1,006 planeswalkers converged in Kuala Lumpur in hopes of hoisting the trophy. After nine rounds of Sealed Deck, only 128 remain. Of these, three players retain untarnished records: Jack Teo, Shouta Yasooka and Yusuka Iwasaki are excellently positioned for a spot in the Top 8. Hot on their heels are Pro Tour Veterans Makihito Mihara, Kelvin Chew and Hironobu Sugaya. Stay tuned to coverage of Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur to watch all the action unfold!
Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
by Pip Foweraker
Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 Day 1 Undefeated – Yusuke Iwasaki
Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 Day 1 Undefeated – Jack Teo
Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 Day 1 Undefeated – Shouta Yasooka
Sunday, 11:03 a.m. – Drafting with Kelvin Chew
by Noel Neo
Kelvin Chew made his mark with a top 8 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, but has had a bit of a dry spell since then. Here at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur, he is sitting on 8-1, very nicely placed for a run at the top 8. How would he fare?
Kelvin was passed a clear signal UG was open in pack 1. However, this also meant he had to pass some strong blue cards himself. This would come back to haunt him in his second pack.
Below lists the key cards Kelvin considered in each pack, with his picks depicted as the leftmost card.
1 Nessian Asp, Nimbus Naiad, Shipwreck Singer, Hammer of Purphoros
2 Griptide, Thassa's Emissary, Curse of the Swine, Ordeal of Purphoros
3 Hopeful Eidolon, Purphoros's Emissary
4 Nimbus Naiad, Vaporkin, Returned Phalanx
5 Triton Fortune Hunter, Sedge Scorpion, Boon of Erebos
6 Nessian Courser, Nylea's Disciple, Purphoros's Emissary
7 Nylea's Emissary, Ill-Tempered Cyclops
8 Agent of Horizons
9 Sedge Scorpion
10 Fade into Antiquity
11 Akroan Crusader, Mnemonic Wall
12 Deathbellow Raider
13 Borderland Minotaur
14 Wild Celebrants
By the end of the first booster, Kelvin had solidified his core colour as green, with a few strong blue cards as well as a smattering of red picks. He values Nessian Courser's efficient costing more than Nylea's Disciple life gain.
In pack 2, blue was less forthcoming and his draft strategy somewhat derailed.
1 Sylvan Caryatid, Nemesis of Mortals, Lightning Strike
2 Nylea's Disciple, Magma Jet, Stymied Hopes, Staunch-Hearted Warrior
3 Fabled Hero, Staunch-Hearted Warrior
4 Voyaging Satyr, Prescient Chimera, Gods Willing
5 Temple of Abandon, Coastline Chimera, Favoured Hoplite
6 Horizon Scholar, Sedge Scorpion
7 Traveler's Amulet, Vanquish the Foul
8 Nylea's Presence, Burnished Hart
9 Thassa's Bounty
10 Pharika's Mender
11 Kragma Warcaller
12 Spellheart Chimera
13 Priest of Iroas
Kelvin did pick up a blue game ender in Horizon Scholar and some mana ramp, but the second booster was otherwise unexciting for him.
He picked Fabled Hero over Staunch-Hearted Warrior because he was still entertaining the possibility of switching secondary colours and he valued ramp over evasive creatures in his fourth pick.
The trio of colour fixers he picked up in the second booster also meant he was more open to possible splashes in pack 3.
1 Fleecemane Lion, Leafcrown Dryad
2 Time to Feed, Nylea's Disciple, Nessian Courser
3 Aqueous Form, Sedge Scorpion, Ill-Tempered Cyclops
4 Aqueous Form, Divine Verdict, Sip of Hemlock
5 Nessian Courser, Lightning Strike
6 Vulpine Goliath, Lash of the Whip
7 Coordinated Assault, Pheres-Band Centaurs
8 Shredding Winds
9 Shredding Winds, Ill-Tempered Cyclops
10 Stymied Hopes
11 Cutthroat Maneuver, Decorated Griffin,
12 Tormented Hero
13 Portent of Betrayal
14 Peak Eruption
Reflecting on the draft, Kelvin lamented passing Hammer of Purphoros in his booster one first pick. The draft would have gone very differently if he had – while red is widely viewed as underpowered in Theros draft, this also means players are prejudiced to the colour and it turned out under drafted. Some very strong red cards had tabled, including a pair of Kragma Warcaller that would have been absolutely brutal in a minotaur deck.
The draft's done and dusted, however, and Kelvin was left with solid green, some powerful blue and white spells, a possible black splash for Pharika's Mender and a smattering of red.
He chose to build his deck around a UG evasion core enhanced by a pair of powerful white creatures. He runs Temple of Abandon simply for the scry ability and cut Thassa's Bounty as he already has sufficient late game spells.
For this strategy to work, his opponents need to be unable to close the game quickly so Kelvin's large evasion creatures can take chucks out of their life totals. He is possibly able to race with the help of Hopeful Eidolon.
Kelvin Chew Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 - Draft #1
Good luck, Kelvin!
Sunday, 11:08 a.m. – Drafting With Shouta Yasooka
by Pip Foweraker
One of only 3 undefeated players coming in to the final day of Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur, Shouta Yasooka is no stranger to the top draft tables. Going into a Theros draft, his natural preference is for more controlling, U/x decks, with a preference for a removal-heavy, evasion-creature-laden U/B deck if he can assemble the necessary pieces.
Yasooka's draft table held the other two undefeated players, Yuusuke Iwasaki and Jack Teo, as well as his long-time drafting compatriot, Makihito Mihara. With a challenging draft ahead of him, Yasooka cracked open his first pack.
Xenagos, The Reveler stared out at him for his first choice, facing off against a Wingsteed Rider and some scattered removal. The Planeswalker was a relatively straightforward first pick, but Yasooka took his time in the second, eventually settling for an Ordeal of Thassa over some mediocre R/G cards.
Yasooka's third pick was more interesting, having to choose between a Leafcrown Dryad, Magma Jet, and a couple of aggressive Red creatures. The Magma Jet won out, and Yasooka's next picks of Dragon Mantle, a Leafcrown Dryad to replace the one he'd passed, and a Satyr Rambler started to push him down the road of an aggressive Red-based deck.
Yasooka opened a second pack that was, on the surface, a little underwhelming. A Thassa's Emissary, a Rageblood Shaman, a Feral invocation and a Nylea's Disciple stared back out at him. Yasooka opted for straight-out power and chose the Emissary, clearly willing to move back into Blue if necessary at this early stage in the draft.
The next few packs yielded an Ill-Tempered Cyclops, a Wavecrash Triton, and a Pharika's Cure. Then, just as Yasooka's preferred colours seemed to open up, he was forced back to his original R/G build, picking up a bunch of low-cost favourites like Sedge Scorpion, Akroan Crusader, and Two-Headed Cerberus. Yasooka managed to wheel his Feral Invocation, upping the power of his aggressive and heroic smaller drops.
At the end of the second pack, Yasooka was firmly committed to Red, but looked undecided between a potential Blue splash and a bunch of solid dudes in Green.
Another disappointing pack, with a bevy of powerful Black and White cards, but nothing in Yasooka's colours more impressive than a Nessian Courser. The second pick had no R/G cards at all, Yasooka shaking his head and picking up a Vaporkin.
The next few packs saw him nab a Leafcrown Dryad, another Dragon Mantle, and a Spearpoint Oread. The wheeling packs, again, held no particularly interesting choices, with Yasooka spending his last picks rounding out a solid if low-curved creature base out of boosters that seemed determined to punish his colour choices in Pack 1.
Building the deck
It's always hard to measure the thoughts of Japanese Pro's, who tend to combine heroic levels of stoicism with an inscrutability that borders on the Buddha-like. Nevertheless, Yasooka seemed less than pleased with the result of the draft.
After tossing up whether it could be worth splashing for a third colour, Yasooka instead opted for a tightly focussed, if not particularly powerful, aggressive R/G deck. His strategy would be to try and run out games as quickly as possible with his aggressive low-costing creatures, and then strategically pump them with Dragon Mantles and Feral Invocations to push through the remaining points of damage. Without creatures with natural evasion, it looked like an uphill struggle for the former Player of the Year.
Shouta Yasooka Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 - Draft #1
Round 11 Feature Match – Kelvin Chew (UGW) vs Ayato Imai (UB)
by Noel Neo
Both players have clocked up two losses and are now battling to remain in contention for top 8.
The first game ended quickly as Ayato's crucial Lash of the Whip Hopes were Stymied by Kelvin. This allowed Fleecemane Lion to gain indestructible and hexproof, and the Lion bestowed with Nylea's Emissary ended the game in short order. Ayato also took quite a bit of early damage as his only creature for the first five turns was Vaporkin.
Kelvin's offensive after Stymieing Lash of the Whip
Ayato took the early lead in the second game with an air force that included Insatiable Harpy, Blood-Toll Harpy and Vaporkin. At 12 life, Fleecemane Lion again came to Kelvin's rescue with the favour of Nimbus Naiad.
After Kelvin summoned Vulpine Goliath, Ayato made the lethal error of bestowing Cavern Lampad on Vaporkin. Ayato was holding Lash of Whip in hand, but chose not to first deal with Vulpine Goliath. Neither did he bestow the Lampad on lifelinking Insatiable Harpy for fear of Kelvin having a removal spell.
This mistake cost Ayato dearly, for Kelvin was then able to bestow Hopeful Eidolon on the Lion for his own 7/7 flying, lifelink, hexproof and indestructible creature and attack with Lion and Fox to turn the race in his favour with life totals at 15-6.
Ayato trying to find an out against a 7/7 lifelink flying hexproof Lion
Ayato attempted to remedy his error by bestowing Thassa's Emissary on Insatiable Harpy, but it was too little too late as Kelvin simply bestowed Nylea's Emissary on Fleecemane Lion to seal the game.
Kelvin Chew wins 2-0 and remains in contention for top 8.
Round 11 Feature Match – Shouta Yasooka (R/G) vs Jack Teo (U/W)
by Pip Foweraker
The last two undefeated players of the tournament, Yasooka and Teo, stared each other down across the feature match table. Yasooka led, but Teo had the first action with a Favored Hoplite. Yasooka summoned a Sedge Scorpion on his third turn, threatening shenanigans on his block, but seeming happy to let his creatures trade. Teo followed up with a Triton Shorethief, while Yasooka had a an Arena Athlete. A Leonin Snarecaster tapped down the Athlete for at turn, but when Teo rumbled in to attack Yasooka had a Feral Invocation. The tempo swing from Yasooka's trick and follow-up bestowed Leafcrown Dryad proved too much for Teo's aggressive-but-low-curve deck to keep up with, and both players moved to their sideboards in short order.
It says something about the blistering pace of the first game that both players had sideboarded, shuffled and presented their decks before 5 minutes had elapsed in the round. Impressive!
Shouta Yasooka 1 - Jack Teo 0
The second game started out with both players matching small creatures, until Teo began to pull ahead with a Daxos of Meletis. He was able to negotiate his way around Yasooka's growing ground army with some assistance from an Ephera's Warden. After a few turns of careful growth on both sides and attacks from Teo, Yasooka found and summoned a Stoneshock Giant, threatening to blow out Teo's hard-won advantage with a massive attack.
Both players stalled out, Yasooka hunting for his final land to activate the Giant's monstrous ability, and Teo for some more ways to punch through damage before it was too late. Both players grew their armies, but Teo pulled ahead with a Triton Tactics on a pair of Battlewise Hoplites on a full-team strike. Yasooka still couldn't find his final land and was unable to race back effectively before Teo took the second game.
Jack Teo 1 - Shouta Yasooka 1
Teo started things off with a Vaporkin and an Ordeal of Thassa, signaling his aggressive intent from the get-go. Yasooka had a satyr Rambler and a Nessian Courser, and, facing down an increasingly huge Vaporkin, decided to suit up his Satyr with a Leafcrown Druid and attacking, turning the final game into a straight-out race.
Yasooka decided to make things more challenging for Teo by summoning Xenagos, the Reveler, who promptly helped him to clog the board. Teo, however, found an Ordeal of Heliod for his Vaporkin, instantly trading in the enchantment for a +1/+1 counter and a valuable life buffer. Yasooka, unable to deal with the Vaporkin, was unable to get through for the damage he needed and scooped up his cards.
Jack Teo advances to Round 12 as the only undefeated player left at Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur!
Jack Teo 2 - Shouta Yasooka 1
Round 12 Feature Match – Hironobu Sugaya vs Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin
by Pip Foweraker
Zainuddin looked extraordinarily hesitant about his decision to keep his opening hand. In the end, he knocked thrice on his library and kept, and was presumably rewarded with a land when he breathed a hge sigh of relief, and summoned Vaporkin, and followed it with an Ordeal of Nylea. Sugaya had a Phalanx Leader and a Crackling Triton to keep pace.
Sugaya, under pressure from the increasingly enormous flier, cast a Cavalry Pegasus and used a Voyage's End on the Vaporkin to both stem the beatings and stop Zainuddin from getting too far ahead on lands. Zainuddin had a Nylea's Disciple to clog the ground, then bestowed a Nimbus Naiad on it and attacked. Sugaya took the damage for a turn before casting a Gift of Immortality on his Pegasus, drawing a wry look from Zainuddin as he pondered how to get past the now-recursive blocker.
Zainuddin re-cast his Vaporkin and found a pair of Fleetfeather Sandals, while Sugaya summoned a Wingsteed Rider, Silent Artisan and a Traveling Philosopher. Both players were slowed to a crawl by relatively weak offences and relatively strong defence on both sides of the board. An Aqueous Form for Zainuddin resolved the stalemate and let him take the first game in short order.
Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin 1 - Hironobu Sugaya 0
Both players summoned out cheap creatures but couldn't find any profitable attacks, Zainuddin with a Vaporkin and a Nessian Courser, Sugaya with a Cavalry Pegasus, Lagonna-Band Elder and a Wingsteed Pegasus. Zainuddin bestowed a Leafcrown Dryad on his Vaporkin, making an imposing flier and crashing it in at Sugaya.
Sugaya visibly considered attacking back with his team, prompting Zainuddin to throw his hands up in the air to try and dissuade him. Sugaya, smiling, reconsidered and just sent his fliers over, leaing his Elder back to slow down the Courser if necessary. Sugaya summoned a Soldier of the Pantheon, while Zainuddin went for a Prophet of Kruphix, which was promptly Voyage's Ended.
Sugaya tried a Gift of Immortality on his Wingsteed Rider, building it to a 4/4 before attacking with his Rider, Pegasus and Soldier of the Pantheon. Zainuddin flashed in a bestowed Nimbus Naiad, creating a tremendous blocker for both the Soldier and the Pegasus. Sugaya shook his head in frustration and flashed a God's Willing that he had been holding in anticipation of, well, anything but a surprise 5/5 flying blocker. Regardless of his choices, Sugaya could get Zainuddin to 1 - not enough to stop him from swinging back for lethal the next turn.
Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin 2 - Hironobu Sugaya 0
Sunday, 2:50 p.m. – Drafting with Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin
by Noel Neo
Shamsul is one of just 6 players sitting on 11-1, having gone 3-0 in his first pod. Is this a fluke of chance or does Shamsul have some secret sauce? Read on to find out.
Shamsul quickly solidified himself in UG, with an initial four picks of Nimbus Naiad, Voyage's End, Leafcrown Dryad and Feral Invocation. He stuck to his guns through the three packs and ended up with a strong evasive rush deck.
A number of less conventional picks include Nylea's Disciple over Horizon Scholar – Shamsul tends to err on the side of speed over power; Bronze Sable over counter drafting Underworld Cerberus; and not picking up a late Warrior's Lesson. A late pick of Benthic Giant over Horizon Scholar was made because he has a number of ways of granting his creatures evasion and so contextually values hexproof over flying.
1 Nimbus Naiad, Horizon Chimera
2 Voyage's End, Thassa's Emissary, Gods Willing
3 Leafcrown Dryad, Nessian Courser
4 Feral Invocation, Horizon Scholar
5 Vulpine Goliath, Nylea's Presence
6 Aqueous Form
7 Fate Foretold, Mnemonic Wall
8 Centaur Battlemaster
9 Unknown Shores
10 Lagonna-Band Elder
11 Shredding Winds
12 Anvilwrought Raptor
13 Pheres-Band Centaurs
14 Viper's Kiss
1 Feral Invocation, Nylea's Disciple, Savage Surge
2 Prescient Chimera, Time to Feed, Horizon Chimera
3 Nylea's Disciple, Horizon Scholar
5 Crackling Triton, Traveler's Amulet
6 Fleetfeather Sandals, Vulpine Goliath
7 Annul, Sip of Hemlock, Shredding Winds
8 Ordeal of Erebos, Thassa's Bounty
9 Savage Surge
10 Pharika's Mender
11 Benthic Giant, Horizon Scholar
12 Coastline Chimera
13 Unknown Shores
1 Nessian Courser, Daxos of Meletis, Prowler's Helm
2 Agent of Horizons, Prescient Chimera
3 Loathsome Catoblepas, Gainsay, Guardians of Meletis
4 Nimbus Naiad, Agent of Horizons
5 Aqueous Form
7 Bronze Sable, Underworld Cerberus, Mnemonic Wall
8 Agent of Horizons
9 Burnished Hart
10 Evangel of Heliod
11 Two-Headed Cerberus
12 Lost in a Labyrinth
13 Triton Shorethief, Warriors' Lesson
14 Commune with the Gods
Having drafting a pool of solid UG, Shamsul then made another unconventional decision in deciding to splash black for the singleton – Pharika's Mender. "The ability to return Aqueous Form is very powerful", he explained.
To enable the splash, Shamsul is running two copies of Unknown Shores. Would his plan work?
Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur Draft #2 Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin
Good luck, Shamsul!
Sunday, 3:08 p.m. – Drafting with Chapman Sim
by Pip Foweraker
Fellow coverage reporter and GP Singapore finalist Chapman Sim sat down at his final draft needing to pull out a 3-0 record to make Top 8. With that in mind, he was prepared to push a more 'all-or-nothing' strategy than his normal preferences to clinch the vital position.
Sim's first pack offered him little to get the pulse racing, but he settled on solid Staunch-Hearted Warrior. Thassa's Emissary in the second pack was grabbed without any contention, and a Time to Feed and a Vaporkin followed in short order. With his direction pushing comfortably in an aggressive U/G direction, Sim was happy to grab an Aqueous Form - one of the cards most commonly described as 'underrated' this weekend.
The second half of the pack saw both Green and Blue dry up almost instantaneously. Sim took what he could in a Bronze Sable, but his other picks pushed him a little bit Red, a little bit Black, and with less focus than he'd have liked.
International roamer Sim cards it up.
A Leafcrown Dryad was Sim's first pick from his second pack, without anything else to tempt him apart from a Heliod's Emissary, and consistency won out over power without much consideration. Sim was rewarded for sticking to his guns in the next few picks, with the awesomely powerful Centaur Battlemage, a Nimbus Naiad, a Nessian Asp and a Griptide - all solid, playable, on-colour cards.
Sim took some time considering his 6th pick of a second Aqueous Form over a Sedge Scorpion or a Dissolve. He was tempted by the Scorpion, but felt that with an Asp and a Battlemage, his end-game would be made more powerful by having the sneaky Aura to hand. His next pack gave him a third, making sure nobody would be blocking his creatures any time soon. The rest of the pack yielded a Nessian Courser, an Anvilwrought Raptor, and a Prescient Chimera as well as some filler.
By the end of the second pack, Sim's position had improved substantially. He'd picked up some important evasion and a few finishers. His deck was perhaps lacking in combat tricks and a few efficient beaters, but that could surely be resolved by...
Another first-pick Leafcrown Elder for Sim after nothing more exciting presented itself. His second pack gave him a choice of Feral Invocation or Savage Surge, and he took the Invocation. His third pick came down to another Battlemaster or a Nylea's Disciple. He ended up taking the Battlemaster to go with his Invocation and 3 Aqueous Forms, lacking any bounce spells to really make the Disciple shine.
In pick 4, he once again took a Feral Invocation over a Savage Surge, happily snaffling the Surge a few picks later. The latter half of Pack 3 didn't bring anything of note other than a few hate-picks and some late sideboard cards like Shredding Winds.
Building the Deck
I sat down with Sim as he constructed his deck and we ran through the choices. His picks were sparse enough across the draft that 21 of his 23 cards were decided within a few moments of sitting down, but his final decision on the deck took a little longer. It was a relatively tough judgment call behind what sort of deck was most likely to get him the essential 3-0 record to advance to the Top 8. Is it better to go for a slightly more powerful but potentially less consistent deck and hope for good luck across the 3 matches, or go for something more conservative and potentially only end up 2-1? Keep an eye on the coverage to find out how Chapman Sim fares for the remaining rounds of Swiss at Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur!
Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur Draft #2 Chapman Sim
Round 14 Feature Match - Shamsul Bahrin Zainuddin (UG-B) vs Yang Ting Hui (UW)
by Noel Neo
With just one final round to go after this, the winner of the match takes a giant step closer to the top 8.
Game one was simply determined by Ting Hui's Daxos of Meletis on turn three, which revealed and allowed the bestowment of Leafcrown Dryad on four, and which promoted Shamsul's concession two turns later.
Ting Hui's Leafcrown bestowed Daxos dominates
Daxos of Meletis appeared on turn three again in the second game, but this time Shamsul had already established a dominant board position after Feral Invocation on Bronze Sable took down Setessan Battle Priest.
Shamsul in a better position for the rematch against Daxos
While Daxos provided Ting Hui a means to race, Shamsul had Aqueous Form to ensure his 4/3 got through and to play around Daxos's triggered ability. By the time Ting Hui found Voyage's End for the artefact creature, he was already down to just 8 life and Shamsul had summoned Prescient Chimera and Agent of Horizons, both of which Ting Hui had no means of interacting with.
Shamsul equalises the match at 1-1.
The rubber game featured quite a bit more interaction than the previous two.
The first skirmish occurred on turn five, when Agent of Horizons and Nylea's Emissary attacked into Ting Hui's lone Heliod's Emissary. Shamsul made a bid for the advantage with Lost in a Labyrinth, but Ting Hui had God's Willing (pro green) to maintain the status quo. Shamsul further extended his board position by summoning Vaporkin.
Next turn, Aqueous Form on Nylea's Disciple met Ray of Dissolution pre-combat and it was Ting Hui's turn to attempt Lost in a Labyrinth. However, Shamsul too had an answer in Savage Surge.
After the dust settles
Ting Hui thought he had stabilised at 12 life when he summoned Celestial Archon. However, the reprieve proved very fleeting when it blocked Nylea's Disciple and Shamsul flashed in Feral Invocation.
Though Ting Hui was able to rebuild, the tempo advantage accrued by Shamsul and the unblockable Agent of Horizons was simply too large a gap to close.
Shamsul wins 2-1 and needs just one final victory for a spot in the top 8.
*Just reviewing this match, it does seem Shamsul's draft strategy of forcing his curve down and with an emphasis on business spells that impact the board is optimal. Many players Pip and I interviewed over these two days say the format is defined by tempo, so it may be correct (to an extent) to forego power and card advantage in lieu of speed.
Round 14 Feature Match - Chapman Sim vs Krissapas Kuptimitr (U/G Mirror)
by Pip Foweraker
Both players have their backs against the wall, needing to win both this round and the next one to lock up a Top 8 slot. They had both drafted Tricksy-Hobbit decks, with efficient U/G creatures and the best pump spells and tempo cards that they could get their hands on. This would turn out to be a brutal match, hanging in contention until literally the last few seconds of the round, with Sim's slightly faster deck racing as fast as possible against Kuptimitr's slightly slower, heavier-punching affair.
Both players slammed a pair of Sedge Scorpions into each other. Sim followed up with a Bronze Sable and a Nessan Courser, aiming to get his early beats on. Kuptimitr had a Nimbus Naiad, while Chapman upped the ante with a Thassa's Emissary.
After thinking things through, Sim attacked with his whole team. Kuptimitr had a Savage Surge for his Naiad to take out the Emissary. Sim rebuilt with a second Bronze Sable, clearly keen on applying maximum damage to his opponent. Kuptimitr summoned another Sedge Scorpion but was stuck on 3 lands, while Chapman could bestow his own Nimbus Naiad on his Nessan Courser.
Griptide on the Courser slowed things down, and an Anthousa, Setessan Hero clogged the board up, but Sim's Naiad took Kuptimitr to a precarious 1 life. He had a Time to Feed to gain some breathing room, and a follow-up Savage Surge to clear out Sim's side of the battlefield.
Still under pressure, Kuptimitr rapidly developed his board with a Nylea, God of the Hunt and then one of her Disciples. With Kuptimitr's life total out of the danger zone, Sim headed for his sideboard.
Krissapas Kuptimitr 1 - Chapman Sim 0
Sim calculates his next move.
"It's hard to play the mirror when your opponent's cards are all better than yours", smiled Sim as he searched for answers before settling down to what would be an epic Game 2.
Kuptimitr used a Savage Surge early in the game on his Sedge Scorpion to take out Sim's Leafcrown Dryad, then it decided it was Time to Feed on a Nessan Courser, the little arachnid that could doing double duty before biting the dust.
Kuptimitr replaced Eight-Legs with No-Legs in the form of a Nessian Asp, while Sim summoned a Prescient Chimera. The two traded blows, and Kuptimitr had a sudden Horizon Chimera at the end of Sim's turn, threatening a lethal swing if he could find the mana to enmonstrify* his Asp. He didn't, and Sim had a Savage Surge to untap his Chimera and take out the Asp. Kuptimitr, unfazed, summoned a Nylea's Disciple and followed it up with Nylea Herself, making combat math for Sim a daunting prospect for the balance of the game.
Sim, in an increasingly unenviable position, looked to the top of his library for outs. He cast a Time to Feed on the Horizon Chimera, gaining some precious life and knocking Kuptimitr's life-gain engine out of play, then summoned a Sedge Scorpion to keep the ground attacks in check.
Kuptimitr bestowed a Nimbus Naiad on his Nylea's Disciple, obviating the now rather sad-looking Scorpion. Sim attacked with his team and summoned a Vaporkin. Sim declined to block, and when Kuptimitr went to pump his creature with Nylea, Sim showed him a Griptide to again stem the bleeding.
Kuptimitr does his sums and checks them twice.
Sim attacked with his team and flashed a Feral Invocation onto his Prescient Chimera to save it from the inevitable Nylea pump. Kuptimitr re-cast his Disciple, then used his own Griptide on Sim's Sedge Scorpion to clear the way for his Disciple to crack in, ably pumped by the Nylea and dropping Sim to a precarious 4 life points.
Sim attacked Kuptimitr down to 6, then re-played his Scorpion and passed. He had enough toughness' worth of creatures on the board to save himself, but needed to draw creatures faster than Kuptimitr to stay in the game. Luckily for Sim, a Centaur Battlemaster and a Nessian Asp gave him enough defense to survive Kuptimitr's Nylea-enhanced attacks just long enough to eke things out to a third game.
Chapman Sim 1 - Krissapas Kuptimitr 1
Once again, both players traded their Sedge Scorpions with each other. Sim built up an army early with a Bronze Sable and a Nessian Courser, while Kuptimitr doubled up with a pair of Nylea's Disciples.
Sim kept pace with a Staunch-Hearted Warrior, then attacked them into Kuptimitr's board, asking that classic question - race, trade or trick? Kuptimitr opted to race, declining to block Sim's incoming attackers before bestowing a Nylea's Emissary on one of his Disciples. Sim spent his mana summoning an Anvilwrought Raptor, then sent it in next turn after a looooooong time in the tank, pondering his options. Both players had a relatively full grip and could expect each other to have tricks, so the mind-games got a little too complex for me to follow at this point.
Kuptimitr decided to force the issue by attacking with both his creatures. Both players are holding Griptides (I'm allowed to peek, I'm coverage!) and had probably read each other on any number of possible combat tricks, making the head games all the more interesting. Sim assigned his Warrior as a blocker for the un-pumped Disciple, and went to pump it, forcing Kuptimitr to use up his Griptide. Chapman took 6 from the unblocked Disciple and fell to a precious 8 life points.
Sim dipped his toe back into the tank once more, having a good ponder before sending his remaining team in. Kuptimitr tried a Savage Surge on his unenhanced Disciple, forcing Sim's hand. Sim let it resolve, then cast his own Savage Surge on his Courser, wiping out both creatures.
Kuptimitr untapped and had no action for the next turn, knocking Sim to 2 life with a straight attack. Even with a Griptide in hand, Sim was stalled on land and out of options, Kuptimitr advancing to the win-and-in round.
Krissapas Kuptimitr 2 - Chapman Sim 1
*Totally a real word.