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Dark Horses Roam Manila!

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This doesn't happen in Asian Grand Prix. What's supposed to happen is a highly armed posse of Japanese Pro's storms the field, takes half the slots in the top 8 and then one of them goes on to win it. Here in Manila the Filipinos were having none of that. It's been over six years since the last Grand Prix here and they were determined to make it count. Half of the top 8 were from the host nation.

Takuya Osawa was the lone Japanese player to make it to the final draft. Also Osawa, along with former Australian Jake Hart, were the only players to have ever made it this far before, making the top 8 probably one of the most inexperienced ever. Experience didn't help either Hart or Osawa as they both crashed out in the quarters. This set up a dream final between two local amateurs, James Porter and Jiro Francisco.

Unfortunately the final didn't live up to the billing. A scruffy mana-screw and mulligan-afflicted affair, it was eventually Porter who emerged triumphant on the back of successive bounce effects and a Leap of Flame to take him over the top.

Congratulations to James Porter, champion of Grand Prix Manila 2006!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 James Porter   James Porter, 2-0        
8 Dominic Ortega   James Porter, 2-1
       
4 Cynic Kim   Cynic Kim, 2-0   James Porter, 2-1
5 Jake Hart    
       
2 Bo Sun   Bo Sun 2-1
7 Takuya Osawa   Jiro Francisco, 2-0
       
3 Jiro Francisco   Jiro Francisco, 2-1
6 Felix Gonzales    


EVENT COVERAGE FINAL TOP 8 STANDINGS

  • Blog - 11:04 p.m. - Final: James Porter vs. Jiro Francisco
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 10:56 p.m. - Semi-Final: Jiro Francisco vs. Bo Sun
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 10:44 p.m. - Quarter-Final: Jake Hart vs Cynic Kimt
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 10:37 p.m. - The Top 8 Decklists
    by Craig Jones
  • Blog - 10:22 p.m. - Top 8 Draft
    by Craig Jones



  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists, Top Pro Play, Craig in Manila, and Much More!
    by Craig Jones
  • Round 11: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Round 8: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Welcome to Manila, Local Players to Watch, Sealed Deck Construction with Katsuhiro Mori, and Much More!
    by Craig Jones
  • Info: Day 1 Country Breakdown
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  James Porter $2,400
 2.  Jiro Francisco $1,700
 3.  Cynic Kim $1,200
 4.  Bo Sun $1,000
 5.  Jake Hart $800
 6.  Felix Gonzales $800
 7.  Takuya Osawa $800
 8.  Dominic Ortega $800
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BLOG

 
  • Sunday, March 19: 10:22 p.m. - Top 8 Draft


  • The final table was set

    Manila has produced a strange top 8. As far as I know there are only two players who've top 8'ed a Grand Prix before. Fortunately they happened to sitting right next to each other so I decided to follow their draft.

    Jake Hart is a strong advocate of the blue-black-red draft and will try and force that if he can. The deck he had from the last draft was just plain ridiculous. The Japanese have also said they favor that strategy, and Takuya Osawa did run it in the last draft, meaning we could have a little scrap on our hands.

    Straight out from the blocks both players opted for the removal spell. Osawa took a Galvanic Arc while Hart took Disembowel. Hart's next pick was a move into blue with a Drift of Phantasms. Watchwolf proved too tempting for the Japanese player and he further strengthened a move into green and white with Transluminant and Veteran Armorer. Osawa also pre-empted having to select a third color for Guildpact by sweeping up a few spare black cards: Strands of Undeath and Mausoleum Turnkey. Bathe and a second Transluminant rounded off his first booster.

    Hart's first few picks were largely unexciting as the second pick Drift was followed by Roofstalker Wight (over Tattered Drake) and a second Drift. Fifth pick was better with Peel from Reality - a card that Hart rates very highly. Another Roofstalker (again over Tattered Drake) and Surveiling Sprites left Hart hoping for a good pay-off from Guildpact.

    The second booster saw both players first pick Last Gasp, but as both players major colors were different this couldn't really be classed as a fight. Hart got the Dimir Cutpurse Osawa couldn't really support while a Faith's Fetters made nice addition to the Japanese player's deck. This booster gave Osawa a couple of good Golgari cards as Drooling Groodion and Golgari Rotwurm made his pile. As his deck seemed quite aggressive I was surprised at a third pick Carytid.

    Hart and Osawa draft

    Other than the Cutpurse the cards again didn't seem to be there for Hart. This booster he mainly picked up filler stuff to round out the deck: Goblin Spelunkers, Clinging Darkness, Terraformer, another Surveiling Sprites. The pay-off usually arrives with Guildpact and the fantastically deep Izzet cards.

    It seemed on the cards with his first few picks. Electrolyze, Steamcore Weird, Ogre Savant. But then the card quality began to dip. Pyromatics, Izzet Signet (over a Torch Drake), Petahydrox. Someone else must have had a similar plan or the boosters weren't the best as the Izzet cards didn't reach their usual depths this time.

    Osawa took a Ghor-Clan Savage as his first pick and then picked Wildsize, Pillory, Wildsize. Osawa has a lot of bears and with the two Wildsize and a Gather Courage can probably mount a fairly scary offence.


     
  • Sunday, March 19: 10:37 p.m. - The Top 8 Decklists










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  • Sunday, March 19: 10:44 p.m. - Quarter-Final: Jake Hart vs Cynic Kim


  • Jake Hart is one of only two people in the top 8 who've picked up a Grand Prix top 8. He's managed the quarter-finals twice at two Australian Grand Prix. His opponent, Cynic Kim of Korea, is guaranteed a good pot of amateur cash but has to compete with two other amateurs in the top 8. He was actually qualified for Pro Tour Honolulu, but had been unable to obtain a visa.

    Hart had gone for the usual blue-black-red concoction that had served him so well for most of the day. This time his deck was just solid rather than the monstrosity he'd picked up last time out. Kim has a pretty zippy Selesnya-Gruul hybrid.

    Hart had to mulligan his first hand ("11-0", he said referring to the number of his mulligans compared to his opponents) and his start ended up being very shaky.

    Last Gasp took out Kim's Boros Guildmage but there wasn't much to smile about after that as Kim followed up with Burning-Tree Shaman while Hart spent the next two turns waiting for his third land to appear. That allowed the former Australian to stick a Drift of Phantasms in the way of beats that now included a Greater Mossdog and Wojek Embermage.

    Hart's mana problems reached farcial levels as both a Remand and gunned down Surveiling Sprite also failed to find his fifth land. The Remand at least kept a Flame-Kin Zealot at bay for a turn and buy him time to Disembowel the Shaman. Rather than recast the Zealot Kim went for the mighty Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi and zipped in with the flaming Elemental on the following turn. A second Drift and Peel from Reality kept Hart in the game as he pleaded with his "filthy deck" for a mountain.

    Finally it arrived and an Electrolyze was aimed at the Embermage. Hart was at 8. Could he now go on to pull this around? He brought out Goblin Spelunkers to start attacking back at Kim's life total. Kim kept up the pressure with Skyknight Legionnaire. He needed a pump spell or some kind of burn spell to punch through Hart's walls though.

    Ogre Savant bouncing the big tree trunk clawed Hart a little further back into the game. Kim's wasn't about to ease up. If he couldn't go through Hart's defenses he'd go round as Scatter the Seeds gave him some overlap options. He followed those up with Ghor-Clan Savage.

    Hart was down to 4 life and one card in hand. Another attack and finally a wall fell. Hart was down to 3 and the Guardian finally returned. Hart had held on for a while but finally the Korean player was able to crunch through.

    Kim 1-0 Hart

    Game 2 and Kim's draw was like a complete re-run. Turn two Boros Guildmage followed by turn three Burning-Tree Shaman followed by Wojek Embermage. And also like a re-run Hart's deck was giving him fits again. This time it was refusing to cough up a swamp. Hart's offence, two Goblin Spelunkers, was actually pretty classy against another red deck. Unfortunately Hart was racing five points of damage. Well I say racing. Left coughing and hacking in the fumes as his opponent sped off might be more appropriate.

    If Hart could somehow stabilize with a Wall or anything, his Spelunkers would quickly bring the game home. Ogre Savant helped, sending Burning-Tree Shaman back to the hand. Kim's draw was almost the stone-cold nuts. Scatter the Seeds at end of the turn and Hart was almost completely out of options. Flame-Kin Zealot would have been the icing on the cake, but it wasn't really necessary. Between the Embermage and Guildmage the Savant could only chump a Saproling.

    "When's it my turn?" Hart remarked disconsolately at yet another quarter-final exit. His deck just simply hadn't been given a chance to play.

    Cynic Kim beats Jake Hart 2-0.


     
  • Sunday, March 19: 10:56 p.m. - Semi-Final: Jiro Francisco vs. Bo Sun


  • I arrived at this semi-final late having spent an abortive amount of time trying to send the player profiles through an asthmatic dial-up connection. Grr.

    Bo Sun

    By the time this other semi-final was already over and so we already knew the winner would be playing against James Porter. Both Jiro Francisco and Bo Sun had just come from hard-fought quarter-finals. Francisco had beaten out fellow countryman Felix Gonzales while Bo Sun had taken down Takuya Osawa, the last remaining Japanese player in the tournament.

    Francisco has a fairly slow black-blue-white deck from what I can see with the always funny Tunnel Vision / Junk Troller combo. Bo Sun has a very useful looking Orzhov deck with a slight green splash.

    Sun struggled in the first game to find any black mana, but was not put under pressure by Francisco's slow blue-black-white deck. Even during the period of screw Sun was still the aggressor as a lone Grotesque chipped at Francisco's life total.

    Francisco had a Lurking Informant to muck about with Sun's draws but other than a Dimir Infiltrator he had absolutely no offence. This allowed Sun to find his black mana and then come back into the game. Or rather, as he was firmly ahead in the damage race, press home his advantage.

    The game had got to the point where Francisco's Sewerdreg was letting him catch up in the damage race after the early Grotesque beats. However Agent of Masks on Sun's side of the table was making it a very slow process and also slowly draining Francisco's life away. Between Ostiary Thrull, Tattered Drake, Stinkweed Imp and Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi the board looked completely gummed up.

    Netherborn Phalanx plinked a precious three life points off Francisco. He was down to 6 now and looking unlikely to win this race. He needed to find some way of dealing with the Agent of Masks.

    Sun attempted to empty Francisco's hand with Strands of Undeath. A Repeal stopped that plan. Sun had a slight overlap in attacking, he managed to get another precious point off Francisco by forcing through the Stinkweed Imp.

    Next turn it got very interesting. Sun went to attack and found Douse in Gloom waiting for Stinky. What was more important was the two life Francisco gained. The life totals now stood at 9 - 5 to Sun. Worse, the Chinese player now had zero fliers against Francisco's Torch Drake and Tattered Drake. A swing with the Sewerdreg put Sun to 6. Next turn Francisco would be swinging for the win.

    Sun attacked with everything. It was all he could do. He dropped Francisco to 2. What had he drawn? Francisco went into his attack step. The fliers and dreg came in. Sun picked up his cards and a cheer went up amongst the partisan crowd. We were just one win away from an all-Filipino final.

    Francisco 1-0 Sun

    Sun mulliganed and it looked like he'd be going under without much of a fight as he made three swamps and then passed. Meanwhile Francisco was putting himself within touching distance of the final. He made a Halcyon Glaze and a Drift of Phantasms allowed it to take a 4 point bite out of Sun's life total.

    Sun found a plains and that gave him Veteran Armorer. Worse for him was the Sewerdreg that showed up on Francisco's side. I was starting to get the impression that this all-Filipino final was not going to be denied.

    Sun had other ideas, shutting down Sewerdreg with Pillory of the Sleepless. Francisco just summoned another one.

    Jiro Francisco

    Sun still wasn't backing down without a fight. He made a Woebringer Demon. His life was so low at this point. Would he have time to abyss Francisco's second Sewerdreg away? An attack with the swampwalker dropped Sun to five. His continued tournament life looked very precarious. He summoned a Shrieking Grotesque only for Francisco to Repeal the Woebringer Demon in response! Sun didn't have the mana to recast it.

    Now Sun needed a real answer to the Sewerdreg. Woebringer Demon wouldn't be fast enough. A Flight of Fancy drew Francisco two more cards. One of them was a Tattered Drake. That switched the Glaze back on and Sun had to chump with Grotesque just to stay alive.

    Down to two life and facing both Drake and Sewerdreg and potentially the Glaze, Sun was now completely out of options.

    The fairytale would not be denied. We're going to have an all-Filipino final!

    Jiro Francisco beats Bo Sun 2-0.


     
  • Sunday, March 19: 11:04 p.m. - Final: James Porter vs. Jiro Francisco


  • James Porter

    Okay so from what I've been told this just doesn't happen in Asian Grand Prix. What's supposed to happen is that a strong, well-armed posse of Japanese pro's smashes the field, takes half the slots in the top 8 and eventually wins the tournament. What isn't supposed to happen is that two amateurs from the host nation get to fight it out in the final match. It's been over six years since the last Grand Prix in Manila and the locals are determined to make it count.

    Here we are in the final match and James Porter is facing off against Jiro Francisco. As both are amateurs, there's a lot of money up for grabs. Rather than play for $1200, they decided to split the winnings straight down the middle. That's a cool $3300 each. Or my kid's tuition for the next three years Porter pointed out. It's not the only thing they've split. At the start of the tournament they split a pack of 100 sleeves. I reckon that must make those sleeves the luckiest sleeves in the world.

    After all the build up Game 1 was a complete blow out. Porter failed to find a third land and got smashed in short order by Halcyon Glaze.

    Francisco 1-0 Porter

    It didn't look like we were going to get match worthy of the occasion as Porter mulliganed to five. Then Francisco managed to top that with a stinky triple mulligan.

    The top of his deck was relatively kind to him however as he dropped subsequent lands into play straight off the top. A Shambling Shell traded with a Dimir Infiltrator (also off the top). But then Francisco kept drawing lands and his few creatures were just picked off with Steamcore Weirds. Somehow Porter managed to cast his Grave-Shell Scarab despite having only four forests in a deck that would make even a Frenchman shudder.

    At this point Francisco decided enough was enough as his four card hand seemed to be finding lands and little else.

    Francisco 1-1 Porter.

    Mulligans continued to afflict the game as both players went down to six. Francisco had to wait for a guild land to come online which gave Porter the chance to come out swinging with a Dimir Guildmage. He followed it with a Signet and Roofstalker Wight. Francisco kept pace with an Infiltrator and then Orzhov Euthanist.

    Jiro Francisco

    Circu, put in a flying appearance before being taken straight out with Last Gasp. Porter took the skies with Flight of Fancy on the Guildmage. Francisco drew a laugh from the crowd when he did the same for his Euthanist.

    Porter had the advantage in the race. The life totals were 11 - 7 in his favour. Then he managed to top deck first Vedalkan Dismisser and then an Ogre Savant to send Francsico straight back to the starting line. Francisco tried to hold on as a Sewerdreg returned for the third time and was kept on defensive duties with the Infiltrator.

    Porter simply bypassed them all with Leap of Flame, taking the game, match and title of Grand Prix Manila in one sweeping attack.

    James Porter beats Jiro Francisco 2-1 and is champion of Grand Prix Manila


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