Grand Prix Shanghai
Day 1 Coverage

Posted in Event Coverage on July 28, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast

EVENT COVERAGE

pairings, results, standings

Pairings

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Results

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Standings

9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Trial Grinder Winning Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Jiang Xi

Xu Jiajun

Chen Jiabin

Li Xiaodong

Feng Feng

Liang Zhiyi

Hao Jin

Chen Yang

Wu Hao

Zhou Wenbo

Zhang Yu

Yue Jin

Saturday, 2:04 p.m. - Quick Questions: Which color combination do you like in M13 Sealed?

by Chapman Sim and Pip Foweraker
Shouta Yasooka: "No idea. This is my Pre-release!"
Kuo Tzu Ching: "Black White for all their bombs."
Tiago Chan: Green X
Zhang Mengqiu: Black X for the removal.
Shuhei Nakamura: "Green X or Black X."
Yuuya Watanabe: "Black White"

Saturday, 2:31 p.m. - Country Breakdown

by Chapman Sim
Country Players
Australia 3
Canada 4
China 690
Germany 3
Spain 1
France 4
Hong Kong 16
Indonesia 1
Japan 46
Kazakhstan 3
Korea 16
New Zealand 2
Portugal 1
Romania 1
Russia 5
Singapore 7
South Africa 1
Sweden 1
Thailand 2
Taiwan 17
USA 12
Total 836

Saturday, 4:14 p.m. - Quick Questions: Which card do you NOT want your opponents to have today in their Sealed Decks?

by Chapman Sim and Pip Foweraker
Shuhei Nakamura: "Any Planeswalker except Liliana of the Dark Realms. She is so bad!!!"
Lv Jiachong: " Staff of Nin .
Yuuya Watanabe: " Vampire Nighthawk
Ken Yukuhiro: " Jace, Memory Adept !"
Huang Hao-shan: Xathrid Gorgon . I can't kill it!
Zhang Mengqiu: Silklash Spider (or Sentinel Spider ). My deck is all fliers!
Kuo Tzu Ching: Lands. If they have no lands, I win!
Tiago Chan: Fog Bank . I have 20 creatures in my deck and if they have Fog Bank, my best creature is never dealing any damage!
Shouta Yasooka: Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker ! (Shuhei Nakamura responds: Liar!)

Round 4 Feature Match - Ken Yukihiro vs. Bin Jia

by Pip Foweraker

Ken Yukuhiro arrives in Shanghai fresh off a Top 4 finish at Pro Tour X, and has two GP Top 8's to his name. Bin Jia is a well-known player from Beijing who has made the Top 8 of Chinese Nationals 3 times.

Game 1

Yukuhiro summoned a turn 1 Chronomaton , while Jia had a Dragon Hatchling to start the game off. A Servant of Nefarox from Jia let the Hatchling sneak in for a nibble. Yukuhiro, unfazed, kept growing his Chronomaton . The Servant attacked and Yukuhiro declined to block, Jia following with Canyon Minotaur . Yukuhiro determinedly kept growing his Chronomaton but otherwise had no plays.

Another Dragon hit the board for Jia, this time a Whelp. Jia attacked with both his fliers, and Yukuhiro Murder ed the Whelp. On his turn, he summoned a Duty-Bound Dead and attacked with his Chronomaton , knocking Jia to 13 in one blow.

From little things, big things grow, much to Jia's discomfort.

Jia piled on the pressure with a Harbor Bandit s and a Giant Scorpion to hold the growing threat at bay. Yukuhiro mustered a Zombie Goliath and kept regenerating his Duty-Bound Dead . A Cower in Fear knocked Jia's army back down to size, but he calmly rebuilt with a Fire Elemental and a Disentomb for his Scorpion. Yukuhiro attacked with his Goliath to take out the Scorpion, and had a post-combat Archaeomancer to get back a Murder .

Mark of the Vampire on the Chronomaton meant that Yukuhiro was able to gain 11 points of life in one swing, tilting the board firmly in his favour. A double Murder from Yukuhiro cleared the way for the final swing, and the Little Robot That Could trundled in to take the first game.

Ken Yukuhiro 1 – Bin Jia 0

Game 2

A Harbor Bandit s from Yukuhiro was met by Canyon Minotaur from Jia. Jia followed with a Mindclaw Shaman , who revealed a hand of Sign in Blood , Disentomb , Redirect , and two Archaeomancer s. Jia opted to play the Sign in Blood , which Yukuhiro Redirect ed to himself.

An Archaeomancer got back the Sign in Blood , and Duty-Bound Dead hit the battlefield to clog up the ground. Jia had a Flames of the Firebrand to deal with the Harbor Bandit s, and then both his creatures rumbled in. Yukuhiro, on the defensive, elected to block with his Archaeomancer .

Yukuhiro Archaeomancipates his graveyard

Jia summoned a Harbor Bandit s of his own. A Divination and a Sign in Blood later, Yukuhiro's hand was full but his board was looking a little empty, with only the Duty-Bound Dead staring down Jia's team. Yukuhiro fell to 6 on Jia's next Swing.

How could he rebuild? He had a hand full of cards and needed to play some. Play he did, summoning a Augur of Bolas , which found a Murder . Yukuhiro played a Mark of the Vampire on the Augur, tapping himself out. Jia cracked a Hellion Crucible and attacked with his team, putting Yukuhiro to 1.

Yukuhiro mounted a valiant defence, using his Murder s and Archaeomancer s to stave off Jia's attacks. Eventually, Jia found a Turn to Slag , which was enough to blast the Augur out of the way and attack for that vital, final point of damage.

Bin Jia 1 – Ken Yukuhiro 1

Game 3

The deciding game can be best described by listing three permanents in play at the end of the game. Two of them were Jia's only lands – a Swamp and a Mountain . The other was Yukuhiro's Akroma's Memorial .

Ken Yukuhiro 2 – Bin Jia 1

Saturday, 5:58 p.m. - Metagame Breakdown

by Chapman Sim

I'm happy to be still alive after an hour of number-crunching and data-logging, and I sure do hope you enjoy looking at statistics! 836 people can't be wrong and the first thing you need to know is that it is NOT advised to play with only one color in the world of M13 Sealed Deck.

The question remains whether we should stick with two colors, or splash a third one.

Colors Number Played Splash White Splash Blue Splash Black Splash Red Splash Green
White Blue 44     12 5 5
Blue Black 51 13     4 7
Black Red 54 3 18     3
Red Green 65 19 3 12    
Green White 78   10 18 35  
White Black 102   7   9 4
Blue Red 14 7   5   2
Black Green 60 27 6   21  
Red White 34   4 4   4
Green Blue 25 10   11 14  
4 Color Decks 7          
Mono Colored Decks 0          
836 Decks

Heralded by pros (like Yuuya Watanabe and Kuo Tzu Ching) as the preferred color combination, this color pair owes his power to its high density of bombs, removal and (to a lesser extent) quality Exalted and evasive creatures which conveniently play very well together. 40% of the field chose to cast their cards using Plains , closely followed by Swamp s. Blue seemed to have gotten the shaft this time, where only 22% of all participants chose to play with any blue cards at all.

Color Players playing this color as a main color % of field
White 337 40%
Blue 182 22%
Black 329 39%
Red 255 31%
Green 253 30%

Out of the remaining players, 302 (36%) chose to splash an additional color, going up to three and sporting slightly awkward manabases like the infamous 666 (since the Invasion Block days) or the more favored 772E, where the alphabet represents Evolving Wilds , the most important land to look out for in the current format. Trying to cram as many goodies as possible into a deck of forty is not only viable, but also strategic and immensely-rewarding if utilized with care.

Evolving Wilds

On the topic of splashes, the favorite color of choice was red, possibly due to the fact that efficient removal like Searing Spear and Flames of the Firebrand (as well as quality sideboard material like Chandra's Fury and Volcanic Strength ) are prized in this format. 35 White Green players chose to supplement their strategy with fire, in order to clear the path for their swarm of attackers or to give their otherwise "burnless" decks some reach to finish off opponents at low life totals. White was also a great choice amongst the greedier players, since Oblivion Ring , Pacifism and Divine Verdict are generally efficient against bomb creatures and similarly easy to splash.

Color Players splashing this color % of field
White 79 9%
Blue 48 6%
Black 62 7%
Red 88 11%
Green 25 3%

Interestingly, some players have even gone to the extent of running one Island (despite not playing any blue cards) just to clinch a free land from Gem of Becoming ! Nicol Bolas would be proud!

Round 5 Feature Match - Zhang Zhiyang vs. Abe Motoki

by Chapman Sim

Local hero Zhang Zhiyang has built a blue green deck loaded with various goodies and has even dipped into red to enhance his deck's power. Double Switcheroo allowed him to steal his opponent's bombs, or he could try to end the game quickly with some of his own, including Sphinx of Uthuum. Abe Motoki had a relatively different approach though, and preferred to use a combination of efficient creatures (with or without exalted) and removal to achieve victory quickly.

Game One

Zhang led with Forest and Island , enabling Farseek for his lone Mountain , while Abe used Plains and Swamp to summon Knight of Glory and Walking Dead . Failing to find his 5th land, Zhang declined to attack with Flinthoof Boar , opting to trade it with a 3/3 Walking Dead instead. Abe pressed the attack with Bloodhunter Bat , lowering Zhang to 15 life.

Acidic Slime removed an opposing Swamp but that didn't do anything to stop him from taking 3 more damage from Bloodhunter Bat . Servant of Nefarox made an appearance next, causing Bloodhunter Bat to balloon into a 4/4 monster, reducing Zhang to 8 life and ready to be finished within the next two turns.

Zhang was not without a plan though, as he used Flames of the Firebrand to kill the opposing flier as well as the exalted-granting 3/1. When Abe tried to save the Bloodhunter Bat with Show of Valor , Zhang stopped the combat trick with Negate .

Trying hard to deal the last 4 damage to Zhang, Abe used Pacifism on Acidic Slime , and attacked with a 2/4 Giant Scorpion , prompting Zhang to chump with Elvish Visionary . Using Switcheroo , he gave Abe the pacified Acidic Slime , grabbing the Knight of Glory to stave off Giant Scorpion .

Phyrexian Hulk entered play next turn but Zhang was ready with yet another Switcheroo , this time "gifting" Abe a relatively useless 1/1 Arbor Elf . Possibly playing around Essence Drain , Zhang pushed the 5/4 Hulk in Giant Scorpion 's way when Abe attacked with it. With the situation now out of control, Abe decided to hit the emergency button, and reset the board with Planar Cleansing . Zhang simply rebuilt with Vastwood Gorger and Sphinx of Uthuum to eventually take over the game with the immense advantage.

Zhang Zhiyang wins Game One.

Abe Motoki

Game Two

Zhang swapped out his controllish deck and transformed into white for this matchup, hoping to put up some defense against Abe's aggressive strategy. During the first three turns, Zhang's Silvercoat Lion and Deadly Recluse faced off against Abe's Giant Scorpion and Knight of Infamy . Crippling Blight neutralized the spider, rendering it utterly useless.

Prized Elephant convinced Abe to use Giant Scorpion to block, and Zhang replaced it with a Pillarfield Ox , while fell on the next turn when it met with Knight of Glory which was enhanced with Show of Valor . Unfazed by the loss of his ox, Zhang took to the air with Griffin Protector .

Abe was unfortunately on the backfoot and tried to defend with his team of Knight of Glory , Crusader of Odric and Healer of the Pride . Elvish Visionary and Master's Call brought Griffin up to 6/7, which reduced Abe to 10 life.

Zhang wasn't going to let him recover, and attacked with everything he had. His army comprised of three elves (2 Elvish Visionary and 1 Arbor Elf ), three soldier tokens and Griffin Protector . Zhang might have lost two critters from that, but it did reduce Abe to a life total that was within reach.

Bloodhunter Bat granted Abe some life but when Zhang attacked once more and he declined to block, Abe went down to just 4 life. When he attached Mark of the Vampire on Bloodhunter Bat and turned it sideways, Zhang trumped that combat step with Fog to nullify the life-gain and take the match in style!

Zhang Zhiyang

Zhang Zhiyang wins Game Two and takes the match.

Round 6 Feature Match - Ching Tzu Kuo vs. Hao-Shan Huang

by Pip Foweraker

Game 1

Huang summoned a Slumbering Dragon . Kuo's response was a humble Rummaging Goblin , who did his thing and found a Primal Huntbeast to keep him company. Huang had a Goblin of his own and a Wind Drake to follow. Both players built their armies, Huang with a Fire Elemental , Kuo with a Deadly Recluse , a Bladetusk Boar , and an Elvish Visionary .

Kuo contemplates the sheer walloping he is about to dish out

Both armies stared each other down. Then Kuo smiled, and slowly tapped 7 mana. An Akroma's Memorial bolstered Kuo's army, rendering Huang's seemingly-impressive Slumbering Dragon impotent. Huang dug for answers to the vigilant, protection-your-entire-army team, but couldn't find anything in time.

Ching Tzu Kuo 1 – Hao-Shan Huang 0

Game 2

Kuo had the first play with a Wind Drake , while Huang played a series of lands but had little other action. Kuo looked at Huang's 4 untapped lands and gently summoned a Sentinel Spider , preemptively placing it in the graveyard... But, with a wry grin, Huang motioned for the Spider to live.

Despite his fervent wishes, Huang finds himself sitting on the wrong side of the battlefield.

What was he up to? Kuo found out next turn when he attacked, as Huang tried a Faerie Invaders . Unfortunately for Huang, Kuo had an Essence Scatter , and followed that up with a post-combat Primordial Hydra for 2. Huang mustered some defence with a Fog Bank and Krenko, Mob Boss . Kuo simply cast a Tricks of the Trade on his Spider and attacked, sealing the game after the top of library yielded Huang no outs.

Ching Tzu Kuo 2 – Hao-Shan Huang 0

Round 7 Feature Match - Li Bo vs. Lv Jiachong

by Chapman Sim

Li Bo and Lv Jiachong are considered big names within the local gaming community, but both were greenhorns when it came to Grand Prix Featured Matches. Li has played under the Sunday spotlight when he clinched the World Championships Team trophy back in 2009, but has never been summoned to the Featured Match area of a Grand Prix until today.

His opponent, Lv Jiachong is no slouch either and has had two successive Nationals Top 4 appearances in 2010 and 2011. Both friends exchanged friendly banter, briefly commenting that they wanted more bombs, before tossing the dice to determine who would play first.

Game One

Li (who was on the play) had an amazing start, using his Unglued Island s and Mountain s to summon Wind Drake , Goblin Battle Jester and then the backbreaking Talrand, Sky Summoner . When Lv tried to block with Griffin Protector , Li unsummoned the opposing flier, producing a Drake token and dealing six damage in the process.

Essence Drain did its job by removing the opposing legendary creature, but Lv was facing an army while having no creatures on board. Fortunately for him, he was not without a plan and threw out Knight of Infamy and Ajani Sunstriker to block, buying him just enough time to reach six mana so he could clear the board with Planar Cleansing .

Li could only summon Arms Dealer and point Turn to Slag on a re-recruited Griffin Protector , but he could only twiddle his thumbs because he was out of gas. Lv tried to end the game before his opponent could draw something significant but his clock was unimpressive initially.

Bloodhunter Bat was capable of inflicting only two damage a turn, and Li's potent little combo of Archaeomancer and Unsummon was preventing a huge Liliana's Shade from being dangerous. That was until Lv used Divine Verdict to break the loop and recruited Odric, Master's Tactician and Battleflight Eagle to end Li's misery.

Lv Jiachong wins Game One.

Li Bo

Game Two

Li chose to play first once more and led with two Mountain s, good enough to cast Searing Spear on Knight of Infamy . Li used his third and fourth turn to summon Torch Fiend and Canyon Minotaur , only to see both creatures fall to Cower in Fear and Giant Scorpion . Despite the blowout, Lv seemed visibly surprised to see Li lay a Forest (swapping out Island s), briefly wondering why he had switched to green. The answer was apparent when Li Bo turned up the heat with Canyon Minotaur and Thragtusk , only to be deftly averted by Lv's double Pacifism .

Using the last card in his hand ( Volcanic Geyser ), Li killed the freshly summoned Bloodhunter Bat but it was all in vain. Lv revealed Liliana of the Dark Realms which could be used to deal lethal damage within the next two turns in conjunction with Battleflight Eagle and his six swamps.

Lv Jiachong

Lv Jiachong wins Game Two and triumphs over fellow countryman, Li Bo.

Saturday, 8:22 p.m. - Sealed Deckbuilding with Sui Xin

by Chapman Sim
Sui Xin

"My deck is all trash!"

Taking a quick glance at his card pool, it was not hard to see why Sui Xin had such an exclamation. Firstly, I saw him flip the top card of his deck away (a foil Swamp ), which meant that he had one less card to work with.

Then he showed me his assortment of rares that aren't particularly impactful. Spearheading the list of lackluster rares was Door to Nothingness , Sunpetal Grove , Cathedral of War , Sands of Delirium , and Slumbering Dragon .

Sui started to sift through his cards and was quick to set aside his ten white cards (awfully disproportionate to the standard deck size of 84) and green was also next to go.

It seemed like he had a bunch of solid black cards, including Xanthrid Gorgon and a pair of Rise from the Grave to ensure "Medusa's" eternal existence. He had two of each of Duty-bound Skeleton and Servant of Nefarox (as well as Duskmantle Prowler ), which meant that he had no problem attacking if he needed to. While it was obvious that he had solidified himself in black, he seemed to face some difficulty while trying to find a secondary (or tertiary) support color.

Xathrid Gorgon

Trying to utilize his myriad of exalted creatures, Sui turned to blue to try to maximize a duo of Scroll Thief, and filling out the rest of the slots with Tricks of the Trade , Talrand's Invocation , Sleep and Watercourser .

With only approximately twenty black, blue and artifact cards, Sui had to find a third color to fill out the rest of his deck. He had the Evolving Wilds everyone looks out for and was able to comfortably splash double Searing Spear and Flames of the Firebrand . Cathedral of War would have to sit in the sideboard, to minimize mana complications.

All in all, he says that he has a great deck, and has potential to go undefeated, although a score of 8-1 would not disappoint. He commented that the sideboard plan is quite important in this format and has an assortment of cards which can get him out out any situation.

His plan against a slow control deck involves Tormented Soul and Dark Favor and possibly Harbor Serpent . Against Mountain s, he has Volcanic Strength as an improved Tricks of the Trade . Against weenies and tokens, he has the option of bringing in Chandra's Fury and Krenko's Command to stave off the swarm. All in all, rather well-thought! For your viewing pleasure, here is Sui's entire card pool and his decklist. Would you have done it differently? =)

Sui Xin's Sealed Pool