Posted in NEWS on March 1, 2014

By Chapman Sim

Fresh off a Top 16 performance at Pro Tour Born of the Gods, Zheng Jingwei is the current Pro Point leader of New Zealand and tied for second place within the Asia Pacific region. Clearly a dominant force to be reckoned with, Zheng is here in Melbourne to hunt for more Pro Points in an attempt to level up from the Silver level which he has already attained this season and the next.

Isaac Egan is no slouch himself and has had a bunch of great performances as well, including a 4th place finish at GP Sydney 2010, 10th at Worlds 2010 and more recently 18th at Pro Tour Gatecrash. Both players are armed with Esper Control decks and it promises to be a battle of wits between two great players.

Game One

Both players led six uneventful turns, manipulating the tops of their own libraries with Scrylands but Zheng was the first to budge with Sphinx's Revelation. This clashed with Egan's Syncopate and Zheng took a glimpse into his opponent's hand, using Thoughtseize to reveal a myriad of relatively underwhelming kill spells in this matchup including Supreme Verdict and Fated Retribution.

Egan retaliated with a couple of Jaces off the top, the first one being stopped with Syncopate while the other was eventually finished off by Mutavault. With both players holding a bunch of dead cards in the pre-board game, it boiled down to who could stick the next Planeswalker on the quiet board or resolve a huge Sphinx's Revelation.

Zheng used his own Jace, Architect of Thought to find Dissolve, eventually feeling comfortable enough to drop Elspeth, Sun's Champion now that he had backup. Egan scooped up his cards when Zheng presented a Thoughtseize which would reveal that he had no more gas in his tank.

Zheng Jingwei

Zheng masterfully takes down the first game with his pair of Planeswalkers.

Game Two

Thoughtseize proved to be a key card in this matchup and Zheng wasted no time stripping Jace, Architect of Thought (over other options like Thoughtseize, Sphinx's Revelation and Elspeth, Sun's Champion) from Egan's grip. This allowed Egan to do the same the next turn, using the very same discard spell to remove the very same Planewalker.

Two turns later, when Zheng ran Blood Baron of Vizkopa into Syncopate, Egan used the window to resolve Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Despite having it removed with Detention Sphere, Zheng found himself falling behind in terms of card advantage, as Egan proceeded to refill his hand using Jace, Architect of Thought as well as Sphinx's Revelation.

Down to just two cards, Zheng used Thoughtseize to expel Sphinx's Revelation before using Detention Sphere to exile Jace. Even after all that, Egan still had a full grip consisting double Sphinx's Revelation and double Blood Baron of Vizkopa and Zheng quickly succumbed.

Isaac Egan

Egan fights back and equalizes the score with a trio of Sphinx's Revelation.

Game Three

Both players tried to keep up on their land drops and decided to fire off Sphinx's Revelations for 2. Egan allowed his opponent's copy to resolve, but Zheng decided to Syncopate Egan's copy.

He continued to deny Egan more resources by dissolving Jace, Architect of Thought, before using Thoughtseize to remove Syncopate. A second Dissolve countered Egan's second Jace Architect of Thought and Egan was just down to one relevant card in his hand, a lonely Blood Baron of Vizkopa.

Now that Egan was stripped of all his countermagic, Zheng proceeded to take over the game with Sphinx's Revelation for 5 and it looked like he was solidly ahead, until Egan presented a freshly drawn Elspeth, Sun's Champion.

Ignoring Elspeth and her minions temporarily, Zheng used Jace to fetch yet another Sphinx's Revelation, losing board advantage temporarily but clearly very ahead when it came to card advantage.

Six soldier tokens were now on the board and Zheng put a brake to that with Detention Sphere and added a speed bump in the form of Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Firing off another massive Sphinx's Revelation, all Zheng needed to do was to find a way to seal the game and Ætherling was exactly the fast clock that he needed. Egan's next draw of Gainsay seemed to mock him and he extended his hand graciously. There was no way he could beat a resolved Ætherling.

Zheng Jingwei defeats Isaac Egan 2-1.