After a little sandbagging, we're finally putting two excellent teams in the spotlight. Both trios have won their first four matches and are among the few undefeated teams in the room.
The Hareruya Pros are pretty much international celebrities, but the Chinese team could do with a brief introduction.
Despite being dwarfed by their opponent's respective resumes, all three players are household names in China, and have all made National Top 8s before. Ding Yi was a former China National Champion and has a World Magic Cup appearance to his name. Su Xu and Jia Bin have also been involved in the community for nearly a decade, and the crowd cheered for them when their names were announced.
Ding Yi, Jia Bin, and Xu Su
Ding/Jia/Xu's configuration was a White-Red Allies deck, a Blue-Black Ingest deck, and a Green-based Eldrazi Ramp deck. It looked like the Chinese team had evenly spread out their colors, in order the harness the full potential of their card pool.
As for Saito/Tsumura/Takahashi, they've got a Blue-Black Ingest deck, a White-Blue Fliers deck, as well as a Red-Green Landfall deck with a Blue splash.
Wow, three Blue decks? Sort of!
Table A: Ding Yi (White-Red Allies) vs. Tomoharu Saito (Blue-Black Ingest)
Saito was cursed with a mulligan and quickly folded to the perfect draw from Ding Yi, comprising Cliifside Lookout, Kor Bladewhirl, Firemantle Mage and Shadow Glider. A second Firemantle Mage made blocking very difficult for Saito, even if he did assemble Benthic Infiltrator and Oracle of Dust. With a Menanced team, Ding determined that only one of his creatures could be blocked, and turned his entire team sideways for the win.
Yuta Takahashi, Kenji Tsumura, and Tomoharu Saitou
As the aggro player, Ding sought to exchange blows, and preferred to race with Kor Castigator and Firemantle Mage. A timely Outnumber and Gideon's Reproach put the race in his favor and Saito quickly fell behind. A timely Chasm Guide triggered Firemantle Mage to prevent Saito from blocking effectively, and the hasted team knocked him down to 2 life.
Among the best payoff cards for the Ingest deck!
However, Saito was able to kill Firemage Mantle with a calculated double-block, and presented Blight Herder to gum up the board. Ruin Processor entered the battlefield the next turn and it was clear as day that the game was his. Crackling Spawning Bed and attacking with his team, Saito had completed his comeback!
Tomoharu Saito 2—Ding Yi 1
Table B: Jia Bin (Blue-Black Ingest) vs. Kenji Tsumura (White-Blue Fliers)
Jia's early start of Culling Drone and Complete Disregard helped him exile two cards off the top of Tsumura's deck. This enabled Jia to nullify Tsumura's Kozilek's Channeler with Ulamog's Nullifier. Tsumura rebuilt with Eldrazi Skyspawner, Cloud Manta and Wave-Wing Elemental, but Jia had a second copy of Complete Disregard for the biggest flier and Tsumura was forced into chump-blocking mode. Forced to pitch Roil Spout to Mind Raker, Tsumura was unable to recover, especially not with Swarm Surge delivering the final punch.
Tsumura evened out the score with a turn-three Eldrazi Skyspawner, turn-four Cloud Manta and a turn-five Roil Spout (Awakening a Plains by sacrificing the Eldrazi Scion). With so much pressure presented within the first few turns and failing to draw any spot removal, Jia was unable to come back from the crippling start.
In the rubber game, Jia was most unfortunately stuck on five Swamps, but he managed to Ingest a card with Culling Drone before it fell to Tsumura's Sheer Drop. Complete Disregard dealt with Shadow Glider, but Tsumura presented Windrider Patrol as the replacement. Not finding any blue sources, Jia dropped the crucial game without ever casting a third spell. Also, with Tsumura repeatedly Scrying 2, it was very difficult for him to find what he needed to cement his victory.
Kenji Tsumura 2—Ding Yi 1
Table C: Xu Su (Eldrazi Ramp) vs. Yuta Takahashi (Red-Green Landfall)
Xu completed the clean sweep in Game 1 by outlasting against Takahashi's ground forces. The three Japanese players were all down one game, and the team of three Chinese players looked to be the favorites.
In the second game, Takahashi was able to fix his mana and ensure a couple of future land drops with Lifespring Druid and Pilgrim's Eye, and sought to dole out huge chunks of damage with Grove Rumbler. The 5/5 trampler proved too difficult for Xu to handle, and just like that, the score was evened.
The Man of the Match, a "5/5 trampler" for 4 mana!
In the decider, Takahashi opened with Makindi Sliderunner, Pilgrim's Eye (fetching Island) and Grove Rumbler. When Xu summoned Eyeless Watcher, Takahashi undid it with a timely Boiling Earth. With Exert Influence still in his grip, Takahashi knew that the match was his. After taking two more hits from Grove Rumbler, Su extended his hand in defeat.
Yuta Takahashi 2—Xu Su 1
Despite dropping all of their first games, Saito/Tsumura/Takahashi reverses the clean sweep and defeats Ding/Jia/Xu to go 5-0!