Posted in NEWS on December 22, 2013

The Players

On one side, the 2011 World Champion, Junya Iyanaga. He's had a quiet 2013 and needs a big finish to get back in the spotlight. On the other, Korea's So Hwan Kim, playing his second Grand Prix, and enjoying his second Day 2 appearance.

The Matchup

A classic Aggro vs Control battle. Kim's mono-red deck spills creatures onto the table and closes the game with burn and Stormbreath Dragon. Mutavaults help keep pressure up against the threat of Supreme Verdict. Iyanaga is playing Esper Control with access to powerful cards and a strong set of removal, but at the cost of playing many lands that come into play tapped. Kim's deck can capitalize on any mana stumbles.


Junya Iyanaga vs. So Hwan Kim

The Match

Iyanaga won the roll and was quickly under fire from Kim's Rakdos Cackler and Ash Zealot. Last Breath took care of the Zealot, and a replacement fell to Devour Flesh. Still, Iyanaga was taking damage steadily and a Thoughtseize put him to twelve. There was good news and bad news. The good news was that Kim had two useless Mizzium mortars in hand. The bad news was that even after he took away Kim's Boros Charm, Kim would still have Chandra's Phoenix and Chandra, Pyromaster.

Still, Iyanaga had a plan. Another Devour Flesh left Kim with just Chandra's Phoenix in play, and then Iyanaga resolved Jace, Architect of Thought to further reduce Kim's damage output. Kim hit his fourth land and brought out Chandra, and between her and her Phoenix, Iyanaga was down to just six life. Iyanaga minused Jace and scored Devour Flesh and Supreme Verdict over a land, then dispatched Chandra with Hero's Demise.

Here, Kim faced a dilemma. With the Phoenix and a Mutavault, he could bring Iyanaga down to two, but that would leave Jace in play and Iyanaga's hand was stocked with removal. He chose to swing at Jace to kill it. Iyanaga untapped and played a second Jace, upping its loyalty. He'd scored a foothold. Kim attacked him down to four and played Boros Reckoner. Supreme Verdict left him with just a Mutavault for offence. Mutavault hit Iyanaga down to three and summoned Rakdos Cackler.


Junya Iyanaga

Unfortunately now Iyanaga was rolling. He had a wealth of removal to stop Kim's creatures, and so was free to dig with Jace. That netted him a Sphinx's Revelation for four, and from there the game was quickly out of reach for Kim. After another Revelation resolved and Aetherling hit the table, Kim conceded.

Iyanaga 1 - So Hwan 0

Now on the play, Kim had the upper hand. A pair of Firedrinker Satyrs started chipping away at Iyanaga's life total. Iyanaga had to pay two life for Hallowed Fountain just to get out a Sin Collecter, but Kim had Lightning Strike to get it out of the way in response. It hardly mattered that he lost a Skullcrack.

He untapped, animated his mutavault and swung in, pumping one of his Satyrs once. Iyanaga was down to five life already! He untapped and just shook his head, then scooped up his cards.

Iyanaga 1 - So Hwan 1

Again, Iyanaga build his mana base while Kim summoned his army. He led with Rakdos Cackler and then Firedrinker Satyr, but did not have a second land. Iyanaga played a third land and passed, and when Kim summoned a second Cackler, he dropped the hammer with Supreme Verdict.


So Hwan Kim

Kim was still stuck on one lone mountain and summoned Firedrinker Satyr. Iyanaga put out Jace and upped his loyalty. Kim had yet another Cackler but without more lands he was helpless. Iyanaga got farther and farther ahead while Kim's deck continued to mock him. He had to watch Iyanaga cast Sphinx's Revelation for five while his board consisted of one mountain and nothing else. With a laugh he extended the hand in defeat.

The Aftermath.

After the match, Iyanaga apologised for the match ending the way it had, saying that he was very lucky. Kim dismissed that good-naturedly. After all, he was the one who'd chosen to keep the hand. Iyanaga nodded and said that a single land would have made all the difference. If Kim hit it on the second turn, his draw would have defeated Iyanaga. The wrath would have been too slow, and followed by two creatures instead of only one. They wished each other good luck in the final round.