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Grand Prix Manila
Day 2 Coverage

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Round 10 Feature Match - Hironobu Sugaya vs. Raynand Rivas

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


Four years ago, Hironobu Sugaya defeated Shouta Yasooka to become the 2008 GP Manila champion, and is showing similar promise this weekend, going undefeated on day one. Local player Raynand Rivas was also undefeated yesterday, and is looking to stop Sugaya in his tracks. Both players had only two byes, too!

Game 1

Rivas won the die roll, and played a Cavern of Souls, and then a Loyal Cathar. When it attacked a turn later, Sugaya opted to Vapor Snag it during combat, on the grounds he probably wouldn't be able to Mana Leak anything that followed, anyway. What followed was a Mirran Crusader. Sugaya answered with a Geist of Saint Traft, while Rivas replayed his Loyal Cathar, and an Honor of the Pure, and attacked for 6.

Sugaya Gitaxian Probed the Filipino, seeing Fiend Hunter, and Champion of the Parish. He considered his options, before finally summoning a Snapcaster Mage to flashback the Vapor Snag on the Loyal Cathar, to force his Geist through, to even the scores at 14 apiece. The Crusader attacked back, and the Snapcaster valiantly soaked up the damage. Rivas summoned his Champion of the Parish, and once again, replayed his Cathar.

Sugaya Probed again, this time seeing the Hunter, and a Hero of Oxid Ridge. Rivas lacked the second Red mana for the Hero, but the future still looked bleak for the Japanese player. He attacked with his Geist, trading it and a Gut Shot for Rivas' Champion, before replacing the Geist with a new one. Rivas drew the Red Mana he needed, summoned the Hero and crashed into the attack phase with a great deal more damage than Sugaya was prepared to take.

Rivas 1 – Sugaya 0

Hironobu Sugaya contemplates taking more combat damage in one sitting than any sane doctor would recommend as safe.

Game 2

Sugaya passed back his second turn with mana open, while Rivas summoned a Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. Sugaya traded it for a Phantasmal Image in a puff of logic, before summoning a Blade Splicer. Rivas played a replacement Thalia, but was missing a third land. Sugaya was missing his fourth land, but wasn't having any trouble getting a board presence going, with a second Image, this time of the Blade Splicer.

Rivas payed a good part of the Iron Price for a Dismember on one of the Golems, but took 3 from the remaining one before he could take care of it with a Leonin Relic-Warder. Sugaya tried to Restoration Angel his Blade Splicer, but Rivas responded with a Gut Shot to keep those shenanigans out of the picture. A second Angel inadvertently ate the Image'd Splicer, but the pair of fliers was enough for Rivas to give up on this game, and try his luck in the decider.

Rivas 1 – Sugaya 1

Game 3

Sugaya ditched his 7 cards for 6 better ones, while Rivas blazed out of the gates with Champion of the Parish, and Thalia. Sugaya threw a Vapor Snag into the mix to keep the Champion off his mark, and again neutralised Thalia with a Phantasmal Image, but missed his third land drop. Rivas resummoned his Champion, and bolstered it with a Cathedral Sanctifier.

Raynand Rivas is building an army.

Sugaya found his third land, and used it to bring himself some Timely Reinforcements, one of which traded for the Sanctifier. A Doomed Traveler pumped the Champion up to 3/3, while Sugaya summoned a Geist of Saint Traft. The remaining Soldiers traded with the Traveler and chump blocked the Champion, but Rivas passed back the turn without further play, no doubt due to the fact he had five Plains in play, and no Red mana. Sugaya attacked with his Geist, and then Pondered. He ended the turn with a Moorland Haunt open.

Rivas finally drew a Clifftop Retreat, but passed the turn without attacking. Sugaya cashed in his dead Phantasmal Image, and gave some thought to Rivas' now defensive position. He attacked with the Geist, and when Rivas agreed to block with his 3/3 Champion, Sugaya Vapor Snagged it. Rivas summoned some Timely Reinforcements of his own, and then played an Honor of the Pure, his board suddenly much more formidable. He attacked with his Spirit Token, but Sugaya dropped a Restoration Angel on it. Sugaya untapped and tapped out to play and equip a Sword of War and Peace to his Geist, and attacked Rivas down to 4 life.

Rivas played a Leonin Relic-Warder on the Sword, and an Oblivion Ring on the Restoration Angel, but it wasn't enough to stop the Geist sending an Angel Token in to finish him off.

Hironobu Sugaya defeats Raynand Rivas 2 – 1




 

Round 11 Feature Match - Andreas Ganz vs. Shi Tian Lee

by Pip Foweraker


Game 1

Both players are on their respective national teams – Lee on the Hong Kong team, Ganz captaining the Swiss. Lee led off with a turn 1 Delver of Secrets. Ganz, after a mulligan, paid 2 life to summon a Vault Skirge. "Tempered Steel?", asked Lee, bemused. Lee used a Vapor Snag on the Skirge to clear the path for his Delver. Ganz used his second turn to re-summon the Skirge and a Signal Pest, then cast a Mox Opal and Dispatched the Delver.

Lee rebuilt with a Blade Splicer. Ganz made himself a free Glint Hawk by bouncing and replaying his Mox Opal before dropping a Tempered Steel and attacking. Lee summoned a Restoration Angel to blink his Blade Splicer in and out of the battlefield, netting himself an extra Golem token. Both swung in at Ganz, who declined to block, leaving his beasties out of harm's way.

Andreas' robot army breaks out the Ganz

Ganz summoned a second Signal Pest and tried attacking with a Glint Hawk Idol, but Lee had a Snapcaster Mage to flash back his Vapor Snag and stop the troublesome attacker. Lee's combat phase brought an all-out attack with his team. Two Golems, a Snapcaster Mage, and the Restoration Angel all charged in. Ganz threw his Vault Skirge in front of the Restoration Angel, killed the Mage with a Signal Pest, and fell to 5 life.

Ganz found a second copy of Tempered Steel. With his opponent on 11 life, Ganz had exactly lethal, as long as the one remaining card in Lee's hand wasn't a trick.... It wasn't.

Andreas Ganz 1 – Shi Tian Lee 0

Game 2

Ganz: "I have some small men!"
Lee: "I have some Gut Shots!"

Ganz: "Oh. I see."

Lee: "I also have these Blade Splicers!"

Ganz: "Hmm."
Lee: "And these Vapor Snags!"

Ganz: "....."

Shi Tian Lee 1 – Andreas Ganz 1

Game 3

Ganz led play with an Inkmoth Nexus and an Origin Spellbomb, and then followed up with aGlint Hawk Idol, a Mox Opal and a Signal Pest. Lee passed his second turn without any action. Ganz activated his Spellbomb and attacked with his Idol and the Pest to drop Lee to 17, choosing not to play any spells.

Lee tapped out for a Blade Splicer, giving Ganz an opportunity to play a Tempered Steel and attacking for 7, bring Lee to 10. Ganz summoned an Etched Champion and attacked, this time with only a solo Glint Hawk Idol. Lee took the damage, and post-combat, Ganz cast another Idol. At the end of Ganz's turn, Lee flashed in his telegraphed Restoration Angel, blinking out the Blade Splicer.

Snapcaster Mage came down on Lee's mainphase, Pondered, and joined the army sitting patiently on the battlefield. Ganz summoned another Etched Champion and attacked with both of his Glint Hawk Idols, forcing Lee to block with his Angel. A Vapor Snag slowed down the other Idol temporarily, but Ganz just replayed it and passed. Lee attacked his Snapcaster Mage into Ganz's Etched Champion, dropping his creature count low enough to maximise advantage from his Timely Reinforcements. The reprieve was only temporary, though, as Ganz's Idols punched through for victory.

Andreas Ganz 2 – Shi Tian Lee 1




 

Sunday, 11:43 a.m. - Round 12 Quick Questions

by Pip Foweraker and Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


What did you lose to on day one?

Yuya Watanabe - "Blue/Red Delver"
Martin Juza – "Blue/Red Delver"
Andreas Ganz - "Esper Control"


Shuhei Nakamura – "two ramp decks, and a zombie deck (did not make day two)"
Hironobu Sugaya – "Nothing!"
Hao-Shan Huang = "Naya, miracle Bonfire of the Damned every game!"



 

Sunday, 11:45 a.m. - Metagame Breakdown

by Pip Foweraker


Archetype # Decks
Spirits 1
Grixis Control 1
B/G/W Ramp 1
Tempered Steel 1
Mono-G Aggro 1
G/W Aggro 1
Infect 1
Heartless Summoning 1
Goblins 1
W/R Aggro 1
U/R/G Delver 1
4-Spell Naya 2
B/W Tokens 3
U/R Delver 4
Naya Aggro 4
R/G Ramp 6
R/G Aggro 6
U/B Zombies 7
B/R Zombies 8
Naya Pod 13
Esper Control 21
Delver 43



 

Round 13 Feature Match - Jun Young Park vs. Ding Yuan Leong

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


Jun Young Park battled through to a top 8 finish back at GP Kitakyushu back in 2007, while Ding Yuan Leong thrashed a Jund-packed top 8 at GP Kuala Lumpur in 2009.

Game 1

Park won the roll, but threw away the first 7 cards he saw. His next hand was pretty good, however, with Birds of Paradise into a Blade Splicer. Leong had a fine hand, too, with Llanowar Elves into Dungrove Elder. Park peeled a Bonfire of the Damned off the top of his deck, and played it for two to wipe out Leong's team and attack for 4. Leong recovered with another Llanowar Elves and an Ulvenwald Tracker, while Park summoned a Huntmaster of the Fells, and attacked again, knocking Leong to 10.

Jun Young Park found a miracle, and played it for 2.

Leong Green Sun's Zenith'd up a new Dungrove Elder to go with his 3 Forests, and passed back the turn, Park eying up the combination of Tracker and Elder with some concern.

Park untapped with a 2/2 Wolf token, the 2/2 Huntmaster, 1/1 Blade Splicer, 3/3 Golem Token, and a Birds of Paradise. He mulled over his options, before finally attacking with everything. Leong blocked the Huntmaster with his Avenger, and fell to 4 life. Park played a second Blade Splicer, and passed the turn back with a Gavony Township in play.

Leong drew his card for the turn and considered his options. He had a 3/3 Dungrove Elder, a Llanowar Elves, and the Ulvenwald Tracker, but decided that was not going to be good enough, and packed up his cards.

Park 1 – Leong 0

Game 2

Leong began game two with a Llanowar Elves, a Birds of Paradise, and a Ulvenwald Tracker, but no second land, while Park had an Avacyn's Pilgrim to enable a turn two Borderland Ranger. Leong's third turn still did not yield a second land, and so he passed back the turn without play. The Ranger attacked, but Leong surprised the Ranger with a Wolfir Avenger to kill it. Park then summoned a Blade Splicer.

Still without a second land, Leong started a fight between his Avenger and Park's Blade Splicer. Park untapped and dropped a Sword of Feast and Famine on his Golem token, knocking a Dungrove Elder out of Leong's hand, and putting him to 15. Leong untapped and tried to figure out how to get around the three turn clock the Sword represented. Finally, he decided on a Green Sun's Zenith for a second Birds of Paradise. Park summoned a Fiend Hunter to take out one of the Birds, and again attacked for 5, Leong discarding a second Elder.

Ding Yuan Leong is in need of a miracle. Or, you know, a land.

Leong drew his card for the turn, and let forth an exasperated sigh, passing back the turn. Park drew and played a Green Sun's Zenith for five. Leong could only nod, as Park searched out a Wolfir Silverheart. Leong's Tracker instigated fisty-cuffs between the Fiend Hunter and the Wolfir Avenger to free the Birds, but he couldn't stop the now paired Golem Token knocking him down to just 1 life.

Leong finally drew a second land, giving him two Forests, two Birds of Paradise, a Llanowar Elves, the Tracker, and the Avenger. After a great deal of thought, he passed back the turn.

Park attacked with his Silverheart and the Golem. A Crush of Vines took care of the Sword, and Leong was forced to throw his Avenger, Birds, and Elves in front of Parks team. Leong drew a third land and played a Silverheart of his own. Park attacked with his 8/8 Silverheart and his 7/7 Golem. Leong traded his own Silverheart for the incoming one, but lost his Tracker to the Golem. Leong drew and played a Ratchet Bomb, which took care of the Golems, while his Birds of Paradise chump blocked the Splicer. Park drew and played a Huntmaster of the Fells, and Leong drew nothing.

Jun Young Park defeats Ding Yuan Leong 2 – 0




 

Sunday, 2:35 p.m. - Round 15: Deck Tech with Andreas Ganz

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


Andreas Ganz explains his Tempered Steel deck.

Andreas Ganz will be leading the Swiss National Team at the World Magic Cup this year, and frequently lands some very respectable finishes at Pro Level Magic events. He chose an unorthodox deck for this weekend, however.

"Tempered Steel has a good matchup against Delver," he explained. "It's a metagame choice, really."

I will admit, it has been some time since we've seem a Tempered Steel deck do well, and correspondingly, the many Ancient Grudges that used to fill out peoples sideboards have been dwindling.

"There's not a lot you can change about the deck, really," Ganz lamented on the lack of new cards he's added to the deck. "I looked through all of the new cards, but there wasn't really anything that would fit. I removed a Glint Hawk from the main for a Dismember, to give me a fifth way to kill Restoration Angel. Glint Hawk is also a bit of a risk when people are playing Gut Shot. I played one earlier with two Signal Pests in play, but they had the Gut Shot and a Snapcaster Mage anyway."

Andreas Ganz - Tempered Steel
Grand Prix Manila 2012




 

Sunday, 2:35 p.m. - Round 15: Deck Tech with Martin Juza

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


Martin Juza's variation of a Naya deck.

Martin Juza came to this event with a slightly unusual concoction this weekend. He's taken a Naya deck, and stripped out almost all of the spells that aren't Bonfire of the Damned.

"All the spells are bad against Delver. I had two Oblivion Ring, a Dismember, and a Pillar of Flame, but they just weren't doing anything, and Bonfire was, so I added the two more Bonfire, a third Geist-Honored Monk, and the fourth Borderland Ranger."

So that's pretty good against Delver, apparently, but what about everything else?

"It can't beat decks with Day of Judgment," Juza admitted. "If I'm completely honest, Delver is the best deck, I just wanted to play something different."

Interestingly enough, the deck appears to have an advantage after sideboarding, at least for now. "People assume I'm playing Birthing Pod, so they board in Divine Offering and Ancient Grudge. I'm not playing Pod because it's too much messing around, and in all of those games, I'd rather cast Bonfire on turn five than Pod on turn three and activating it on turn four."




 

Sunday, 3:25 p.m. - Round 15 Quick Questions

by Pip Foweraker and Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw


What was the best card in your deck this weekend?

Hao-Shan Huang - "Delver of Secrets, he’s just that good!"
Hironobu Sugaya – "Yuya Watanabe’s foil Japanese Restoration Angel"
Ding Leong - "Revenge of the Hunted"


Andreas Ganz – "Tempered Steel"
Martin Juza – "Huntmaster of the Fells"
Yuya Watanabe = "Runechanter’s Pike"



 

Sunday, 3:45 p.m. - Deck Tech: U/G/R Delver

by Pip Foweraker


Doing coverage, you get to read a lot of decklists. Doing a metagame breakdown, you get to read a whole lot of decklists. There's a lot of sorting, and it's easy to fall into a sort of mindless trance. "Delver" , your brain mutters, "Delver, Ramp, Delver, Zombies, Delver... Wait, Huntmaster of the Fells? "

Curiousity piqued? So was mine. I headed over to the tables to find out what was going on. This interesting build was being ably piloted by Min-Chih Sun (Dell Sun), fresh out from Taipei, sitting on an X-0-4 record. When I pulled him aside after his match, the plot thickened.

Responsible for designing the bulk of the deck was none other than Tzu Ching Kuo, 3 time Taiwanese National Champion and multiple GP Top 8'er. We talked a little about the deck, and it had already accumulated an impressive pedigree.

Kuo had brewed the deck in time for last weekend's PTQ / WMCQ weekend in Taipei, where it had won both events, piloted by two different players, Han Yu Bei and Cheng Tang Yi, with Hao-Shan Huang also piloting the deck to an impressive finish. Min-Chih Sun hadn't played a game of tournament magic in nearly a decade before this weekend's admirable result, so the potency of the deck speaks for itself.

The deck is aiming to beat a very specific metagame opponent – Delver – while not giving up ground against the other matchups. Cavern of Souls and Huntmaster of the Fells give the deck an advantage in countermagic wars against other Delver decks, and Bonfire of the Damned is being hailed as a near-universal panacea and slayer of multitudes. Nobody I've talked to this weekend who's running it can name a matchup where it can be sided out – and that's impressive.

Who have 20 copies of Huntmaster of the Fells, Delver of Secrets, and Snapcaster Mage? These guys!

Opening up red in the sideboard gives the deck a huge amount of flexibility in answering threats post-board. Zealous Conscripts and Hero of Oxid Ridge are both Humans, maximising value from Cavern of Souls. Combust and Dungeon Geists are both powerful role players, and there's even flashback value added for Ancient Grudge.

What changes could be made? The lack of 2-mana creatures have hurt the curve a little, and one possibility might be to replace the Bonfire of the Damneds with Invisible Stalkers. The sideboard, of course, should be fine-tuned to your local metagame, but the players have been very happy with it so far.

If you're looking for a refreshing variant on the powerful Delver engine for your next Standard tournament, this might be it!




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