by Alex Shvartsman
Few westerners are familiar with this city, but Kaohsiung is a city well-recognized in Asia. Over 1.5 million people live in this coastal city, one of the largest ports in the region and the second largest city in Taiwan.
Taiwan has been host to two Grand Prix in the past. Both were held in the capitol, Taipei. Japanese players have dominated these events, as they have with many tournaments around Asia - winning both tournaments and placing many of their own in the top 8. Two American competitors made Top 8 of both Taiwanese Grand Prix - Tobey Tamber and myself. Both of us are here in Kaohsiung, looking to continue the streak.
This tournament is held in a rather interesting venue. It is located on the forty fourth floor of the Grand Ramosa Hotel - one of the tallest hotels in the world, with guest rooms available as high as seventy fifth floor, and some more space above that for an observation area and various antennas.
It is actually not 44th floor, but rather floor 43A. In Chinese, four is an unlucky number. 44 is similar to 13 in western cultures. Just like there is no 13th floor in some European and American buildings, this hotel features floor 43A instead of 44.
The venue is an Italian restaurant, which is closed for renovations. The decor is very pleasant.
Just over 200 players showed up for this tournament. International competition is relatively light. There are several Americans playing, but they are English teachers stationed around Taiwan. There are also players visiting from Singapore and Hong Kong.
For many of the players involved, this was the first taste of Planeshift. The new set did not seem to change the deck building strategies overmuch. Most competitors used three color decks, some splashing fourth color if their mana allowed it.
At the end of day 1, there are three undefeated players - two Taiwanese competitors and the only player to have traveled here from Indonesia. Among the better known International players near the top are Singapore's Nick Wong at 11th and Japanese Toshiki Tsukamoto at 15th.
With so few competitors present, one lucky player - Richard Chyo of Taiwan - sneaked in with a 4-2-1 record. Normally it takes 5-1-1 to ensure the opportunity to play in day 2.
Players are excited about the booster draft format on day 2. Many of the more experienced players have arranged practice drafts throughout the evening, to get one more look at Planeshift before being forced to draft it competitively.
A record of thirty points will likely be needed to make the top 8, so competition on day 2 is going to be pretty tough. Players will reconvene at the venue at 8 in the morning for their first draft.