Round 8: [7] Shota Yasooka (Grixis Control) vs. Valentin Mackl (Black-Red Madness)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 14, 2016

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Going undefeated on the first day of a Pro Tour is more than an incredible feat of skill. Going undefeated means better tiebreakers, ensuring later losses leave you closer to the top of the scrum than the bottom. It also means you can afford that unfortunate loss late in the tournament, having not taken as many as your opponent.

Seventh-ranked Shota Yasooka was playing for undefeated, attacking the field with an incredible deck unlike what most competitors expected. That was Yasooka's way, innovating and pushing what a format could do. From his finalist finish at the 2012 World Championship and two Pro Tour Top 8s, Yasooka clinched his Hall of Fame slot in 2015. Not one to slow down, he added a third Pro Tour Top 8 to his resume earlier this year.

Valentin Mackl was also playing for an undefeated start, aiming to finally earn a long-awaited Pro Tour Top 8. With six Grand Prix Top 8s, and six semifinal exits, Mackl was still hunting for his breakout moment.

Pro Tour Kaladesh was just the place for Mackl to make his career move, and Yasooka to continue proving his top-of-the-game skill.


Shota Yasooka and Valentin Mackl have faced off in high-pressure situations earlier this year. Now, the two battled to see who would emerge with solid records heading into the second day of the Pro Tour.

The Decks

Mackl's choice of Black-Red Madness was a powerful one. Filled with ways to synergize graveyard interaction with aggressive attacks, it was both efficient and resilient. Cathartic Reunion could dump Fiery Temper and Prized Amalgam, while Haunted Dead and Scrapheap Scrounger ensured most of the creatures hitting the bin could made their way back to the battlefield. Voldaren Pariah was significantly more powerful when everything you sacrificed could come back just a turn later, and once you hit the mana you needed, extra lands just become fuel for Cathartic Reunion or Cryptbreaker.

Yasooka's Grixis Control deck was something quite unlike most other decks in Standard. While Vehicles and Aetherworks Marvel seem to make control look bad, Yasooka's choices make it look amazing. Galvanic Bombardment, Radiant Flames, Harnessed Lightning, Unlicensed Disintegration, and Essence Extraction all buy time until Torrential Gearhulks came online. Anticipate and Glimmer of Genius dig down to find what is needed next. Thing in the Ice becomes both answer and win condition as removal spells fly to kill everything coming its way. And beyond that, Negate, Void Shatter and Summary Dismissal handle what creature removal can't.

It was polished and impressive, and exactly like something Yasooka had prepared well in the lead up to the event.

The Games

"Undefeated?" Mackl smiled, asking Yasooka as they sat down to play.

"Yes," Yasooka said, nodding.

"My mom says you are very good." Yasooka chuckled along as the match began.

Cryptbreaker was the early play for Mackl, but Yasooka fired off Unlicensed Disintegration before he could untap. Grixis Control was all about ensuring opponents didn't have options, and the follow up Painful Truths for three cards to dig for more answers was key.

A second Cryptbreaker got to untap for Mackl, and the Black-Red Madness deck began to fire. Fiery Temper became Lightning Bolt while making a Zombie token. Cathartic Reunion hit Void Shatter after Yasooka killed Cryptbreaker, and Essence Extraction for the Zombie pulled the Japanese player back up to 12 life.

Yasooka appeared to be in control, but Mackl's graveyard was now full of options.

Thing in the Ice came down next, setting up one of Yasooka's ways to win. Mackl fell into draw-go mode with Yasooka, looking to set up a bigger turn. Lightning Axe off Cathartic Reunion came out to kill Thing in the Ice as Mackl climbed back into things with Voldaren Pariah and a well-stocked graveyard.


Mackl's deck was relentless once it filled up the graveyard.

Another Thing in the Ice was Yasooka's follow-up as the Pariah went to work attacking. Haunted Dead came back from the graveyard, joined by a Spirit token and Scrapheap Scrounger. A flurry of removal from Yasooka tried to clear the Pariah and Mackl activated it twice, with Haunted Dead and Scrapheap Scrounger again, killing the Thing in the Ice despite being left with an empty battlefield.

Yasooka had many more cards left in hand, but Scrapheap Scrounger wouldn't stop as Mackl happily kept bringing it back every time it died.

Torrential Gearhulk was a start, recasting Essence Extraction to lift Yasooka back to 9 life, but Mackl's Haunted Dead again fired up. This time it grabbed Prized Amalgam and Scrapheap Scrounger along for the tide.

A second Torrential Gearhulk looked better for Yasooka, giving him another massive blocker and a way to win. As long as Mackl was empty-handed, Yasooka had time to pull through, and before Mackl could reload one more time, Yasooka pushed through a lethal attack.

"Too good," Mackl said, picking up his cards and shaking his head. "Too good."

"Last time I won and you made Top 8. This time you win and I'll make Top 8," Mackl added, referring to their battle and respective finishes at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad.

"Deal?"

Yasooka laughed, but didn't agree to go along.

After taking a mulligan, Mackl opened with Scrapheap Scrounger then Cryptbreaker, forcing Yasooka to begin firing off removal. Weaver of Lightning from the sideboard gave Yasooka a backstop to block with, and extra burn to Mackl's creatures whenever he cast one of his many answers.


Yasooka has once again proven why he is an undisputed master of blue control.

Mackl pushed ahead with everything he had.

Void Shatter stopped a Voldaren Pariah, then Harnessed Lightning did it when Mackl tried again. Mackl next tried Smuggler's Copter, hitting another Harnessed Lightning.

Mackl went for a second Copter, but this time Torrential Gearhulk was the answer. A third Copter hit another copy of Harnessed Lightning in Yasooka's hand, and Mackl was finally out of gas.

"Unlucky!" he said, resigned as Yasooka's Gearhulk began to bear down. Firmly in control, it only took another turn for Yasooka to claim the victory.

"Too slow!" Mackl said, about his quite speedy deck. "Too slow."

Yasooka only nodded once again.

Mackl 0 – Yasooka 2

 

Valentin Mackl - Black-Red Madness

Shota Yasooka - Grixis Control

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