Posted in GRAND PRIX MANILA 2015 on January 4, 2015

By Chapman Sim

Two the most seasoned players find themselves paired against each other. A total of seven Pro Tour Top 8s and over 25 Grand Prix Top 8s in just a single quarterfinal match.

Hall of Famer and World Champion Makihito Mihara was witnessed lurking atop the standings all weekend. He practically cruised through the Swiss Rounds with little effort. Clearly, his choice of Green Black Devotion was well-positioned for the metagame.

Platinum Pro and Professional Tourist Martin Jůza had also made it through with Abzan Whip and even defeated Mihara in the Swiss Rounds. Despite understanding that it was a bad matchup for him, he hoped that Lady Luck would be on his side again.

Game 1

Jůza's mulligan punished him dearly. Being forced to keep a three-land hand with Siege Rhino, Whip of Erebos and Wingmate Roc, he had no action for the first three turns.

Mihara's draw was the polar opposite. Speedy. Blistering. Elvish Mystic, Sylvan Caryatid, Polukranos, World Eater, Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx, Hornet Queen.

Well, that was pretty much it.

“Even if I had stacked my deck, I would still probably lose. He had Hornet Queen on Turn 4,” Jůza bemoaned.

Makihito Mihara doing what his deck was designed to do.

Makihito Mihara 1 – Martin Jůza 0

Game 2

This time, it was Mihara's misfortune to be forced to mulligan but at least he managed to kickstart with double Sylvan Caryatid and Courser of Kruphix.

Jůza wasted no time summoning a third turn Siege Rhino. Ajani, Mentor of Heroes boosted it into a 7/8 trampling beast. The next turn, it became 10/11. *gasp*

“He has no removal in his deck, I think that's game,” commented Jůza after the match.

In order to stay alive, Mihara would be forced to block with all his mana creatures. Jůza wasn't about to let that happen and pointed Bile Blight at his OWN Sylvan Caryatid, taking down both of Mihara's Sylvan Caryatids with it.

The usually silent Mihara was practically in awe and exclaimed, “Oooooh... Good play!” He scooped up his cards and Jůza mused that he could only win if he was killing his own creatures.

Makihito Mihara 1 – Martin Jůza 1

Game 3

Both players had mana creatures of their own, but Mihara kept a rather land-light hand. Jůza forced Mihara to lose Courser of Kruphix (with Thoughtseize, of course), and Mihara was forced to pass his next turn with no play, gazing at the Doomwake Giant Jůza had just resolved.

When Mihara did receive Temple of Malady, Voyaging Satyr untapped it to produce black mana for his own Thoughtseize. Jůza lost the second Doomwake Giant that would have hit play next turn, leaving behind just Utter End and a couple of lands in his hand.

Trying to keep Mihara from reaching critical mass, Utter End was spent on Voyaging Satyr. Jůza tried to end the game quickly with Doomwake Giant. However, the problem with Doomwake Giant was that, it wasn't that fast of a clock. Even after three attacks, that still left Mihara at a relatively comfortable life total, 8.

With the extra time and Jůza's lack of action, Mihara rebuilt his fort with Courser of Kruphix and Polukranos (dying to Murderous Cut almost immediately). Mihara had a second one, which enabled him to cast See the Unwritten with Ferocious, receiving Eidolon of Blossom, and more importantly Reclamation Sage to kill the opposing Doomwake Giant.

Now that Jůza was totally out of gas, Mihara had no problem securing his seat in the semi-finals. Whip of Erebos would be the final nail in the coffin, assuming Mihara needed it at all.

Martin Jůza tries to win fast with Doomwake Giant, but to no avail.

Makihito Mihara 2 – Martin Jůza 1