Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

The first Draft of Day 2 came with high expectations, necessarily so, for the relatively few well-known players still in the hunt. Other than Lee Shi Tian, Kalim Oldziey, and Yuuya Watanabe, all of the players I was keeping an eye on either said that they felt that their deck was a 3-0 deck, or had a deck that clearly looked like it. In the end, however, things did not go as planned for most of them.

First off, going into this second draft, there were no undefeated players remaining in the tournament. Every single one had picked up at least one loss in this incredibly tumultuous tournament. Second, Lee Shi Tian, who felt that he had the worst deck of all of the decks I looked at (I agree with him), somehow took a deck he expected to go 1-2 with and rattled of a perfect 3-0 to climb into 15th place on the standings. In addition to that, Rei Sato, who appeared to have a fairly powerful blue/red deck, and King of the Hill Kalim Oldziey, who was less than pleased with his red/white deck, ended up only notching themselves 1-2 records, almost assuredly dropping them out of Top 8 contention.

With the second draft drawing to a close, only six of the players we took a look before the last draft are clearly still in Top 8 contention with two losses, and they likely need to 3-0 this final Draft to make it. Here's how things are shaping up as we head down the final stretch:


Yo Tezuka

After defeating Kalim Oldziey in the first round of the day, Yo Tezuka took over the reins as the King of the Hill. His deck looked incredibly strong, a UW Heroic deck featuring two Battlewise Hoplites, Wingsteed Rider, and a slew of other heroic creatures, and plenty of enablers to ensure that they became gigantic. The deck looked good on paper, and it appeared to play even better in the Feature Match area, as Tezuka only faced one real scare during his first three rounds today.

In the second draft, Tezuka ended up with a deck that was significantly weaker than his previous effort. His blue/green deck featured a few good tricks in Voyage's End, Aspect of Hydra, and double Feral Invocation, but it lacked bodies to really do anything with those tricks. Other than Setessan Oathsworn, Nessian Asp, and a meager number of evasive creatures, Tezuka's deck lacked punch on the magnitude of his previous deck. While Tezuka can still manage a 2-1 record and likely secure a Top 8 spot, his deck looks like it might only just barely manage that.



Lee Shi Tian

After putting up a 3-0 with this monstrosity:

Lee Shi Tian put himself into 15th place, and unexpectedly kept his hope for Top 8 alive.

"It's all because of the Nullifies and Retraction Helix," Lee admitted after defeating his third opponent.

This time around, Lee stuck with the Nullify strategy, ending up with an incredibly potent blue/red deck featuring a trio of Arena Athletes and a number of ways to trigger them. If they don't get the job done, Titan of Eternal Fire can always turn them to play with matches, or Archetype of Imagination can take his team to the skies. He even had a pair of Purphoros's Emissaries to make sure that no combat goes past without some sort of weird blocking exclusion.

Of all of the players I spoke to, Lee was the most upbeat about his chances.

"I think my deck is good," he told me. "I have a bunch of good cards and it plays together very well. I suppose we'll see."

If last draft is any indication, Lee's deck evaluation skills might require a little fine tuning, but his play skill certainly does not.


Tzu-Ching Kuo

His Team MTG Mint Card teammate Tzu-Ching Kuo, however, was far less optimistic about his chances. His deck didn't look too bad, and even featured some very familiar faces. He was nearly monowhite, only touching black for a few cards to shore up his deck. He had big bombs in Celestial Archon and Eidolon of Countless Battles, appropriately named considering its appearance in Kuo's last draft deck.

Unfortunately, the fun kind of stopped there. Where his last deck had Lightning Strikes and a reasonable curve, this deck had Cutthroat Maneuvers and Setessan Griffin. He was a bit displeased with his last deck, which he took for a 2-1 record, and this one seems just a touch weaker. He's going to need a lot of help, and favorable matchups, to get the 3-0 he will likely need to make Top 8.











Ken Yukuhiro

I have no idea what happened to Ken Yukuhiro's draft, but I love what I saw as he was building. Last draft, he felt his UW deck was an easy 3-0, but the one monoblack drafter at the table derailed him in the first round. In some form of cosmic revenge, Yukuhiro has managed to get himself one of the more interesting "monoblack" decks I've seen in a while. While the majority of his cards are black, he picked up two Temples, an Unknown Shores, and a Traveler's Amulet, which he's using to splash not one, not two, but three colors into his monoblack shell.

In addition to his multitude of monoblack permanents, including two Marshmist Titans and two Mogis's Marauders, Yukuhiro has chosen to splash green for Reaper of the Wilds and Pharika's Mender, blue for Voyage's End and the activation on his two Returned Phalanxes, and white for Observant Alseid and the activation on his Odunos River Trawler. It's quite the brew, but I am always excited to see decks like this that might have a realistic chance of pulling things off. His deck clearly has the power, but will mana issues potentially stand in the way of the 3-0 that he needs to make Top 8?










Chapman Sim

I was greeted by nothing but a shaking head, every time I walked past Chapman Sim building. He had managed a perfect 3-0 with his previous deck, a powerful blue/white deck featuring Elspeth, Sun's Champion. This time around, his deck did not look nearly as good, and he knew it. Head resting on his palms, he stared down at a pile of red and green cards with way too many five drops, way too few four drops, and a general lack of power. While he certainly had explosive potential with Oracle of Bones and a pair of Portent of Betrayals, his deck simply looked average, especially compared to his previous one.

Still, he had a Courser of Kruphix which would potentially enable him to ramp into his many big creatures, as well as a reasonable low end to his curve, so there's always the chance that his deck can smash through for enough to get the job done. He also had a Bow of Nylea, which is an incredibly hard card to beat in Draft. Still, decks like this don't usually seem to make it to 3-0 very often, in my experience, so I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up going 2-1 and slipping just out of the Top 8.










Jun Young Park

I stood behind Park for most of his draft this time around and came to the conclusion that I really like his style. Every time a difficult decision came up, and I was rooting for a particular decision, it was like he read my mind. Even more so, I've already expressed my love for decks that are capable of doing fun things and getting there, like Yukuhiro's deck above, and Park's is in that same vein.

Just like the nearly monoblack deck that he splashed blue and white into from the first draft, Park opted to aggressively two colors into his blue/green deck. Peregrination, Nylea's Presence, Sylvan Caryatid, and Unknown Shores all worked overtime to help him fix his mana. He even had Oracle's Insight to help him sift through his deck. Usually, packing your deck full of things like this diminishes your available power, but he still had plenty to spare. Nessian Wilds Ravager simple ends games, and he had a number of large fliers to go right alongside it. His white splash gave him Hopeful Eidolon, which can be unbeatable in many situations. His black splash was a little strange, opting for Boon of Erebos and Necrobite.

All in all, his deck seems pretty sweet, though it has many of the same questions as Yukuhiro's. If it all comes together, watch out, because he could easily 3-0. If the mana crumbles, his chances at Top 8 do alongside them.








Katsuhiro Mori

Last but not least, we have Katsuhiro Mori. Mori's Mytic Rare-packed previous deck rode Medomai the Ageless, the hidden rare Phalanx Leader, and Ashiok to victory. This time around, he's turned the aggression all the way to the max.

It's rare that you are drafting monored and actually get to pick up a Fanatic of Mogis to go alongside it. When you do, it feels like Christmas. Personally, I don't care how much I hit them for, I just want to see the look of realization on their face when he pops them one in the mouth. Well Mori has three of them. Three Fanatic of Mogis in his mostly red/black Minotaurs deck. If it weren't for Ragemonger, Bile Blight, and Eater of Hope, he might not bother with the black at all. While three Fanatics is, well, absurd, the rest of Mori's deck is well designed to maximize their chance of winning the game on the spot. Two-Headed Cerberus, Dragon Mantle, Fearsome Temper, and Minotaur Skullcleaver are all capable of taking huge chunks out of life totals, while leaving some nice devotion in their wake for the Fanatic to slap together and throw at an opponent.

His deck is about four or five cards shy of being phenomenal, but it is still very good. In the average player's hands, it's likely a 2-1 deck. In Mori's, he could likely steal that third game and put himself in contention for Top 8.