Finals: Wu Kon Fai (Naya Burn) vs. Albertus Law (Grixis Delver)

Posted in GRAND PRIX GUANGZHOU 2016 on August 28, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Albertus Law is one of Singapore's most seasoned veterans. He is one of four Singaporeans to have ever made a Pro Tour Top 8 and what makes the feat even more spectacular was having to defeat Kai Budde during the Swiss rounds of Pro Tour Barcelona 2001 to break onto the Sunday stage. Ironically, Budde went on to crush Law in the quarters before proceeding to win the entire event just like another day at work. It was also during 2001 where Law won Grand Prix Singapore, making this his second attempt at another title.

After successfully navigating past Naya Burn in the quarters, as well as Death's Shadow Aggro in the semis, he found himself running into little red men once more. Law was certainly displeased since it was one of Grixis Delver's poorer matchups.

“I don't really have a lot of good sideboard cards against Burn and I don't even have Dragon Claw. Also, I tend to take a lot of damage from my own mana base. Without early pressure such as Tasigur, the Golden Fang or Gurmag Angler to close the game quickly, I am at the mercy of each and every burn spell,” Law summarized his predicament.

Wu Kon Fai might be lesser known but let's not forget that he once participated in the 2012 World Magic Cup 2012 alongside Lee Shi Tian as a representative of Hong Kong. This was his first Grand Prix Top 8 and he quickly proved that he was worthy of being here, dispatching Keita Kawasaki in the quarterfinals and Kelvin Chew in the semifinals speedily. His Naya Burn deck had served him well all weekend and his version was most notable for including Wild Nacatl aside from the usual suspects.

All that stood between them and the champion trophy were each other. After reviewing each other's decklists, they wished each other good luck and began to shuffle up for the final match of this tournament!

The Games

Since Law was on the draw owing to lower Swiss standings, he was quickly under assault by Wu's Goblin Guide and Eidolon of the Great Revel. Fortunately, he had a pair of Lightning Bolts to stop the bleeding.

Wu rebuilt his army with Monastery Swiftspear and Wild Nacatl, before suspending Rift Bolt. With Law already at 12 life, things did not look good. Law used Thought Scour on himself, enabling Gurmag Angler as a blocker.

Rift Bolt brought Law down to 9 during Wu's upkeep and he tried to resolve Boros Charm. With one mana open, Law was able to Spell Pierce it with success. Attacking with both his creatures, he fired off his final card (Lightning Bolt) at Law, reducing him to 2 life.

Law couldn't wait any longer and needed to quickly clock Wu before he could draw into any burn spells. Swinging with Gurmag Angler and tapping out for Delver of Secrets and Young Pyromancer, Law could do nothing else except to keep his fingers firmly crossed, metaphorically.

Well, life isn't always a bed of roses and things did not turn out the way Law wanted. Wu flipped over the game-winning Lightning Bolt from the top of his deck, to the roar of an excited crowd.

Albertus Law is down one game. Concerned (and nosey) teammates watch on anxiously.

In Game 2, Wu pondered hard about keeping his initial seven without any one drops but decided he wasn't going to mulligan a hand with Eidolon of the Great Revel. Suspending Rift Bolt on turn 1, he used it to kill Law's Young Pyromancer before dropping the enchantment creature. If Law couldn't cough up a removal spell, he would be taking damage with almost every spell he casts.

Thankfully, Tasigur, the Golden Fang was one of those cards which does not trigger Eidolon of the Great Revel. Not only was he able to put up some defense, it was also able to race before crumbling to a flurry of burn spells.

Law's next play was Kolaghan's Command, killing Eidolon of the Great Revel and forcing Wu to discard a card. A spare Sacred Foundry hit the bin. Holding Boros Charm and Lightning Bolt, Wu wondered if he should go all in and point Rift Bolt at Tasigur or its controller. He opted for the latter and proceeded to unload all 10 damage at Law, reducing to 2 life but expending all cards in his hand.

Déjà vu?

If Wu could repeat what he did in Game 1 (topdecking a burn spell Craig Jones style), the tournament would be over there and then. Long story short, Wu failed this time and quickly fell to Tasigur and Gurmag Angler, with Law still in possession of Lightning Bolt and Snapcaster Mages for the overkill.

Wu Kon Fai bricks in a crucial draw step, losing Game 2.

The tense weekend was soon coming to an end and both players calmly deliberated about their fate-changing opener. Both players agreed that their respective hands were acceptable.

Wu had no turn 1 play again, but did have two copies of Eidolon of the Great Revel. The first copy was exiled with Magma Spray while the second copy was struck down by Lightning Bolt. Law fell to 14 from two Eidolon triggers and two Fetch land activations, still relatively healthy.

Young Pyromancer hoped to quickly clinch the match for Law and Wu knew that he was unable to race using only burn spells. He made the painful decision to point his first Lightning Bolt at Young Pyromancer in an attempt to stop the proliferation of tokens. Dispel countered it, forcing Wu to utilize a second Lightning Bolt, only to watch in terror as Law untapped to drop a replacement to create a pair of Elemental tokens with the aid of double Serum Visions.

Things started to go downhill for Wu, as he bricked during his next two draw steps, drawing a pair of lands. This game Law ample time to amass a board of tokens, while protecting his life total with countermagic. When Wu presented Wild Nacatl as a blocker, Law responded with Snapcaster Mage, flashing back Lightning Bolt to clear the path for his entire team.

Wu's next draw was Path to Exile, an ineffective card against Law's board of 7 creatures. With utterly no way to turn the tables, Wu extended his hand in the face of lethal damage from Law's overwhelming position.

Albertus Law wins Grand Prix Guangzhou and thanks his fellow Singaporeans for their unwavering support!