It is rare that politics and Magic cross paths but there was a hint of tension in the air when the Chinese National Champion and the Taiwanese National Champion were announced as this round's feature match. Apparently the Chinese players would prefer that Chih-Hsiang were referred to as the Chinese Taipei Champion. However you want to refer to him, Chih is one of the top players in his country and is regularly invited to World's on rating. He has never used the invitation before but this year he has planned the trip to Berlin.
Despite the tension others wanted to inject into the proceedings, Jie Li and "The Chin"--as Chih is known—were all smiles and good wishes as they sat down for their feature match.
JI opened with a Llanowar Elves and followed up with Wild Mongrel but he had no second land. When Jie did find his second land he Bolted his opponent—his opponent was obviously playing Tog or UZI and the burn was not going to find many reasonable targets in the form of creatures. EOT Chih smothered the Mongrel and Jie made a Rootwalla in response.
Chih used a Darkwater Catacombs to play a Ghastly Demise and also cast Standstill with only Jie's Llanowar Elves as pressure. Jie broke the Standstill with Elephant Guide on the elf—he was still missing a third land and had to tap elf to do it.
Chih played a land and passed the turn back. He Smothered the Elf during his opponent's upkeep. There was still no third land for Jie and he threw another Bolt at Chih's nugget. Chih played a Compulsion on the next turn and braced for three from the elephant token despite a Smother in his hand. EOT he killed the elephant—Jie still needed lands.
A cycled Sandbar found Logic for a Volcanic Hammer. Chih then compulsed into Standstill on the next turn and played it. Chih began to craft his hand for the Upheaval he was holding. While he was getting closer Jie continued to fail to draw any lands.
Finally a Rootwalla broke the Standstill without a third land and it was followed by a Grim Lavamancer which was countered. Chih continued to dig and finally found the Tog. He cast Upheaval floating three mana. Jie scooped to the Tog.
Taiwan – 1 China – 0
Jie tossed a Volcanic Hammer at Chih on the second turn. He followed up with Call of the Herd on turn three—much better than 1st game already—but Chih had the Force Spike.
He continued to throw burn at his opponent with another Volcanic Hammer
and followed it with Llanowar Elves
, which Chih Ghastly Demise
d. Jie was stuck on three land this game when he attempted Sulfuric Vortex
and it was countered.
Chi restocked with a Deep Analysis and Jie saw a window to force through another Vortex but Force Spike foiled his plans. Another Firebolt was hurtled domeward and a Grim Lavamancer was Demised on the next turn.
Chih continued to draw with DAs—even flashing one back. He had nine mana in play to Jie's three and he was dangerously low at seven life. Finally, with a fourth land Jie thought for a while before flashing back Call of the Herd into a third Force Spike.
He found his fifth land for a Phantom Centaur that was out of range of the potential fourth Spike but Chainer's Edict and infinite mana foretold little creature damage this game. Chih countered a flashed back Firebolt because he wanted to be able to go to a dangerous four and flash back another Deep Analysis. He cycled a Sandbar and finally found and played a Tog. Jie sacrificed a Foothills and drew. He sighed and sent the turn back to Chih with a fistful of cards and a long and winding graveyard.
Chih thought long and hard before committing to his attack. Finally he sent the Tog into the red zone and began removing cards from his yard. He gave the Tog +14/+14 and waited to see what Jie had. It was a Violent Eruption for the kill.
Taiwan – 1 China - 1
Chih kept his hand but Jie could not decide. He had only one land but Grim Lavamancer, Wild Mongrel and three Vortex. He wanted to keep it but in the end he shipped it back only to find lands waiting on top. He kept his next six.
Jie continued to dome his opponent with the burn and threw a Firebolt
and Volcanic Hammer
on the first two turns for a quarter of his opponent's life total. Coupled with his two Deltas, Chi fell to 13 before he saw turn three.
Shadowmage Infiltrator was a contingency Jie was not prepared for and he passed back the turn with no play or fourth land. He made a morph which Smother revealed to be a Vigilante. Chih followed up with a Tog. The Finkel was Hammered on the next turn but it had done its job. Jie stalled on three lands and Chih played a Standstill.
While his opponent floundered for land, Chih was apologetic as he pecked away for one with the Tog. Wild Mongrel broke the Standstill and it was countered.
Deep Analysis and a prompt flashback prompted the scoop.
Final Result: Chih-Hsiang Chang (Taiwan) – 2 Jie Li (China) - 1