Tham Tishen vs. Tsuyoshi Ikeda
The Malaysian Tham Tishen piloted a mono-black Necrodeck against the Japanese Tsuyoshi Ikeda in this harrowing semifinal match. Ikeda was playing Necro-Donate and felt that the matchup favored his deck, but the spectators hoped that Tishen would prevail.
Ikeda won the coin toss and chose to play first. His opening hand was mediocre and he chose to mulligan; his new hand contained Mana Vault, Brainstorm, and Illusions of Grandeur, as well as three land. Tishen also chose to mulligan, but was horrified when he found no land in his six-card hand. Upon closer inspection, however, he discovered Dark Ritual and Necropotence among the cards, and he decided to try and topdeck a swamp.
Ikeda began with Volcanic Island. Tishen knocked his deck but was unable to draw a swamp. In the meantime, he removed Corrupt from his hand to Unmask Ikeda, who responded with Brainstorm. Ikeda placed Necropotence and Illusions on top to protect them, then revealed Firestorm, Mana Vault, and some land. Tishen took the Mana Vault and ended his turn.
Ikeda picked up the Illusions he had placed on top of his library, then played Peat Bog. Tishen managed to draw a swamp and then used Duress to remove the Illusions. Ikeda played Underground River and then Necropotence, paying six life.
At this point, Tishen was still stuck at one land, but he decided to use up two of the Dark Rituals that had been sitting around in his hand. Once he had five black mana, he began by using Demonic Consultation for Duress. About two thirds of his library were consumed in this process. Then, he played Duress on Ikeda, who revealed Duress, Hoodwink, Donate, Brainstorm, a land, and two Firestorms. Tishen decided to take the Brainstorm. Tishen used his remaining three black mana to play Necropotence and then Necro for seven.
Ikeda untapped and then played another Underground River, which he used to cast Duress. When Tishen revealed Drain Life, Unmask, two swamps, and three Demonic Consultations, Ikeda chose Drain Life. He then paid four life to Necropotence, ending his turn. Tishen played a swamp and then removed a Consult to Unmask Ikeda. He chose Donate over two Firestorms, a Hoodwink, and a Force of Will. He then used Necropotence to get four more cards.
Ikeda played Underground Sea and paid another three life, dropping to five. Tishen played a swamp and Duressed him, but Ikeda countered by paying the regular mana cost on Force of Will. Tishen then paid two more life, bringing himself to seven.
Despite excessive use of Necropotence on both sides of the table, neither player had managed to draw anything particularly useful. Ikeda drew a few more cards with Necropotence, and then was forced to Donate it away to avoid Necro-locking himself. A few turns later, he got Illusions on the table and Donated it away. Tishen promptly conceded game one.
Tishen chose to play first, but Ikeda mulliganed away a hand with only Ritual, Duress, and some land. His new hand had only one land, a Badlands. However, he did have a Duress, so he chose to keep the hand. Tishen started off with swamp, Ritual, Necropotence, but Ikeda discarded Illusions to play Force of Will. He played his one Badlands and then Duressed Tishen, taking Corrupt over Consultation, the only other nonland card. Tishen played a swamp and then on his next turn played another swamp and Necropotence, but again Ikeda had the Force of Will.
Ikeda then brought out a Necropotence of his own, drawing 7 more cards. Tishen was able to put on some pressure with Negator, but Ikeda's combo began to come together. Ikeda played two Mana Vaults, then Illusions, drawing seven more cards. He still didn't have a Donate, however, so on the next turn he cast Brainstorm. At this point he forgot to put back the cards for Brainstorm, and the table judge didn't notice. He played Dark Ritual, Consulted for a Donate, Unmasked Tishen, and then played his Donate. At this point, Tishen asked if Ikeda had put back the two cards from the Brainstorm.
The judges performed a careful card-count, which confirmed that Ikeda had indeed misplayed Brainstorm. Head Judge Jeff Donais was called over, and he issued Ikeda a game loss.
Visibly distraught after having a certain win snatched away from him, Ikeda had to double-mulligan in the third game. The only permanent that he was able to get into play was a Mana Vault, and he soon died to Negator beatdown. Tishen won the match 2-1.