Finals: Yuuki Ichikawa vs. Huang Yung-Ming

Posted in Event Coverage on June 26, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Huang Yung-Ming has been playing Magic for over a decade, and is one of Chinese Taipei's most committed veterans. However, he's never quite experienced a surge of success quite as intense as what he's going through this fortnight.

Last Sunday, Huang was rather preoccupied with winning Chinese Taipei's first World Magic Cup Qualifier. Seven days later, today, he was in the enviable position of potentially winning Grand Prix Taipei. That is a lot of action for Huang within a short span of 8 days, and the fact that he has done it with the same deck is an even larger source of affirmation of his efforts.

“I've been practicing with White-Green Tokens since Grand Prix Tokyo and I've ran so many games with it in the past month. I believe I have the optimum configuration and I'm so happy with my exact 75 that I didn't even change anything from last week.”

A win here is not only monumental for Huang, but also especially important for Chinese Taipei. Two years ago, his buddy Huang Hao-Shan won it all. Now that he has the chance to keep the shiny trophy on local soil.

This is Yuuki Ichikawa's 6th trip to the Top 8, and he was one match away from winning his second Grand Prix. It hasn't all been a smooth route to the Top 8, but the fact that he has made it to the finals is proof that he can thrive amidst adversity. In addition to a second title, the 8 Pro Points will also propel Ichikawa's quest in hitting Platinum, and an additional $10,000 can't hurt.

Citing Collected Company as the best card in Standard and Bant Company as the best deck in Standard, we're one match away from seeing if his judgment holds true!

Game 1

Owing to Huang's superior Swiss standing, he was the first to lead, kickstarting the match with Oath of Nissa for Sylvan Advocate. Naturally, it hit play on turn 2, and Huang followed it up with a turn 3 Nissa, Voice of Zendikar.

A second Oath of Nissa to gained Huang a second Sylvan Advocate, and he was faced with an interesting decision. Should he place +1/+1 counters on both 2/3s and his lone Plant token to keep up the pressure, or should he make another Plant token to hold the fort?

Since he was holding Archangel Avacyn, he felt that it was relatively easy to assume the role of the control player, and try to fire off Nissa's ultimate ability instead. Huang took the defensive fork in the road, while Ichikawa had to work extra hard hard to kill the opposing Planeswalker that was causing him so much grief.

Yuuki Ichikawa is very behind, even if its only turn 3.

Ichikawa had no turn 2 plays, and seemed to be very, very behind, but Eldrazi Displacer was his attempt to pull ahead. What else could Ichikawa do to get out of the fix?

Finding Reflector Mage, he was able to combine it with a couple of Eldrazi Displacer activations to clear the path. That prevented the ultimate from Nissa, but Huang was still in firm control of the game, with three Plant Tokens and Archangel Avacyn on the board. Gideon, Ally of Zendikar populated the board so quickly that even Ichikawa couldn't keep up with Eldrazi Displacer.

Archangel Avacyn continued to soar through the skies, while Nissa and Gideon pressed the advantage hand-in-hand. When Ichikawa was forced to tap out, that paved the way for Huang to transform Westvale Abbey into a game-winning Ormendahl, Profane Prince!

Yuuki Ichikawa 0 - Huang Yung-Ming 1

Game 2

Huang was forced to mulligan to 5, but at least he did have Hangarback Walker on turn 2. Reflector Mage sent it home, and when Huang recast it as a 2/2, Ichikawa Dismissed it with Ojutai's Command.

A second Reflector Mage sent home Sylvan Advocate, and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy joined Ichikawa's side. For Huang, this was the best moment for Planar Outburst, the perfect play for a little respite. Ichikawa passed the next turn with no place, representing either Collected Company or his second Ojutai's Command.

A second 2/2 Hangarback Walker met the same fate as the first, except that Ichikawa opted to bring back Jace, Vryn's Prodigy from the board. Nissa, Vastwood Seer fetched up a Forest, transforming herself.

Linvala, the Preserver was a great card for comeback situations, but Ichikawa had double Eldrazi Displacer and a ton of mana to keep it in check. It did cost a lot of mana, but his aim was hold the fort with Jace, Telepath Unbound, and to protect Nissa, Sage Animist.

It is Huang Yung-Ming's turn to answer his opponent's Planeswalkers.

Doing some complex math, he floated six mana in his mana pool before untapping them and transforming them into creatures with Nissa's ultimate.

“So, is that six 6/6 creatures?”

“No, they're 8/8s,” Ichikawa responded, pointing to Sylvan Advocate.

No matter, Ichikawa had access to upwards of 15 mana, and was able to tap down Huang's entire team with Eldrazi Displacer to kill him in one fell swoop!

Yuuki Ichikawa 1 - Huang Yung-Ming 1

Game 3

Keeping an sketchy hand with no two drops or a third land, Huang found himself in the unfortunate position of being forced to cast Den Protector as a 2/1.

Feeling little pressure, Ichikawa took his time to set up his mana, and even found time for Tireless Tracker to net himself a Clue. The follow-up of Collected Company gifted Ichikawa with Sylvan Advocate and Lambholt Pacifist.

Huang Yung-Ming has the action, but not a third land.

Dromoka's Command was Ichikawa's next backbreaking play, and Huang was holding four Declaration in Stone, double Linvala, the Preserver and Archangel Avacyn that he couldn't cast. As the Clues started piling up for Ichikawa, winning was customary from that point.

Huang fell without ever seeing his third land, and the writing was on the wall.

Yuuki Ichikawa had won Grand Prix Taipei!

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