Round 16: Samuel Black vs. Yam Wing Chun

Posted in Event Coverage on July 29, 2017

By Chapman Sim

Some moments are nice, but some are nicer. Some are even worth writing about. In this case, the epic battle between Yam Wing Chun and Samuel Black deserved to be recorded in the annals of time.

Prior to this weekend, Black was sitting on 32 Pro Points. In order to secure Platinum status, he needed to finish at least 5th place at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation. Since 6th place pays out only 18 Pro Points, Black needs one place better than that to clinch 20 Pro Points for purposes of reaching 52.

Here's the situation:

  • Black was locked for the Top 8, since he was at 13-2.
  • If Black lost this match, he would likely end up around 3rd seed. In this scenario, if he won his quarterfinals, he would be Platinum for sure. However, if Black lost his quarterfinals, he would need both the player in 1st and 2nd seed to also lose their quarterfinals in order to be ranked 5th.
  • If Black won this match and ended up top in Swiss, he would still be Platinum if he had lost the quarterfinals.

On the other hand, Yam Wing Chun, who has two Grand Prix Top 8s to his name, needed only one match point—an intentional draw—in order to make the playoffs on Sunday. With a 12-3 record, Yam was not glad to be in this position, where his opponent had an incentive to play out the match rather than take the draw. Expressing his heart-felt apologies, Black had to decline the intentional draw.

Once that was established, both players shuffled up for the final match of the Swiss rounds. Black was playing for Platinum, while Yam was fighting for his first Pro Tour Top 8 appearance.

The Decks

Both players were playing the most popular deck of the weekend, Ramunap Red, meaning that this mirror match was not their first encounter of the weekend. As Black expressed, he had played six mirrors in the Constructed portion. Yam echoed the sentiment that the field was a sea of red and that he had played five mirrors himself.

Both decklists were similar, but Black had Cartouche of Zeal in the main deck. In addition, he also had Hanweir Battlements (and Hanweir Garrison) in the sideboard, meaning that there might be some melding action on camera. On the other hand, Yam's sideboard differed, instead consisting of Warping Wail, which he could cast off Ramunap Ruins and Sunscorched Desert.

"Why would I ever play with two colors? This is my third Pro Tour Top 8 and all three times I played mono-color decks," Black mused. Praising the mono-red deck that served him well all weekend, he was extremely happy to have made this choice. Naturally, Yam had to agree, for mono-red strategies were his favorite. Both players were extremely happy with their deck choice.

The Games

Black opened with Ramunap Ruins and summoned Village Messenger, bringing both players down to 19. Sunscorched Desert pinged Yam for one damage, while a freshly summoned Earthshaker Khenra made that 16. Thereafter, a pair of Shocks from Yam took out both critters down.

Kari Zev, Skyship Raider showed up to defend, but in this matchup, it was a long shot. Either Earthshaker Khenra or Ahn-Crop Crasher could prevent blocking, or Black could simply burn it with Incendiary Flow, which was exactly what he did.

Yam presented a copy of Earthshaker Khenra of his own, putting Black at 15 life (he took 3 damage from his own Ramunap Ruins), but that was killed by another Incendiary Flow. When Black summoned Falkenrath Gorger to block, Yam offered the trade of Ahn-Crop Crasher (without exert) which Black accepted. Thereafter, Collective Defiance killed Bomat Courier, while dealing 3 to Yam.

The life totals stood at 11 to 13, in Black's favor. But only for a bit. Yam summoned Hazoret the Fervent and crashed in for 5, and then 5 more before finishing things out with Sunscorched Desert!

Hazoret is the game-warper in the red mirror.

"This matchup is a little weird. We cast a bunch of creatures and kill each other's creatures, but in the end when somebody casts Hazoret, then whatever happened before won't really matter."

Yam could only nod in agreement. After all, he's practiced this matchup countless times.

Now that he was one game up, Yam offered the intentional draw once again, but Black politely declined. Nothing had changed, and he still had no use with that one match point. With that, both players grabbed their sideboards and proceeded with Game 2.

In Game 2, Black was on the play once more. Yam went to six, only to face Black's Falkenrath Gorger. Naturally, it met with Shock. Kari Zev, Skyship Raider was the replacement, but it fell to Incendiary Flow. Yam then summoned Earthshaker Khenra to zoom past it, but Black counterattacked and killed Earthshaker Khenra with his own copy of Incendiary Flow, conveniently exiling it as well to prevent it from being eternalized. Black's second Falkenrath Gorger met with Yam's second Shock, restoring the board to peace and quiet. Meanwhile, Black was stuck on two lands, while Yam was up to four.

"Please don't Hazoret me," pleaded Black with a smile.

Instead, Yam escalated Collective Defiance, dealing 3 damage to Black while discarding two cards to dig deeper. That netted him Mountain and Bomat Courier, emptying his hand.


Samuel Black looks on and hopes as he and Yam Wing Chun trade blows.

Finally finding his third land, Black summoned Hanweir Garrison, which looked like it was going to dominate the game if left unchecked, but Yam savagely peeled Hazoret the Fervent from the top of his deck. However, a second attack from Hanweir Garrison (and an army of four tokens) was too much to overcome, and Black mopped things up with Collective Defiance.

In Game 3, it was Yam's turn to be on the play, and he was hoping this advantage could secure him victory in this nail-biting match.

He led with a pair of Bomat Couriers and Soul-Scar Mage, all of which were toasted by burn spells, including Chandra's Defeat. The only creature that stuck was Earthshaker Khenra, and a series of early attacks brought Black down to 13. The 2/1 was killed with Chandra, Torch of Defiance, but the planeswalker fell to Incendiary Flow afterwards.

This was where things got really intense.

When Black summon Hazoret the Fervent to punch for 5, Yam returned the favor with a copy of this own.

"We've got a game here," Black said, as he started to do the math. Deciding to race, he pitched a card to Hazoret, and attacked with it. Yam was at a precarious 7 life, meaning that he would die to another activation and another attack from Hazoret. This forced Yam to keep his copy back on hold, while summoning and attacking with Bomat Courier to even out the life totals.

Just to reiterate, both players were on 7 life.

After attacking with Bomat Courier, Yam made the decision to sacrifice it to draw a card, hoping to pull ahead. It was a Mountain (his fifth mana source), which he decided to play, because he had Sea-Gate Wreckage on the board and also Earthshaker Khenra in his graveyard. Black simply summoned Falkenrath Gorger and passed.

Yam, with no cards in hand, drew Sunscorched Desert, which was great for dealing Black 1 damage. Most importantly, it also provided colorless mana to activate Sea-Gate Wreckage with! Yam drew Soul-Scar Mage, which Black killed with a second copy of Chandra's Defeat. After attacking with Hazoret the Fervent and a top-decked Earthshaker Khenra, Black was left with only Falkenrath Gorger to block.

However, when Yam eternalized Khenra Earthshaker, Black was rendered defenseless, and the final 9 damage from Yam elicited a tremendous roar from the crowd. Not only had Yam won the toughest battle all weekend, he had secured Gold and a spot in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.

As Yam packed up his cards, he broke into tears (as did fellow Hong Kong player Lee Shi Tian) and murmured, "Finally."


Yam Wing Chun secures his first Pro Tour Top 8, Gold in the Pro Club, and is embraced by all of his friends and testing partners.

Black 1 – Yam 2

Yam Wing Chun's Ramunap Red - Pro Tour Hour of Devastation - Day 2

Samuel Black's Ramunap Red - Pro Tour Hour of Devastation - Day 2

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