As mentioned in a previous Feature Article, three of the region's titans are in danger of elimination. Sitting at the 6-2 record, Yuuya Watanabe, Makihito Mihara and Yuuki Ichikawa will need to best Gao Zhenxing, Yan Tianji and Liu Xu if they wished to advance.
The Japanese players have assembled a Blue-Black Ingest deck, a Black-Green Eldrazi Ramp deck with a Red Splash, as well as the ubiquitous Red-Green Landfall deck. This seemed like the "standard industry practice" and all three decks looked pretty solid.
The Chinese were equipped a Black-Green Eldrazi Ramp deck too, but the other two decks were quite different. Their Blue-Black Ingest deck wasn't quite at the power level they desired and preferred to go with White-Blue Fliers instead.
In addition, they've axed the Red-Green Landfall strategy to make way for a 5-Color Green deck to fully utilize all the remaining rares cards in their pool, including Shambling Vent, Cinder Glade, Angelic Captain, Exert Influence, Akoum Firebird, Prism Array and Radiant Flames!
Let's see if this decision will pay off for them!
Table A: Gao Zhenxing (5-Color Green) vs. Yuuya Watanabe (Blue-Black Ingest)
Watanabe countered Valakut Invoker with Horribly Awry, before cycling Grave Birthing to ramp out Windrider Patrol. Gao toasted it with Radiant Flames, but Watanabe reloaded with Kozilek's Channeler and Ruin Processor, two threats that proved too difficult to handle.
Game 2 was pretty similar, with Watanabe using his first few turns to deflect Gao's threats using Complete Disregard and Spell Shrivel. When Kozilek's Channeler landed, that provided a premature Ruin Processor once again. Still holding on to Ulamog's Nullifier, Watanabe quickly secured the first victory for his team.
Now, only either of his teammates needed to win to advance to Day 2.
Completing his match quickly, Watanabe quickly slides over to help out Ichikawa who is in trouble. A worried Mihara watches as he sideboards for his match.
Gao Zhenxing 0—Yuuya Watanabe 2
Table B: Yan Tianji (White-Blue Fliers) vs. Makihito Mihara (Black-Red-Green Eldrazi Ramp)
Mihara recruited Lifespring Druid to gain access to all his three colors, before attempting to resolve Barrage Tyrant. It met with Spell Shrivel, and Liu used Murk Strider to bounce home Lifespring Druid.
"Jeez, he's got everything," Yan laughed it off and reached for his sideboard.
Once again in Game 2, Lifespring Druid enabled a turn-four Barrage Tyrant, but it was sent to the top of Mihara's deck via Roil Spout. Despite "topdecking" it again, Mihara elected to summon Brood Monitor.
That enabled a 5/5 Vile Aggregate to hit the board next turn, and Yan's clock of Eldrazi Skyspawner and Cloud Manta was no match against Mihara's board. Bone Splinters ensured that Yan would never reach the finish line.
The writing was on the wall for Yan, Liu and Gao. The Japanese had bested them.
Yan Tianji 0—Makihito Mihara 2
Table C: Liu Xu (Blue-Black Ingest) vs. Yuuki Ichikawa (Red-Green Landfall)
Ichikawa's Red-Green Landfall deck ran as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. Kicking off with Snapping Gnarlid, Grove Rumbler and Territorial Baloth, a timely Stonefury denied Liu of any fatties that could trade.
Just like that, Liu was down a game.
In the second game, Liu quickly snuck in for a couple of hits with Sludge Crawler before using Call the Scions to accelerate into Brood Monitor. Ichikawa had a slow start, but had Boiling Earth to wipe out the horde of Eldrazi Scions, before assembling the formidable offense of double Grove Rumbler.
However, they were forced to chump when Liu recovered with a second copy of Call the Scions and Spawning Bed. The follow-up was a pair of Swarm Surges and Ichikawa immediately was kept on the back-foot. Down to just two life facing five Eldrazi Scions, he was forced to keep his team of Snapping Gnarlid, Valakut Predator and a pair of Valakut Invokers back home to play it safe.
But whoops, Liu had topdecked Plated Crusher and was able to trample past Ichikawa's defenses for the final two damage.
Thankfully for Ichikawa, playing out Game 3 wasn't necessary, because his trusty teammates have already secured the match and their spot in Day 2.
Liu 1—Yuuki Ichikawa 1
Watanabe/Mihara/Ichikawa defeats Gao/Yan/Liu to progress to Day 2, and lived to see another day!