Posted in GRAND PRIX SALT LAKE CITY 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on September 7, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

The last of the undefeated players is also our Round 11 King of the Hill matchup. Allen Sun took down Grand Prix winner Nathan Holiday last round, and now he faces Pro Tour Born of the Gods champion, No. 11–ranked Shaun McLaren. The Canadian player was known mostly as a Magic Online standout until he dismantled the Modern field in Valencia in February.

Allen Sun is new to the competitive scene, this is only his second Grand Prix. Hailing from DC, he started on MTGO and has been making the transition to paper Magic. "Online is so much easier," he said. "You don't have to worry about forgetting triggers; it's all done for you." Sun's been learning that thing tournament veterans have engrained into their heads for years. It takes time. Currently sitting at 9-0-1, and one of the only two undefeated players remaining, it seems like he's getting a handle on it all.

Sun is playing the most hated archetype, Black-Red. But he made it work in the first round, and we'll see how it matches up against McLaren's White-Blue.

Game One

Allen Sun held the ground (and nipped some life points) with an early Typhoid Rats. He showed McLaren a Forest early on as well, though the Canadian was unsure of how it would be used. Kird Chieftain would be the most common reason.

Shaun McLaren's Blue-White was a bit slower out of the gates, but used a Gargoyle Sentinel to buy time for the Seraph of the Masses and Triplicate Spirits waiting in his hand.

Sun went into thought when the convoke sorcery was cast. He decided to Burning Anger up his Typhoid Rats. The build-your-own-deathtouch-Tim [Prodigal Sorcerer] would have been a more than enough to deal with the spirits, but McLaren had Solemn Offering ready—gaining some life to boot (that's not a Canadian reference).

Though Sun was developing his board fine—Rummaging Goblin, Krenko's Enforcer, and another Typhoid Rats—he was having trouble keeping up with three lowly spirits. The scores were 19-11 in McLaren's favor. Sun thought he had a handle on things when he used Stoke the Flames on a fresh Kapsho Kitefins, but McLaren now had multiple angels waiting in the wings.

Seraph of the Masses, joined by the Resolute Archangel (gaining McLaren 12 life in the process), was just too much to overcome. Sun surveyed the board after adjusting his opponent's life total, staring at the giant white oppressors now looming over him, and didn't even have to draw his next card.

"Yeah, that's it," he said. "Man, Triplicate Spirits. It's a good card."

"Yes it is," McLaren replied, as he reached for his sideboard with the first game under his belt.

Shaun McLaren 1 – 0 Allen Sun

"That Solemn Offering was a good maindeck," Sun said smiling.

"It was a good 23rd card," McLaren said. "To be fair, there were other cards that would've done the job, but it got me some style points for sure."

Game Two

Sun's start looked stronger this game with a Child of Night, Necrogen Scudder, Borderland Marauder and an Inferno Fist on the lifelinker. It was 12-22 in Sun's favor going into his fifth turn. Yeah, that's a bit stronger.

McLaren traded some early creatures, but Sun's follow-up Krenko's Enforcer pressed the advantage. Both players were stuck on land, but McLaren's high cost blue and white cards were worse in hand than Sun's lower-curved aggressive cards.

The Pro Tour winner tried to get back in, but a convoked Stoke the Flames to the face sealed McLaren's fate before could get the mana to stabilize. The games were at one apiece.

Shaun McLaren 1 – 1 Allen Sun

Game Three

McLaren was on the play this game, which would be an extra half-turn to develop his board. McLaren's deck had the late game well in hand, but he had to survive Sun's early-game onslaught. That first land drop got him a Gargoyle Sentinel before Sun's Borderland Marauder could attack, so it already looked an advantage.

The next turns saw Sun aggressively trading with McLaren's early team—Stoke the Flames on Razorfoot Griffin, and marauder for the gargoyle—hoping to stem any expensive convoke cards in the process. The plan worked for a few turns and the totals became 13-24 for Sun. McLaren found his fifth land (on turn six) and cast Master of Predicaments to put a kink in the whole "attacking" thing Sun had going on.

Despite the sphinx Sun pressed on, attacking right into the 4/4, getting McLaren down to 7, then a Lava Axe to 2. McLaren was in a hole. Though he gained some life and time thanks to Divine Favor and AEtherspouts, it was still 5-22. Master of Predicaments worked some magic, but it would still be uphill.

After an attack, McLaren selected Wall of Frost for the sphinx bluffing game. Fearing the Resolute Archangel, Sun picked greater than four converted mana cost, so McLaren put the wall in for free. After that he used all his untapped land to cast a Will-Forged Golem, which could block Sun's only current attacker, Krenko's Enforcer. A couple attacks later, McLaren had more balanced the totals at 5-8. It was do-or-die time.

McLaren saw Sun's Shadowcloak Vampire and enforcer and counter-intuitively used Solemn Offering to destroy his own Divine Favor to have enough life to survive another turn. But it was for naught. After dealing six damage in the attack step, Sun used a sandbagged Cone of Flame (which could've just been a Lava Spike) to finish off the 11th-ranked McLaren.

Allen Sun 2 – 1 Shaun McLaren

Just like that, the rookie has become the last remaining undefeated player at 10-0-1. All he had to do was beat a Grand Prix winner and a Pro Tour winner consecutively, all while under the feature-match lights. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

Allen Sun's Black-Red, Day 2 Draft 1 Grand Prix Salt Lake City

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Shaun McLaren White-Blue, Day 2 Draft 1 Grand Prix Salt Lake City

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