Grand Prix Singapore 05 - Day 1 Blog Archive

Posted in Event Coverage on March 19, 2005

By Wizards of the Coast

Saturday, March 19, 10:33 a.m. - Grand Prix Trials

Originally the tournament organizers were expecting something along the lines of 300 players but put in the request for extra tables and chairs when the four 32-person Trials scheduled for yesterday were sold out before lunch time. Trials have been extremely popular in this region and there are roughly 20 players in the tournament with three byes courtesy of such events from Singapore alone.

They handle Trials the night before an event a little differently in this part of the world. In Seattle there was one big event that ran until 4:30 am the night before with four players surviving a cruel round of elimination after seven rounds of Swiss play. Here the events are run throughout the day and max out at 32 players. Each event is single elimination and awards the sole survivor the three-round bye to the event.

Here is the metagame breakdown for each event as well as the winning decklists.

Grand Prix Trial 1 of 4

Field Breakdown

Goblins - 7
Rock - 4
Cephalid Life - 4
Blue-green Madness - 3
Welder Reanimator - 2
Affinity - 2
Aluren - 2
Blue-green-Opposition - 2
Red Deck Wins - 1
Scepter-Confinement - 1
Scepter-Explosion - 1
Tog - 1
Sneaky-Go - 1
Temporary Solution - 1

Goblins / Hung Chi Hang

Download Arena Decklist

Grand Prix Trial 2 of 4

Field Breakdown

Rock - 9
Goblins - 5
Aluren - 3
Red Deck Wins - 2
Scepter-Chant - 2
Enchantress - 1
Scepter-Tog - 1
Pirates - 1
Welder Reanimator - 1
Elves - 1
Gro-a-Tog - 1
Eternal Slide - 1
Reanimator - 1
Scpeter-Confinement - 1
Cephalid Life - 1
Tog - 1

Reanimator / Tsutomu Yamada

Download Arena Decklist

Grand Prix Trial 3 of 4

Field Breakdown

Affinity - 2
Tog - 3
Reanimator - 2
Rock - 5
Ponza - 1
Life - 1
Aluren - 2
Confinement - 1
Cephalid Life - 3
Scepter-Tog - 1
Sneaky-Go - 1
Goblins - 4
Myojin Food Chain - 1
Green-white - 1
Desire - 1
Eternal Slide - 1
Enchantress - 1
Scepter-Explosion - 1

Reanimator / Phang Kok Pai

Download Arena Decklist

Grand Prix Trial 4 of 4

Field Breakdown

Desire - 4
Affinity - 2
Life - 1
Rock - 9
Blue-Green Opposition - 1
Sneaky-Go - 1
Tog - 1
Cephalid Life - 4
Goblins - 4
Temporary Solution - 1
Scepter-Chant - 1
Rector - 1
Red Deck Wins - 1
Green-white - 1

Cephalid Life / Suntee Ponlasint

Download Arena Decklist

Saturday, March 19, 11:02 a.m. - The Littlest Magician

Tan Wee Wang turned pro at six.

There is plenty of star-power in the room this weekend but while all the Pros were off enjoying a late breakfast courtesy of the three-byes their PT status affords them everyone else was buzzing about the youngest player anyone can remember seeing at a tournament in some time -- he is here with his two brothers, Tan Wee Cher and Tan Wee Cheng, and they are both pretty young to begin with but Tan Wee Wang is only six years old.

Cole Swanack is not going to be looking back over his shoulder as Wang has gotten off to an 0-2 start with his Cleric deck but that hasn't stopped him and his brothers from having a great time this weekend. They have been spying on the game's biggest names during play testing, enjoying the free t-shirts provided by the organizer, and getting their picture on!

Saturday, March 19, 11:49 a.m. - Local Cuisine

It is always daunting to find the good local food in a foreign country when you are on your own. Language barriers, ick factors, and the fear of the unknown can easily conspire to limit your culinary explorations to the confines of your hotel.

Michael Potter has style by the mile.

I had the good fortune to run into Michael Potter and Gabriel Kang after they missed the sold-out Trials yesterday. Michael is a Canadian ex-pat living here in Singapore while Gabriel is a local (who interestingly enough designed Apprentice many years ago). They wanted to make sure I sampled some local food but not before we visited the 70th floor New Asia Bar in the Stanford Hotel so I could take in the magnificent view of this fine city.

After a few cocktails it was off to a local food court. The outdoor food courts are open markets with public seating that offer food stands with offering of every flavor, taste, and ethnicity you could possibly crave. The meal started with coconuts hacked open with a machete so you can drink the nectar inside with a straw. Not only is it delicious but it provides a cool relief from the equator heat.

We ordered from a seafood vendor -- the vendor found us a seat in the crowded market so we were obligated to patronize them -- and I enjoyed foods I might not have otherwise had the opportunity or inclination to try. Stingray steamed and slathered in a chili sauce is something I hope to have again before I leave and if you are ever in Singapore do not leave without trying the Chili Crab -- a local specialty

Tonight I am heading to the Raffles Bar which according to legend is the birthplace of the Singapore Sling. After that I expect to go straight to a food court for a little mutton roti, or perhaps some Thai food, or maybe some more Stingray…

Saturday, March 19, 12:33 p.m. - Same Deck Battle

Tomohiro Kaji -- last seen in the finals of Pro Tour Atlanta with his One Spin gang -- was showing me his deck yesterday which featured green-black beatdown and was designed by Ichirou Shimura. Of course after waiting three rounds to get some action under their belts with the new creation it was no surprise that the two found themselves across from each other for the first round of bye-less play on the weekend with 75 identical cards on each side.

Ichirou Shimura

Game 1 was a clash of Cabal Therapy and Mesmeric Fiends until Shimura played Wild Mongrel. Kaji took a Vampiric Tutor and then Call of the Herd with his Fiends and Smothered the Mongrel. All Ichirou could muster was a pair of Birds. There was a Call of the Herd for Kaji and an Eternal Witness from Ichirou regrew Wild Mongrel on the other side with one card left in hand -- a mystery card that Kaji had not yet seen via his Fiends.

Kaji Rancored up a Llanowar Elf and sent it and the elephant into battle. Ichirou double blocked and Kaji lured the Llanowar Wastes out of his opponent's grip by splitting the damage between the two critters. Kaji was out of cards and Shimura played a blank Fiend and braced for impact from a doubly-Rancored Call of the Herd.

Ichirou found a Call of his own which blocked the Racored monster. Wild Mongrel came down and acquired the two enchantments. Ichirou was at three from all the trample action and flashed back Call of the Herd.

Kaji ran through all the trample math and sent his dog into the red zone. Ichirou blocked with his dog and elephant. Kaji assigned damage to do two to the Mongrel and trample one point over the Call token. Ichirou had to decide if he wanted to use his last card to save the 2-drop -- he did not. Kaji played a Bird and put the two Rancors on top of it. Ichirou drew a card that was not Sword of Fire and Ice and they moved to Game 2.

The two players agonized over their sideboard choices -- they were playing virtually card for card listings. Do you take out Rancors and Swords to make your opponent's Naturalizes into dad draws or do you anticipate that and not bother bringing in the enchantment and artifact removal?

In the end both players brought in a Silvos, two Deeds, and Diabolic Edict for some Cabal Therapy. Elf led off for Shimura while Bird came down for Kaji. Call of the Herd was the turn two play in the top of the inning. Kaji could only muster another Bird on his second turn -- although a very handsome beta issue bird. Shimura announced Cabal Therapy and Kaji quickly smothered the elephant token. Ichirou struggled with what card to name before settling on Cabal Therapy only to whiff -- he did see another Smother lurking in the wings. He played a Sword of Fire and Ice and then flashed back therapy naming Troll Ascetic.

Tomohiro Kaji

With his Birds killed Kaji never had any more access to black mana and the Sword of Fire and Ice on Ichirou's Bird flew over for the eventual kill.

Ichirou agonized over his sideboard choices -- mostly waffling between whether or not to leave in Cabal Therapy -- while Kaji shuffled endlessly for Game 3 -- the taste of an all forest land draw still in his mouth.

Kaji led off with elf while Ichirou had a Cabal Therapy for pesky Trolls -- he whiffed. In this game it came down to the eternal struggle between mana screw and mana flood with Kaji suffering the former. As is usually the case, he eventually drew enough lands to overwhelm Ichirou with his fantastical spells and magical creatures while each additional land on the tap of Shimura's deck offered nothing but misery.

Kaji won the match in extra turns.

Saturday, March 19, 1:25 p.m. - Round Five News and Notes

Rather than feature a match this round I decided to perambulate about the room and see what some of the name players on the top tables were toiling away with.

Asami Katoaka is a real-life genius!

At table 12 Masashi Oiso was playing the same deck he piloted to a Top 8 finish in Columbus -- black-blue Mind's Desire with Tendrils of Agony. His opponent was towel-wearing Tsutomu Yamada with what looked to be the same 75 cards he won the Trial with yesterday. Despite the remarkable success of Oiso and what should a be a favorable match-up he could not defeat the cagey veteran.

At table 16 there was another clash of the old with the new. Tobey Tamber is an APAC veteran living in Taiwan. He has not played much Magic over the past couple of years but a well-timed trip to Singapore and some low airfares provided just the push he needed to get back in the swing of things. Only problem was he needed a deck. Tobey turned to his brother-in-law Riki Hayashi who played Orb Opposition to a Day Two finish in Seattle. Riki just shipped all 75 cards from Seattle to Singapore making Tobey's deck only slightly less road-weary than me.

Tobey's opponent for round five was the Resident Girlfriend of the Resident Genius Asami Katoaka playing Goblins. The two players split the first two games when their respective decks did their respective things but in Game 3 Tobey's Tradewinds trumped the red army and the semi-retired Tamber found himself off to a 5-0 start.

Former Rookie of the Year Katsuhiro Mori was also playing Black-Blue Desire and found himself paired with the bluff that walked like a man, Terry Soh. Soh was running Swamps and Islands as well but in his deck they were in service to Psychatog. The two were locked in a excruciating Game 3 as of this writing with the players staring each down across plenty of land and seven card grips.

Quietly, the most interesting match may have been down at table 45 among the 3-1 bracket. Singapore product Nick Wong was squaring off with the Resident Genius Tsuyoshi Fujita. Fujita was not playing the Sneaky-Go deck he was last seen with in Seattle. He claimed that now that the deck had been exposed it was much more vulnerable to Cabal Therapy and as such he chose to play something else…

Tsuyoshi Fujita is playing a new secret deck.

When I walked over to the table Nick Wong had his head in his hands as could find no answer to a Withered Wretch that was threatening to suck all of the Life out of his Cephalid combo deck. While he looked for an answer, Fujita was beating him down with a Carnophage and a Sarcomancy token. Yes folks it was Suicide-Go from the good doctor. He chose to play the deck because it was very good against both combo and Goblins.

"Goblins?" questioned Wong.

Tsuyoshi smiled and fanned some maindeck Engineered Plagues over his sideboard Plague Spitters. Nick nodded as he began to desleeve and prepare to battle his way back from the two loss bracket.

Saturday, March 19, 3:01 p.m. - Call it an Invitational Preview

A low and respectful "whoooooooooo" swept through the crowd as the round six feature match between two of the game's biggest stars was announced. The players themselves had to elbow their way through the onlookers that were pressed up against the feature match table, camped out for the best vantage to watch this clash of Invitational winners and two of the most exciting personalities in Magic today. Oiso has made the Top 8 of four Pro Tour events while Fujita -- the first Japanese to ever make the Top 8 at a Pro Tour -- continues to warp metagames in his wake with his innovative deck designs.

Masashi Oiso

Both players were in fine form this weekend. Oiso had returned to the deck that had taken him to his most recent PT Top 8 finish. Black-blue Desire has gone out of vogue in the long months since Columbus. He played the deck at the Pro Tour expecting plenty of Tog and Rock. Since that was the forecast for this weekend as well he saw no reason not to play the deck this weekend.

Fujita did fail to live up to type either. He recently shocked the metagame with an unexpected Sneak Attack deck in Seattle but chose not to play it again this weekend. Instead he was running Suicide-Go, a mono black deck with Sarcomancy, Carnophage, Dauthi Slayers, Negators, and some control elements in the form of hand destruction and Engineered Plague. He opted for this deck in because he likes to keep his opponents off balance as to what he is playing -- he felt much of Sneaky-Go's success could be attributed to poorly informed Cabal Therapies in Seattle -- and because the deck was equally at ease vs. combo or Goblins.

Oiso got things going with a mulligan while Fujita led with Carnophage. Oiso had a turn two Medallion and Fujita followed with Cabal Therapy naming Intuition. He whiffed but saw Tutor, Tendrils and Snap-- he flashed it back and took the Tutor adding a Carnophage to his board.

Fujita beat in for two next turn and went right to Negator which was snapped into mana for a Cunning Wish it to Cunning Wish for Intuition and he Intuitioned for triple AK. He untapped and drew three. Fujita continued to beat and replayed Negator. Oiso Brainstormed and let it resolve. He Intuitioned for Deep Analysis times two and Cloud of Fairies.

Time was running out for Oiso and he resolved to "go for it". He flashed back DA to fall to eight. He played Cloud of Fairies, Snapped it. Cloud of Fairies and Nightscape Familiar powered up a Mind's Desire for six cards -- he flipped over three lands, Medallion, Mix, and Intuition. He played the Medallion and tapped out to cast DA from his hand. He played a Mox imprinting Intuition and used the one mana to Snap Cloud of Fairies and untap two Islands. He used one of his blue to flashback DA and the two players laughed.

Oiso still had an Intuition he could play for free from his Mind's Desire and he used it to reveal two Cloud of Fairies and Turnabout. He got the flier and played two of them. He imprinted Nightscape Familiar on a Chrome Mox and had the mana a sufficient spell count to kill with Tendrils.

Game 2

Fujita took out Engineered Plagues and Swords for four Unmasks and two Dauthi Slayers.

Fujita kept his opening seven while Oiso fished for a more useful six. Fujita led with Sarcomancy while Oiso made a turn one Medallion with a Chrome Mox. Fujita followed with Dauthi Slayer and an acc Unmask and see Mana Leak, AK, Medallion, and Snap -- taking the latter.

Tsuyoshi Fujita

Another Unmask on the next turn offered Medallion, Mind's Desire, Tendrils, Leak. He took Desire.

Oiso had nothing while Fujita had a maniacal, "Bwah-ha" as he cast his third Unmask.

Game 3

A turn one Carnophage and Unmask ripped apart Oiso's hand again this time taking a crucial Nightscape Familiar. Oiso had all of the materials to go off but none of the tools. He needed some kind of mana accelerant for his Snaps and Cloud of Fairies to net him any mana.

Fujita had plenty of beaters and Oiso was quickly at 5 and on a one turn clock with Negator joining the cast. Oiso cast Intuition for AKs and drew four cards --he was tapped out. There was no miraculous combination of Moxes and Snaps awaiting him and Oiso dropped into the uncertainty of the two-loss bracket.

Saturday, March 19, 3:32 p.m. - The Judges

The judges could make a wicked human pyramid!
Judge Level Location
Marco Maruto 0 INDO
Willie Law 0 INDO
Michael Toh 0 MY
Adrian Kuan 0 MY
Sashi Kumar 1 MY
Puripat Chumtham 1 TH
Anderson Tsai 2 TW
Simon Lee 2 HK
Yu Kanazawa 2 JP
SungDae Eum 2 KR
Shing Nien Fong 2 MY
Ruttawut Roschuen 2 TH
Jacky Yang 3 TW
Wearn Chong (HJ) 3 MY
David Vogin (SHJ) 4 FR
Eddie Tan 0 SG
Maggie Chong 0 SG
Yep Wei Peng 0 SG
Chris Tiong 0 SG
Foo Wen Han 0 SG
Lim Jinyi 1 SG
Joeshin See 1 SG
Clifford Yap 1 SG
Chris, Chew Yong Meng 2 SG
Stanley Hooi 2 SG
Danny Chong 2 SG
Daniel Chua 1 SG

Saturday, March 19, 4:01 p.m. - Round Seven Sightings

At Table 1 -- Itaru Ishida facing off with Tzu Ching Kuo. Ishida was playing in a Tog on Tog match and that meant after six rounds of play everything old was new again. In fact there were plenty of old favorites littering the top tables.

Japanese deck builder Akira Asahara.

At Table 4 -- Tobey Tamber was still undefeated with Riki Hayashi's Orb Opposition deck from Seattle. He was fighting alongside Mr. Soh from Malaysia as part of a dwindling breed of undefeated players.

At Table 5 -- Not the Soh you were thinking of… While Terry is scratching his way back from two losses, brother Joe was undefeated through six rounds with a mono-blue Nether-Go concoction.

At Table 6 -- Tsutomu Yamada was 5-0 yesterday in a Trial with his Reanimator deck and has not lost yet today either.

At Table 8 -- More Tog from the Japanese set. Columbus Top 8 competitor Ryuchi Arita who made Life such a staple in this metagame was 5-0-1 with Dr. Teeth.

At Table 30 -- With perhaps the exception of Tsuyoshi Fujita there is no more revered deck builder in Japan than Akira Asahara. Earlier in the week my Japanese counterpart Keitia Mori tipped me off to the fact that Asahara might have something exciting up his sleeve for this weekend. Some of you may recall Asahara's unusual Goblin build from Columbus that featured Pattern of Rebirth to summon Akroma and Platinum Angel. As I walked over Asahara was sacrificing a series of Rectors and Pattern of Rebirths to a Phyrexian Ghoul. He topped out with Mythic Proportions and looked to be in good shape for Day Two with only one loss.

Pulperm Phungprachit fell prey to top decks.

Out of the tournament -- Pulperm Phungprachit last seen innovating the Standard format with his Blasting Station deck in Kuala Lumpur dug out another golden oldie this round with Battle of Wits. He was out of the tournament after a series of top decks by his opponents. He wanted to play the deck in tomorrow's PTQ but had one major concern.

"Will the judges just let me use my decklist from this event? I don't want to write it out again."

Saturday, March 19, 5:27 p.m. - Round Eight Round-Up: The Local Flavor

There were a number of relatively unknown Singaporean locals facing off against some high-power out of town talent in the final round. Mingyi Lin was facing off with Itaru Ishida as two of only five undefeated players going into the last round of action. Ishida had Tog while Lin was with the apparently misnamed Temporary Solution. Ishida won the match in three games to move on up to 8-0 and be in an excellent position to post his staggering FOURTEENTH Grand Prix Top 8.

Gabriel Kang.

A couple of tables over Felix Leong, one of Singapore's veteran players, was grappling with Ryuchi Arita. Leong posted the upset in a three game match. Still a little further along down the line Gabriel Kang was squaring off with the lesser known but very well connected Asami Kataoka. Kang had not played in a while and wanted a red deck for this weekend's tournament. He chose the more comfortable Red Deck Wins over the more powerful Vial Goblins and would have to defeat that very deck to ensure a berth on Day Two despite a 6-1 start. Apparently Kang had been playing very tightly all day. With what seemed like the whole room watching in round eight Kang elected to sacrifice two Mountains for Pulverize with no artifacts in play to reach threshold for his just cast Fledgling Dragon. The 5/5 fire breather went all the way and Kang emerged from Day One with a 7-1 record.

Albertus Law was still very much in the thick of things at table 15, possibly even making Day Two with a second loss.

As for some of the other players we have featured so far this weekend… Tobey Tamber was 7-0 and squaring off with the 6-0-1 Joe Cho Yiu Lam who had Cranially Extracted his Oppositions and was beating down with a Jitte equipped Llanowar Elf. Despite his disadvantaged position Tamber was able to run his record to 8-0 on the weekend.

"It's no me -- I am making mistakes left and right," explained Tamber holding up Chalice of the Void. "It is just this card."

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