Minneapolis, Minnesota, is a long way away from Asia, but that hasn't stopped the members of Team MTG Mint Card from making the long trip across the Pacific to be here this weekend. This Asian supergroup is comprised of ten players from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, and Chinese Taipei. Among their ranks are World Magic Cup champion Tzu-Ching Kuo, Pro Tour Born of the Gods Top 8 player Shi Tian Lee, Grand Prix Singapore finalist Chapman Sim, and Grand Prix Melbourne champion Nam Sung-Wook. Their team had the breakout deck of Pro Tour Born of the Gods, the Blue Moon control deck, which ultimately secured Lee his spot in the Top 8. Still, these guys are all a long way from home.
"We're all here for this event, the Pro Tour, and we're even staying in Atlanta the week after the Pro Tour to play in the Grand Prix," Sim explained to me. "We're headed to Atlanta on Monday to finish testing for the Pro Tour, and we're hoping to get a lot of practice in before it's time to play."
While the group is planning on working together to prepare before Friday's opening day, these players have quite a bit of distance between themselves even when in their home countries. Spanning as far south as Singapore all the way up to South Korea, there are over 3,000 miles separating the furthest members from one another. Still, their individual testing has turned up fruit in the past. It's the consolidation of their individual efforts that makes the team a team.
"We have picked up a few new players for this tournament," Sim told me. "With Park and Nam on the team now, we have added the Korean players to our team. We'll be without Ken Yukuhiro for this event, unfortunately. He wasn't able to make it to the Pro Tour until Wednesday, so he couldn't work with us."
The loss of Yukuhiro is not an easy blow to get over, as he was the mastermind behind the Blue Moon deck that propelled Lee to his Top 8 berth in Valencia. Yukuhiro's skill as a deckbuilder will certainly be missed, but the addition of the two strong Korean players should help shore up their losses. It's also in their favor to have everyone here, acclimated to the time change, and free to get together to test in Atlanta for nearly a week before the Pro Tour.
"Lee needs to practice drafting," they all laughed. "We have all done about twelve drafts, but Lee's only done like two."
"No, no, no," Lee cut in. "I've been playing on Magic Online. I've done...three drafts."
Everyone got a good laugh out of that.
"There's still plenty of time to prepare," Lee said, getting serious again. "I've got 36 points going into the Pro Tour, so I will be six points short of Platinum unless I do well here or there. It would be fantastic to hit Platinum, so I'm going to make sure we all work hard preparing for the tournament."
While they made themselves well-known at the Pro Tour for their innovative Blue Moon deck, none of the players opted to run it this weekend.
"We're all either on Splinter Twin or Scapeshift," Sim told me.
"Blue Moon wouldn't be much of a surprise," Lee laughed.
"There is one person who held out," Sim pointed out. "Kelvin Chew over there decided to go with Infect. It's his haymaker deck. After all, it's the deck he used to make Top 8 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, so he knows it really well."
We've already seen a bunch from the newest Korean recruit to Team MTG Mint Card, Jun Young Park, and his Scapeshift deck, both in text coverage and in the video, and it doesn't look like he will be the only player on the team to make it into coverage this weekend. Both Lee and Sim are doing quite well, and Bing Han, Tan Guo, Tzu-Ching Kuo, Kelvin Chew and rest of the team aren't far behind.