Bo Li (Tempered Steel)
Yuuya Watanabe (Grixis Tezzeret)
A former Pro Tour Player of the Year, Yuuya Watanabe is not only one of Japan's best players, but one of the best players in the game at large. His opponent for the fifth round of combat here in Nagoya was Chinese star Bo Li, himself a former Team World Champion from Rome just a few years ago. Both settled in to duel with their eyes still on a possible Top 8 on Sunday.
Each player started with one-drops, Origin Spellbomb from Bo and Hex Parasite from Yuuya. The Spellbomb on the Chinese side of the table was joined by a Memnite, however, giving Bo the lead. His Leonin Relic-Warder to remove his opponent's Parasite followed by Tempered Steel put him way ahead, and Yuuya raced to catch up. He cast Mycosynth Wellspring to find himself his third land of the match, then passed with a Mountain up.
Bo Li was a member of the China National Team that won the World Championships in 2009.
The lonely red source allowed Yuuya to cast Galvanic Blast, the molten blob of metal knocking out his opponent's Relic-Warder and handing him his Hex Parasite back. He used it to chump-block while his opponent cast a Glint Hawk Idol to further apply beats. Beast Within allowed the Japanese pro to take out his opponent's Tempered Steel, saving him a load of damage from artifact attackers but gifting his opponent a 3/3 Beast.
A second Beast Within from Watanabe surprised his opponent. That was because Yuuya used it on his own Mycosynth Wellspring, tutoring up a land of his choice and getting a 3/3 blocker. The Beast token was Dispatched, however, and Bo Li put himself too far ahead for his opponent to catch up. Two attacks later, Yuuya reached for his sideboard.
Li 1, Watanabe 0
The second duel started off much more smoothly for Yuuya, who spent his early turns taking no damage and building up his mana base using Mycosynth Wellspring while his opponent had a slow start of Inkmoth Nexus and Glint Hawk. A Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas allowed Yuuya to turn a Wellspring into a 5/5 and really start working on his opponent's life total, and it seemed Bo Li was going to lose the second game in half the time it had taken to win the first.
An all-in attack from Li managed to take out his opponent's Tezzeret, and a Leonin Relic-Warder allowed him to take out the 5/5 Wellspring. Yuuya was prepared for that, however, casting a second copy of the planeswalker and animating a second Mycosynth Wellspring. Bo Li repeated his exact sequence of plays using an attack to take the second Tezzeret out, then a Leonin Relic-Warder to take out his opponent's 5/5.
Watanabe promptly ripped a third copy of the planeswalker, but rather than cast it he waited a turn. His opponent's board had gotten a bit bigger, featuring a 1/1 Myr from Origin Spellbomb, the two Relic-Warders, a Glint Hawk, and double Inkmoth Nexus. Yuuya used Beast Within on one of his own lands to net himself a blocker lest his opponent's weenies whittle his life down too far. Li still had his flyers, however, and that fact kept his opponent from casting his third Tezzeret for fear of losing it to a return attack.
At long last, Yuuya decided to pull the trigger on Tezzeret anyway, casting it and turning an artifact into a 5/5. That allowed him to threaten an attack for most of his opponent's remaining life, and Bo Li was forced to block. He lost much of his team, but had enough left over to take out his opponent's planeswalker for the third time in the game.
Yuuya Watanabe is one of Japan's finest, but he's got his back against the wall in this match.
With the boards mostly cleared, the two players settled into a race. Li tried to find chump-blockers for his opponent's 5/5 Wellspring while attacking each turn with a Leonin Relic-Warder. At a score of 11-4 he managed to take out the Wellspring, then put Yuuya on the defensive by casting a Glint Hawk and doubling the size of his attacking force. That cut Yuuya's lead in half in a single attack, and meant he had to topdeck a removal spell or lose a game that seemed locked up only a few turns before!
When the Japanese star failed to come up with the goods, Bo Li emerged the victor.
Bo Li 2, Yuuya Watanabe 0