Singaporeans on the Sunday Stage

Posted in GRAND PRIX SINGAPORE 2015 on June 27, 2015

By Jun-Wei Hew

Singapore might be a little red dot on the map but she is certainly not devoid of a thriving community. While there are many great players that roam the island, some are especially esteemed.

In the entire history of the game, Singapore has put four players into a Pro Tour Top 8, more than any other country within the Asia-Pacific Magic Geo-region. Let's have a quick chat with these players and find out what they've been up to!

Albertus Law: Pro Tour Barcelona 2001

Albertus Law

Albertus Law was the first local player to achieve a Pro Tour Top 8.

After defeating the legendary Kai Budde, all he needed was an intentional draw. However, he was was forced to play his last match and lost, but was able to clinch at Top 8 berth anyway. In a twist of fate, Law was bested by the German Juggernaut in the quarterfinals and Budde eventually went on to win that Pro Tour.

That period was a heyday for Law, with Nationals Top 8 appearances in 2000, 2001 and 2009 to accompany three Grand Prix Top 8 appearances in Kuala Lumpur 2000, Taipei 2001, and a championship trophy in Singapore 2001.

It's been fifteen years, but Law still keeps in touch with the game. He is not shy to try out unorthodox strategies when the situation permits, such as a deck built around Sanity Grinding that he piloted to one of his Nationals Top 8 showings. Today, he has put together a Mardu Control deck in an attempt to take on the metagame. Oh yes, he is playing with Crackling Doom today!

Leong Ding Yuan: World Championships 2005

Leong Ding Yuan

Accompanying Law in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Singapore 2001 was Leong Ding Yuan. This was just one of three Grand Prix Top 8s that Leong would eventually accumulate, along with two championship trophies of his own in Kuala Lumpur 2002 and Kuala Lumpur 2010.

However, Leong’s proudest Magic achievement is his Top 8 showing at the World Championships in 2005, becoming the first and so-far the only Singaporean to do so. It did not come easy, and he faced some tough competition including Kenji Tsumura and Katsuhiro Mori en route to the Top 8.

"[Mori] opened with a Turn 1 Isochron Scepter, imprinting Fire//Ice against my Boros deck in the deciding game," Leong recalls, "but fortunately, I had Turn 1 Pithing Needle at the ready!"

Nowadays, his work schedule and family commitments no longer afford him the time to play as much as he used to, although he still tries to make Pro Tour Qualifiers and regional events as a way to stay in touch with the game and the community as time permits. When he does, he tears up his local scene at Gamersaurus Rex.

Just one week ago, he was all prepared to take Affinity to battle, but a rise in Kolaghan’s Command and Chord of Calling (for Kataki, War's Wage) gave him sufficient reason to make the switch to Boros Burn.

Choo Yong Han: Pro Tour Hollywood 2009

Choo Yong Han

Fast-forward four years later and we witnessed the third Singaporean achieve the elusive feat. Choo has two Grand Prix Top 8s and a Nationals win prior to his stellar performance at Hollywood and he achieved it with the help of Makihito Mihara's White Blue Red deck featuring the infinite combo of Reveillark, Body Double and Greater Gargadon.

He has determined that playing the fastest combo deck in the format was the best way to tackle the Modern metagame and will be attempting to reanimate Griselbrand with Goryo's Vengeance as early as turn one before drawing his entire library with the help of Nourishing Shoal and Worldspine Wurm.

"The deck has its fair share of mulligans and clunky draw, but it is clearly the most explosive deck in the format. I have always favored playing combo decks and this deck is totally my style!"

Kelvin Chew: Pro Tour Return to Ravnica 2012

Kelvin Chew

Kelvin Chew was the most recent Singaporean to be featured on the Sunday stage. That event shares the same format as today, in what has since become a bit of a Team MTG Mint Card's speciality—Modern.

Armed with Infect, Chew had to defeat eventual champion (Stanislav Cifka) in the final Swiss round for his spot in the Top 8. He fell to Yuuya Watanabe in the quarterfinals but did lock up Gold Level that season and the next.

Chew has also represented Singapore on the world stage thrice, first as part of the National Team in 2011, and again as a World Magic Cup Team Captain the two following years.

When he’s not traveling overseas feeding his Magic bug, Chew helps run Games Haven, which keeps him close to the Magic community. As a result, he gets what practice he can get from Magic Online, although still tries to play what real-life Magic he can get in Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers and Grand Prix.

Testing with Tzu-Ching Kuo led him to experiment with adding a fourth color to the Abzan Company deck—red, which helped shore up the Company mirror matches with Izzet Staticaster, and also gives him an alternate infinite combo of his own; Restoration Angel and Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker!