The last round of the first day of each Grand Prix is always something special. There is a buzz in the air–who will make it in to day two, who will fall short. As the day draws to a close, however, players huddle around the top tables to see who will be crowned undefeated.
Makihito Mihara has been in this position—playing to remain undefeated at the end of the first day--many times before. With 7 GP Top 8's, the Pro Tour Hall of Famer is no stranger to the top tables. Mihara was playing a deck of his own creation this tournament: 5-color dragons. Featuring Den Protector and Deathmist Raptor, Mihara played much like a Green utility deck in the mid and early game. Once he hit the late game, however, Mihara went straight to the dragons: Dragonlord Ojutai, Dragonlord Dromoka, and Silumgar, the Drifting Death, among others.
Mihara had his work cut out for him. His opponent, Jiang Li, had run the tables thus far with Atarka Red. Mihara mentioned that this was one of his deck's worst matchups; it's difficult for a deck that wants to play five colors and large dragons to deal with the early game pressure that Atarka Red brings.
Jiang began the game with a second turn Dragon Fodder, while Mihara had a slow start with just a Thoughtseize. Mihara's Thoughtseize took away a Hordeling Outburst but Jiang peeled a Goblin Rabblemaster off the top of his library.
All Mihara could muster up was a morphed Deathmist Raptor. When Jiang removed it with a Lightning Strike, he quickly dropped Mihara to 5 life. With no way to deal with the army of Goblins, Mihara went looking to his sideboard in preparation for game 2.
Jiang 1 – 0 Mihara
Jiang began the second game with Monastery Swiftspear while Mihara accelerated with a Sylvan Caryatid. The plant fended off the onslaught for a turn, but Jiang found Goblin Rabblemaster on his third turn.
Dealing with the 5/7 lifelinker was a tall order, but Jiang had an idea. He cast a Goblin Heelcutter with Dash, which allowed him to bypass the Dragonlord and drop Mihara to 8.
Mihara attacked in with Dromoka and went up to 12, he then used a Foul-Tongue Invocation to make his way back up to 16.
Unable to deal with Mihara gaining 5 life a turn, Jiang looked towards the third game.
Jiang 1 – 1 Mihara
Mihara found himself with a pair of blockers—Courser of Cruphix and Sylvan Caryatid. Jiang then went over the top of Mihara and used Dragon Fodder along with Stoke the Flames to drop him to 9. Again, Mihara had a Drown in Sorrow to wipe Jiang's board.
After a few attack steps from Mihara's army, Jiang extended his hand.
Makihito Mihara defeats Jiang Li and ends day 1 of GP Shanghai undefeated!