Posted in GRAND PRIX SHANGHAI 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 4, 2014

By Chapman Sim

Just because both players are fellow Grand Prix Champions does not necessarily mean they are in the same league. Then again, to be fair, few people are up there with Hall-of-Famer Shuhei Nakamura. He has six wins (24 Top 8s), while Fabien Li has just the one from Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014.

Both players are taking full advantage of all the powerful gold cards Khans of Tarkir has to offer and are doing equally well with their respective greedy five-color decks. I'm expecting this matchup to be dominated by flashy rates and powerful cards.

Game 1

Both players spent the first two turns putting tapped lands into play, then their next couple of turns churning out morphs. Seems like the standard procedure in the world of Khans of Tarkir.

When Li tried Highspire Mantis, it was countered by Trap Essence. This grew Nakamura's morph into a 4/4, a formidable threat considering its size could still increase when flipped over in future. Li gummed up the board with Rakshasa Deathdealer and added his third morph. Nakamura sat behind his 4/4, and emptied Li's hand with Rakshasa's Secret, waiting for a good chance to strike.

Fortunately, Li peeled Longshot Squad and High Sentinels of Arashin in succession, promising to wreck havoc if given the opportunity to untap. Nakamura was ready with Murderous Cut, but had no removal spell to Longshot Squad.

He added two Rotting Mastodons to his board, displaying his penchant for 5 mana creatures with absurd toughness. *waves at Pheres-Band Centaurs*

Now we wait.


Finally, Longshot Squad became a 9/9 creature, good enough to take down even the toughest of blockers. But it was too late for Li. Nakamura murdered it with a second copy of Murderous Cut and took to the skies with a pair of Abomination of Guduls.

Nakamura was firmly in grip of the game and started to tear through his library and Li's life total. With just a single card in his library, he managed to clinch the game in the nick of time.

Shuhei Nakamura takes Game One, with double Murderous Cut and double Abomination of Gudul.

Shuhei Nakamura 1 – Fabien Li 0

Game 2

Li chose to play first this game and Nakamura started his engine with Trail of Mystery. Failing to draw a third untapped land (he was holding yet another pair of tapped lands), he opted to cast Rattleclaw Mystic, before summoning his first morph. This netted him the first of his many free basic lands.

The morph turned out to be Abomination of Gudul once again, this time more powerful than before. With Trail of Mystery, he could discard the useless lands in exchange for real cards. Li wasn't about to let that happen, and promptly pointed Kill Shot at it.

He revived Abomination of Gudul and Rattleclaw Mystic with Dutiful Return and cast them both facedown. All the card filtering and deck-thinning improved Nakamura's draws greatly.

It seemed like he all the answers he needed to control the game. Li's Savage Knuckleblade was kept at bay by Rotting Mastodon. Nakamura had Death Frenzy for Rakshasa Deathdealer and a face-down Master of Pearls. Morphs stared at each other, with neither side daring to budge.

At this point, he had more creatures and cards in hand than Li had. Overwhelmed by Nakamura's immense card advantage and card selection shenanigans, Li eventually succumbed to Snowhorn Rider and Woolly Loxodon.

Fabien Li was unable to keep up with the card advantage.

Shuhei Nakamura 2 – Fabien Li 0

Shuhei Nakamura defeats Fabien Li and is now 6-0!