5. Immersing in the worlds we love.
Grand Prix are high-level premier events where Pro Points and cash prizes are up for grabs, but that's not all they are about. They are a celebration of our love for Magic, and a perfect setting for friends and family to immerse in the worlds we desire to be a part of.
Well, maybe not the plane of Zendikar, where the Eldrazi are running rampant, but at least the Taipei Expo Park seemed like a safe haven.
Charming cosplayers enjoying the associated festivities at Grand Prix Taipei.
The Chinese Taipei community has a great competitive spirit, but an even bigger taste for adventure. Chu Chu, the sweet lady dressed up as Chandra, has attended a handful of Grand Prix, but never one that was held in her hometown. Coordinating with four other cosplayers, we also have Avacyn, Liliana, Jace, and Nissa in the mix.
"I'm very happy to finally have a chance to attend a local premier event," she said. "I feel much more at home, and closer to all my friends. It was a lot of fun, and I look forward to attending more Grand Prix in future."
4. A testament to consistency
They say that lightning never strikes twice, but success can!
Liu Yuchen (left) and Huang Yung-Ming (right) follow up on their WMCQ wins to make the Top 8 at Grand Prix Taipei.
Aside from crushing the Swiss portion of Grand Prix Taipei, two players in the Top 8 also took down the very first World Magic Cup Qualifier in their respective countries last weekend.
Huang Yung-Ming was the victor in Chinese Taipei, and he will likely join Huang Hao-Shan at the World Magic Cup this fall. Going into this event, Liu Yuchen was the Pro Point leader in China, but with a few other contenders at his heels, he had to play it safe! In case he fails to capture China's captaincy, he thought it might be better just to win his WMCQ as well.
Both players have certainly had great fortnights, and have not only picked up a bunch of Pro Points, but also won invitations to Pro Tour Kaladesh in Honolulu! Good job guys, enjoy your slice of paradise!
3. The race for Grand Prix Master
With only two additional Grand Prix weekends on the premier events schedule remaining, the race for Grand Prix Master is in its final throes! When Tomoharu Saito picked up his third loss in Round 8, that made for a rather nerve-wrecking Round 9. Thankfully, he won his match during extra turns to end up with a 6-3 record.
Tomoharu Saito leads the charge!
Starting out Day Two at the bottom of the pack and being out of Top 8 contention was not a particularly interesting prospect, but Saito is not the type who gives up just like that. Against all odds, he managed to turn things around to finish 5-1 in Day Two, and his final result was sufficient for 2 precious Pro Points!
"Good enough. I'm happy! See you guys in São Paulo next week!"
Over at Grand Prix Pittsburgh, Brian Braun-Duin began Day Two with a 7-2 record, while (16) Reid Duke had a tougher road since he snuck in at 6-3. Also relevant is the fact that (1) Seth Manfield went 9-0. If he wins Grand Prix Pittsburgh, that could jeopardize the entire Grand Prix Master slot!
What an exciting neck-and-neck race!
2. Lee Shi Tian makes a good run at Platinum.
Four-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Lee Shi Tian has participated in Grand Prix Taipei four times, and has made the Top 8 thrice. Taipei has historically been Lee's "lucky city," with him always doing well whenever he attends. Making his seventh Grand Prix Top 8, he was shooting for his second win, not only because it would be cool to be a repeat winner, but because a victory would instantly lock him for Platinum in the 2016–2017 season!
Despite falling in the semifinals, Lee picks up 5 Pro Points and bumps up his total to a more comfortable 45.
Lee Shi Tian is looking to make Platinum for a third season in a row.
"Grand Prix Sydney and Pro Tour Eldritch Moon are my last two chances to lock it up. Two events to get 5 more should be doable! Fingers crossed!"
1. Yuuki Ichikawa wins his second Grand Prix.
Yuuki Ichikawa's young career is highlighted by two Pro Tour Top 8s, and he has quickly transformed from an average grinder into an international superstar. However, ups and downs are part of life, and Ichikawa confided that he's been having a rather mediocre season.
"You cannot win every time, but you can always try your best. Sometimes you win, and sometimes you lose. I was not doing well at the beginning of the season, and was worried that I would not be able to get the 33 Pro Points I needed."
To put things in perspective, he was scrambling for Pro Points at Grand Prix Tokyo in a bid to secure Gold. Well, he fell short of making the Top 8 amidst the field of thousands, but was content to be back on at least the next five Pro Tours.
Little did he expect that the universe had something else planned for him. Something bigger.
Instead of merely keeping him on the train, the forces of nature nudged him toward a larger purpose. His victory in Taipei brings him up to 39 Pro Points, giving Ichikawa a shot at the coveted Platinum Pro level.
"I'll try my best to spike a finish at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon so I can hit Platinum. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, I'm simply going to continue doing what I love. I didn't expect to win this weekend, but I am glad I did. It's been an awesome weekend and Collected Company is truly my saving grace."
Ichikawa kissed his trophy and left the tournament hall with a bunch of supportive compatriots by his side. Despite being overwhelmed by emotion, I'm sure he couldn't wait to get home. His Grand Prix Shanghai trophy has a new "companion."