Quarterfinals – Ken Sawada vs. Shuhei Nakamuraby Chapman Sim
When Sawada used Ultimate Price to kill Nakamura's Desecration Demon, it felt like he was truly behind. Nakamura did have Hero's Downfall to deal with Brimaz but he was already down to a precarious 5 life.
Lyev Skynight and Mutavault mopped things up and both players reached for their sideboards.
Ken Sawada assembles a formidable army, championed by Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
Ken Sawada 1 - Shuhei Nakamura 0
Sawada was on the back-foot this time, facing Turn 2 Pack Rat and Turn 4 Desecration Demon from Nakamura. It seemed like Nakamura was ready to retaliate, using Ultimate Price to destroy Precinct Captain, and Thoughtseize to remove Ephara, God of the Polis once again.
Despite the resistance, Sawada proceeded to bolster his army with Brimaz, King of Oreskos and Keening Apparition. However, those were not effective solutions to a Desecration Demon, and Sawada was forced to sacrifice his smaller creatures just to keep the demon tapped, and himself alive. Bear in mind that the number of rats were also multiplying as we speak.
With the life totals at 13 to 7 in Nakamura's favor, Obzedat, Ghost Council arrived too late to make a difference.
Ken Sawada 1 - Shuhei Nakamura 1
Game Three was close to perfect for Sawada. He had Thoughtseize to deny Nakamura of his trusty Pack Rat and proceeded to assemble an army of Soldier of the Pantheon, Lyev Skyknight and Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
Nakamura draw of 5 Swamp, Pack Rat and Devour Flesh was not sufficient to beat Sawada's nearly perfect draw and congratulated Sawada in making the Top 4. Leaving Brimaz, King of Oreskos unanswered really did him in.
Ken Sawada 2 - Shuhei Nakamura 1
Ken Sawada advances to the semifinals, thanks to the help of Brimaz, King of Oreskos.
Quarterfinals – Sung-Wook Nam Vs Yuuya Watanabeby Pip Foweraker
Nam began with a Thoughtseize, taking Watanabe's Underworld Connections. He followed up with a Pack Rats which was promptly killed with a Devour Flesh. Watanabe tried a Duress, nabbing himself a Hero's Downfall, then followed up with a Pack Rats. Nam tried a Nightveil Spectre, but Watanabe was having none of that nonsense and offed it in short order.
Nam pushed on with the disruption with a Thoughtseize, then both players summoned Desecration Demons, who dutifully glared at each other through the skies. Watanabe started using Rat Pack tokens to tap down Nam's Desecration Demon, knocking the GP:Melbourne champion down to dangerously low life. Nam pondered his options. With a Mutavault and 3 other lands on the board, he could stave off the Demon for a turn if necessary. He attacked, knocking Watanabe to 13, then summoned a second Demon and passed.
Watanabe drew his card for the turn and settled in for a good consideration. He only needed to punch through for 6 damage, but Nam had a lethal amount of damage on the board and had mana open to activate a Mutavault if necessary.
Watanabe moved to combat and set the Demon triggers on the stack. Nam sacrificed his Mutavault to tap down Watanabe's Demon, and before attackers, Watanabe cast a Devour Flesh to take out one of Nam's Demons, leaving them with one apiece, Watanabe still up a Pack Rat.
Nam attacked through the air for 7, then summoned a Gray Merchant of Asphodel, putting the life totals at 15-2, his favour. Watanabe went to combat on his turn and Nam declined to do anything with Watanabe's Demon trigger, letting him crash through the air for 7 (8-2). Nam knocked the top of his library and drew an Underworld Connections, which he cast before moving to combat. Watanabe created a Pack Rat token, but fed his Mutavault to the Demon trigger, leaving him with just enough cards and mana to spawn more Pack Rats. Nam looked to the top of his deck but couldn't draw anything in time, as both players headed to their sideboards after a tense first game.
Yuuya Watanabe 1 - Sung-Wook Nam 0
A Thoughtseize from Watanabe stripped Nam of an underworld connections, and a follow-up Duress on the second turn took another one, but Watanabe failed to play a second land. Intrigued, Nam tried a Thoughtseize of his own and Watanabe spread a hand full of Underworld Connections, a Bile Blight, and another pair of Thoughtseizes.
Watanabe hissed out some long-held tension as he managed to draw his second and third consecutive lands, having fairly completely stripped Nam of plays in the interim. Nam threw a Nightveil Spectre onto the battlefield before Watanabe killed it with a Bile Blight. Nam had a second Spectre, which Watanabe offed with his Hero's Downfall. Nam, bemused, shook his head as he started to fall behind on lands, unusual against an opponent who had kept a 1-lander.
The players went back and forth with threats and answers for a few cycles, Watanabe relentlessly drawing ahead as he loaded up his second Underworld Connections and cast an Erebos, putting Nam on a fiendish clock. Nam couldn't keep pace, and extended his hand a turn later.
After the game, Watanabe reconstructed his opener - triple Thoughtseize, Bile Blight, Swamp, double Underworld Connections. The players back-and-forthed over whether the hand was keepable, but after confirming Watanabe was running 25 land, Nam agreed the keep was reasonable.
Yuuya Watanabe 2 - Sung-Wook Nam 0
Quarterfinals – Sherwin Pu vs. Naoki Shimizuby Chapman Sim
Pu was able to fling a plethora of burn at Shimizu before Ephara, God of the Polis and Master of Waves could seal the game for Shimizu. A combination of Skullcrack, Searing Blood, Lightning Strike and Warleader's Helix, coupled with some early damage from Mutavault brought the game to a speedy end.
Sherwin Pu 1 – Naoki Shimizu 0
Pu was in serious trouble right now. Down to just 7 life, not only did he need to stay alive, he still had to find a way to deal 18 damage to Shimizu.
With his Chandra's Phoenix tapped down with Tidebinder Mage, Pu wondered if he could still win this one. The idea seemed far-fetched and even though he was holding on to Boros Charm, it seemed like a futile attempt.
Sherwin Pu 1 – Naoki Shimizu 1
His moves were not without reason and were part of a grand plan. Holding on to two Mutavaults, Pu had a dependable way to dish out damage, so he had no qualms pointing burn at Shimizu's creatures rather than at his head.
One of the manlands went in for two damage, and then two more. A second Mutavault joined in the fun and reduced Shimizu to 12.
Intent on clearing the path for both Mutavaults, Pu struck Nightveil Specter with lightning and reduced Shimizu to 8 life. If Pu had burn of any variety, it would put Shimizu in a truly terrible position.
Desperate to put up some blockers, he cast Tidebinder Mage and then enchanted it with Domestication. While this was a really odd play, it gave Shimizu sufficient Devotion to awake Thassa, God of the Sea.
Pu made use of the window that Shimizu was tapped out to cast both halves of Toil // Trouble. This allowed him to draw two cards, while lowering Shimizu to 6 life. A second Toil // Trouble (forcing Shimizu to draw 2 cards) prompted Shimizu to extend his hand.
Sherwin Pu 2 – Naoki Shimizu 0
Sherwin Pu defeats Naoki Shimizu and advances to the semifinals!
Semifinals – Ben Ge vs. Yuuya Watanabeby Chapman Sim
It was not an easy path for Ben Ge but he should be rejoicing in the knowledge that he was now qualified for the next Pro Tour in Portland. After dispatching fellow countryman Zhong Jian in the Boros Burn mirror, he hoped that his winning streak would continue
However, a Japanese Juggernaut was in his way. Playing in his TWENTIETH Grand Prix Top 8, Watanabe would most certainly like to win this one, because a victory here would put him at 7 Grand Prix victories, tying him with German Juggernaut Kai Budde.
Ge answered Lifebane Zombie with Searing Blood, but didn't have Chained to the Rocks for Desecration Demon. He was forced to ram Chandra's Phoenix into it, before finishing of the 6/6 flyer with Warleader's Helix.
Watanabe was down to one life in the blink of an eye and Chandra's Phoenix threatened to end things there and then. Watanabe prayed for the best as he tried to win with Pack Rat, killing Chandra's Phoenix with Hero's Downfall.
A brief glimpse of hope shimmered in the distance for Watanabe, when he buffed his life total with Gray Merchant of Asphodel, putting him a comfortable 6 life.
Ben Ge 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 0
Already estimating Boros Burn to be popular this weekend, Watanabe was fully prepared for his matchup and swiftly brought in the full set of Staff of the Death Magus.
The Chinese audience gasped when it made an appearance on Turn 3, because it was obvious that the artifact would spell eventual doom for Ge.
Underworld Connections resolved, gaining Watanabe one life. Swamp entered play, gaining Watanabe one life. Duress stripped away Assemble the Legion, gaining Watanabe one life. Bile Blight killed an opposing Ash Zealot, gaining Watanabe one life.
Well, you get the idea. Essentially, every card, other than his non-basics, would trigger the Staff.
Gray Merchant of Asphodel was next, restoring Watanabe to a healthy 20. A second Gray Merchant of Asphodel later and the audience were getting bored. When Watanabe cast a second Staff of the Death Magus and then a third one, I could have sworn some of them even fell asleep.
With every black spell and Swamp now upgraded to a Healing Salve, there was no way that Ge would be winning this one. If Watanabe doesn't clinch this game, I promise to gobble up my Mac Book Air, seasoned with any condiment of Riccardo's (Head Judge of Grand Prix Beijing) choice.
Ben Ge 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 1
Game three was almost as brutal as the last, except that it was much quicker. Watanabe proceeded to cast THREE Staff of the Death Magus on turns three through five.
A pair of Duresses put him at a positive life total, while removing Assemble the Legion, Lightning Strike and any of Ge's winning chances. A trio of Pack Rats completed the match, sending Watanabe to the finals.
Ben Ge 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 2
Triple Staff of the Death Magus sends Yuuya Watanabe to the finals of Grand Prix Beijing!
Semifinals – Ken Sawada vs. Sherwin Puby Pip Foweraker
Pu and Sawada faced off in the first round of Day 2, where, according to Sawada, Pu crushed him 'Most rapidly'. Sawada headed into the semifinals hoping to avoid the same fate, but acknowledged the matchup was an uphill one.
Sawada led things off with a Soldier of the Pantheon, which Pu Magma Jetted. Sawada followed up with a Brimaz, while Pu had a Trouble for 6. Pu tried to mount some pressure with a Chandra's Phoenix, but Sawada had a Detention Sphere for it. A Magma Jet and Searing Blood took care of the Brimaz, but Sawada had a second to mount more pressure on Pu.
He followed up with a Keening Apparition and a Precinct Captain. Su raised an eyebrow and emptied his hand of Skullcrack and Lightning Surge at Sawada's dome, dropping him to 3, then flipped the top card of his deck over. A Searing Blood did quite nicely, netting Pu the first game.
Sherwin Pu 1 - Ken Sawada 0
Sawada started the second game with a pair of Soldier of the Pantheons. One of them was promptly Shocked, but Sawada had a Lyev Skyknight to keep things ticking along. Pu summoned a Satyr Firedancer, which was a too-juicy target for Sawada's Detention Sphere to resist. Pu had a Magma Jet for the Skyknight.
Sawada attacked with his Soldier, drawing a Lightning Surge from Pu. Sawada followed up with a Imposing Sovereign, who got Chained to the Rocks. Sawada played a tapped Watery Grave and passed, Doom Blading Pu's Mutavault when it attacked. A Whip of Erebos from Sawada was met with a Boros Charm, knocking Sawada to 12 but putting Pu on a clock against the pending lifegain.
Sawada tried an attack with his Mutavault, which was burned before it could connect. He summoned a Precinct Captain, which Pu Chained to the Rocks. Sawada, indefatigable, used his Whip or Erebos to return a Soldier, which Pu shot before passing on his turn. Sawada tried th esame thing again the following turn, and Pu had another Magma Jet to again keep Sawada's life total from rising.
Sawada finally connected with his Skyknight, going to 15. Sawada destroyed the Chained to the Rocks holding his Precinct Captain captive, and when Pu went to burn it, he flashed a Negate to keep the token generator alive. Pu's back was to the wall with the active Whip on the board, but he tried again with a Lightning Surge and took out the Captain. Sawada simply used his Whip to reanimate it, Pu using a Skullcrack to stop the lifegain trigger.
Pu, fighting a losing battle, visibly slumped when Sawada summoned a Blood Baron of Vizkopa. He drew a Blind Obedience what was likely a turn too late. A Warleader's Helix wasn't enough to deal with the Baron, and although Pu played a tight defensive game for several turns, it wasn't enough to deal with Sawada's relentless life advantage.
Ken Sawada 1 - Sherwin Pu 1
Pu led with a Mutavault, cracking in at Sawada on his second turn. Sawada had only lands, taking 4 points of damage before dropping an untapped watery grave to summon a Sin Collector. Pu spread a hand of Magma Jet, Shock, Boros Charm, Blind Obedience and Warleader's Helix, Sawada picking the Magma Jet.
Pu shocked the Sin Collector before heading in with his Mutavault. Sawada summoned a Brimaz, but was on a lowly 12 life. Pu elected to ignore the powerful legend and try to race him with burn. The equation changed a little when Sawada summoned a Ghost Council of Orzhova, but Pu was committed. He threw his Helix, a Lightning Surge and a Boros Charm at Sawada to knock him to 1, rising to 3 when the Ghost Council came back in. Sawada attacked for 10, but had nothing relevant post-combat to keep him out of Boros Charm range.
Sherwin Pu 2 - Ken Sawada 1
Finals – Sherwin Pu vs. Yuuya Watanabeby Chapman Sim
As mentioned earlier, a victory for Yuuya Watanabe here will cement him as the greatest Grand Prix master to have ever existed in the game's history. A win here will mark Watanabe's 7th victory, tying him with the legendary Kai Budde.
Sherwin Pu was not about to go down without a fight and seems to be in a favorable position. After all, his Boros Burn deck has been wrecking havoc in Beijing all weekend and Mono Black Devotion should have been within his metagame projection.
Desecration Demon would prove to be problematic since it was difficult to remove without Chained to the Rocks. Pu took one hit, going to 14, but an end of turn Warleader's Helix restored his life to 18.
Watanabe had no intent of winning that way though, as he activated both his Mutavault and charged into the red zone along with the demon, reducing Pu from 18 to 8 in one fell swoop. When Pu tried to tap down Desecration Demon by sacrificing Mutavault, Watanabe put an end to that plan using Hero's Downfall.
Since Watanabe was at 9 life himself, he declined to attack with Mutavault, because his opponent's Searing Blood would potentially put him in danger zone. Playing it safe, he decided to spend two turns attacking with Desecration Demon instead.
Sherwin Pu 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 1
Pu opened with Firedrinker Satyr and delivered a single punch before Doom Blade sent it to the gallows. Chandra's Phoenix seemed like a good replacement and Watanabe's life was dripping away, two by two.
Watanabe wasted no time using double Duress to relieve him of Boros Charm and Chained to the Rocks, paving the way for Watanabe's Desecration Demon. However, Pu savagely ripped a replacement off the top, locking away the 6/6 flyer.
Watanabe cushioned his life total with a pair of Gray Merchant of Asphodel, but without other permanents in play, that only gained him a measly 6 life. Twelve life was not a lot when the duo of Chandra's Phoenix was dealing four a turn. The final kick was delivered by Boros Charm.
Sherwin Pu rises from the ashes and wins Game Two, with the help of a pair of Chandra's Phoenixes.
Sherwin Pu 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 1
With the tournament in its final throes, both players looked considerably tense. A Grand Prix title was at stake and every decision was crucial now. But sometimes, you don't get to to make many decisions.
Not having drawn any creature removal, Pu could only activate his own Mutavault, dealing two damage.
A second Mutavault joined the horde and Watanabe could taste victory.
"Gee, I came all the way here to lose to Pack Rats." With that, Sherwin Pu extended his hand. Throwing his fists in the air, Watanabe cheered with joy. He had just won his seventh Grand Prix.
Sherwin Pu 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 2
Yuuya Watanabe defeats Sherwin Pu 2-1 and wins Grand Prix Beijing! Seventh time's the charm!