The Magic World Championship is slated to take place in two weeks' time and will feature twenty four of the world's greatest players. They will be pitted against each other to see who will win the biggest title Magic has to offer, in addition to the enormous $150,000 prize purse.
Two players in the tournament hall today are among the esteemed twenty four to be qualified and they are none other than household names (3) Lee Shi Tian and (4) Yuuya Watanabe.
Conveniently, today's main event takes place in Lee's hometown and I refused to pass up on an opportunity to interview one of the frontrunners in last season's Player of the Year race.
Lee Shi Tian takes the top APAC slot and will attend the World Championship for his shot to become a World Champion.
Chapman: Tell the audience about the Player of the Year race and refresh our memories a little.
Shi Tian: Before Pro Tour Magic Origins, I was tied in second place with Sam Black. Eric Froehlich was three points ahead of us and it was a very tough chase. Both Sam Black and I did pretty well in Day 1, with Eric scraping into Day 2 with a 4-4 record. However, he climbed back in Day 2 and I knew that I was out of contention after picking up the 4th loss.
Chapman: Opportunities to become the Player of the Year don't come often. How do you feel about the entire episode?
Shi Tian: Initially, I felt a little bummed when I learnt that Eric overtook me. I played in less Grand Prix than I should, but that was because hit Platinum really early and wanted to save my work leave and resources for the next season. However, it was a great season for me, and I should be content with how things ended.
Lee Shi Tian at the 2013 World Championship.
Chapman: This isn't your first time securing a spot at the prestigious World Championship. How does it feel to be a competitor of the most difficult tournament to qualify for?
Shi Tian: Qualifying for the World Championship is never easy and I cherish every opportunity to be part of it. In the past two attempts, I finished at the bottom of the pack because every match is so difficult. I mean, I'm playing against the best players in the world! I certainly hope for an improvement this year and winning would be a dream come true for me.
Lee looks forward to Modern Masters 2015 Draft, as well as Modern Constructed.
Chapman: World Championship will showcase a plethora of formats. How do you intend to prepare for it and which format excites you the most?
Lee Shi Tian: I enjoy Modern Masters 2015 Booster Draft a lot because there are so many ways to draft it. The power level of the cards are higher than Magic Origins, which always results in more exciting games. However, I would be lying if I said I wasn't looking forward to Modern Constructed. I really love Modern, possibly because it has given me a lot of success over the past few years.
Chapman: Every opponent is formidable at the World Championship. Of the 23 other competitors, who do you think is the scariest?
Shi Tian: Everyone is great and it would be hard to single out one single person. However, judging by the track record of Shahar Shenhar, I will pay respect to the two-time World Champion and go with him. Winning the toughest tournament in the world twice in a row isn't something to sneeze at. They say lightning never strikes twice, but in Shahar's case, it did.
Two-time World Champion, Shahar Shenhar
Chapman: What are your goals for the upcoming season and do you have any last words for the viewers at home?
Shi Tian: It would be great if I could keep up and remain at Platinum forever. I also hope that to keep up my 100% Top 8 rate at Modern Pro Tours.
Thanks to my family, friends and fans for always being so supportive. You have all been a great source of strength for me.
Modern Master Lee Shi Tian playing in the Top 8 of yet another Modern Pro Tour.