Tokyo Big Sight's four columns support giant inverted pyramids. The quasi-futuristic architecture is balanced out by the giant saw stuck into its front lawn. As unexpected as this setting may be, once inside and into the West Wing the tournament room buzzes with the familiar sound of gaming.
It's much larger than the other Pro Tour sites. It's ceiling is a mass of metal struts and hanging lights, giving it the feel of some kind of launch facility. It needs to be this big. It must be able to support the mass of spectators that arrive to watch the many exciting matches. There's plenty for them to do. Artists Brian Snoddy, Matthew D. Wilson, Scott M. Fischer and rk Post are on hand to sign cards. The side events area is even bigger than that reserved for Pro play.
After seven rounds, only seven players were undefeated, Craig Jones and Ryan Fuller. Jones is wearing the same trademark black silk shirt that he had on when he won Grand Prix Birmingham. Today he intends to take his first Pro Tour Top 8.
Ryan Fuller is having an incredible weekend. Not only was he second in the standings after Day One, mowing down seven hapless opponents, but his Masters Team, Team AlphaBetaUnlimited.com, defeated Black Ops to advance to the finals on Sunday. The resident of The Netherlands is on one of the hottest streaks of his career, with only one loss in his last twenty-seven sanctioned matches. Along the way to that number he won Grand Prix Prague.
The home-team advantage has paid off for the country of Japan. Tomohide Sasakawa and Tsuyoshi Fujita are both in the Top 10. More significant is that the deluge of North American players only put four people in the Top 10.
Even better is the fact that Masters latecomers and local favorites Panzer Hunters have advanced to the Finals. Their semifinal match was surrounded by onlookers five deep. As they won the final game to advance, the applause was magnified by the cavernous hall.
Olle Råde has chosen this Pro Tour to make his return to the Pro spotlight. After virtually disappearing for two years, he hopped onto the qualifier circuit and found a pass to the Tour. He's made the most of his invitation, fighting his way to eighth after seven rounds of play.
The rest of the Top 32 is full of household names. Zvi Mowshowitz, Benedikt Klauser, Dragon Lord Brian Kibler (with plenty of Dragons in his sideboard), and current Rookie of the Year leader Lawrence Creech.
The number of decks showcased at this event point to a healthy environment. Best represented are Black/Red Control and Red/Green Beats. This has made Ghitu Fire and Flametongue Kavu two of the most played cards of the tournament. Some people are disappointed at seeing so many games end in a giant FOOM!, and not just those on the receiving end.
The categorization of decks has been difficult, due to the amount of innovation within decktypes. For instance, the "Domain" deck was public domain, but many players have taken the power of Harrow and applied it in many different ways. The most significant deviation is the inclusion of Questing Phelddagrif to combat the expected Black/Red decks.
Even amidst the tech and competition, the attendees are happy to be in Tokyo, the electric city that doesn't sleep.