Meet (23) Nam Sung Wook

Posted in GRAND PRIX TAIPEI 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on July 27, 2014

By Chapman Sim

Before Grand Prix Melbourne, Nam Sung Wook was little-known. After Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, things start to change. After all, he burst out of nowhere to turn from a fledging Magic Online grinder into a full-fledged Platinum Pro.

32 this year, Nam is a student by profession and a full-time Magic player now. He is competing at Grand Prix Taipei, hoping bump up his 42 Pro Points to 45 so he can enjoy the rewards of being Platinum before Pro Tour Magic 2015 takes place next week.

Event

Placing

Pro Points

World Magic Cup

51st

2

Pro Tour Theros

315th

3

Pro Tour Journey to Nyx

2nd

24

Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013

57th

1

Grand Prix Melbourne 2014

1st

8

Grand Prix Beijing 2014

7th

4

Nam Sung Wook's Current Season Point Total

42

Things didn't always start off easy for Nam though. "Mirage was when I first learnt how to play Magic, but I only started to be competitive in the last two years. My first deck was a really bad Counterburn deck. I remember it had Incinerate, Fireblast, Counterspell, Dismiss and Leviathan! I played with my casual group and I found myself winning with two just attacks! What an awesome card! And then I went to a local tournament and I found out how bad a card it was. It costed so much and it was either always stuck to my hand, countered or killed. I never got to attack with it at all!"

Nam learns the hard way that Leviathan wasn't as good as he thought.

"When Tempest was released, I found the combo of Winter Orb and Propaganda. My win condition was a single Rainbow Efreet. I won my first tournament with the Prison Orb deck." Back in those days, there was no such thing as online databases and players mostly relied on the grapevine to keep in touch with the metagame. The effect was amplified by the fact that most Koreans had no habit of rummaging for English online content and they were pretty much shut out. Word of a "broken and oppressive lockdown deck" spread like wildfire and soon everyone in South Korea was copying Nam's decklist!

The "Spike" in Nam Sung Wook begins to emerge.

 

"I was very happy because I made a deck that my friends liked. However, I modified my decklist and added a second Rainbow Efreet in anticipation of that. The next tournament, I was paired against someone who had the same decklist as me and I won that tournament because I had two Rainbow Efreets versus his one."

Through hard work and diligent practice, Nam quickly grasped the fundamental concepts of the game and started to immerse himself in higher level play. First Friday Night Magic sessions, Grand Prix Trials and Nationals Qualifiers. Eventually, he made it to the Top 4 of South Korean Nationals. This granted him the chance of a lifetime to attend his very first Premier Event, the World Championships in 2008. It was the very same one that saw Antti Malin and Team USA (Michael Jacob, Sam Black and Paul Cheon) being crowned champions.

 

Teaming up with Cynic Kim and Lee Ji-Hoon, they dominated Day 1, finishing at the top of the standings with their impressive individual records in conjunction with winning both the Team rounds as well. Nam himself went 6-0 with the aggressive Mono White Kithkin deck, laden with Lorwyn goodies such Goldmeadow Stalwart and Wizened Cenn. I asked him why he didn't play the Thoughtseize deck (Faeries), and he humbly responded that he "wasn't very good then, and needed to play an easier deck."

 

However, things started to fall apart quickly in Day 2 and 3 and Nam was unable to keep up with the rest of the field. Eventually, he finished in 113rd place, managing a 9-9 record over 18 rounds of competition. That didn't net him an individual money finish, but the South Korean team made it to the Top 8 in the Team portion. All in all, it was a pretty good tournament considering that was his very first Premier Event. At the very least, he had managed to win 50% of his matches, a passing score despite not being quite there yet.

Since South Korea has never had the chance to host a Grand Prix, he started to explore the option of traveling overseas and his first breakthrough came during Grand Prix Melbourne in 2014, where he brought home the champion trophy with his trusty Mono Black Devotion deck. In his words, he loved that deck because Thoughtseize and Pack Rat sometimes gets you "easy wins".

Nam Sung Wook, Grand Prix Melbourne 2014 Champion.

 

It was a very special moment for the South Koreans, I imagine. Since the beginning of the game, no South Korean player had ever won a Grand Prix. Suddenly Nam Sung Wook took down Grand Prix Melbourne. Two months later, his best buddy Park Jun Young went ahead to win Grand Prix Minneapolis.

 

Park Jun Young (left) and Nam Sung Wook (right), two South Korean Grand Prix Champions.

 

These successes put the Koreans in the spotlight and they soon joined Team MTG Mint card in preparation for Pro Tour Journey into Nyx. Nam pushed for the entire team to play a deck with his favorite card this entire season, Thoughtseize. Eventually, it was decided that Junk Constellation would be the weapon of choice for the Asian super-team.

 

Nam Sung Wook's favorite card all season.

"It was well-established that the Sylvan Caryatid / Courser of Kruphix decks would dominate. We wanted to play with Eidolon of Blossoms in order to support additional hand disruption (Brain Maggot) and Herald of Torment. We also built a special sideboard that transforms our deck into a beatdown deck, with Fleecemane Lion and Reaper of the Wilds in the sideboard."

After a lackluster 5-3 record in Day 1, the road to the Top 8 was definitely not an easy one. Nam knew he could not afford to drop a single match. And that the competition in Day 2 could only become tougher. And it did.

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx – Nam Sung Wook's Road to the Finals

Day 1

Round 1

Won 2-1

Raymond Tan (MYS)

Round 2

Lost 0-2

Dan Lanthief (CAN)

Round 3

Won 2-1

Kazuaki Fujimura (JPN)

Round 4

Lost 1-2

Mark Gaardbo (DNK)

Round 5

Won

Christian Hauck (DEU)

Round 6

Won

Joshua Haller (NZL)

Round 7

Won

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (BRA)

Round 8

Lost

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa (FRA)

 

Day 2

Round 9

Won

Gabriel Nassif (FRA)

Round 10

Won

Luis Gutierrez (CHL)

Round 11

Won

Seth Manfield (USA)

Round 12

Won

Darwin Mess Kastle (USA)

Round 13

Won

Yuuya Watanabe (JPN)

Round 14

Won

Andrea Mengucci (ITA)

Round 15

Won

Patrick Chapin (USA)

Round 16

Draw

Reid Duke (USA)

 

Top 8

Quarterfinals

Won

Andrea Mengucci (ITA)

Semifinals

Won

Yuuki Ichikawa (JPN)

Finals

Lost

Patrick Chapin (USA)

After defeating Hall of Famer Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in Round 7, he was paired against THREE MORE Hall of Famers in Day 2. Fortunately for him, he was able to defeat Gabriel Nassif, Darwin Kastle and Patrick Chapin to keep his Day 2 record pristine. Seth Manfield and Yuuya Watanabe served as major road bumps as well, but he managed to reach the Top 8 after taking an intentional draw with Reid Duke. He might have beaten Patrick Chapin during the swiss rounds but vengeance was exacted in the finals match and Nam ended up placing second.

The trademark finger shot from the Pro Tour Journey into Nyx finalist!

 

Moving forward, Nam's immediate plan is to prepare for Pro Tour Magic 2015 with his team, which takes place just next week in Portland. As for the next season, Nam is intent on competing in all the Grand Prix within the Asia Pacific and Japanese region. If there are Grand Prix a week before or after any of the Pro Tours in next's years calendar, Nam has expressed interest in attending too.

 

nsw1074 is really Nam Sung Wook's online persona.

 

Nowadays, Nam spends an average of 4 to 8 hours on Magic Online, down from the usual 12 hours he has been putting in the previous year. Ever since he started to travel, he has had much less time to spend in the comfort of his own home to play more Magic Online than he wants.

 

The last time I checked, Nam was at the top of 2014 Magic Online Player of the Year Standings and he was dubbed "The Reid Duke of Asia" by Rich Hagon. His initials form the first half of his Magic Online handle, but I do not know what 1074 stands for. Perhaps you can ask him when you meet him and say "Hi"!