Posted in 2014 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - COVERAGE on December 2, 2014

By Josh Bennett

"Sole undefeated player" has such a nice ring to it. After the fifth round, nineteenth-ranked Patrick Chapin was wearing that mantle and finding it rather to his liking.

There are few who can match Patrick Chapin when it comes to sheer passion for the game of Magic. For years he ate, slept, and breathed Magic and it's help make him one of the game's best. Nowadays he has to balance the work he does as a pro player against the demands of his "other" full-time job as a professional game designer. This weekend his Modern deck of choice is Blue-Red Delver keying off Treasure Cruise, which he calls "the most powerful card in the format."

His opponent for this round was rising Japanese star Kentaro Yamamoto. In 2007 he quietly finished in second at the Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour alongside Yuuta Takahashi, and since then in Japan he's been known as a player to watch. His progress has been steadily leading him to his breakout Top 8 at Pro Tour Theros in Dublin. A quiet and meticulous player, he stacked up Pro Points to earn himself an at-large qualification for the World Championship. For Modern he pinned his hopes on Temur Delver, dipping into green for Tarmogoyf, and naturally taking full advantage of Treasure Cruise. Yamamoto was sitting at 4-1.

While Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin pursued his sixth win, Yamamoto was seeking his fifth, with both players sporting stellar starts to the tournament.

The Games

Chapin took 3 to fetch out a Steam Vents untapped, dropped Monastery Swiftspear and boosted it with Gitaxian Probe. Yamamoto turned over a spicy one-lander featuring a Swiftspear / Probe package of his own, along with Delver of Secrets, Serum Visions, Lightning Bolt and Treasure Cruise. Chapin drew for his Probe and paused, before shrugging his shoulders and casting a second Probe. He had put himself to 13 life before Yamamoto had played a card.

Yamamoto Probed back on his turn, then fetched a basic island and played Delver of Secrets. Chapin was happy to use his Izzet Charm to clear that out of the way and hit for 2 more damage. Yamamoto helped his cause when he took 3 to get an untapped green source for Tarmogoyf.

Yamamoto's Temur Delver deck had both speed as well as big creatures, courtesy in large part to the splashed Tarmogoyfs.

Chapin's next turn was a back-breaker: Vapor Snag your Tarmogoyf, Lightning Bolt you, cast Treasure Cruise, and attack for 4 with Swiftspear. That put Yamamoto on just a single life. He was able to hold off for a couple turns, but Young Pyromancer helped Chapin get enough attackers to take the game.

Yamamoto's defenses were ready in the second game. Magma Spray took care of Chapin's first Delver of Secrets. When he played a replacement, Yamamoto was only too happy to steal it with Threads of Disloyalty. Chapin seized his chance while Yamamoto was tapped out and resolved Blood Moon, turning his trio of lands into basic mountains. Yamamoto wasn't about to let that stop him. His stolen Delver transformed thanks to Serum Visions. He played an Island and cast Treasure Cruise, spending his last mana to remove Chapin's last threat of Monastery Swiftspear.

His position looked strong despite being locked out of green mana. Chapin untapped and engineered a quick reversal of fortune thanks to Young Pyromancer and Vapor Snag to get back his traitorous Delver. Now he was ahead on board and Yamamoto simply spent his turn on another Treasure Cruise. Chapin brought out another Swiftspear and dropped Yamamoto to 9 life, then replayed his Delver.

Chapin displays just how deadly a resolved Treasure Cruiser can be.

Yamamoto made no play on six land. Chapin went to the face with Lightning Bolt at end of turn. Yamamoto responded with a Bolt of his own to stop the Delver and then flashed in Izzet Staticaster. Suddenly the Pyromancer presented no problem whatsoever. There was, however, the Swiftspear. A turn later Yamamoto risked a block on what was a 2/3, but was undone by Chapin's midcombat Thought Scour giving it a boost.

Chapin continued to force Yamamoto to come up with answers. His Cruises had kept him in this with card advantage, but his life total was in the low single digits. Chapin waited for him to tap low and then showed him a pair of Lightning Bolts for the kill.

Chapin 2 - Yamamoto 0

The two shook hands and wished each other good luck with the rest of the tournament. I managed to catch Chapin between interviews to ask a couple questions of my own. It's well-known how important this tournament is to Chapin, the culmination of a year's hard work, so how did it feel to be sitting pretty at 6-0?

Chapin was unusually reserved in his answer. "It's good. Almost done for the day, but still lots to play tomorrow." Not exactly jumping for joy, but also not counting his chickens until they've hatched. I asked him if it was hard managing the pressure he puts on himself to succeed, or rather, how he found a balance between pushing himself to be the best while not burning himself out. "I guess I'd say twenty years of doing it wrong both ways," he said with a small smile.

Even with all his successes, Chapin strives to keep the attitude of a student to the game. "There's always more to learn. I've made some mistakes already this weekend, mostly from unfamiliarity with Vintage Masters. I was lucky that they didn't cost me matches, but you have to stay open to seeing these things and learning from them. It doesn't matter if you do twenty things right and your opponent makes twenty mistakes, then you make one mistake and lose. You needed to do those twenty-one things right. Thinking about Magic the right way, being honest with yourself about your play and your testing, that's a really underrated skill. Learning how to learn about Magic. That's what I try to teach people in my books. Not just give them a bunch of rules, but help them develop a way to think about the game that will help them."

Yuuki Ichikawa – Temur Delver

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Josh Utter-Leyton – Jeskai Ascendancy

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