Top Stories of Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on September 16, 2018

By Chapman Sim

Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018 is finally in the books, and we've crowned a new Grand Prix champion. If you're interested to find out more, join us as we relive the most exciting storylines of the weekend!

Super Typhoon Mangkhut!

Typhoon Mangkhut was estimated to have a maximum sustained wind speed reaching up to 150 miles per hour, making it the fastest-moving typhoon to hit the city in history.

Weather conditions can't be helped, but the diligent team made preparations to ensure that Grand Prix Hong Kong could continue smoothly and safely.

After careful evaluation, the head judge announced that Day 2 would be delayed by thirty minutes to allow additional time for competitors to settle in. Additional verification from the convention center's management gave us further reassurance that the building was safe.

What did players have to say about this "windy" and "watery" experience?

Tzu Ching Kuo and Huang Hao-Shan, perhaps the two most well-known players from Chinese Taipei, shared with me that typhoons were very common where they lived. While this was one of the most violent storms ever recorded, Kuo and Huang maintained that they were rather used to it by now. "We get them every couple of months or so," they said. However, they were gouged by opportunistic cab drivers who charged them 240 HKD ($30) instead of the usual 30 HKD ($4) for a one-mile ride.

Two-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor, Kingston Tong from Hong Kong, had tried to take the metro here. Except that services were suspended for some routes in the morning. "Basically, any stop that is above the ground was closed. They didn't want the winds blowing the trains off the track." To get to KITEC, he had to walk thirty minutes in the torrential rain, trying to keep himself dry with an umbrella which didn't quite resemble an umbrella anymore after the arduous traverse.

You cannot stand under Kingston Tong's umbrella.

Many locals who made Day 2 opted to book a hotel within walking distance because they did not want to run into such problems. Bus services were suspended, and there were hardly any cars on the roads. Ride-hailing services were also put to a complete halt.

Conversely, players who failed to make Day 2 made plans to stay indoors. For example, Yam Wing Chun and his friends planned a gathering where they would play card games and board games for two days in a row, to tide out the storm in the safety and comfort of their homes. Lee Shi Tian also posted a photograph showing how he could mitigate the damage if his glass windows did shatter.

For many Singaporeans who had never witnessed a real-life typhoon, it was an experience of a lifetime. Rather than cancel their trips, several Singaporeans took it as an opportunity to appreciate Mother Nature's wrath in all its grandeur. According to Kelvin Chew, several of his friends deliberately came to "witness one of the strongest typhoons in history"! It sounds incredulous but getting caught in a storm could sometimes be an adventure in itself!

This was not the first time that a tournament was impacted by the weather. Nearly a decade ago, at Pro Tour Valencia 2007, tournament officials even postponed the Pro Tour. The most important thing is, there were no casualties and no reports of damage here at Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018. At the end of it all, everyone in attendance will remember this weekend as "the one where we had a brush with Super Typhoon Mangkhut".

The Rise of BridgeVine

Hong Kong's undisputed top player showed up at Grand Prix Hong Kong with a deck that received a considerable boost from a powerful common from Core Set 2019. Stitcher's Supplier was one of the most important cards to enter Modern this year.

Lee Shi Tian picked his favorite deck rather than the best deck this weekend.

"Hardened Scales Affinity is, in my opinion, the best deck of the format. However, I could not pass up a chance to play with so many of my favorite cards! I fell in love with Stitcher's Supplier when I first saw it. As you guys know, I love combo decks, unfair deck, and Dredge decks. The deck I am playing today is a little bit of all of that. It's even a little Tribal."

  • Hedron Crab
  • Vengevine
  • Prized Amalgam
  • Faithless Looting
  • Bridge from Below
  • Greater Gargadon

Since Stitcher's Supplier was a Zombie, it could be used to help cast Gravecrawler from the graveyard. Bloodghast could also be resurrected with a land drop. If you managed to summon one or two critters on the same turn, you could also return Prized Amalgam or Vengevine to the battlefield.

To get all these components in your graveyard, Stitcher's Supplier was a critical enabler, as well as Hedron Crab, Faithless Looting and Haunted Dead. To top it all off, you have the combo of Greater Gargadon and Bridge from Below to generate a horde of Zombie tokens and a colossal beatstick to end the game swiftly.

"I saw the deck on Magic Online and began practicing with it. After numerous rounds of testing, I made some modifications to the online lists and ended up with my current list. However, I don't think I practiced enough, and maybe I didn't do a good job at tuning my list. I did quite poorly on Day 2."

Lee Shi Tian's BridgeVine

Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018
Download Arena Decklist

If you're looking for a "better" version of BridgeVine, check out Takumi Utsunomiya's list! He made the Top 8 in first seed with an impressive 12-1-2 record and even advanced all the way to the finals!

Tacoma Utsunomiya was the first player to secure a spot in the Top 8, and he also came in top in Swiss after fifteen rounds of intense competition.

Takumi Utsunomiya's BridgeVine

Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018 - Day 1 (8-0)
Download Arena Decklist

Great Diversity in the Top 8

Speaking of the Top 8, Modern is in quite a right place right now. Its diversity is what makes the format so exciting, and players could make a selection from a wide range of decks based on their preferences and play style.

There were upwards of thirty viable archetypes which remain competitive, and each of them has their strong suits and weak points. As you can see, aside from the two copies of 5-Color Humans in the Top 8, the other six archetypes were vastly different from each other.

  • Takumi Utsunomiya (BridgeVine)
  • Xu Siying (5-Color Humans)
  • Naonari Hoshide (Jund)
  • Shota Takao (Jeskai Tempo)
  • Tan Lun Yi (5-Color Humans)
  • Quinton Lip (Jeskai Miracles)
  • Xu Fei (Tron)
  • Xiong Jian (Burn)

From top left to right: Takumi Utsunomiya, Xu Siying, Naonari Hoshide, and Shota Takao.
From bottom left to right: Tan Lun Yi, Quentin Lip, Xu Fei, and Xiong Jian.

As an additional titbit, I mention "diversity" also because there was a healthy mix of players from numerous countries and regions in the Top 8.

There was a total of three Japanese players, three Chinese players, one Malaysian player, as well as one Singaporean player. The three Japanese players resided in different prefectures of Japan, while the three Chinese players were also from different provinces!

  • Takumi Utsunomiya (Saitama Prefecture, Japan)
  • Xu Siying (Shanghai Municipality, China)
  • Naonari Hoshide (Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan)
  • Shota Takao (Tokyo Prefecture, Japan)
  • Tan Lun Yi (Singapore, Singapore)
  • Quinton Lip (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)
  • Xu Fei (Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China)
  • Xiong Jian (Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China)

Congratulations guys! You've made your respective cities and countries very proud indeed!

Taking It Down With Ulamog!

After fifteen rounds of Swiss and three elimination rounds, we have our Grand Prix champion!

Wielding the power of Urza's Tower, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Mine, Xu Fei of China steamrolled through the competition to come out on top. Piloting Mono-Green Tron, he summoned a game-winning Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger to score a trophy in his first ever Grand Prix Top 8. To make his feat even more impressive, he did it without a single bye!

To win his first Grand Prix title, he had to defeat Xu Siying's 5-Color Humans in the quarterfinals, Quinton Lip's Jeskai Miracles in the semifinals, and then Takumi Utsunomiya's BridgeVine in the finals. Kudos to Xu Fei for enduring the competition and for surviving the storm!

Congratulations to Xu Fei, our Grand Prix Hong Kong 2018 Champion!

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