Tzu Ching Kuo is one of the most accomplished players in the hall of over 2600, and definitely the most accomplished non-Japanese player in the field. Many of the big-name Japanese "Eldrazi Pros" are enjoying their cherished Sleep-In Specials, but we'll always be able to catch them in action later. Seeing how the World Magic Cup Champion arrived early today, let's catch up with him and watch him tackle the brand-new Oath of the Gatewatch Limited format.
Kuo has been having a rather silent season, however. Despite being qualified for Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar and Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, he has relinquished his invite due to other agendas. What has the 11-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor been up to?
Tzu Ching Kuo
"Well, the truth is I've been busy with opening a store in Taipei. It has always been my dream to have my very own hobby store. In October, I was terribly busy with renovation works and business planning, so I had to regrettably give Pro Tour Milwaukee a miss."
His store in central Taipei opened its doors around Christmas, and has since grown to Core Level with the Wizards Play Network and is looking to progress to Advanced. He was also very glad to host the Oath of the Gatewatch Prerelease, which was a sold-out event.
"I'm very glad that I have my very own place, and it feels like the best place to play Magic because it feels like my own home. Anyone who wants to learn how to play Magic can just pop by, and I would be happy to share some tips on how to get started. Anyone who wants to improve can also come by, and I'm always happy to play a match or two, provided I have a little spare time. It is my dream to leave behind a legacy in the region, because I've been playing Magic for such a long time, and I want to contribute towards growing the community in this very special way."
Did you attend the Oath of the Gatewatch Prerelease?
"Now that the business is up and running, I find myself having a little more time to travel, and that's why I'm here at Grand Prix Nagoya! Lunar New Year is the most important holiday for the Chinese, and I would like to spend this fifteen-day long festive occasion with my family and friends. Because of that, I won't be going for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch, which falls on the exact same day as Lunar New Year, but chances are I will be going for Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad in Madrid. I cannot wait to revisit Innistrad!"
Tzu Ching Kuo builds his Sealed Deck in Nagoya.
Enough chatter. What are his thoughts on the brand new Sealed Deck format? We're about to find out.
"I think I have less than 10 cards in Red, so I wasn't able to play with Chandra, Flamecaller. That's a real shame because I think it's one of the best cards in Oath of the Gatewatch Limited." Green was also lackluster, and Kuo was reduced to building from these Esper colors.
Chandra, Flamecaller will have to sit on the sidelines this time.
His Blue cards included a few evasive threats such as Cloud Manta and Gravity Negator, but none of the heavier lifters such as Jwar Isle Avenger or Cyclone Sire. Blinding Drone was also one of the key cards which Kuo was looking out for, but he was Devoid of that. Sorry about the bad pun.
One dead creature, no questions asked.
White and Black looked promising though, because these two colors provided him with a myriad of removal options. As a matter of fact, Grasp of Darkness, Complete Disregard, Grip of Desolation, Oblivion Strike and Isolation Zone were the cream of the crop, even though Remorseless Punishment was highly questionable!
Evasion is naturally important in Sealed Deck, and Kuo filled out the void with Makindi Aeronaut, a pair of Kor Sky Climbers and Ghostly Sentinel. Steppe Glider was relegated to the sidelines, because only Ulamog's Despoiler offered +1/+1 counters.
Rallying the Cohort is one of the important themes in Oath of the Gatewatch.
There were also plenty of Cohort cards in the mix, including Ondu War Cleric, Spawnbinder Mage and Zulaport Chainmage, who play well with the other five Allies in his deck. Retreat to Emeria and Hero of Goma Fada were nice finishing touches.
"I'm also a huge fan of the 'colorless mana matters' cards. I think it is a very challenging 'mechanic'. You need to balance your mana properly to maximize these powerful cards. You don't want to get color screwed simply because you were playing too many colorless lands. Similarly, you can't have too little if there are cards that require colorless mana."
Unknown Shores, double Blighted Cataracts, Warden of Geometries and Kozilek's Translator provided Kuo with ample sources to power Havoc Sower and the mighty Eldrazi Displacer. Submerged Boneyard slightly reinforced the mana base that was otherwise weakened by playing with three colorless lands.
Check back later as we find out how Kuo does, as he steps into the perilous world of Zendikar. He could very well be crushed by an Eldrazi. You never know...