Hironobu Sugaya surprised everyone when his Kithkin deck took down the dominant Faeries archetype at GP Manila in 2008. Seven years later he had returned to Manila for a repeat performance with another aggressive deck, Abzhan Aggro. However his opponent, Nam Sung Wook, the first South Korean player to win a Grand Prix, GP Melbourne last year, was equally determined to take his opponent down with Jeskai Ascendancy.
Hironobu won the roll and elected to play first, with both players keeping a grip of seven. Hironobu found his colours early, but missed his Turn 3 drop, leaving himself attacking with a lone Heir of the Wilds. Nam, not facing significant pressure, developed his mana with land and a Sylvan Caryatid. Nam played a Commune with Gods. When Hironobu saw an Altar of the Brood hit the graveyard off the Commune he laughed, finally recognising his opponent's deck.
Hironobu found a Courser of Kruphix, while Nam demonstrated the power of his deck, using Taiga's Scheming to fill his graveyard, cast a Treasure Cruise for a single mana, then cast a Dig Through Time for two blue mana. Hironobu continued to swing in and played out a Wingmate Roc, hoping to close out the game next turn.
With an exile pile almost as large as his library, Nam tapped his two Sylvan Caryatid and Rattleclaw Mystic to play Jeskai Ascendancy. He quickly followed up with a Briber's Purse for zero and untapped the two mana creatuers. Noting Hironobu was without open mana, Nam showed his Retraction Helix and Altar of the Brood in hand, and Hironobu conceded.
Hironobu 0 - Nam 1
Again, Hironobu chose to play, with both players keeping. This time Hironobu 's two drop was a Fleecemain Lion, and was followed up by a Turn 4 Anafenza, the Foremost, putting significant pressure on Nam. Nam played a Satry Wayfinder but whiffed on hitting land, and by Turn 4 was stranded on two lands, plus a Rattleclaw Mystic.
Turn 5 Hironobu dopped a Wingmate Roc plus his Roc token buddy, threatening lethal the following turn. Nam went into the tank. After considering his options, Nam tapped his Mountain to play a Dragon Mantle on the Rattleclaw Mystic. Nam drew into Yavimaya Coast, which he played out, then cast a Briber's Purse for 1.
Hironobu 1 - Nam 1
With Nam on the play, Hironobu considered his hand. With no removal, but a 2 drop and a 3 drop, could he beat his opponent fast enough to prevent him comboing off? Hironobu choose to keep.
Nam Sung Wook
Hironobu cast a Turn 2 Rakashasa Deathdealer and Turn 3 Anafenza, the Foremost, calculating he could kill his opponent by Turn 5. On Turn 4 Nam considered his board of lone Rattleclaw Shaman and four lands. With a tapped out opponent, Nam decided to go for the combo. Nam played a Jeskai Ascendancy, followed by a Dig Through Time, untapping the Rattleclaw Mystic. Nam cast a Briber's Purse for zero, tapped the Rattleclaw Mystic for blue, and cast Retration Helix. Hironobu laughs and concedes with the combo on the stack.
"This deck has so many Treasure Cruise and Dig Through Time, it's very important to mill myself." Nam said afterwards. "Turn 2 is very important, without either a Mystic, Caryatid, Commune or Taiga I have to mulligan."
Hironobu 1 - Nam 2