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Grand Prix Beijing
Day 1 Coverage

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  • Saturday, 10:30 a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Winners

    by Jim Jen

  • Trostani would be so proud!

    It seems that Selesnya is the top color pair for Sealed, with majority of the winnings playing with Forests and Plains! A whooping 11 Grinders took place yesterday (10 Sealed, 1 Standard), rewarding their respective winners with three precious byes for the much-coveted headstart today! Check out the funky "American Auras" Standard decklist as well. Seems mildly terrifying!














     

  • Saturday, 11:15 a.m. – Dragon's Maze and Your Mana Base

    by Chapman Sim

  • I'm sure you've had your fair share of fun and excitement during the Prerelease but competitors in Beijing this morning are utilizing an entirely different format. Rather than using two Guild Boosters and four Dragon Maze boosters, everyone is playing with two Return to Ravnica, two Gatecrash and two Dragon Maze boosters today.


    This assortment promises to be mind-boggling and flummoxing, uncharted waters that await our exploration. With all ten guilds being equally represented in Dragon's Maze and only five guilds each in Return to Ravnica and Gatecrash, it would be difficult to construct the optimum deck with maximum power. The high density of gold cards in Dragon's Maze further complicates matters, as they force (or tempt) you to play with three or more colors.

    Mana is obviously a huge issue in multi-color format and it is not to be overlooked. Here are some tips on pointers on how you can improve upon your deck construction skills by paying more attention to your mana base!

    Shocklands

    While it is often better to receive a bomb in the appropriate color (like the somewhat ridiculous Mizzium Mortars), players should not be unhappy to receive Shocklands like Overgrown Tomb or Stomping Ground. The Steam Vents you receive could be tremendous help in aiding you splashing Explosive Impact, Mugging and Punish the Enemy in your otherwise removal-light Azorius deck that also gives you a bit of reach to finish off an opponent when their life totals are low. The ability to include cards to support your intended strategy is something that is not to be underestimated. Shocklands allow you to do that without impeding your mana development. Sometimes, 2 life is not a lot to pay if it can help you cast an important spell on time and on target.

    Guildgates

    Guildgates also serve a similar function as Shocklands and also have the additional benefit of enabling cards like Ogre Jailbreaker, Greenside Watcher, Way of the Thief, Gatecreeper Vine and the entire cycle of Gatekeepers (like Ubul Sar Gatekeepers). Heck, even Maze's End is a decent card in a deck with multiple Gates, since it provides the possibility of "free cards" in the mid to late game.


    Keyrunes and Cluestones

    Keyrunes and Cluestones prove to be an important part of deck construction, as they enable players to cast their huge threats and powerful spells with greater ease and speed. Cluestones double up as anti-manaflood measures, as they can be cycled in the late game when excess mana is no longer required. Some players have argued that Cluestones are worth "half a land" and you can safely run sixteen lands instead of the usual seventeen if you are running two or three mana producing artifacts.


    Other Notable Cards

    Players will also need to look out for Transguild Promenade, Prophetic Prism and Chromatic Lantern, as they are most likely to make the cut in a deck featuring three or more colors. Green players have access to Verdant Haven, Axebane Guardian and to a lesser extent Mana Bloom, which both also allow production of mana of all five colors while accelerating your game. Special mention goes to Thespian's Stage. If you're color-screwed, at least you can rely on what your opponent has!

    Final tip! If your deck is primarily blue and green, and you have access to a Dimir Guildgate and Golgari Cluestone, it could be fine to splash three to four cards like Putrefy, Dimir Charm, Abrupt Decay and Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker and get by with one or two Swamps. Split cards like Far & Away are also worth a try, because even if you didn't draw the black mana, you can still cast the blue half so it's not so bad. However, it would be greedy to try to include Necropolis Regent or Grisly Spectacle with only four black sources in your deck! Practice makes perfect, do attend your next Sealed Deck tournament at your local store or rip open some boosters and do some practice sealed decks on your own!




     

  • Saturday, 11:50 a.m. – Country Breakdown

    by Jim Jen

  • China 812
    Taiwan 15
    South Korea 15
    United States 8
    Russian Federation 7
    Singapore 6
    Hong Kong 6
    Japan 5
    Ukraine 2
    Thailand 2
    Canada 2
    Australia 2
    France 2
    Wales 1
    Spain 1
    Portugal 1
    New Zealand 1
    Ireland 1
    Indonesia 1
    Germany 1
    England 1
    Denmark 1
    Czech Republic 1
       
    Total 894



     

  • Saturday, 12:35 p.m. – Beijing Then and Now

    by Chapman Sim

  • Switching alternately between blistering summers and frostbitten winters, Beijing is emblematic of a mighty nation undergoing colossal transformation. A city of neatly-ordered design, highlighted with marvels of ancient history, Beijing still bewilders first-time tourists, who are overwhelmed by its modernity and immensity, as well as its rich heritage and commerical vibrancy.

    With a total area of 16800 square kilometers, Beijing is roughly the size of Belgium. It appears unforgivingly huge but Beijing is a city of orderly design. Think of the city as one giant grid, with the Forbidden City at its centre. Aside from being home to the imperial palace, segments of the Great Wall and the majestic Temple of Heaven, it was also the host of the first ever Grand Prix that had ever been held within Mainland China!

    The year was 2005 and a "mere" 159 players participated. Despite putting only two local players in the Top 8 (who were unfortunately paired against each other in the quarterfinals), local hero Dong Zhang was able to fend of titans of the game, beating Katsuhiro Mori and Masashi Oiso to keep the trophy on local soil. Dong could be described as the "beacon of hope" for aspiring Chinese players and paved the way for future successes of the local community.

    Grand Prix Beijing 2005 Champion, Dong Zhong

    Grand Prix Beijing 2005 Top 8
    1) Dong Zhong
    2) Masahi Oiso
    3) Oliver Ruel
    4) Katsuhiro Mori
    5) Li Gong Wei
    6) Tomoharu Saito
    7) Ming Da Tsai
    8) Kenji Tsumura

    Eight years later, the Grand Prix Circuit has returned to Beijing once again. This time, with 894 players present, attendance has ballooned nearly six-fold. Watch out for local veterans of the game Xu Bin (15th GP Beijing 2005, China Nationals Finalist 2011) and Wang Xuan-Ji (26th GP Beijing 2005, China Nationals Semifinalist 2011) who both also made cashing performances eight years back! The defending Champion Dong Zhong is also present to defend his title! What an exciting weekend it's gonna be!




     

  • Saturday, 1:10 p.m. – Quick Questions #1: What's the best color combination for Dragon's Maze Sealed?

    by Jim Jen

  • Lee Shi Tian: Selesnya
    Kuo Tzu Ching: Boros
    Huang Hao-shan: Golgari splash Collective Blessing!
    Li Bo: Orzhov
    Jia Bin: Black Green White
    Tiago Chan: Green-based Bant. Never play Red!



     

  • Saturday, 2:15 p.m. – Sealed Deck Building with Mystery Pro

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • Building a Sealed Deck is never an easy task, especially in this world of chaos now that Dragon Maze is in the mix. Once deck construction began, Mr. X. quickly removed the unplayable cards and threw it into a virtual bin, the far end of his allocated table.

    Optimizing your card pool is harder than you think!

    The blue cards had virtually no creatures, and proved so weak that they soon joined that pile of untouchables and Mr. X. quickly worked on assembling a Jund deck, featuring all his best black, red and green cards. A pair of all-star Putrefy and double Launch party provided him the necessary removal to deal with any bombs he might encounter but his assortment of creatures seemed lackluster.

    Not wanting to play to too many sub-par creatures, he tried to assemble a Green Black White deck in an attempt to improve his creature quality, which gave also him new options of Arrest and Ready & Willing, a potential stalemate breaker. However, the same problems plagued him as before and he did not feel like he had any solid game finishers, despite his exciting removal suite.

    "I think I have enough cards to kill everyone's bombs, but I don't have good bombs myself! My cards are all very average."

    He moved his attention towards building an aggressive deck to prey upon the multi-colored decks who required laying Guildgates and utilizing their precious third turns to drop mana artifacts. He eventually decided on a very aggressive Rakdos deck that sought to end the game quickly with Madcap Skills and Shadow Slice. The ideal opening would be a Rakdos Shred-Freak, followed up one of his favorite cards, Guttersnipe. After which, every removal spell he pointed at an opposing blocker would be two additional damage. Lobber Crew was also cited as an important card, which would aid him in pushing the last few damage.

    Mr. X. intends to use his efficient removal to trailblaze his path to victory!

    However, Mr. X also had another ace up his sleeve, and sleeved up an additional pile of cards. His plan was to clinch game one quickly, hopefully causing his opponent to swap out their higher costed cards to bring in more defensive (and sometimes worse) cards like Bane Alley Blackguard and Murmuring Phantasm for example. He would remove his red cards and play a slower Green Black White deck and achieve victory now that his opponent had boarded poor cards against him.

    "I think my deck is only so-so. It has many kill spells but no powerful, game-changing cards. I hope this is good enough to bring me to Day 2." Let us see if his plan pans out accordingly!

    We'll post his decklist later towards the end of the day! Stay tuned to find out who Mr. X is and how he fares!




     

  • Round 4 Feature Match – Makihito Mihara (White Black Red) vs. Hao Yu, Gong (White Blue)

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • 2006 World Champion Mikihito Mihara needs little introduction. Mihara has been known for his limited prowess, seeing how he most recently lifted the trophy (defeating Yuuya Watanabe, Motoki Abe and Akimasa Yamamoto) at Grand Prix Taipei 2012 just half a year ago. Currently sitting at 26 points, Mihara should have no difficulty acquiring a couple more to lock up Gold Level for the next season. In his way was local player Hao Yu Gong, armed with a seemingly quick Azorius beatdown deck.

    Game One

    Mihara won the die roll and was given the chance to play first. Gong had to mulligan down to six and quickly faced assault from the World Champion's Syndic of Tithes and Basilica Screecher.

    Fortunately, he had Cloudfin Raptor and Wind Drake to keep those threats at bay. Additionally, Mihara could not advance his board since he was stuck on his third land, managing only (rather underwhelming) Dutiful Thrull on his fourth turn.

    Makihito Mihara

    Using Deputy of Acquittals to try and grow Cloudfin Raptor, Mihara decided he didn't want to risk it enlarging to "Air Elemental" proportions and ended things with Orzhov Charm while the evolve trigger was still on the stack. However, that was a move he would soon regret, since the Cloudfin Raptor would be the lesser of his worries.

    Gong reinforced his flying army with Jelenn Sphinx, which was more than effective in keeping Mihara's Assault Griffin from being of any use other than for the purposes of trading with the Gong's Wind Drake.

    Thereafter, Mihara tapped out for Knight of Obligation, so Gong used the opportunity to duplicate Jelenn Sphinx using Stolen Identity. Since Mihara had lost his Assault Griffin to Wind Drake a couple of turns back, Jelenn Sphinx had no problem successfully generating a cipher, creating yet another copy of the sphinx. With a trio of flying "Glorious Anthems" which were virtually unkillable, Mihara could only concede, slightly dismayed to suffer a huge defeat to the ridiculous army.

    Gong 1 - Mihara 0

    Game Two

    Both players managed to resolve "lifelinking" two drops. Mihara had Tithe Drinker, while Gong's Boros Mastiff could only gain him life if battalion was triggered. Naturally, Mihara declined the trade when the hound entered the red zone. Being sworn to the Azorius Senate (at least for today), Gong took to the skies once again and turned up the heat with Cloudfin Raptor and a splashed Duskmantle Seer the next turn.

    Hao Yu Gong

    Both players saw their life totals being halved in a manner of minutes, as Mihara counter attacked with Bloodfury Giant while the Duskmantle Seer continued to take chunks of both player's life totals. Neither player was interested in or able to block effectively, seeing how majority of Gong's army had flying and the giant had trample. On the final crucial turn, a hasty Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch joined forces but Gong had the backbreaking Azorius Charm to prevent that lethal blow.

    Gong 2 - Mihara 0

    Hao Yu Gong defeats Makihito Mihara 2-0.




     

  • Saturday, 3:45 p.m. – Planeswalkers Roam Among Us!

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • Hasbro is always out to delight players and entertain fans, so if you wanted to meet Chandra Nalaar or Ral Zarek (a world first!), perhaps you should drop by Grand Prix Beijing today or tomorrow. Exquisitely designed costumes, elaborate weapons, and a fiery look combine to accentuate the ultimate Dragon's Maze experience!





     

  • Saturday, 4:25 p.m. – Quick Questions #2: What is your favorite Dragon's Maze card and why?

    by Jim Jen

  • Sui Xin: Trostani's Summoner. It's unbeatable in limited.
    Gu Fengwen: Ral Zarek. Has the potential to be the core of a deck.
    Gao Zhenxing: Voice of Resurgence. Good card against blue decks.
    Xu Bin: Turn & Burn. Super removal!
    Jia Bin: Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Powerful in both constructed and limited.
    Lee Shi Tian: Sin Collector. It is just too good.
    Kuo Tzu Ching: Far & Away. Been testing Return to Ravnica Block a lot recently, Far & Away can really turn the tables. So sick!
    Huang Hao-shan: Advent of the Wurm. Love creatures with "flash" to ambush the opponent!



     

  • Saturday, 5:20 p.m. – The Final Stretch

    by Chapman Sim

  • Grand Prix Beijing is important for many reasons. Firstly, because it marks the return of Professional Magic back to the Chinese capital after an eight-year-absence. It is also the worldwide premiere of Dragon's Maze as a competitive Sealed Deck format (the players at Grand Prix Portland will be competing in the Modern format utilizing Dragon's Maze goodies, also a world first!).

    Aside from being the first time players get to display their prowess in a brand new format, Grand Prix Beijing is also important for the most elite group of Asian players, who are trying compete with their fellow countrymen for a spot on the Magic World Cup Team (while attempting to level up in the Pro Player's Club).


    For players who are not qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze, this is their last tournament of the season if they wish to increase their point total. Let us take a glimpse at all the (non-Japanese) countries and their potential National Champions of 2013!

    Gu Fengwen (right) would need a finals appearance tomorrow to contest Li Bo's (left) captaincy.

    China's Potential Team Captain
    Li Bo 17 Pro Points  
    Gu Fengwen 11 Pro Points  
    Alex Lee 0 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    Zhuoran Liu 0 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    Tiaoping Hong 0 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    Jianjia Peng 0 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    Zhengyang Fang 0 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Han Bing
    2nd WMCQ Winner Yi-liu Liu

    Grand Prix Shanghai 2012 Champ and Worlds 2009 Team Champion, Li Bo seems to have solidified his lead despite failing to qualify for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze. The only few candidates capable of causing an upset are any of the five players who are currently qualified. With a Top 8 appearance from any of them, Li Bo could be dethroned and forced to try his luck at the last WMCQ. Gu Fengwen (who fell to Li in the finals of the very same Grand Prix Shanghai) is not qualified either, but with a GP Win at Beijing, he could also potentially overtake Li Bo.

    Kuo Tzu Ching (left) needs only to worry about Huang Hao-Shan coming in 2nd at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze!

    Taiwan's Potential Team Captain
    Tzu-Ching Kuo 39 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (PPC)
    Hao-Shan Huang 18 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PPC)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Ryan Young
    2nd WMCQ Winner Ruei Sheng Wang

    Platinum Pro Tzu-Ching Kuo seems to have a firm stranglehold on the captaincy slot, with only Hao-Shan Huang as a potential threat. Still, for the upset to happen, Huang would need at least a Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour's Dragon Maze, accompanied with a strong finish here at Grand Prix Beijing. Runner runner required!

    Singapore's Potential Team Captain
    Kelvin Chew 31 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (PPC)
    Chapman Sim 12 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (GP T4)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Chang Chua
    2nd WMCQ Winner Aik Seng Khoo

    Also breaking into the Sunday Spotlight at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Kelvin Chew has more than solidified his tremendous lead with the 20 Pro Points which pushed him into the elite Gold Level, good enough to qualify him for all the Pro Tours in the upcoming season. Only Chapman Sim (yours truly!), Grand Prix Singapore Finalist is able to cause an upset, but for that to happen, a Top 4 Finish at Pro Tour's Dragon Maze is required. Kind of a long shot there though, to be honest!

    Lee Shi Tian's captaincy is assured, with no nearby competitors! Congratulations!

    Hong Kong Team Captain
    Shi Tian Lee 39 Pro Points Captaincy Confirmed!
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners"
    1st WMCQ Winner Gama Ip"
    2nd WMCQ Winner Tin Chi Derek

    Lee has had an excellent season this year, barging into the Top 4 of Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, while accumulating several Grand Prix Top 16 finishes, and also a Top 8 appearance at Grand Prix Taipei. Comfortably locking up the captaincy, he will be joined by Gama Ip and Tin Chi Derek in Amsterdam this fall. However, Lee's eyes are set on securing the last three Pro Points he so desperately needs to lock up Platinum by the time he heads for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze.

    Philippines' Potential Team Captain
    Richmond Tan 15 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (PTQ)
    Andrew Cantillana 12 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (GP T4)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Jose Goo
    2nd WMCQ Winner Rodlofo Deriquito

    Both Grand Prix Top 4 Competitors this season, Richmond Tan and Andrew Cantillana find themselves a mere 3 points away from each other. Tan managed to secure a PTQ win to keep his dreams (of keeping the lead) alive, while Cantillana qualified on the back of his Grand Prix Top 4 appearance at Grand Prix Singapore 2013. Both players declined to attend Grand Prix Beijing and it looks like everything will be decided at Pro Tour's Dragon Maze and could be anyone's game!

    Joon Soo Lee (right) is the current leader, but most likely would have to pass down to either Cynic Kim or Jun Young Park (left) due to military obligations.

    South Korea Potential Team Captain
    Joon Soo Lee 9 Pro Points Unable to attend World Magic Cup
    Cynic Kim 8 Pro Points Not present at GP Beijing
    Jun Young Park 4 Pro Points Qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze (PTQ)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Jung Suk Goh
    2nd WMCQ Winner Sung Wuk Nam

    There are many Korean players present today but quite surprisingly, Cynic Kim (South Korea's veteran road warrior) isn't present today to pursue to one point gap. Joon Soo Lee (who attended Pro Tour Gatecrash earlier this spring) is the current point leader, but he finds himself un-qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze. Not that it matters to him anyway, as he confided to me during our trip to the Niagara Falls that he would have to enlist in the army really soon and would be forced to pass down his World Magic Cup invite event if he managed to win the Pro Point race. Since the points don't matter to Lee, and Kim isn't present, the situation in South Korea really boils down to whether Park performs this weekend and the next, seeing how he is already at a virtual 7 points.

    Thailand's Potential Team Captain
    Mat Marr 5 Pro Points  
    Sethsilp Chanpleng 3 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour's Dragon Maze (PTQ)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Sittisak Wachirakaphan
    2nd WMCQ Winner Nutdanai Sadangrit

    Few Thai players are present at Grand Prix Beijing, which ensures that Sethsilp Chanleng captaincy once he registers for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze and get a minimum of 3 points for showing up. Unless Issarangkool Na Ayudth or Kositaporn Nonthakorn (two Thai players currently at 4-0) manages to win the whole thing!

    Indonesia's Potential Team Captain
    Benny Soewanda 3 Pro Points Won WMCQ #2
    Andreas Pranoto 2 Pro Points Qualfied for Pro Tour Dragon Maze (PTQ)
    World Magic Cup Qualifier Winners
    1st WMCQ Winner Soedjadi Sentosa
    2nd WMCQ Winner Benny Soewanda

    No Indonesian players are present at Grand Prix Beijing, so there is no chance of dethroning as long as Andreas Pranoto shows up and successfully registers for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze! Interestingly, Benny Soewanda somehow mitigated the situation by winning a World Magic Cup Qualifier to secure at least a spot on the Indonesia team.

    The final World Magic Cup qualifier takes place after Pro Tour Dragon's Maze and once that is concluded, the teams will be set. Now all we can do is let the situation unravel and unfold!




     

  • Round 6 Feature Match – Xu Bin (Black Red Green) vs. Huang Hao-shan (White Green)

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • Both players are prominent figureheads on the Asian Grand Prix Circuit. Gold Level Pro Huang Hao-Shan most recently made Top 8 at Grand Prix Singapore 2012 where he displayed prowess of the Return to Ravnica format. Xu Bin is also rather accomplishing, most remembered as the finalist of China Nationals 2011 and making the Top 8 at Grand Prix Shanghai that very same year.

    Game One

    Huang won the die roll, opening with Battering Krasis and then evolving it with Saruli Gatekeepers. Xu promptly pushed Warmind Infantry in the way of the 3/2 trampler before it could grow any bigger.

    Xu Bin

    Xu replaced his fallen 2/3 with Ivy Lane Denizen and Thrashing Mossdog (putting the +1/+1 counter on it). Huang had an even fatter threat, his trusty Armored Wolf Rider, but it fell to Fatal Fumes when it stood in the way of the 4/4 Mossdog.

    Obviously mana flooded, all Huang could manage was Wild Beastmaster and a last-ditch effort Launch Party on Vassal Soul. Counting his 9 lands in play and holding 2 more, he could only watch Xu dismantle his board mercilessly with Domri Rade and Abrupt Decay.

    Xu 1 - Huang 0

    Game Two

    Huang opted to play first and had discretely swapped his White Green deck into his "Plan B", Esper Fliers. He led with Daggerdrome Imp, Seller of Songbirds and Concordia Pegasus and started to chip away at Xu's life total.

    He could only manage Golgari Cluestone on turn three and then summon Scab-Clan Giant on turn 5. It managed to gun down Concordia Pegasus and Huang used Soul Tithe on the 4/5 Giant Warrior. Naturally, Xu declined to pay up and used his mana to fuse Toil & Trouble, giving himself two cards while dealing five damage to Huang.

    Despite still being stuck on three land, Huang's air forces and Syndic of Tithes eventually lowered Xu to down to 9 life. Domri Rade made an appearance alongside Frilled Oculus the next turn, fighting and shooting Daggerdrome Imp down from the skies.

    Xu followed up that play with Beetleform Mage, and used Flesh & Blood to remove Syndic of Tithes. Xu refilled his hand once again with Thoughtflare, then used Stolen Identity to duplicate Seller of Songbirds, ciphering it upon Beetleform Mage (attacking) and then making yet a second copy. Huang had Fatal Fumes to stop the reproduction but it seemed like the damage was done and Xu's board was overwhelming.

    Huang Hao-shan

    Fusing Down & Dirty, Xu picked up Flesh & Blood and proceeded to use Street Spasm and Punish the enemy to clear away Huang's threats. To be honest, anyone would think that Huang was done for, but he was hatching a devious plot.

    Coughing up Assault Griffin as well as Isperia's Skywatch to buy him some time, he bode his time and laid low, waiting for Xu to cast Flesh & Blood. Eventually, Xu "scavenged" Scab-Clan Giant onto Seller of Songbirds, creating a 5/7 monstrosity which Huang was happy to point Grisly Spectacle at, milling five precious cards from his whittled library. This reduced Xu to just two cards in his library, and it was a matter of chump-blocking and staying alive until Xu's library emptied itself.

    Xu 1 - Huang 1

    With just two minutes on the clock, both players decided to take the draw and catch a breather before the next round.

    Xu Bin draws with Huang Hao-Shan, putting both players at 4-1-1 and (effectively) on the bubble.




     

  • Saturday, 6:50 p.m. – The Azorius Senate

    by Chapman Sim

  • "Also known as the High Judges, the Azorius Senate is Ravnica's ostensible government. The guild considers itself to be the mediator and controller of all other guilds' activities, even though most of its countless decrees are largely ignored. The Azorius Senate does wield real power, and other guilds are aware that if the Azorius had their way, they would be in charge over the entire metropolis."


    To ensure that a huge event like Grand Prix Beijing runs smoothly, a dedicated team is required. Judges ensure the fairness of the game, answer complicated rules interactions, guide players to their seats and even the bathrooms. They post up the pairings, they do your deckchecks and they say hello and make you feel welcome, just like family!

    Today, a team of fifty judges work tirelessly around the clock, under the leadership of Level 5 Head Judge (sometimes affectionately referred to as Isperia, Supreme Judge), Riccardo Tessitori. Their contributions should not be overlooked and let's take a moment to applaud their contributions to their respective Magic: the Gathering communities!


    Staff

    • Chao Li (Tournament Organizer)
    • Edwin Zhang (Judge Manager)
    • Clifford Yap (Scorekeeper)
    • Yan Zhi Wang (Staff)
    • Jinyi Lim (Staff)
    • Ji Liu (Staff)
    • Jiong Xu (Staff)

    Level 3 Judges

    Joel Bantiles, Wearn Chong, Christian Gawrilowicz, Matteo Callegari, Fong Shing Nien

    Level 2 Judges

    Sashi Kumar Balakrishnan, Hosea Chong, Wang Fang, Rajesh Ganesan, Glicerio Garcia, Sang-Mook Ha, Haitao Jia, Sun Jianhong, Inhwan Kim, Joe Lau, Simon Lee, Zhongliang Lin, Zie Aun Tan, Hans Wang, Xin Wang, Gary Wong, Arthur Hsu Ping Wu, Guisheng Xiao, Zhaoben Xu, Nash Yu, Lei Zhou, Junyue Zhu

    Level 1 Judges

    Ran An, Wenyi Chen, Lin Chu, Tiangxiong Dong, Hao Du, Mohammad Nazri Ishak, Feng Jia, Cai Jiahui, Lixin Li, Bai Li, Chien Lin Fu, Ming Luo, La Miao, Xiaoping Peng, Yi Shen, Ma Shendi, Yi XUn Wang, Yu Wang, Tianzhu Wei, Jialin Wu, Dennis Xiao, Chi Zhang, Hong Tao Zhang




     

  • Round 8 Feature Match – Kuo Tzu Ching (White Black) vs. Zhao Tian Wu (Black Red Green)

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • Zhao Tian Yu (currently schooling in Japan) has crossed the ocean to participate in this Grand Prix, only to find himself seated across Asian juggernaut Kuo Tzu Ching. Kuo has had quite a spectacular season thus far and none could deny it.

    Starting the season with a World Magic Cup win and a Player Championship appearance, he proceeded on to chalk up 39 Pro Points over the past few months, needing just 6 more to renew his Platinum membership once again. His most recent success (also his 9th Grand Prix Top 8) was at Grand Prix Quebec 2013, where he was one game short from clinching the champion trophy. Both players had to win if they did not want to be eliminated from Day Two. Unfortunately, only one would survive the harsh reality of the bubble.

    Kuo Tzu Ching

    Game One

    Kuo sought to end the game quickly with a swift opening (Boros Mastiff and Gutter Stalk), only to be momentarily held back by Zhao's Riot Piker. Kuo's Sin Collector failed to pluck off anything, but he was informed of his opponent's upcoming Gruul Cluestone, Scab-Clan Charger and Scab-Clan Giant.

    As expected, the mana artifact entered play next turn, but Kuo seemed to be low on totally out of gas and could do nothing but to beautify his side of the table with an irrelevant Azorius Cluestone.

    The turn before Scab-Clan Giant entered the battlefield (it munched up Boros Mastiff), Zhao unleashed Gore-House Chainwalker, setting up a lethal attack which Kuo didn't expect.

    When Kuo tapped out for Obzedat, Ghost Council, Zhao revealed Molten Primordial from his hand to wrench it, killing his opponent in one brutal blow.

    Kuo 0 – Zhao 1

    Zhao Tian Wu

    Game Two

    The second game ended even faster than the first.

    Kuo summoned Gutter Stalk, Sin Collector (nabbing nothing once again) and Perilous Shadow within his first four turns. Unfortunately, Zhao was able to gum up the grand with a 2/3 Dead Reveler and Warmind Infantry and started blitzing through the air with an unleashed Rakdos Drake. A freshly-drawn, unanswered Madcap Skills made the flier 5/3 and ended the game two turns later, eliminating Kuo from Day Two. He would need to get all of his six points from Pro Tour Dragon's Maze.

    Kuo 0 – Zhao 2




     

  • Saturday, 8:45 p.m. – Sealed Deck Building with Mystery Pro (Li Bo)

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • The day is coming to and end and it is finally time to unveil whose Sealed deck we were talking about earlier in the day. The awkward sealed pool belongs to one of China's most esteemed players, Li Bo, and he is battling for his life as we speak. He has already lost two games and is at the precarious 6-2 record and would need to obtain a win in his final round if he wished to hit the draft tables tomorrow.

    Li Bo

    The last time a Grand Prix happened in mainland China, Li Bo took it down ruthlessly. Grand Prix Shanghai 2012 and Worlds Team 2009 Champion is small in size but huge in stature. Well-respected, much-feared and all-round-nice-guy, Li is the current Pro Point leader of China, hoping to secure captaincy for the upcoming World Magic Cup in Amsterdam this fall. Also, at 17 Points, he has locked up Silver Level to qualify him for Pro Tour Theros in Dublin later this year.





     

  • Round 9 Feature Match – Li Bo (Black Red) vs. Zhang Yue (White Black Green)

    by Chapman Sim and Jim Jen

  • The first day of competition may be coming to a close really soon but to these two players, they've never felt more alive. This is the most important match of the day, make or break, win and in, all or nothing. Both Li Bo and Zhang Yue are at 6-2 records and the winner will advance to Day Two while the other would have to check out the Public Event station if they wanted to play some more Magic this weekend.

    Game One

    Li won the die roll and elected to play first, a huge boon to his lightning quick Rakdos deck. Summoning Ember Beast, Balustrade Spy and Viashino Shanktail, Zhang seemed to be slightly behind even though he did manage Keening Apparition, Verdant Haven and then Martial Law.

    Zhang Yue

    Detaining the Viashino Shanktail, Zhang tried to muster some form of defense in the form of a Stonefare Crocodile, but it was quickly sent to the gallows with Li's Mugging.

    Not wanting to take more damage, he shoved Keening Apparition in front of the 3/1 first striker and attempted Swift Justice to force the trade (while cushioning his life total), but Li Bo fizzled that entire plan with a spiral of Fatal Fumes, leaving Zhang's board in utter shambles.

    Now that Zhang was lowered down to 7 life after a few punches from the dynamic duo of Balustrade Spy and Ember Beast, Li added Towering Thunderfist and Perilous Shadow, holding on to Pyrewild Shaman as a combat trick to potentially end the game if any of those creatures were to be unblocked. Trestle Troll and Korozda Monitor were insufficient to stop the formidable team from inflicting the deadly blow and Zhang quickly scooped up his cards when Li turned his entire row of creatures sideways.

    Li 1 – Zhang 0

    Game Two

    Having dropped the first game, Zhang elected to begin and kicked off the game with Sunspire Griffin. Li's beatdown deck seemed to be more action-packed and he wasted no time recruiting Pyrewild Shaman, Perilous Shadow as well as the trailblazing Rakdos Ragemutt. Under immense pressure, Zhang wasted no time pushing Sunspire Griffin in the way of the Goblin Shaman, but Li was unaffected, knowing that he could always rebuy it later in the game.

    Li Bo

    Scion of Vitu-Ghazi arrived to provide Zhang with a sizable body but Li's Dreadbore reduced Zhang's board to a lowly pair of 2 bird tokens. When Li attacked with his army, Zhang was forced to chump with both tokens just to stay alive.

    Zhang unleashed his next rare bomb (Varolz, the Scar-Striped) and "scavenged Sunspire Griffin onto a newly-summoned Dutiful Thrull. However, at merely 5 life. Li Bo made use of Launch Party to clear the way, before attaching Madcap Skills to deal the final punch that would qualify him for Day 2!

    Li 2 – Zhang 0




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