Huang Hao-Shan is looking to break his streak of quarterfinals losses in Grand Prix events, while Joe Soh has been quietly making a name for himself in the APAC region as the not quite as successful brother to 2005 Magic Invitational winner Terry Soh. A win for either player would further their cause considerably.
Having finished higher in the Swiss rounds, Soh elected to play first, and kept his opening seven cards. Huang gave his hand more thought, and eventually decided to put the game on a slightly harder difficulty setting with a mulligan to six.
Huang was first on the board with a Sungrace Pegasus, while Soh bounced one of his own lands to play a turn three Invasive Species. Both players jockeyed for position throughout the early game, and while Huang tried to levy his combat tricks to take down Soh's larger creatures, Soh had spells of his own to keep applying pressure. When Huang finally landed the Soul of Ravnica, it wasn't enough to stop Soh's team from swarming past to take down game 1.
Joe Soh 1 – Hao-Shan Huang 0
Joe Soh is in the driver's seat, and drives home game 1.
Soh had a much slower start in game 2, trying to dig up a game plan with a Rummaging Goblin. Huang however, got things started with a Spirit Bonds, and when the Soul of Ravnica came down this time, it was facing an empty board from Soh. Soh summoned a Charging Rhino, but it was no match for Huang's Avatar, and they were quickly off to game 3.
Joe Soh 1 – Hao-Shan Huang 1
A mulligan from Soh left him short on lands for a few turns, but it didn't stop him deploying a team of beaters, bashing through a Bronze Sable from Huang with a Crowd's Favor, and crushing a Nimbus of the Isles that was Marked by Honor with a Titanic Growth.
Hao-Shan Huang begins to fend off Soh's attackers.
Having played a Spirit Bonds the turn before, Huang's seventh turn yielded the dreaded Soul of Ravnica, and a much less threatening Spirit Token. With Huang at 13 life, he couldn't afford to not block Soh's attackers, and a post-combat Hunt the Weak finished of the Avatar before it could come under the protection of the Spirit Bonds.
Huang untapped and played an eighth land, allowing him to play and equip a Haunted Plate Mail to his Spirit Token. While both players continued to draw and play creatures, the Plate Mail and the Spirit Bonds put Huang squarely in control of the game, and it wasn't long before that match was his.
Huang defeats Soh 2-1