Both Lee Shi Tian and Makihito Mihara were not pleased to bump into each other right after their byes, considering there were 800 other players in the hall. However, that made for a truly epic battle and we wasted no time ushering both players to the Featured Match area.
With the Pro Tour season in its final throes, both players exchanged friendly banter about their point status. Currently ranked 12th in the world, Lee Shi Tian was already at Platinum Level and probably invited to the World Championships.
Mihara was locked up for Gold, but I don't think that is good enough for the Hall of Fame hopeful. A point earned here in Taipei this weekend will bring him up to 35, and would go a long way in reducing the difficulty for him to hit Platinum. Instead of a Top 16 finish at Pro Tour Portland, he could make life easier for himself by reducing that to a Top 25 finish instead. The pressure was on Mihara to put up a great performance this weekend.
Mihara won the die roll and elected to play first, perhaps indicating that he wanted to be the aggressor with his red black deck. Lee, on the other hand, chose to supplement his red cards with green spells.
Mihara opened with Bronze Sable, and promptly traded with Runeclaw Bear. Lee made use of his third turn to give himself a mana boost with Verdant Haven, in order to enable Thundering Giant and Hoarding Dragon and turns 4 and 5.
Mihara was on the back-foot now and his pair of quality evasion creatures (Krenko's Enforcer and Accursed Spirit) weren't particularly great at blocking. Lee quickly pointed Heat Ray at one of them, and swung with his entire team.
When Mihara declined to block, Lee revealed Titanic Growth to him for the win, succumbing to the fast clock that Lee provided.
Lee Shi Tian 1 – Makihito Mihara 0
Lee quickly ends the game with a lethal Titanic Growth.
That was a really good start considering that Mihara-san had totally no creatures at all and could only reduce Lee's damage output by pointing Lightning Strike at the frog.
When both players reached 5 mana, they presented matching Rotfeaster Maggots. Lee was ready with Necrobite to get rid of the opposing one, and Lee further pressed the advantage with Mind Rot. This forced Mihara to discard Covenant of Blood and Inferno Fist, two extremely powerful removal spells despite their creature requirements.
With only Gravedigger on his side, Mihara tapped the table with his fingers and did the math. At a mere 7 life, the attack from Shaman of Spring, Satyr Wayfinder, Rotfeaster Maggot and Carnivorous Moss-Beast would be lethal. Mihara thought long and hard, before dropping Servant Generator to chump but Lee's freshest additions of Runeclaw Bear and a 4/4 Undergrowth Scavenger proved too much for the ex-World Champion to handle.
Mihara folds to the pressure with a creature-light draw.
Lee Shi Tian 2 – Makihito Mihara 0
Lee Shi Tian defeats Makihito Mihara 2-0 and moves to 4-0.