Finals: Carlos Romão (Jeskai Control) vs. [7] Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 16, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

It began as the largest Pro Tour in history, but it ended with two players intimately familiar with a seat in the finals of the Pro Tour with a title on the line.

Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka was making his fourth career Pro Tour Top 8, just six months after his last appearance in the elimination rounds at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad. His run here at Pro Tour Kaladesh comes ten years after his first Top 8 and Pro Tour title in Charleston. The trip to the finals in Honolulu marks his third Sunday appearance in the last two years, and is a clear sign that Yasooka shows no signs of slowing down after his Hall of Fame induction in 2015.

Carlos Romão's lone trip to a Pro Tour Sunday came at the 2002 World Championship, but he made the most of that appearance by defeating Mark Ziegner in the finals to win the title. His finals appearance in Hawaii—winning three Sunday matches just to get there—follows a resurgent year for the Brazil native. He won two Grand Prix titles in 2016 on his way to Pro Tour Kaladesh, and was clearly hungry for more.


The finals of Pro Tour Kaladesh was guaranteed to present someone their second Pro Tour title.

The Decks

Based primarily around the raw power of Torrential Gearhulk, a glut of counterspells and removal, Romão's Jeskai Control deck had the answers needed to address any deck in the field. He had ripped through an aggro and combo-oriented field in the Top 8 and looked good doing it, winning nine of the eleven games he played. Yasooka had done the same all weekend, and earned the second overall seed in doing so. He took the wheels right out from underneath Ben Hull's Red-White Vehicles deck in the semifinals with his own Grixis Control build.

But now each faced an entirely different kind of challenge: The control mirror.

The Games

With the option to play or draw first, Yasooka chose to take the draw, banking that the extra card would mean more than the tempo advantage.

Still, it was Yasooka who got into the board first, playing a second-turn Thing in the Ice, a slowly building threat in the match-up. Not that Romão gave it any chance, taking it down with Harnessed Lightning at the earliest opportunity, though a second soon followed.

As the control mirror progressed, both players spent plenty of turns doing nothing but playing a land and passing, sculpting their hands over several turns before meeting in an explosion of game-changing action.

The next domino to fall was when Yasooka cast Transgress the Mind, enough of a threat for Romão to protect his hand with Void Shatter. He used the small window to resolve Glimmer of Genius to find a fifth land drop, though the play left the door wide open for Yasooka. And he took full advantage. Jace, Unraveler of Secrets hit the field for the Hall of Famer, which alongside his Thing in the Ice gave him full control of the game.


Carlos Romão is aiming to go back-to-back-to-back in premier event wins.

At least, that's how it appeared. Quarantine Field was the perfect response from Romão, cleaning up the board and restoring parity.

Again, things settled for a few turns, until Romão cast Torrential Gearhulk at the end of Yasooka's turn, which was allowed to resolve before Galvanic Bombardment and Harnessed Lightning combined to remove the creature at the cost of card advantage. Still, the play left both players out of immediate gas, and again draw-go took over the game, with both players discarding to hand size multiple times as they restocked for the next confrontation. Considering that Yasooka had fewer cards in his library than Romão—a critical piece of information in the control mirror—that meant the onus was on him to make something happen.

With that in mind, Yasooka pulled the trigger on an end-step Torrential Gearhulk, which Romão allowed to stay on the field, sitting behind Blessed Alliance to remove it should it ever attack. Well aware of what was going on, Yasooka simply kept the Gearhulk back on defense, refusing to attack with it until he was ready to protect it from removal.

Romão decided to force the issue, casting Fumigate into a counterspell. With the Fumigate out of the way, Yasooka went for a second Gearhulk in the end step, meeting a Summary Dismissal for Romão, setting off a flurry of counterspells that ended with one Gearhulk removed to a Stasis Snare but the other very much alive and ready to attack.


Shota Yasooka was in his element, facing off against one of the greatest in a control mirror match.

And along with a pair of animated Wandering Fumarole, that's what the Gearhulk did, knocking Romão to 7 life. With his back suddenly up against the wall, Romão cast Dovin Baan to buy time, but when his follow-up Archangel Avacyn was killed, he admitted defeat and moved into Game 2.

The second contest went much like the first, with the first creature to hit play being Romão's Torrential Gearhulk on turn six, netting him a third resolution of Glimmer of Genius to set up his hand. Yasooka took down the Gearhulk, but that opened the door for Dovin Baan to enter play and tick down to gain Romão life and draw a card. It was the first real volley of the game, but Yasooka had the answer in a Fumarole attack plus Negate to remove the planeswalker.

That slowed things down for a time, until a second Torrential Gearhulk hit play for Romão. Again, the players fought over the creature, and again it ended up in the graveyard but at the cost of opening the door wide open for Romão. Again, Dovin Baan came in through that door, and unlike the first time around, it stuck. Yasooka hoped to match it with his own Jace upon untapping, but when Romão won the counterspell war, an audible sigh escaped the Hall of Famer.

Thing in the Ice was his only follow-up, and it was unable to transform before Romão activated Dovin Bann's ultimate a few turns later. Now incapable of untapping more than two permanents a turn, Yasooka was at a disadvantage in any future exchange, even if he wasn't facing down immediate pressure.


Romão looks for his openings to etch out whatever advantages he can.

It was a strong position for Romão, but not an unbeatable one considering Yasooka had more cards in library. That meant that the Brazilian needed a way to press his advantage, and he tried to do so by casting Torrential Gearhulk in response to Transgress the Mind. Yasooka was able to counter the Gearhulk and then take down the follow-up Archangel Avacyn with Galvanic Bombardment at the cost of his own future mana.

Running out of threats, Romão activated three Wandering Fumarole and attacked with the team. Yasooka's own Torrential Gearhulk now entered play, blocking one Fumarole and casting Bombardment on another, which Romão tried to protect by casting another Avacyn, though it ran into Void Shatter. Harnessed Lightning took down the third land, but Romão had his own removal for the Gearhulk, and Yasooka untapped with very tenuous control of the board.

Not that he could untap much, given the Dovin Baan emblem. Still under pressure from the remaining Fumarole on Romão's side, Yasooka used what mana he could to animate his own Fumarole to try and block. Romão fought back with Harnessed Lightning on the land, but Yasooka tapped his final two mana to Negate the spell and ensure the trade. With but a handful of cards left in his library and no threats left anywhere, Romão was forced to scoop, ending an incredible game that Yasooka somehow pulled out of.

Sideboards now came into play, and just in time for Romão, who was now a single game away from elimination. Thanks to his sideboard of Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Spell Queller, Romão's threat count went way up, and he forced Yasooka to have all the answers.


Yasooka, relishing the height of playing in the most important match of the weekend.

He certainly had some of them. Transgress the Mind took out Gideon and Unlicensed Disintegration took down a Gearhulk. But no answer was forthcoming for Archangel Avacyn on the next turn, and after a counterspell war stripped Yasooka of a much-needed Torrential Gearhulk a few attacks later, Romão's Avacyn had managed to get the former world champion on the board.

Yasooka had been denied one chance at the Pro Tour title, but he trusted his game plan in the fourth game and chose to take the draw. He still had the first creature on the board, though, with a second-turn Thing in the Ice. Not that it would transform anytime soon, as the next relevant play was Torrential Gearhulk from Yasooka six turns later. While the creature resolved without incident, Romão chose to fight over the Glimmer of Genius it was flashing back. A counterspell exchange later, Yasooka's Glimmer was countered, but he untapped with a Gearhulk in play and a Thing in the Ice with just one counter on it.

Transgress the Mind was enough to transform the horror, sending the Gearhulk back to Yasooka's hand with the Transgress on the stack. Spell Queller came down for Romão to counter the Transgress, and when the Awoken Horror attacked, he tried to take it out with Blessed Alliance, a plan that Yasooka's Negate stopped cold.

That left the Japanese pro ahead on board but behind on mana, and Romão took advantage of the opportunity by resolving Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Dovin Baan, though Gideon fell to Yasooka's renewed attack on the next turn after a brief counterspell fight. Yasooka resolved Jace in his second main phase, and the Unraveler of Secrets bounced the Spell Queller back to Romão's hand, which meant the Transgress the Mind hidden beneath now resolved to turn the tables on the Spell Queller and exile it from Romão's hand.

The Knight Ally that Gideon left behind poked Jace down to 1 loyalty, but Romão was in dire need of a comeback play. When both the Gearhulk and Awoken Horror came at him on the next turn, he went for it in the form of Torrential Gearhulk, but again Yasooka had the counterspell to prevent it. The attack dropped Romão to 5 life and with just one turn to find his way back into the match. While he was able to stave off defeat for one turn with Archangel Avacyn and Wandering Fumarole, To the Slaughter removed both Dovin Baan and a precious creature.

When Negate countered a desperation Glimmer of Genius soon after, Romão extended his hand and congratulated Shota Yasooka on becoming the champion of Pro Tour Kaladesh.


Congratulations to Shota Yasooka, Pro Tour Kaladesh champion!

Carlos Romão - Jeskai Control

Shota Yasooka - Grixis Control

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