Quarterfinals: Yam Wing Chun vs. Shintaro Kurata

Posted in Event Coverage on July 30, 2017

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

The second quarterfinals of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation featured two players from Asia in their very first Pro Tour Top 8.

One of those players was Hong Kong's Yam Wing Chun, a lifelong friend of Lee Shi Tian and globetrotter with two Grand Prix Top 8s to his name. Yam has jokingly referred to himself as the "mascot" of team MTG Mint Card by the nickname of "Yamey", traveling with the crew for events periodically but never part of the main squad. It was a nickname he got a year ago at Grand Prix, as he was often referred to as Wing by many of his opponents out of Asia who were unfamiliar with proper eastern naming order. His friends—many from Asia—got Yamey to stick, giving his family name a more first-name sounding flare. His Top 8 this weekend locked him Gold in the Pro Club for the first time, and he competed to the applause and cheer of his friends from the team (all, of course, chanting "Yamey!" with fervor).

The other player in this match was Shintaro Kurata, a 27-year-old- Japanese player who earned his place at the Pro Tour with a strong showing at Grand Prix Kobe earlier in the year. Kurata's Top 8 here marks a very impressive debut on the Pro Tour, as the hopeful Japanese competitor looks to make big splash.

While Yam had a more traditional Ramunap Red deck, Kurata instead opted for Black-Red Aggro, an archetype that shares similarities to the most popular deck at the Pro Tour, but instead opts for some beefier creatures with Ammit Eternal along with some solid sideboard options.

Kurata had spent some time studying in the United Kingdom, and as Yam had split some of his time between living in Hong Kong and the United States, the two were used English to bridge their respective language gaps.

Yam Wing Chun and Shintaro Kurata clash, as both first-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitors seek to make this their first win.

The Games

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider was Yam's first play of the match, joined by Ahn-Crop Crasher to quickly drop Kurata to 14. Both creatures were dispatched by Kurata's Shock and Cut, while his Earthshaker Khenra crashed in for a few turns. Yam had one of his own to keep the attacks coming, as Kurata added Bomat Courier and then Ammit Eternal on the next turn.

However, it was Yam with the foil, and what will be a trend of the match, as Hazoret the Fervent came down and sent Kurata down to his precious few points of life. Yam thought for a moment, fiddling with his one untapped Mountain before passing it back to Kurata—that last action of the turn was a bluff, as all Yam had left was a second Hazoret in hand.

Kurata sent Ammit Eternal in, which Yam chose to block, bringing him to 12. With the Earthshaker in the graveyard, Yam had a multitude of draws to end the game outright. He found one in Incendiary Flow, clearing the way for Hazoret to finish Game 1.

Kurata led Game 2 with Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, which did a fantastic job of keeping Yam's opening of Falkenrath Gorger and Bomat Courier at bay. Shock disposed of Kurata's freshly played Earthshaker Khenra, and Kari Zev and her Ragavan got in for 3. Kurata passed back without a third land. Yam, meanwhile, had Ahn-Crop Crasher to bring Kurata to 13 (the extra point coming from a Sunscorched Desert).

Yam remains focused in his match, shuffling and playing fast and precise.

Still stuck on two lands, Kurata had to hold back his team, leaving him vulnerable to Incendiary Flow on Kari Zev the next turn. Yam exerted his Ahn-Crop Crasher to prevent Kurata's newly played Falkenrath Gorger from blocking. Attacks left Kurata with only a Gorger, Yam with an exerted Crasher and a Bomat Courier, and Kurata at 9 life.

With Hazoret and Earthshaker Khenra in hand, Yam had a lot of potentially punishing draws. He winced upon drawing Kari Zev, Skyship Raider, which threw his curve off. Nonetheless, he sent in his Earthshaker and Bomat Courier, dropping Kurata to 6. He found his fourth land next turn, enabling Hazoret the Fervent to come down and swing in. At 6, Hazoret acted more like The Abyss, forcing chump blocks from Kurata just to stay alive. Kurata's situation never got better, as Yam's Bomat Courier had a big delivery of cards waiting, and Yam's lead never fell. The two were quickly on to Game 3, after a few minutes of sideboarding.

The two traded blows in Game 3, Yam with Bomat Courier and Kurata with Earthshaker Khenra. After that, things slowed down, with Yam Shocking Kurata's Earthshaker, as the Courier got in a point at a time. The bigger plays came out shortly, Kurata with Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Yam with Hazoret the Fervent.

Kurata remains poised, even after going down two games to start the match.

The turning point was Collective Brutality from Kurata, pitching Akoum Firebird for Kurata, leaving Yam without his Bomat Courier or the Collective Defiance in his hand. Chandra ticked up to give Kurata mana, letting him cast Glorybringer to attack for 4. Yam was in an awkward spot, forced to use Magma Spray on Glorybringer and an activation of Hazoret just to get his hand size down to one. That let Hazoret dispatch of Chandra.

When Kurata followed up that turn with a Hazoret of his own, the writing was on the wall, and Yam quickly moved to Game 4.

Yam's flurry of creatures met a trio of removal spells from Kurata in Game 4. Two of those removal spells had additional relevancy, as Collective Brutality denied Yam an Incendiary Flow (with Kurata pitching Swamp), while Cut represented a potentially brutal late-game Ribbons. Yam, however, kept pace, trading creatures for creatures, and leaving Kurata to exchange his Eldrazi Obligator for Yam's Soul-[autocard]Scar Mage[/autocard] in combat.

When Kurata deployed Ammit Eternal, it seemed that he would have the lead…at least, until a roar from the crowd came after Yam's top-deck—Hazoret the Fervent—hit the table. With the God now in Yam's possession, the tables quickly turned. Yam could only shake his head at his own fortune as his friends in the crowd continued to cheer and laugh.

Collective Defiance off the top from Yam immediately a turn after that earned the handshake.

Yam Wing Chun defeats Shintaro Kurata 3-1 and advances to the semifinals!

Yam, Wing Chun - Ramunap Red

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Kurata, Shintaro - Black-Red Aggro

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