Something about Japan agrees with China’s Bo Sun. It was just last year at GP Kobe that he put up his second Grand Prix Top 8. Now he’s within one win of his third. The only problem is the player sitting opposite him – the devilishly charming Lee Shi Tian.
Ninth-ranked Lee Shi Tian shrugged off a dismal last-place performance at World Championships in December and reasserted himself with a Top 4 last weekend in Manila. He didn’t let a 7-2 start this weekend slow him down, either, stringing together a 5-0 run at the draft tables. His weapon this round is a sleek Temur build that hits hard with Alpine Grizzlies and Summit Prowlers.
Bo Sun (left) and Lee Shi Tian (right)
Bo Sun’s 8-1 performance on Day 1 gave him a bit more of a cushion. A longtime player and MTGO ringer, he is playing Jeskai. His deck wants to get out in front early and then tempo the opponent into oblivion.
Neither player was thrilled with their opening hands, but they kept. It was a slow start. Nobody made a move until Bo’s turn-four Scaldkin. Lee had kept a hand without green mana and wound up discarding on his fourth turn when he missed his land drop. Bo hit for two and passed. Again Lee had to discard. And then again, Bo with nothing to add but lands. All told the cost was two Alpine Grizzlies and a Dragonscale Boon for Lee before a mountain peeled off.
Bo hit again and finally played a second creature – a Mardu Hordechief. Lee dispatched the flier with Bring Low, taking two for his insolence. He untapped and snapped down a forest, then aimed Arrow Storm at the Hordechief. Bo did nothing but hit for one and play his eighth land. Another forest arrived for Lee and he tapped out for Alpine Grizzly and Hooting Mandrills. Bo froze the Grizzly with Crippling Chill. He untapped and attacked with his 1/1. Lee gamely pushed his Mandrills in front of it and Bo sent them packing with Ride Down.
Lee untapped and passed right back. Bo hit for another one and played Jeskai Student. Now Lee was free to swing with his Grizzly, which enabled Mardu Heart-Piercer to take care of the token. Lee added a morph and passed the turn. Unfortunately for him he was already down to seven. Winterflame took care of his blockers, and Jeskai Charm burned him for four. The suddenly 3/5 Student finished the job.
Bo 1 – Lee 0
Again Lee paused over his opening hand, and again he chose to keep. This time Bo also had to consider things, and chose to go down to six.
Bo opened with Wetland Sambar into a morph. Lee had no play until a turn-four Summit Prowler. Bo untapped, missed his land drop, and held back on his creatures. Lee played a land and passed. Bo unmorphed Mistfire Weaver at end of turn, but Lee was ready with Bring Low. Bo replaced it with another morph and let the Prowler through on Lee’s attack. This was all according to plan for Lee, who dropped Mardu Heart-Piercer to kill off the morph.
Lee Shi Tian
Bo passed his turn and bought time with Crippling Chill on the Prowler. Lee was happy to hit for two and add Hooting Mandrills to his board. Finally Bo found a fourth land and summoned Scaldkin. He gambled on a double-block on Mardu Heart-Piercer and was not punished, but he will was so far behind it was little comfort. Lee simply would not stop playing creatures, and Bo was unable to deal with more than one at a time. All those fours soon added up to defeat.
Bo 1 – Lee 1
Bo made a face at his opening hand, but chose to stick with it. Lee stared at his. He folded it up and looked skyward, then unfurled it again and paged through it. With a slow shake of his head he sent it back for a new six.
Bo opened with Jeskai Student and then a morph. Lee played a morph of his own. Winterflame dispatched it and Bo hit for four. Lee played his fourth land but made no play. Bo hit for another three and added a second morph. A fifth land for Lee, and he brought out Dragon-Style Twins. Bo slowly peeled off his next draw, then snapped it down – a fourth land for Bring Low on the Twins!
Bo Sun defeats Lee Shi Tian 2-1