Feature Match: Round 3 – Deng Jun (Splinter Twin) vs. Xu Liang (Valakut)

Posted in Event Coverage on July 2, 2011

By Chapman Sim

Xu Liang is no stranger to the featured match area, having placed in the Top 8 of China Nationals last year. After losing to a mirror match, he has been paired against Deng Jun who is armed with the controllish Splinter Twin combo deck. This matchup promises to be exciting, since both decks are able to come back from nowhere to suddenly reduce opponents from twenty to zero.

Game 1

Xu won the die roll and led with an unexciting Mountain. Deng had an equally boring Island to go with his turn one Preordain. Overgrown Battlement hit play on turn two with a freshly played Forest but Deng was quick to "remove" the Forest with Spreading Seas. A second copy of the defender ensured that Xu would have no problems with green mana and Deng could only dig deeper with a second Preordain, holding mana up for Mana Leak.

Xu Liang

Double Explore on Xu's next turn brought him up to a total of a potential of at least eleven mana on his next turn. Deng was not about to let him ramp to astronomical numbers and decided to send one of the Overgrown Battlements Into the Roil.

When Xu tried to resolve Primeval Titan, Deng shocked him with Deceiver Exarch untapping his own Island, before he Mana Leaked the Titan. Xu heaved a sigh of relief when Deng tapped not four, but three mana for Jace Beleren, a tell-tale sign that he had not drawn any Splinter Twins yet. Xu seemed pretty much out of gas as he played his last relevant card in his hand. Unfortunately for Deng, it was a Green Sun's Zenith, fetching Primeval Titan. A second copy of Deceiver Exarch tapped down the Titan for a turn but it was unable to stop multiple Valakuts from dealing lethal damage.

Xu Liang 1 - Deng Jun 0

Game 2

Both players had to mulligan and Xu was on the receiving end of double Spreading Seas on his first two green sources. Fortunately, he was able to resolve an Overgrown Battlement in between and proceeded to cast Explore on his third turn.

Deceiver Exarch jumped out at the end of Deng's forth turn and threatened to connect the dots but he did not have the namesake enchantment once again. Instead, he was holding on to twin Dispels, Mana Leak as well as a Mutagenic Growth, a new tech utilized all weekend to combat the uncounterable Combust.

Deng Jun

When Xu passed his 6th turn with no play, it prompted Deng to ask, "You've got nothing as well?". Xu could only join him in a quick bout of hearty laughter.

A manually-drawn Valakut was able to keep Deceiver Exarch at bay, thanks for a fulfilled Khalni Heart Expedition. After drawing more than half his library, Deng finally tried to attach Splinter Twin to a Deceiver Exarch, but that was promptly thwarted by Combust. Two successive Primeval Titans met successive Flashfreezes and the game went into a standstill.

Gitaxian Probe revealed Nature's Claim from Xu's hand, decent insurance against a second copy of Splinter Twin. More protection came along the way as he drew into with a second Nature's Claim and Beast Within. Comfortable to play the waiting game, Xu bided his time until he finally drew Green Sun's Zenith. He tutored out Avenger of Zendikar, creating 17 tokens to end the game in swift fashion.

Xu Liang 2 - Deng Jun 0

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