2008 Grand Prix–Kobe Day 1 Blog

Posted in Event Coverage on August 2, 2008

By Wizards of the Coast

EVENT COVERAGE

  • Blog: 10:30p.m. - Still Alive
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Round 9: Knight Fever Knight Fever
    Yuuta Takahashi vs Kazuya Hirabayashi
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Round 9: Drawing Anything But Blank
    Ryuuichi Arita verses Genki Taru
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Round 7: Elemental Elimination!
    Kazuya Mitamura vs Shingo Kurihara
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Round 6: Goats and Gougers
    Genki Taru verses Ryouma Shiozu
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Blog: 4:21p.m. – The Carnival Continues
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Round 5: On to Game Five
    Tsuyoshi Fujita vs Ryuuchi Arita
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Round 4: Elemental Mastery
    Akira Asahara vs Osamu Fujita
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Blog: 10:34a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Results
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
  • Blog: All the fun of the fair!
    by Tim Willoughby
  • Round 3: Kuroda Red Redux
    Hiroki Hayashi vs Masashiro Kuroda
    by Tim Willoughby

BLOG

Round 3: Kuroda Red Redux - Hiroki Hayashi vs Masashiro Kuroda

By Tim Willoughby

Masashiro Kuroda loves his red decks Masashiro Kuroda has a history with red decks in Kobe. He was the first Japanese Pro Tour Winner with Kuroda Red in this very city in 2004, and 4 years later he finds himself here again, playing a red Shaman deck that is being run this weekend by a number of top players, including Hall of Famer Tsuyoshi Fujita.

His opponent, Hiroki Hayashi, was the very first High School championships winner here in Japan. Nowadays, work commitments mean that neither Hayashi nor Kuroda can play as much as they would like, but each is here and ready for a good time in Kobe.

Kuroda saw just a Swamp from his opponent before he played his turn one Elemental Harbinger. This Hayashi him without a great deal of information as to what to fetch, so he went for a second one. When his 1/1 fell to Peppersmoke, it looked likely that he was up against Faeries. This was not anything to shake his resolve though. That second Harbinger found a third, while Hayashi continued to play lands and pass. There was another Peppersmoke to deal with that Harbinger, but Kuroda was able to follow up with that third (fetching Rage Forger), and a Smokebraider.

The Smokebraider powered out a Thunderbluff from Kuroda, which got hit by Cryptic Command from Hayashi, who seemed content to take things slowly to start. He followed up with a Thoughtseize, and saw a concerning pair of copies of Rage Forger, along with a Flame Javelin, which was not yet active, as Mutavault was one of Kuroda’s lands. One Rage Forger hit the bin, but there was nothing to stop the other, which came down and pumped Kuroda’s team nicely, allowing for some scary attacks, which soon had Hayashi on just 6. That Thoughtseize may have saved some damage, but against red, every point counts.

Hayashi flashed a hand of lands and scooped up for Game 2.

Hiroki Hayashi 0 – 1 Masashiro Kuroda

Hiroki Hayashi is ready to win.For the second game, Kuroda went to his sideboard and quickly pulled out three copies each of Flame Jab and Spiteful Visions. He had a clear plan of what to do in what must be considered to be a key matchup in bthis block format, and was able to spend much of his time between games briskly shuffling.

For Game 2, there was a mulligan from the red deck, which saw nothing but Mutavault as lands in an otherwise exciting opener. Greedy, Kuroda had a quick look at the top of his deck as he took his mulligan. Of course, three Mountains lay waiting. Sometimes Pro Tour champions look, but that doesn’t mean it is ever a good idea.

Kuroda was ultimately to go down to five for the game, and had a turn two Vexing Shusher, which would be a powerful threat against the Fae. An Eyblight’s Ending did for the 2/2 though, and as Kuroda stumbled on land, he was unable to commit threats to the board. Hayashi wasn’t applying a great deal of pressure himself, with just a single Spellstutter Sprite, but he had, unlike the previous game, time.

A Flame Jab from Kuroda got hit by a second Sprite, and Tarfire on a Sprite met Consign to Dream, to allow it to get to work again. With Hayashi tapped low though, Kuroda could get down Ashemoor Gorger. Here was a threat that could end games quickly. Hayashi dug for answers with a Peppersmoke on the Gorger, and found one in the form of Nameless Inversion. Kuroda was far from out of the woods yet. His Smokebraider resolved, but a second Flame Jab was denied him, by that Sprite again. Kuroda finished with an Elemental Harbinger, fetching Rage Forger. It was Kuroda that was on the clock. Knocked down to 14 by small attacks in the air, he lost his Smokebraider to Shriekmaw, making that Rage Forger on his turn marginally less exciting. Kuroda had a Tarfire to kill Shriekmaw, but was disappointed to see another the following turn, alongside a Bitterblossom. Scion of Oona only compounded this problem.

Kuroda drew and, after thinking for a while, passed. He had a Flame Javelin during Hayashi’s upkeep to kill Scion of Oona, but was quick to scoop things up when he saw a Mind Shatter for the rest of his hand from Hayashi.

It would come down to a deciding game.

Hiroki Hayashi 1 – 1 Masashiro Kuroda

For the tie-breaker!For the third time in the match, Kuroda was forced to take a mulligan – this time on the play. While he had 2 Mountains to work with, his hand contained no action off those lands whatsoever – not the sort of start he would need against Faeries. Fortunately for him, this time he found himself up against a hand of 6 on the other side of the board.

A turn two Vexing Shusher from Kuroda was the first play of game 3, and while the goblin quickly died to Nameless Inversion, there was soon another copy in play. This too died to Nameless Inversion, and Kuroda followed up with Smokebraider. The Smokebraider powered out a Rage Forger, which made Kuroda’s team, including a Mutavault, just a little more scary. One attack from the Mutavault was enough to drop Hayashi to 16.

Hayashi passed, but had a Vendilion Clique in Kuroda’s draw step, which gave the Pro Tour champion pause for thought. He showed a hand of two copies of Tarfire and a mountain. One of the Tarfires got traded in and turned into a Flame Jab! This was bad news for Hayashi, who lost his Vendilion Clique and Mutavault to the two burn spells that Kuroda now held. The attacks that came were enough to finish Hayashi off.

Masashiro Kuroda defeats Hiroki Hayashi 2-1

All the fun of the fair!

By Tim Willoughby

Cowboy Beebop?For those lucky competitors here at Grand Prix Kobe, there is more on offer than simply the attractions of Block Constructed. Any player who is playing in the main event, or who has played in any of the other public events this weekend gets a ticket. This ticket (much like everything here in Kobe, they are hot tickets) buys entry to the Magic Carnival, hosted by Ron Foster, who in addition to his role as Organised Play Manager for Japan, has set up business as something of a carnie.

The games? Players can either try to knock down oversized Magic cards with a Nerf gun shipped over specially from Seattle, or for the more baseball inclined there is the option of pitching balls at a stack of Magic cans. If they succeed in either, there is some pretty juicy swag on offer. Just for taking part each player gets a random promo foil, and for some level of success, they get another. For anyone who knocks down all the cards/cans, there is an Eventide fat pack as the grand prize.

There are those that suggest that Ron isn’t the greatest carnie, as he’s giving away just too much stuff. So far though, nobody has walked away with a fat pack though, so maybe that canny Foster-san is actually one step ahead of the game.

Roll up!

Blog: 10:34a.m. – Grand Prix Trial Results

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

The allure of a trio of byes always brings out the competitors in the final 24 hours leading up to a Grand Prix, and not just those in search of three free wins either. The fact that to earn said wins, players need to play the same format as they’re slated to play today means that people are also scouting for tech, some kind of edge to help them climb to the top of the pile in the Main Event. Some people decided to take the safe route, saddling up the tried and true leaders of the format, Faeries and Kithkin. Thankfully, others chose the road less traveled, riding high with Merfolk, Elementals and Shamen, even some Mono Red aggro decks and some Quick and the Toast variants.

I’ll be blunt, our fear this weekend is that the Faerie and Kithkin Juggernauts will eclipse creativity and individuality, giving the appearance of a two horse race. From the GP Trials yesterday, the outlook is looking good. To start with, we have the Other Deck to survive the crossover from Standard, The Quick and the Toast, as played here by Shun Kurakami.

Shun Kurakami

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Kurakami’s take on this deck is simply good spells backed by greedy mana, much the same as the original Manuel Bucher version. Thankfully, the Vivid lands and Reflecting Pool team is a formidable one, and these decks seldom find themselves stunted by their plethora of Comes Into Play Tapped lands. Also utilizing a similar mana base was Shun Yamasaki’s Elementals deck. Replacing the solid Kitchen Finks and Mind Spring with more Elementals, making Reveillark the central card advantage engine of the deck.

Shun Yamasaki

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While Yamasaki still has the Firespouts of The Quick and the Toast for cleaning out either the ground pounders of the Kithkin Army, or the Fae-flavored air force, he’s also accelerating with Smokebraider, who allows for turn three, well, anything. Mulldrifter, Reveillark, even Horde of Notions. His Fulminator Mages could also make short work of any opposing Toast mana bases, especially when they woo the crowd with an encore performance, thanks to the Reveillarks. Also using the Smokebraider, but leaving the Firespouts in the sideboard, was Ken’ichiro Omori, and with good reason. Omori was instead powering out quick Rage Forgers and Thunderblusts, and backing them up with a blistering boatload of burn.

Ken'ichiro Omori

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In stark contrast to the previous winners, Omori’s deck packs a whopping 21 basic lands. More even than the mono White Kithkin decks, although that’s admittedly because they have several viable options to stand in for their Plains. Joining Omori standing high on those (basic) Mountains was Yuichi Takasaki, who took down the first Trial with a different brand of burn. Less of the Shaman and Elemental synergy and more Mountains make men make a mess of your opponents synergy, which has been a tried and true approach for Red mages for many years now.

Yuichi Takasaki

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Takasaki’s mana base is pure and unadulterated by Mutavaults, which no doubt helped his wallet while simultaneously allowed him to routinely hit triple Red early for his Boggart Ram-Gangs, Ashenmoor Gougers and Figure of Destiny. Speaking of the Figure, the Eventide Star Player was the first card to be sold out over at the dealers tables, despite there technically being more of them in existence than other Eventide rares, thanks to it being the Sneak Peak promotional card. This was no doubt because of its availability for both Red mages and Kithkin wizards.

In the last Trial of the Day, Jang Tae-jin piloted his Doran, the Siege Tower deck to victory, showcasing another new contestant on the field, the Stillmoon Cavalier. This Tenacious Knight not only swings through both Bitterblossom Faerie tokens, but is bothered even less by any Kithkin who may also stand in its way. If the Doran deck happens to be on the back foot, the cavalier can also defend easily enough, being able to both spring into the air and gain first strike at very a reasonable cost. This up and comer is also making appearances in Kithkin sideboards, so we expect to see even more from him this weekend.

Jang Tae-jin

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Making the transition from Standard to Block Constructed was almost as easy for Merfolk as it was for Faeries. Although they don’t have Lord of Atlantis on the team, or even warming the bench, they still have the Usual Suspects needed to put up a fight. Also of note is the Hallowed Burial out of the sideboard. Players are now considerably used to the idea that a Wrath of God in todays terms means Firespout, three damage to all ground dwellers or three in the air. Or of course both, if Red and Green were spent. This means that four toughness is a premium. The Red decks all love their Ashenmoor Gougers and so on, and Faeries put stock in their Mistbind Cliques. Hallowed Burial spells out loud and clear that not only is this not good enough, that even Persist is pushing the proverbial up hill if it thinks it’s getting around this Eventide gem.

Keisuke Suzuki

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Finally, my favorite pick of the bunch, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better than the rest, just that it caught my eye, is Takayuki Nitobe’s Rock deck. The Rock is traditionally a Black and Green midrange approach to Magic, and with the mana available to mages these days, Nitobe has not surprisingly, chosen to splash Firespout into the mix. What really piques my interest, and no doubt many others, is the two card infinite *cough* my bad, unbounded combo between Devote Druid and Quillspike. But of course, that’s not the only thing going large in this deck. Chameleon Colossus and Cloudthresher both tower over the battlefield, and a surprise Rite Consumption could well leave someone clinging to their remaining life points, or even worse, wallowing in the negatives hoping that state-based effects will never be checked.

Takayuki Nitobe

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So there we have seven decks that are neither Faeries nor Kithkin, so that’s gotta leave the field open a little more than some internet pundits may have you think. But for the sake of completeness, here are the remaining decklists.

Hayato Ishii

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Yasuhiko Miyazaki

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Katsuya Ueda

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Atsushi Kinoshita

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Atsushi Ito

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Tsutomu Yamada

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Yu Hashimoto

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