946 showed up at the inaugural Grand Prix Guangzhou with their trusty Modern decks, but only so many players can go undefeated. In our case, we've got three players at 9-0 and none at 8-0-1. This means our heroic trio are way ahead of the pack and have a significantly less arduous path to the Top 8 tomorrow!
Jia Hao trail-blazes his way to 9-0!
The first player to emerge victorious in his match was local hero Jia Hao. Piloting Naya Burn (without Wild Nacatl just in case you were wondering), Jia was able to defeat fellow countryman Guo Xiaoyu with a flurry of burn spells he was on the receiving end of twenty copies of Grapeshot.
Goblin Guide, Monastery Swiftspear and Eidolon of the Great Revel continue to remain very scary creatures, especially when summoned alongside assorted cards with Lightning, Lava and Bolt in their names. Clearly, Burn remains a potent strategy, especially if it is under the radar or underestimated.
Lim Zhong Yi crushes with Death's Shadow Aggro.
Over at the other table, Lim Zhong Yi from Singapore had also completed the home run!
Overpowering Masahiko Shimada in three nail-biting games, Lim was able to quickly seal the deal using a trio of Wild Nacatl backed by double Thoughtseize. Shimada had some answers (Echoing Truth and Slaughter Pact) to buy himself some time, but despite drawing two copies of Angel's Grace and successfully "unsuspending" Lotus Bloom, he never saw Ad Nauseam that would have clinched him the win.
Lim commented, "I think the matchup is about even. Without Thoughtseize, it would be very difficult for me to win before he can combo off. He also has Fog to 'counter' my Become Immense and Temur Battle Rage. I really think it is all about drawing the hand disruption spells."
Ryoichi Tamada has his eyes set on becoming a Grand Prix Champion and then the World Champion.
Last but not least, the final battle remaining was between two Japanese players.
Ryoichi Tamada, who is heading to Seattle for the World Championship next week, hoped to kickstart his season with an excellent result. His Jeskai Pyromancer Ascension deck featuring Thing in the Ice and Visions from Beyond was a classic Modern archetype. Kazuhiro Noine was running Ad Nauseam, a similarly fast combo deck. Perhaps the most exhilarating moment was when Noine had put a lethal Lightning Storm on the stack. Since Noine had already won Game 1, Tamada would need a miracle to wiggle out of this one.
Tamada had two Pyromancer Ascension on the board and had to maneuver past impending death at instant speed in order to reverse the fates. Firing off a couple of Manamorphose which multiplied into four copies. Tamada found Remand, which he used to return unresolved Manamorphoses to his hand before recasting them another four copies. Drawing upwards of ten cards while generating a ton of mana in the process, he was eventually able to stumble into three copies of Lightning Bolt before he was struck down.
Then in Game 3, Noine thought he could shut Tamada out with Leyline of Sanctity and Rest in Peace, but it was Tamada who had the last laugh. Following up a second turn Thing in the Ice with a turn three Blood Moon, Tamada proceeded to awake an Awoken Horror with Gitaxian Probe, Manamorphose, Manamorphose and Lightning Bolt!
What an epic ending to an epic day!