Asia's Grand Prix Globetrotters

Posted in GRAND PRIX SEATTLE-TACOMA 2015 on November 8, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Earlier today, I talked about Kai Sawatari's trip across continents to visit all of this year's Legacy Grand Prix. He is not the only player from Asia globetrotting this weekend. Tomoharu Saito is a typical fixture at far off continents as he travels to one event after another, but the two players I caught up with are also at the beginning of a trek.

Team MTG Mint Card has quickly made a name for itself over the years. Led by Lee Shi Tian's fantastic performances, a few of their regular ranks have managed Gold in the Pro Tour Players Club for 2015-16. Notably, Huang Hao-Shan had an impressive run last year, featuring his first Grand Prix win in Taipei 2014 as his fifth lifetime Grand Prix Top 8.

When his 2015-16 season got off to a great start at the Pro Tour, coupled with his captaincy for Chinese Taipei in the 2015 World Magic Cup, Huang saw an opportunity.

"In the last Pro Tour, I finished 10th, which is a good start towards keeping Gold or gaining Platinum," he explained. The 10th place finish at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar netted him 15 Pro Points, and with the possibility to earn even more at the World Magic Cup, Huang started looking at Grand Prix to go to. While the Fall schedule was relatively light for Grand Prix in Asia, there were a series of events in North America that would allow him to make the most of his trip as he eventually heads towards Barcelona, Spain in December for the last tournament of the year.

"I have played Legacy for about four years," Huang said, recalling that he first picked up the format when he was representing his country in the 2011 World Championships team portion (he and his teammates ranked 4th, overall). However, it was not a format that he regularly played, which meant his deck choice was limited to something that he felt was powerful but also a good metagame call given his general lack of experience playing one deck really, really well in the format.

That deck of choice? Sultai Delver. "I chose Delver because it has a good matchup against Miracles," Huang said, referring to Delver's relative clock and ability to out-attrition Miracles while also having an out to Counterbalance.

(Left) Huang Hao-Shan, (Right) Yam Wing Chun

Huang has his next few weeks mapped out. First, he will finish up here in Seattle-Tacoma, looking to earn some valuable Pro Points to add to his total. Next up for him is Grand Prix Atlanta, where he'll work through a Battle for Zendikar Limited main event. Then, up after that is Grand Prix Philadelphia, where he'll have to traverse Modern Constructed. Finally, he will make his way to Barcelona, where he will join up with his teammates to smoothen their strategies in Team Sealed and Unified Standard. Huang has already had a chance to meet up with his teammates before embarking on his North American Grand Prix stops, and he will see them once again in Spain.

However, Huang isn't hitting these Grand Prix stops alone. Traveling with him is MTG Mint Card teammate Yam Wing Chun, who is looking to rebound after a rough start to the 2015-16 Premier Play season in order to maintain Gold. Yam, while from Hong Kong, currently lives in Florida with relatives working during the weekdays while he travels to play Magic on weekends. "Hopefully I maintain Gold," Yam said.

Will the next month of Magic go well for Huang and Yam? We'll see. And even then, the season is still very young. With a World Magic Cup and three Pro Tours to go, there are plenty of Pro Points that can be picked up. All that said though, every Pro Point in a season matters, and a string of solid finishes may even give Huang a shot at the Mid-Season Master title. At the time of writing this, both players were still live on Day One, so time will tell if we'll continue to see them at the top tables this season!

Huang Hao-Shan – Sultai Delver

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Yam Wing Chun – Sultai Delver

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