Posted in GRAND PRIX MANILA 2015 on January 4, 2015

By Chapman Sim

It would be a gross understatement to say that Lee Shi Tian was having a good season. The MTG Mint Card player racked up three Pro Tour Top 8s in three consecutive seasons and finished Platinum in the last two. Now competing in his 6th lifetime Grand Prix Top 8, he hoped his deck choice would help him clinch a second Grand Prix title.

"The Umbrella Revolution", what he names his Jeskai Ascendancy deck, recently assisted him in clinching his third Pro Tour Top 8 at Honolulu. Today, he has brought his signature deck to Manila and cruised into the Top 8, preying on the field of green decks he had expected.

His opponent, Taghoy Arnulfo Jr., was not quite as experienced as himself. Actually, Taghoy was competing in his very first Grand Prix and was the lone Filipino player to break into the Top 8. Pretty impressive for the first attempt! His Temur Aggro deck seemed to be cooperating with him all weekend

Game 1

Lee was forced to mulligan into a mediocre hand, only putting up Sylvan Caryatid and Dragon Mantle on Turn 3. Taghoy passed his third turn, representing Boon Satyr which indeed sprang out at the end of Lee's turn.

A hasty Savage Knuckleblade joined Boon Satyr in the red zone, quickly putting Lee under immense pressure. When Lee tried to resolve Jeskai Ascendancy, it was countered by Stubborn Denial. Lee tried to a second copy, a second Stubborn Denial dealt with it, causing Lee to throw his hands into the air with mild frustration.

You see, Taghoy was only play with 2 counterspells in his entire maindeck. Two Stubborn Denials.

Retraction Helix was used to return Savage Knuckleblade to Taghoy's hand, and that practically spelt doom for Lee. A defensive Retraction Helix. Not a good sign at all.

Double Stubborn Denials do great work for Taghoy Arnulfo Jr.

Lee Shi Tian 0 - Taghoy Arnulfo Jr. 1

Game 2

Both players were forced to mulligan but Lee was able to resolve Sylvan Caryatid and Jeskai Ascendancy on turns two and three. Taghoy recruited Rattleclaw Mystic and Ashcloud Phoenix but little did he know that he was already dead.

Lee had almost all combo pieces he needed. Here's how it went.

Lee used Twinflame to copy Sylvan Caryatid. With two "mana producers" on the battlefield, this meant that all his 2 mana (non-creature) spells were free to cast, and whenever he had a 1 mana spell, he would actually gain mana.

He raced through his deck, starting with Tormenting Voice, Dragon Mantle and Dig Through Time, before finally finding Retraction Helix.

Retraction Helix allowed Lee to bounce Astral Cornucopia to his hand, which he promptly recast for free, untapping both his Sylvan Caryatids. With the extra mana, he resolved a second copy of Jeskai Ascendancy and Lee's mana pool began to overspill.

If you understood all of that, you should know that Lee had infinite mana and could draw as many cards as he liked.

Since he didn't have a creature that could attack, he bounced both of Taghoy's creatures and summoned a pair of Nyx-Fleece Rams. On the next turn, he executed the combo for 699 loops to attack for lethal.

"If you understood the combo, may I draw my entire deck?"

Lee Shi Tian 1 - Taghoy Arnulfo Jr. 1

Game 3

Lee once again had to mulligan and his Sylvan Caryatid quickly met with Taghoy's Anger of the Gods. Lee rebuilt with Nyx Fleece Ram (enchanted with an important combo piece, Dragon Mantle) and Voyaging Satyr, only to have them cleared away with a second Anger of the Gods in conjunction with Lightning Strike.

Taghoy was liberal with his board sweepers, and used a third copy to kill just a Rattleclaw Mystic.

Regardless, Lee was sandbagging the final mana dude in his hand, Sylvan Caryatid. When Taghoy tapped out for Savage Knuckleblade, Lee revealed that he did have the entire combo in his hand.

Except Jeskai Ascendancy.

He used Dig Through Time in an attempt to find it, putting Taghoy through a nail-biting moment. When a grin appeared on Lee's face, Taghoy knew that his day was over. Going through the motions, Lee proceeded to draw his entire deck and milled Taghoy to death with the help of Altar of the Brood.

"The Umbrella Revolution" has made it through to the semi-finals.

Lee Shi Tian 2 - Taghoy Arnulfo Jr. 1