Day 1 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on August 29, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast

Day one has come to a close here at Grand Prix Manila, with 640 players being cut down to just 64, with many named players falling under the knife, some by a matter of tie-breakers alone. However, there are still plenty of names fighting it out amongst the locals, like Makihito Mihara, Raphael Levy, Shuuhei Nakamura and Terry Soh to name but a few. Stay tuned while we see who can make it through day two to reach the top 8, and what decks may rise to challenge the format stalwarts, Faeries and Kithkin.


Pre-Event Feature

by Noel Neo

An interesting fact about a Grand Prix being held in the Philippines is despite the country’s low profile on the Pro Tour, it has managed to fend off the Japanese invasion of the Asian Grand Prix circuit 67% of the time. You would have to trace all the way back to 1998 to find the last time a Japanese (Toshiki Tsukamoto) won a Grand Prix in the Philippines.

Most recently, in Grand Prix Manila 2006, the Japanese only managed to place a single Takuya Osawa in the top 8. Filipinos clinched a full 4 seats in the top 8 and James Porter went on to win the all local finals.

Nonetheless, if I have to bet on a single person making the top 8, my money would be on Itaru Ishida. Itaru made his first Asia ex. Japan Grand Prix top 8 at the tender age of 18 at Grand Prix Manila 1998, as the only Japanese other than Tokamoto in an otherwise all Philippines top 8. Since then, he has been on an unsurpassed streak of 6 Grand Prix top 8s in the Asia ex. Japan region, with the win at Grand Prix Singapore 2005 being his crowning achievement.

Other players to look out for include Masashi Oiso, who has 6 Pro Tour top 8s under his belt, but seems to pay Pro Tours more attention than the Grand Prix circuit, and Masahiko Morita, who has been on an impressive winning streak in Asia ex. Japan Grand Prix events, claiming Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2004 and Grand Prix Bangkok 2007.

Still, the profile of China on the competitive Magic scene has been on a constant wax in recent years, with Ming Xu being the first Chinese to make a Pro Tour top 8 in Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur earlier this year. It would be interesting to see if they would likewise make waves in this event.

Saturday, August 30: 11:25a.m. – Grand Prix Trials

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

The day before any Grand Prix, players can be found duking it out for three byes in the main event. It’s not just the fact that the buys are free wins, they’re free wins at the right end of the day too. While the first few rounds are getting under way, those players with byes are relaxing, checking out the field, maybe even wandering the mall. When the last few rounds of day one are playing out, those who have been playing since round one will appear haggard, as if they have aged a year or two today alone. Their hair askew, bags under their eyes, shirts untucked and *gasp* their ties loosened! Whereas those players with byes? They’ll be shrugging it off like it’s nothing, as if they were turning up to Friday Night Magic or shuffling up at a Prerelease.

Oh, it’s also good for your resistance. And when you’re cutting to the top 64 at the end of the day, every little bit of that helps.

Apparently five trials ran yesterday, and the field was well represented by the Usual Suspects too. While both Faeries and Kithkin won out in all of the trials, there were plenty of people playing Aggro Red, Quick ‘n’ Toast and Doran decks as well. Here are four of the five winning decks. While I did my best to snatch up the lists for the fourth trial, the head judge for that event had already thrown them away. I couldn’t bring myself to watch as he dug around in the bin he’d discarded them in, especially when I knew the mall staff had just recently been through and emptied it.

Ken Lim

Download Arena Decklist

Joseuto Jamil

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Reynerio M. Estacio

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Ryan Mark Beley

Download Arena Decklist

Of note was Ryan Mark Beley’s Kithkin deck that took out the last Trial. He thought outside the box (although not too far outside) and splashed Snakeform into the mix, and Negate in the sideboard. Snakeform helps kill, well, pretty much anything, must most importantly, Stillmoon Cavalier. While Negate is a versatile answer to any board sweeper someone might threaten his Kithkin horde with. He still has the Burrenton Forge-Tenders to stop Firespout, which has been common place in Kithkin sideboards for some time, but with Hallowed Burial gaining in popularity, Negate is a perfect counter (so to speak) for that plan.

Ryan Mark Beley defeats Rei Satou in the final trial with the help of Snakeform.

Saturday, August 30: 2:01p.m. – Metagame Highlights

by Noel Neo
Stillmoon Cavalier

If there is a card that defines this event, it would be Stillmoon Cavalier. With Kithkin being a dominant deck in the format and the plenitude of black creatures and removal spells in Faerie, Doran and Aggro Red decks, the Cavalier often doubles as an impassable wall and an unblockable attacker that cannot be removed.

In fact, the Cavalier so utterly dominates this block that players who are able play him, while those who are unable are forced to run Moonglove Extract.

A testament to the import of Stillmoon Cavalier in Block Constructed would be the entire deck archetype that has sprung up around him. A couple of players here at GP Manila are hedging their bets on him with a supporting cast consisting of cards like Deathbringer Liege, Divinity of Pride, Nighsky Mimic, Edge of the Divinity, Gwyllion Hedge-Mage, Voracious Hatching, Unmake, Restless Apparition and even Nip Gwyllion.

Another dual colour focused deck that has surfaced is green black and based on the interactions between Quillspike with Devoted Druid and Deity of Scars. The very obvious supporting members of the deck include Creakwood Liege and Woodlurker Mimic.

Nonetheless, a quick walk around the tournament hall yields that the most popular decks remain Kithkin, Doran and Faerie. The Quick and the Toast alongside Aggro Red also appear to be in favour, with the metagame composition of Aggro Red being a little higher than I had expected.

Among the more interesting plays I’ve witnessed include an Elemental Red player powering a turn two Smokebraider into a turn three Horde of Nations on the play, and a Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers bringing the pain to his opponent with a Shield of the Oversoul.

A rouge deck that proved interesting was what seemed like a mono-black deck that focused on token generating with cards like Creakwood Liege, Bitterblossom and Oona, Queen of the Fae. The player won the game I was watching.

Saturday, August 30: 3:00 p.m. – Manila, we have a problem

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Generally, over the last few years anyway, events in this region have lured around 300-400 players out to battle for the title. Well, okay, and the money, I guess some people are keen on the money. Anyway, for this event we anticipated a turnout of no more than 450 players, and at close of registration last night, we had already run out of the emerald-green player shirts at 482 players.

People lining up out the door. Literally.

And this morning they kept coming. As the registration forms ran out, rumors started to circulate that registration would close with people still waiting in line faster than we could print more forms. Shuuhei Nakamura came up to the stage quite panicked that he and the rest of the Japanese players wouldn’t be able to enter. For them, it wasn’t just a wasted flight, but a bunch of potential Pro Player points on the line as well.

More tables were sought and chairs found, and trust me, this wasn’t easy as the mall didn’t have any more we could use. Finally, we managed to register all 640 players, even if we couldn’t outfit them all in player shirts. Round one finally got under way, while the tournament staff made sure we’d have enough space to seat all of the players in round four once everyone had outlasted their byes.

Full House, tables over chairs.

The players were of course, the resourceful sort, and found any way they could to be seated during the players meeting. Some players even went to great length to hold on to any chairs they had already laid claim to with their posteriors, and were seen hoisting them over their heads when heading towards the pairings.

So all things considered, this event is already a success, even if it was a little slow getting started. The only bad news is that the first Grand Prix Manila still holds the record for the largest Asian Grand Prix outside of Japan, beating this event with 647. We thought about conscripting 8 of the judging staff to play for a round or two, but we couldn’t trade for enough Bitterblossoms and Mutavaults, so we’ll have to be content with second place for now.

Saturday, August 30: 1:48p.m. – Gerald Camangon vs Kiyoshi Takeuchi Jr

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

Gerald Camangon is pretty much, hands down, the main man defending the home turf for Manila this weekend. I’m told he’s been on the Philippines National team on no less than five occasions, once even as the Champion. In his way going into the third round is Kiyoshi Takeuchi Jr, who almost wasn’t here to fight, having missed his call to the feature match area.

Camangon lead with a Mountain, getting my hopes up. I love the smell of things burning (in Magic, anyway), and figured he was gonna be hitting the ground running with one of the various Aggressive Red builds we’ll no doubt be seeing this weekend. When he followed that up with a Primal Beyond, it seemed that it was not to be, he was clearly backing the Elementals. In contrast, Takeuchi’s end of turn Scion of Oona showed everyone just what he was playing this weekend. Several turns passed as Takeuchi’s Scion nibbled away at Camangon, who slowly developed his board with a Smokebraider and a Flamekin Harbinger. A Mulldrifter met a Broken Ambitions, but it seemed like neither player was going to be ending the game any time soon.

Takeuchi decided to up the pace for both of them, finally playing out a Bitterblossom. He still only had four land in play, but was at least threatening to Spellstutter Sprite anything that could stop the ‘Blossom. Camangon instead played a Reveillark. When Takeuchi tapped out for a Mistbind Clique on Camangon’s upkeep, he had a Cloudthresher to clear out the rest of the fliers and force him to champion the enchantment.

The Reveillark swung into the Clique, and with a Mulldrifter waiting in the ‘yard, Camangon was no doubt happy for Takeuchi to trade the Clique for it. The Cloudthresher sat back menacingly, letting the Clique know it wouldn’t be attacking any time soon either. Takeuchi let the Reveillark through anyway, dropping another Clique into play on Camangon’s next upkeep, getting him back his Bitterblossom. Tapped down, Camangon swung in with the beefy Reveillark, the towering Cloudthresher, and the not quite so brave Flamekin Harbinger. Takeuchi offered to trade his Clique for the Reveillark, but Camangon had a Nameless Inversion (thanks Smokebraider!) to make his Cloudthresher big enough to take Takeuchi to zero.

Camangon is hoping to end the dreams of many a Faerie player this weekend with his Cloudthreshers

Getting off to a much better start, Takeuchi lead Game 2 with a turn two Bitterblossom, only to see Camangon evoke a Wispmare to remove it. An Ashenmoor Gouger came down, but was Consign to Dream‘d back on top of Camangon’s library. When he replayed it, Takeuchi could only reply with a Scion of Oona. When he tried to follow that up with a Mistbind Clique during Camangon’s upkeep, an evoked Cloudthresher punished him severely, wiping his board clean. The Gouger trundled on in, taking Takeuchi down in hefty 4 damage chunks. Content to ride the Gouger home, Camangon continued to attack and pass it back. When Takeuchi tried to champion a Spellstutter Sprite with another Clique, Camangon dropped an elbow with a Makeshift Mannequin on his Cloudthresher. The top of Takeuchi’s deck offered nothing to stop the incoming monsters, so he scooped up his cards.

Gerald Camangon defeats Kiyoshi Takeuchi Jr. 2-0

Saturday, August 30: 4.15 p.m. – Round 4 Shuuhei Nakamura vs Manansala Bayani

by Noel Neo
Shuuhei Nakamura

Veteran Pro Player Shuuhei Nakamura is paired off against the current Philippines National Champion, Manansala Bayani, in this clash of titans. The game started on a friendly note, with both players wishing his opponent luck.

Despite winning the die roll, Shuuhei started the game on the back foot, with Manansala setting the pace with Burrenton Forge-Tender. The game quickly escalated into a damage race with Stonybrook Banneret meeting Wizened Cenn, which was answered by Merrow Reejerey.

Manansala then made the curious play of revealing a Wizened Cenn for Rustic Clachan before swinging his creatures without summoning the lord, allowing Shuuhei to trade Merrow Reejerey for Wizened Cenn. It could be argued that he was playing with mana efficiency in mind as he followed up with Spectral Procession after combat.

Shuuhei’s answer was Sower of Temptation, which was promptly Unmade, allowing Manansala to continue the beatdown.

Manansala paused for a while, wondering if Shuuhei had counter magic when he left 3 mana open after playing another Merrow Reejerey. In the end, he went with Wizened Cenn, which reached play anyway, but when he attacked with all his creatures, the Cenn was Crib Swap‘d, which allowed Shuuhei to untap his Banneret to take down the Forge-Tender.

The race continued with Manasala taking advantage of his early lead and fliers, which Shuuhei could not block.

A moment of crisis came for Shuuhei when Manasala swung with his three tokens and casted Mirrorweave, which targeted Shuuhei’s Merrow Reejerey. With just 9 life and for lack of a better answer, Shuuhei had to Swap his own lord for a token, before casting a second Merrow Reejerey the next turn.

However, it was all for naught as Manansala repeated the previous turn’s play, this time without an answer from Shuuhei, to take game 1.

Game 2

Both players had to mulligan their opening hands, and this time, it was Shuuhei with led with Silvergill Adept. He continued to establish his early game lead by playing Recumbent Bliss on Knight of Meadowgain the next turn.

Manasala’s answer was Spectral Procession, and being the beatdown deck in this matchup, he chose not to block the attacking Adept. He then continued in his attempt to close the gap with Goldmeadow Stalwart alongside a second Knight of Meadowgain.

However, Manansala overextended, after trading Goldmeadow Stalwart with the Adept, by playing Figure of Destiny. This was just the opportunity Shuuhei was waiting for, and Fire Sprout cleared the table, with a Stonybrook Banneret following.

Nonetheless Manansala was able to quickly recover, with Spectral Procession, then Wizened Cenn and Ajani Goldmane from under Windbrisk Heights.

Shuuhei then hit the reset button a second time with Hallowed Burial, then established board presence with Sygg, River Guide. Sygg had to spend a few turns getting rid of the planeswalker which had been gaining Manansala life, in which time a Cloudgoat Ranger hit play for Manansala and he and his flock gained +1/+1 with Ajani’s favour.

However, Shuuhei’s Sower of Temptation took the pumped up Ranger, and Manansala had to have his planeswalker leave play to give the tokens and a newly played Knight of Meadowgold another boost. Manansala then swung with everything and a Mirrorweave on the Ranger brought Shuuhei down to a critically low 2 life.

With the game in the balance, Oona, Queen of the Fae came in for Shuuhei. Manansala’s next combat saw all his creatures being blocked with Knight of Meadowgain, Sygg and Sower of Temptation leaving play.

The board advantage Manansala enjoyed was only fleeting however, as Shuuhei proceeded to uptap, play Recumbent Bliss on a pumped token, and create a horde of Faeries. Without a means to deal with the Queen, despite being at a healthy 22 life, Manansala knew his doom was inevitable and indicated that they should move on to the last game.

Game 3

Manansala Bayani

On the play, Manansala opened with Wizened Cenn, which was promptly met with Nameless Inversion. He followed up with Stillmoon Cavalier and Shuuhei’s Jace Balaren allowed both players to draw a card.

Shuuhei was visibly surprised when Stillmoon Cavalier attacked the player, and Manansala soon revealed the reason for his confidence by playing twin Goldmeadow Stalwarts and Burrenton Forge-Tender, leaving 2 cards in hand.

Facing the Kithkin horde, all Shuuhei could muster was Silvergill Adept to stall for time, while he sat back with a full hand. Manansala continued to build his board by playing Knight of Meadowgain from under his Windbrisk Heights, right into Shuuhei’s Hallowed Burial.

Manansala attempted to get back into the game with Spectral Progression, but Shuuhei just edged away by drawing with Jace and playing Sower of Temptation, which Manansala’s Unmake‘d.

Being high on cards and low on health, Shuuhei could afford to play Nameless Inversion and Recumbent Bliss on 1/1 tokens, before dropping a Chameleon Colossus

Manansala’s goal was getting further and further from reach as a Figure of Destiny met a second Recumbent Bliss and a Thistledown Liege met a second Nameless Inversion. His first creatures to stay in play were a pair of Wizened Cenns, but one had to chump block the Chameleon while Shuuhei played a second.

Facing lethal damage on the other side of the table, and with the game now firmly out of reach, Manansala lapsed into deep thought before sitting back and passing the turn. The Cenn and his last token blocked a Chameleon and Manansala played Mirrorweave targeting the token. Here, Shuuhei made the mistake of tapping out to pump his Chameleon to 16/16, but that before the spell resolved and ultimately it still had to go down.

Manansala struggled to get back into the game with Stillmoon Cavalier, but Shuuhei just dropped a third Colossus and all Manansala could do at that point was cast chump blockers till the game played out to it’s inevitable conclusion.

In hindsight, Manansala might possibly have had a better chance had he played a little more conservatively in this game.

Shuuhei Nakamura wins 2-1.

Saturday, August 30: 4:14p.m. – Round 5: Cynic Kim vs Ramon Allan Oca

by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Ramon Oca started out with an early Spellstutter Sprite, surprising nobody with his choice of The Best Deck in the Format, while Cynic Kim played out a Fulminator Mage (which ran afoul of a Broken Ambitions) indicating his choice of The Path Less Traveled. A Scion of Oona at the end of turn was swatted aside by an Eyeblight’s Ending. Oca then declined to attack into an empty board with his Sprite. When Kim dropped a Demigod of Revenge on his turn, it was evident why. The Sprite blocked and was promptly championed by a Mistbind Clique. Oca swung back with the clique, and took 5 back from the Demigod. Kim played a Figure of Destiny, and Oca had another end of turn Scion. The Clique attacked again, dropping Kim to 9, and when he went to upgrade his Figure at the end of turn, saw it brushed aside by a Nameless Inversion.

Kim contemplated his next move. Oca had the Scion, the Clique and a Mutavault in play. No Blocks from Kim would be exactly enough damage from Oca to take it to Game 2. Kim tested the waters with a Firespout, which met a Cryptic Command from Oca, only to see Kim force the point with a surprise Negate. Now able to survive the counter attack, Kim delivered another 5 with the Demigod, dropping Oca to 10. The Clique and ‘Vault swung back, dropping Kim to 3. Kim calmly destroyed the ‘Vault and did 4 to Oca with an Incendiary Command, before blocking to trade his Demigod for the Clique. The Spellstutter came back, and on Kim’s next upkeep was joined by another Mistbind Clique. Kim floated mana, but his draw step couldn’t save him, so they were off to Game 2.

Kim’s Thoughtseize sees all

An early Thoughtseize from Kim denied Oca a Cryptic Command, and helped clear the way for an Ashenmoor Gouger to hit the table. Oca snuck in for 2 with his Mutavault, before trying for a Scion at end of turn. Kim had the Lash Out to keep things civil. Oca played his fourth land and weighed up the idea of taking the Gouger with his Sower of Temptation (revealed earlier by the Thoughtsieze), but instead decided to make a Bitterblossom and attack again with his ‘Vault. Kim continued to send in the Gouger, while leaving his mana open to deal with any other threats Oca might produce. Oca probed Kim’s hand with a Thoughtseize of his own off of a Sunken Ruins, and saw two Eyeblight’s Ending and an Incendiary Command. Taking the Command, he then mana burned for 1 instead of activating his Mutavault, presumably forgetting that it would become an Elf and therefore not a valid target for the Ending.

Kim tore a Chameleon Colossus off the top, which elicited a whistle from the crowd. Oca could only untap his lands in disgust. He was at least now soaking up the Gouger with his Faerie Tokens. He Sower’d the Colossus, which Kim predictably killed with the Eyeblight’s Ending, before running over another Faerie Token with the Gouger. Another Sower from Oca looked like it would eat the second Ending, but Kim elected to hold it back, as Oca was dangerously low on like with a Bitterblossom ticking. With nothing to save him from his enchantment, Oca could only pick up his cards for Game 3.

Oca thumbed through his hand in contemplation, before keeping it. Kim then looked at his hand, gave it some thought of his own before also keeping. Oca seemed agitated when he failed to make a second turn Bitterblossom, although Kim was only playing lands. A Consign to Dream set Kim’s land development back a turn, while a Spellstutter Sprite discretely popped in for 1. A Scion joined the Sprite, which Kim couldn’t stop, instead playing a Chameleon Colossus, which Oca could stop (with a Cryptic Command). A Demigod of Revenge met another Command from Oca, while his Faeries attacked in for 3 a turn. Kim played a second Demigod, which caused Oca to lapse into thought. A third Command countered the new Demigod, but couldn’t prevent the previous one from coming into play. Wary of any Sower of Temptation shenanigans, Kim elected to send in his flier instead of defending. Sure enough, Oca had the Sower, which left the board looking decidedly one sided. Seeing Oca had enough mana for a potential Spellstutter Sprite, Kim could only pass the turn back. Oca attacked with his army, and Kim could only offer his hand.

Ramon Allan Oca defeats Cynic Kim 2-1

Saturday, August 30: 6:05p.m. – Round 6: A Disqualification

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Sadly, from time to time, a Head Judge has cause to disqualify a player from the tournament. Sometimes it’s because of some Ridiculously Blatant Cheats, and other times it’s simply because a player didn’t understand they were cheating, but leave the Head Judge no choice but to swing the banhammer. Well, not the banhammer per se, that’s obviously down to the DCI, but maybe heft the Boot of Disqualification, or something.

Head Judge Lindsay Heming discussing the disqualification with fellow Level 3 Judge, Wearn Chong.

In this case a player, who we can’t name if there is the chance of an investigation, mulliganed to six. His opponent then mulliganed to six, and said player decided that now would be a good time to mulligan to five. Well ladies and gentlemen, as you (hopefully) all know, this is not something you’re allowed to do. Was it an honest mistake? Did the player think he was allowed to say “keep” but then cash in their hand again anyway? From what I gather, that’s certainly the defense he’s going with, although Head Judge Lindsay Heming had this to say.

“A player in a tournament may not misrepresent tournament procedures. A disqualification was issued for intentionally misrepresenting a game procedure to their advantage. This is clearly written in the Penalty Guidelines under 152. Cheating — Fraud.”

Saturday, August 30: 6:05p.m. – Round 6: Raphael Levy vs Joselito Jamir

By Noel Neo

First active Pro Hall of Famer, Raphael Levy, needs little introduction, and Joselito is a stalwart in the local Magic scene, having represented the Philippines as a member of the national team at Worlds last year.

Raphael was all brisk and business-like as he shuffled up for the game, but a moment of light-heartedness shone through as he won the die roll and wished his opponent luck.

Despite Joselito having to think before deciding to keep his opening seven, the game was quick and brutal as Raphael was terribly land light.

Though Joselito opened with twin Windbrisk Heights, not a good thing for the beatdown deck in this matchup, Raphael missed his third land, which allowed Joselito to open with Wizened Cenn.

A Scion of Oona, that immediately faced Unmake, was the only impact Raphael could make on the game, as he was swept up by the ensuing tsunami of Spectral Procession, Mutavault and Wilt-Leaf Liege.

Game 2

Raphael looked visibly troubled as he contemplated his opening hand, wincing and grimacing before deciding to send it back for a fresh six. Whilst he did not appear too pleased with his second draw either, it was sufficient for him to grudgingly accept.

This time, Joselito had a quick start with Goldmeadow Stalwart, but Raphael seemed to have a good hand too when he played a turn two Bitterblossom. However, Joselito was able to establish board position with twin Figure of Destinys, while Raphael revealed his weakness when he could only play a second Bitterblossom and pass the turn without laying a land.

By the time Raphael found a Secluded Glen, his life total was already significantly whittled down by the combination of his opponent’s creatures and his own enchantments. Nonetheless, he made a valiant effort to remain in the game, playing Nameless Inversion on a Figure of Destiny and chump blocking for all he was worth.

A Wilt-Leaf Liege for Joselito made both Goldmeadow Stalwart and the remaining Figure of Destiny 3/3, and Raphael chose to take the damage from one of them and go down to 8 life.

With his options dwindling rapidly, Raphael balanced the need to defend himself against the need to win the game before his own enchantments took him out, and chose to send two tokens into the red zone. At Joselito’s next attack step, Raphael then played Cryptic Command, opting to tap all creatures and send the Liege back to Joselito’s hand. Nonetheless, Mutavault could still attack to force a chump block.

Raphael continued to send half of his four tokens into attack, barely enough to maintain the life total balance, and nowhere near what would be required to catch up. When Joselito next swung with his creatures, Raphael allowed them in before blocking with Mutavault and two tokens a piece. With damage on the stack, Scion of Oona came in for Raphael to ensure his creatures remained in play (a moment of confusion ensued at this point as Joselito had not explicitly said that he would assign one damage to each token, nonetheless the final judge ruling was that the implicit implication was sufficient).

Despite the minor victory, Raphael was at 2 life and could not find the Cryptic Command he needed to return one of the Bitterblossoms to his own hand. Sighing, he conceded the game and moved on to discussing the finer points of the game with his opponent.

Joselito Jamir wins 2-0.

Saturday, August 30: 6:42p.m. – Round 7: James Porter vs Shouta Yasooka

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Grand Prix Manila 2006 Champion, James PorterThe last time the Grand Prix trail traipsed through Manila, James Porter came out the winner. Shouta Yasooka is no stranger to top 8’s either, and was even Player of the Year in 2006. I figured this could be the match to watch this round. Yasooka got off to a great start with an early Bitterblossom, while Porter picked apart his hand with a pair of Thoughtseizes. A Firespout from Porter was countered, but when Yasooka went for a Mind Spring to try and fill out his hand, Porter made a Chandra Nalaar, which promptly nuked a Mistbind Clique out of the sky. Yasooka’s Faerie tokens took down the Planeswalker to ensure it wouldn’t be able to become more than a nuisance in the long run, and a Chameleon Colossus fell to a Spellstutter sprite. Out of Gas, Porter quickly succumbed to the swarm of Faerie tokens.

Both players kept quickly for the second game, with Yasooka denying Porter a Deus of Calamity with a turn one Thoughtseize, leaving two Guttural Responses and a Firespout. Yasooka didn’t have the turn two Bitterblossom that would usually cause a Faerie player to keep so readily, but the turn three Jace Beleren certainly showed why it was a keeper. He was soon attacking with his Mutavault while stocking up his hand, having a Broken Ambitions for Porters first play, a Chameleon Colossus. Yasooka’s sixth turn saw him drain his Jace, replace it and add a Bitterblossom to the table. Porter, stuck on four land and unable to utilize his Guttural Responses, used this window to resolve another Colossus.

Player of the Year 2006, Shouta YasookaYasooka threw it back with a Consign to dream, and Porter instead replaced it with a Boartusk Liege. Yasooka considered his options for a while. He had now double the mana Porter had, and an active Bitterblossom and a Jace with one loyalty counter remaining. He powered out a Mind Spring for four, leaving up enough mana to presumably Spellstutter Sprite whatever Porter had to offer. Still without a fifth land, Porter could only attack with his Liege, electing to attack Yasooka over the Plainswalker.

Yasooka then drained his second Jace for the game, not wanting to help his opponent draw any outs (despite Porter jokingly suggesting he do so), and dropped a Sower of Temptation on the Liege. Porter responded with a Spring Cleaning on the Bitterblossom, but Yasooka already had enough guys to take the match, and instead countered the Firespout that followed. Yasooka slammed the game home, with a Nameless Inversion on his ill-gotten Liege, Porter could only grin and throw out the handshake.

Shouta Yasooka defeats James Porter 2-0

Saturday, August 30: 7.51 p.m. – Round 8 Ray Nava II vs Tomoharu Saitou

By Noel Neo

With 2 losses, Tomoharu, reigning Player of the Year, was playing for the slim chance that the winner of this round makes it to day 2. In fact, as the players shuffled, Tomoharu remarked to a friend that even winning does not guarantee a spot in the top 64.

Ray was clearly a little superstitious as he shuffled Tomoharu’s deck by splitting it into 10 different piles. The players wished each other luck, with Ray repeating himself in Japanese, and it was on.

Game 1

It was a game that saw a good hand matched against a better hand. Ray won the die roll and opened with Bitterblossom and Scion of Oona, but he was sorely outclassed by Tomoharu’s turn 2: Smokebraider, turn 3: Horde of Nations. Without Sower of Temptations to deal with the opposing monster, 5 damage a turn soon proved too much for Ray to handle.

Though Ray kept mana open to bluff combat tricks on a number of occasions, Tomoharu never failed to have the Thoughtseize on hand to call the bluff.

The game was sealed on turn 5, when Tomoharu Thoughtseize’d Nameless Inversion, leaving Ray with Puppeteer Clique and Secluded Glen, cleared Ray’s board with Firespout (leaving Bitterblossom in play), and brought him down to 2 life by swinging with Horde of Nations.

Game 2

Ray’s streak of misfortune continued when he was forced to mulligan down to 4 on the play. Nonetheless, he maintained a positive demeanour, chuckling wryly about his luck.

When Tomoharu stopped him as he was about to play his first land, Ray quipped, “you want to mulligan down to 4 also?”

Even hand light, Ray managed to deal first blood with Mutavault swinging in on turn 2. When he tried to repeat that on turn 3, Tomoharu reached to his two lands and... accepted the damage.

Still, Tomoharu had the first real play of the game with Ashenmoor Gouger. Stuck on 3 lands, Ray could only watch as Tomoharu continued to build his board with Chameleon Colossus, then Mulldrifter.

On his 5th turn, Ray played Snakeform, revealed a second Snakeform, then the rest of his hand as he conceded and lamented his ill fortune.

Tomharu wins 2-0.

Saturday, August 30: 8:20p.m. – A Photo Essay

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

Any time I’m at one of these fantastic events, I find myself taking snaps of the darndest things. Does saying “darndest” make me old? It probably does, and I know many people who would say yes, just to spite me, so maybe I shouldn’t put questions like that out there if I don’t want to know the answer. Anyhoo! Here are some pictures that don’t belong anywhere else.

This is the mall the event is being held in, the SM Mega Mall. SM is short for Super Malls apparently, which makes this the Super Malls Mega Mall. I mean, it’s big, but is it that big? I dunno, I guess I have gotten lost in it a few times so far, so perhaps I’m not one to comment. Note the guard at the bottom right there. Just after I took this shot, he came over and demanded “for what purpose” I was taking the pictures. I tried to explain that we were renting one of the exhibition halls upstairs, but he insisted I go inside and run it by the mall management first. Needless to say, I agreed and went back inside, but I have yet to speak with any mall management, if you catch my drift.

And he wasn’t the only guard on the premises either, the place is swarming with them. Every person who enters the mall is checked for concealed weapons or bombs or something, I’m not overly sure, they’re not exactly thorough. I’ve been a little bit frisked a few times, and had my laptop bag kinda searched. I say kinda, because it has like, three pockets, and every time they’ve checked it they’ve only checked one of them. If only these guards knew just how many bombs were being played in the main event today! Okay, I admit, that was terrible.

Mind you, it’s entirely possible they have reason to check for bombs. A person less restrained than myself might be tempted to bomb a shop dedicated to selling crocs and crocs alone. I mean seriously, those things are ghastly! *shudder*

My lunch today featured both Rice and Banana. If you had asked me beforehand what I thought I was going to get, I’m pretty sure I would have never ever have guessed both Rice and Banana. But I have to say, in my many travels, I have eaten far worse than this.

And if I haven’t mentioned it enough yet, the event was packed today. We’re running at over 150% capacity, so the place was beyond crowded. Usually we like to ask the spectators to move away from the matches still playing at the end of each round, but there was simply nowhere to send them to. Other than out into the mall of course, but that was pretty crowded too, and I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t hear any announcements out there.

The feature matches have been drawing crowds too, leaving barely enough room for Noel or I to actually get any coverage done. But fear not dear readers, we’re doing our best, I can assure you. If some of the photos for the feature matches seem a bit cramped, you can see why.

We’re amassing quite the hoard of swag up here. People seem in the habit of leaving their decks, dice, tokens and who know what else on the tables. Some people have come up, hat in hand to claim their belongings, but other people have obviously written off their stuff. Although, I’m not entirely sure what I’m gonna do with half a Sanity Grinding deck and a Hello Kitty dice bag, I’m hoping Head Judge Lindsay Heming claims them. Any of you who know Lindsay would agree that he seems like quite the Hello Kitty fan.

Darrell Riche, artist of such fan favorites as Rorix Bladewing, Bonesplitter and Lava Dart goes the extra mile for his fans. You want your print signed? Sure. You want your picture taken with me and the print I just signed? Absolutely!

Our fantastic judge staff. Keeping things fair and proceeding in a timely manner all day long. Apparently they had even managed to find another disqualification as well. A player had been found submitting a deck that was still sideboarded because and I quote “they were good cards, they helped me win the rounds before this”. Not only that, but apparently his deck box contained another 8 additional cards that he could easily have used in his deck or sideboard as well. Also, it seems that Sun-Dae has an apple.

The dealers have been doing a roaring trade today too. Apparently the card they’ve sold the most of today was Stillmoon Cavalier, followed by the Nemesis common, Daze! Tomorrow’s Legacy Tournament should be a winner with the crowds as well, it seems.

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