Dae-Hoon Won from South Korea and Joseph Sclavezero from Australia shook hands as they began their Top 8 match at GP Manila. This was the first GP Top 8 for both players, but only one would be able to progress onwards.
Sclauzero was first on the the battlefield with a Seeker of the Way, but Wan quickly responded with a Courser of Kruphix. Sclauzero pressed the attack and Wan declined to block, and eventually the Seeker was joined by a Butcher of the Horde. Wan summoned Sidisi, Brood Tyrant, making a zombie token off a Soul of Theros hitting the graveyard. Sclauzero went into the tank.
"If he drew an untapped land, I wanted to force him to use the Soul of Theros with as few creatures as possible," Sclauzero said after the match, "So I decided to go all in on Butcher of the Horde. I had a Hordeling Outburst to stabilise with lifegain from the Butchers next turn."
Dae-Hoon Wan attempts to fend off the Mardu Horde.
Sclauzero played out a second Butcher, sacrificed the Seeker of the Way to grant it haste, and smashed in for ten. Wan drew but didn't find an untapped land. Wan cast Commune with the Gods. Unfortunately the Gods found no favour with him, so Wan attacked, then conceded.
Wan mulled to six on the play, keeping a two land hand with a Thoughtseize. He targeted Sclauzero with the discard spell and saw an opposing 2 land hand with Chained to the Rocks, Lightning Strike, two Utter End, Hushwing Gryff, and Butcher of the Horde. Wan took the Chained to the Rocks and passed the turn.
Sclauzero played a land and passed, while Wan drew into another Thoughtseize and used it immediately. He saw the third land had arrived in hand for Joseph. "Thinking." he said softly. "Ok." replied Joseph. Finally Wan forced Sclauzero to discard the Butcher of the Horde.
The following turn Wan summoned Anafenza, the Foremost, while Sclauzero flashed in the Hushwing Gryff. Sclauzero found his fourth land and Wan sighed, knowing Joseph's hand. Utter End ended Anafenza utterly. Wan cast a Siege Rhino, losing the Lighting Helix effect to the the Hushwing Gryff's static ability.
Sclauzero kept the pressure on with Hordling Outbursts. Even though the Hushwing Gryff was destroyed by a Glare of Heresy, the Rhino couldn't make headway and was forced to play defence against the 1/1s. Eventually Sclauzero used the Lighting Strike he'd had since the start of the game to finish Wan off, and the two shook hands a final time.
Joseph Sclauzero progresses through to the semifinals at Grand Prix Manila.
"I'm feeling pretty calm, pretty happy." Sclauzero said afterwards, "The goal was to qualify for the Pro Tour. My friend, Tristan Cook, won a PTQ and I really wanted to go with him."
"Everything about the deck has worked perfectly. I feel like I'm running a hot, playing well, and if I want a card it'll be there for me. I'll probably face Whip decks now. I've beaten two Whip decks so far, and if they mana screw I should be okay. But the goal is to turn their enter-the-battlefield abilities off with Hushwing Gryff, kill their big guys, and get through as much damage as possible, as fast as possible."