Posted in PRO TOUR KHANS OF TARKIR - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 12, 2014

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

When discussing the resumes of successful Magic players, putting values on certain finishes can be harder than it sounds. Hong Kong's Lee Shi Tian has 4 Grand Prix Top 8s and 2 Pro Tour Top 8s, doubling Shaun McLaren on both counts, but McLaren won the Pro Tour he made Top 8 in, and that counts for a lot.

So how best to settle this? Over a good ol' game of Magic: The Gathering, of course!

McLaren brought with him to the table a Jeskai Wins deck with less Seeker of the Way than most, and a little more removal, while Lee Shi Tian brought with him a variation on the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck designed by the Hong Kong Magic community they like to call "Umbrella Revolution."

Lee's plan is relatively straight forward, given how complicated it is, he's looking to assemble his combo and kill McLaren in a single turn. McLaren either has to provide a lot of pressure on Lee to perhaps force him to try and combo off prematurely, or to disrupt him sufficiently by keeping his mana creatures off the table.

While Shaun McLaren went for the more traditional approach to Jeskai in Standard, Lee Shi Tian has access to some green, with the focal point of his Jeskai cards revolving around Jeskai Ascendancy.

The Games

Lee won the die roll and landed a second turn Sylvan Caryatid, which is precisely the kind of start he was looking for, as the Caryatid is difficult for McLaren to mess with. That he followed it with a Dragon Mantle on his Caryatid was a little further off script, but he at least followed it up with a face-down Rattleclaw Mystic. McLaren took out the Mystic with a Lightning Strike at the end of Lee's turn, before untapping and getting the party started with a Goblin Rabblemaster.

This left the coast clear for Lee to do whatever he felt like, and what he felt like was... a second Dragon's Mantle. Commune with the Gods found another Caryatid, which he played, but it did look like Lee was struggling to find the Jeskai Ascendancy he needed to end the game.

McLaren summoned a Mantis Rider and along with his rapidly expanding army of Goblins, attacked Lee for 9, and passed back the turn.

Lee untapped and cast Tormenting Voice which drew him into the Ascendancy, and a Retraction Helix on one of the Caryatids brought his engine online. The first Caryatid tapped to return one of the Dragon Mantles to Lee's hand, and the second tapped to replay the mantle, drawing a card and triggering the Ascendancy, which untapped his Caryatids and allowed him to draw and discard a card. Lee did this over and over, drawing through his deck until he found a Briber's Purse, which he could be play for free instead of the Mantle, netting him a mana of any color each time instead of a card.

Lee showed McLaren a second Retraction Helix and a Twinflame from his hand. This would allow him to return all of McLaren's creatures to his hand, and get a creature with haste into play, making it as large as he liked, thanks to Jeskai Ascendancy.

McLaren nodded politely, and picked up his cards.

Lee 1 – McLaren 0

Lee Shi Tian has two Dragon Mantle in play. In Standard. And he won that game.

"It's nice when your opponent knows how the combo works," Lee remarked with a smile, as he shuffled his sideboard into his deck before removing 15 assorted cards. "I had to go through the combo so many times yesterday."

McLaren played first in Game 2 and kept his hand, but Lee sent his back for a better 6, although from the way he agonized over them, I wasn't entirely sure he felt they were an improvement.

That said, Lee did land a second turn Caryatid, which would be key against McLaren's removal. McLaren summoned a Mantis Rider and immediately attacked in the air. Lee played a third land and pointed an Arc Lightning at the Rider. McLaren summoned another one, and Lee surprised everyone by playing a Savage Knuckleblade and giving it haste. McLaren attacked again, dropping Lee to 10 life.

Lee summoned a Kiora's Follower, and at the end of turn, McLaren pointed a Jeskai Charm at Lee's face to knock him to 6, and then 4 from a Magma Jet. McLaren untapped and moved to attack with the Mantis Rider. Lee tried to cast Retraction Helix, but McLaren was ready with the Dissolve. He attacked Lee to 1, and then finished him off with another Magma Jet.

Now that McLaren had access to cards like Anger of the Gods after sideboarding, it seemed that Lee had decided to sidestep the problem of losing all of the creature parts of his combo by instead attacking with large monsters. It just didn't quite work this time.

Lee 1 – McLaren 1

McLaren had little of substance in Game 3, instead steadily toasting each and every creature Lee tried to summon with a variety of burn spells.

Shaun McLaren is hunting for well, pretty much anything Lee puts out there.

Eventually, Lee had lost around half of the mana creatures in his deck, and while McLaren certainly wasn't putting any pressure on Lee's life total, it was getting to the point where Lee might eventually run out of creatures to combo off with, assuming the combo still existed within his deck in any capacity.

McLaren cast Dig Through Time, but still didn't find anything he considered worth committing to the table. Lee tried to cast a Savage Knuckleblade, only to see it Dissolve before him. Each player continued to play lands and pass back the turn, patiently waiting for something to do. McLaren pointed a Jeskai Charm at Lee's face at the end of turn, dropping him to 13, thanks to some early and liberal use of a Mana Confluence. Lee tried to summon a Polukranos, World Eater, but McLaren again had the Dissolve. Lee Summoned a Kiora's Follower, and McLaren again played Dig Through Time.

McLaren cleared the board with Anger of the Gods. Lee bounced back with a Savage Knuckleblade that at least resolved, but was promptly put back on top of his library with a Jeskai Charm, but not before his Mana Confluence dropped him to 12.

McLaren finally made a move, summoning a pair of Mantis Riders and attacking Lee to 6. Lee untapped and roasted one of them with an Arc Lightning, but McLaren had been holding a third in his hand, and finished Lee off on the following turn.

Lee 1 – McLaren 2

Shaun McLaren – Standard

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Lee Shi Tian – Standard

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