Posted in GRAND PRIX MANILA 2015 on January 3, 2015

By Neale Talbot

Game 1

Penafuerte set up an early commanding presence by using Thoughtsieze to nab Tan's Chained to the Rocks, then casting Brimaz, King of Oreskos. Tan attempted to fight back with a Rabblemaster, but Penafuerte used an Abzan Charm on his cat token to run over the aggressive goblin.

Tan tried to build a board presence with a Seeker of the Way and then Butcher of the Horde, which ended up trading with a Siege Rhino from Penafuerte. But Penafuerte kept control of the game, using a Thoughtseize to strip Tan's hand of a Chandra, Pyromaster, then shortly afterwards following up with a Liliana Vess. With no hand, and little board presence, Tan conceded to move the match onto Game 2.

Penafuerte 1 - Tan 0

Game 2

Tan, on the play, kept his starting seven, while Penafuerte decided to mulligan to six cards. The first play was a Rabblemaster from Tan, which proceeded to go unanswered for two turns until it met a Hero's Downfall.

Jan Penafuerte considers his options.

Tan flashed in a Hushwing Gryf continue his assault. Desperate, Penafuerte played out a Sorin and made a vampire, only to see the token Chained to the Rocks forever and Sorin's loyalty erased by goblins. Tan's second Rabblemaster was the nail in the coffin. Penafuerte Read the Bones but received no answer, and the two moved on the decider.

Penafuerte 1 - Tan 1

Game 3

Positions were reversed when Tan was forced to mulligan to five cards on the play. Penafuerte, however, had kept a fairly slow hand, using Abzan Charm to draw into a Turn 4 Seige Rhino.The Rhino was joined by Sorin, who granted the fearsome beast lifelink. Tan responded with a Crackling Doom, killing the Rhino and hitting Sorin in the process.

Raymond Tan mulligans to five in Game 3.

Tan cast a Butcher of the Horde, while Penafuerte used Sorin to create a Vampire token, Read the Bones for an Abzan Charm, then exiled the Butcher. Tan used a second Crackling Room to kill the two Vampires, token and planeswalker. Penafuerte responded with his second Siege Rhino, but Tan had a third Crackling Doom and the board remained clear.

Penafuerte found Elspeth, Sun's Champion, making three tokens. Penafuerte drew into Sarkhan, The Dragonspeaker, and used it to knock Elspeth down to 1. Penafuerte ran his tokens into the red planeswalker, made three more, then cast Wingmate Roc to dominate the board. Tan considered his options, tapped his five lands, and cast the End Hostilities he'd been sandbagging since the beginning of the game. He then used Sarkhan to finish off Elspeth.

Penafuerte looked troubled, mentally kicking himself for overextending into End Hostilities, rather than playing the Liliana Vess he had. He now played Liliana Vess, then forced Tan to discard one of his few remaining cards. Tan, with the board clearly under his control, visibly relaxed. He drew his card and immediately cast a Stormbreath Dragon, choosing to ignore Liliana and attack Penafuerte head on.

Penafuerte, flustered, cast a Read the Bones, then uses Liliana to tutor for a card. With Penafuerte's answer stranded on the top of his deck, Tan again chose to ignore Liliana and knock Penafuerte out of the match instead.

"Winning on a mull to five feels good." Tan said afterwards, "I think I got a little lucky with three Cracking Dooms in a row, and keeping End Hostilities. I won GP Kitakyushu when I mulled to four in the finals - this reminds me of that."

Penafuerte 1 - Tan 2