Australia's Joseph Sclauzero is riding high after his victory at Grand Prix Manila earlier this year, and with no losses so far this weekend, is no doubt hoping to add another trophy to his collection. Makihito Mihara is already in the Hall of Fame, but certainly isn't above adding another trophy to his hoard.
Sclauzero mulliganed once, which isn't disastrous for his Naya Collected Company deck, while Mihara went back twice, which could make assembling his Splinter Twin combo difficult. Both players traded early cards until Sclauzero used Collected Company to find a Knight of the Reliquary and a Tarmogoyf. Mihara tried to stall Sclauzero's attackers with a Deceiver Exarch, but the Knight fetched forth a Kessig Wolf Run, and Sclauzero was soon trampling the Hall of Famer into the ground.
Sclauzero 1 – Mihara 0
Mihara began Game 2 with a Grim Lavamancer, while Sclauzero missed his second land drop. The Noble Hierarch he'd been hoping to carry him through the land shortage was soon Roast'd while the Lavamancer melted a Wild Nacatl. Sclauzero found a Horizon Canopy on turn 3, but his tempo was lost, and Mihara calmly traded his cards for Sclauzero's threats before eventually playing a Splinter Twin on his Deceiver Exarch and making many, many copies of the 1/4.
Makihito Mihara mostly makes many, many monsters.
Sclauzero 1 – Mihara 1
Sclauzero had the perfect start in game 3, with a turn 1 Noble Hierarch into a turn 2 Loxodon Smiter. The Smiter attacked Mihara to 15, and then 10 while Mihara made a Spellskite. Sclauzero added a Wild Nacatl to the board, leaving three mana open, so Mihara probed for information with a Vendilion Clique. Sclauzero responded by sending the Spellskite on a Path to Exile, while Mihara let Sclauzero keep a Scavenging Ooze and a second Nacatl.
When the Australian attacked, Mihara summoned a Deceiver Exarch, and surprising all onlookers, elected to push the Exarch and the Clique in front of the Smiter.
"Interesting," Sclauzero mused. "Three cards in hand?" Mihara nodded, as Sclauzero let the Exarch take all of the damage. Sclauzero played out the second Nacatl, but the Scavenging Ooze got Spell Snared.
"You're on 9?" Sclauzero confirmed, and attacked. Mihara threw his remaining cards at Sclauzero's team, and fell to 3 life. With Mihara tapped out, Sclauzero grinned and played a Choke.
Mihara could only smile back and say "good... card."
Joseph Sclauzero's choke is no joke.
Mihara untapped a Mountain, Cascade Bluffs, and his Stomping Ground, and inhaled heavily, before finally laughing at his own misfortune. He shook his head, but drew and played an Engineered Explosives for 1, wiping out the rest of Sclauzero's team.
Sclauzero rallied with another Loxodon Smiter, but Mihara took it out with a Snapcaster Mage assisted Lightning Bolt. The Smiter was replaced by yet another Wild Nacatl. The Snapcaster Mage held it off for one turn, but Mihara was unable to find anything else to stop the cat scratching him to death.
Joseph Sclauzero defeats Makihito Mihara 2-1