Platinum Pro Lee Shi Tian might not have made the Pro Tour 8 Top 8 three times in a row like Luis Scott-Vargas did, but he did make the Top 8 of three consecutive Modern Pro Tour. To this day, Lee remains the player with the most Modern Pro Tour Top 8s and will likely hold this prestigious accolade for eternity now that Pro Tours no longer utilize Modern.
At one point, he boasted a 100% conversion rate, making Top 8 at the first three Modern Pro Tours he's participated in. To refresh your memory a little, Lee came in 4th at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle with Scapeshift, 5th at Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia with Blue Moon and 8th at Pro Tour Fate Reforged in Washington D.C with Boros Burn.
In statistical terms, that probably makes him the best Modern player to have ever roamed the face of Earth.
"I've always preferred high-powered formats and the fact that the card pool is so large keeps it exciting. There is a lot of space for deck designers and the metagame is diverse."
When Insolent Neonate and Prized Amalgam were printed in Shadows over Innistrad, a lot of players believed that those were the missing pieces for Dredge's resurgence in Modern. The fact that you first discarded a card to Insolent Neonate before drawing one meant that you can very easily get Golgari Grave-Troll into the graveyard to get the ball rolling immediately. Prized Amalgam and Narcomoeba were also match-made in heaven.
During a time when Eye of Ugin was legal, the Eldrazi reared their numerous ugly heads but Lee wasn't about to join what he perceived was the "dark side". He disliked the Eldrazi decks, partly because he's not a conformist at heart. The other part of him he didn't want to play mirror matches all day long and believed that he could find another deck that worked. And he did, as did Kentaro Yamamoto and Yuuki Ichikawa. Living End was the answer and three of them made the Top 8 at Grand Prix Melbourne 2016.
However, the most interesting breakout that of the weekend was Jason Chung's Dredge deck featuring the engine of Squee, Goblin Nabob and Zombie Infestation. Despite enjoying success with Living End, Lee quickly joined hands with his fellow MTG Mint Card teammate and focused on developing on a new Dredge list.
They tried out Glimpse the Unthinkable, Hedron Crab, Vengevine, Burning Inquiry and practically everything on the (Gatherer) planet. Those cards didn't work well enough. Likewise, Thomas Edison failed countless times (before perfecting the light bulb), as did the dynamic duo. After weeks of sandpapering the rough edges, Lee's product had transformed into the "go-to" Dredge deck of the format. Thereafter, it gained even more headway when Zen Takahashi won New Zealand's World Magic Cup Qualifier a month ago.
Lee intends to Conflagrate his way to victory this weekend.
"I'm really happy that I could build a deck that has become an important part of Modern. I'm also glad that my friends and teammates are enjoying success with a product that was a part of. Naturally, I'm playing it today in Guangzhou but I made a few tweaks here and there. Collective Brutality in the sideboard is probably the biggest addition from Eldritch Moon."
Wow, that escalated quickly. Why does this card tick?
"The worst place for Golgari Grave-Troll, Stinkweed Imp and Conflagrate to be is in your hand. Discard outlets are really important and Collective Brutality fills multiple roles. The mana-friendly casting cost, ability to discard and all three modes are in-line with what Dredge's game plan and will shine against creature-based matchups where the spot removal and life-drain effect will be extremely relevant."
Can you envision a scenario where you discard Golgari Grave-Troll and Stinkweed to Collective Brutality, while killing Goblin Guide, forcing an opponent to discard Boros Charm, while gaining 2 life in the Boros Burn matchup? *chills*
Despite his familiarity with and unparalleled devotion to the archetype, Lee quickly picked up a pair of losses right after his 3 byes. He attributes his poor performance this weekend to extreme fatigue.
"Yesterday, I was in Okinawa, Japan for a friend's wedding. I only got back to Hong Kong past midnight and I flew to Guangzhou in the wee hours this morning. I'm exhausted and I think it's affecting me badly. My friends had originally urged me to spend the weekend in Japan for a short vacation, but a Modern Grand Prix taking place so close was just very tempting. As you know, I really love to play Modern. You can share my decklist if you like. I'm sure a lot of viewers at home are eager to get some updates. If I get paired against opponents who have already registered Rest in Peace (or other graveyard hate cards), it doesn't change the fact that I am likely to be fighting an uphill battle. Haha!"
Cards which Lee does not want to face today, but likely will.
Will Lee be able to turn things around with his back against the wall? Regardless, the Modern Master isn't going down without a fight. Let's take a look at his weapon of choice as we progress into Round 6!