Paul Cheon took a long break from competitive Magic, but he's doing some serious work since his return last year. Cheon has eight Grand Prix Top 8s, a US National Championship, and a Team Worlds Championship to his name.
His opponent, Sam Pardee, has been demolishing North American Grand Prix events for the last few years. This is Pardee's fourth Grand Prix Top 8, and he shows no sign of slowing down.
Pardee put a lot of pressure on Cheon early in the first game, but Cheon was able to stabilize the board with a timely Siege Rhino. The two began trading hits and it looked like Cheon might win the race. Pardee wanted to set up a lethal Stoke the Flames and Cheon knew something smelled fishy. To play around the burn spell, Cheon cast Sorin, Solemn Visitor and used it to give his Siege Rhino Lifelink. Pardee went deep into the tank and needed to find a route to victory on Cheon's endstep. Eventually, he decided to cast Stoke the Flames to bring Cheon into burn range along with his next attack. Pardee found Lightning Strike on the top of his deck and they were on to a second game.
Pardee 1 - 0 Cheon
The next game wasn't so close. Pardee used Chained to the Rocks to deal with an early Courser of Kruphix from Cheon before he deployed Chandra, Pyromaster and Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker to start working down Cheon's life total. Cheon couldn't find an answer to the planeswalkers and he found himself floundering as his life total dwindled with each activation. Utter End eventually dealt with Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker, but it was too late and a bit more pressure from Pardee was enough to take the match.
Pardee 2 - 0 Cheon
Sam Pardee defeats Paul Cheon in two games to earn a place in the semifinals!