: 10:42 am - Standings by Archetype
  • Here is the deck by deck breakdown of the Top 64 and where they stood after one day of action.

    Rank Archetype Won/Loss
    1 Affinity 7-0
    2 Affinity 7-0
    3 Affinity 7-0
    4 Affinity 7-0
    5 Affinity 7-0
    6 G/W Slide 6-0-1
    7 Elf and Nail 6-1
    8 Beasts 6-1
    9 Affinity 6-1
    10 Ponza 6-1
    11 Affinity 6-1
    12 R/W Slide 6-1
    13 Affinity 6-1
    14 Affinity 6-1
    15 Affinity 6-1
    16 U/W Control 6-1
    17 Tooth and Nail 6-1
    18 Clerics 6-1
    19 Ponza 6-1
    20 Affinity 6-1
    21 Beasts 6-1
    22 G/W Slide 6-1
    23 Obliterate 6-1
    24 G/W Slide 5-0-2
    25 G/W Slide 5-1-1
    26 Tooth and Nail 5-1-1
    27 Affinity 5-1-1
    28 StationWorks 5-1-1
    29 Ponza 5-1-1
    30 G/W Slide 5-1-1
    31 Goblin Bidding 5-1-1
    32 Affinity 5-1-1
    33 U/W Control 5-1-1
    34 U/W Control 5-1-1
    35 U/W Control 5-1-1
    36 R/W Slide 5-1-1
    37 Tooth and Nail 5-1-1
    38 U/W Control 5-1-1
    39 Obliterate 5-1-1
    40 U/W Control 5-1-1
    41 Tooth and Nail 5-1-1
    42 Ponza 5-1-1
    43 Affinity 5-2
    44 Tooth and Nail 5-2
    45 Clerics 5-2
    46 Affinity 5-2
    47 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    48 Seedborn Control 5-2
    49 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    50 Affinity 5-2
    51 Affinity 5-2
    52 G/W Slide 5-2
    53 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    54 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    55 U/W Control 5-2
    56 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    57 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    58 G/W Slide 5-2
    59 Affinity 5-2
    60 Goblin Bidding 5-2
    61 U/W Control 5-2
    62 Obliterate 5-2
    63 U/W Control 5-2
    64 StationWorks 5-2

  •  Sunday, July 25: 10:13 am - Ad Affinitum: Undefeated Day One Decks (and a couple of near misses)
  • And the beat goes on…

    Consider this event and Grand Prix Orlando as a two pronged preview of the Constructed portions of 2004 World Championships. The Block results from Orlando and the Standard results from here in Malaysia show Affinity to be an early front runner in both disciplines.

    All five of the 7-0 decks from yesterday's action were Affinity decks. The only other deck to not take a loss at 6-0-1 was Nick Wong's Singapore Slide deck. Here are all the top decklists and I will be back later to update you on some of the interesting decks bobbing below the surface. Joining Nick at the top tables are Royce Chai with Beasts and Ivan Lim with Elf and Nail. Nick and Royce both have very good match-ups against Affinity and should be in good position to cut a swath through the Affinity all the way to the Top 8.

    Be sure to check out the decklists here.

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