In the waning days of 7th Edition Standard, Tsuyoshi Fujita of Japan caught the Magic community's attention with his Goblin Bidding deck at Grand Prix: Bangkok, a deck previously played at European Championships by Wolfgang Eder. What made his deck different from previous builds was the inclusion of Goblin Matron, a long overlooked card from 7th Edition.
Gob-vantage has pre-Scourge origins and the deck has always relied on the goblin tutoring trifecta. It was originally designed by Tooru Maegawa for the Venice PTQ season. Yes, that is the same Tooru Maegawa who finished third at Japanese Nationals with the Leery Fogbeast deck. The deck caught the eye of Jun Nobashita and he hammered it into shape for the Yokohama Masters Gateway for Tsuyoshi Ikeda, the owner of the store that sponsors the team. Scourge was still not released yet and Ikeda bombed out of the event.
Fast forward to the release of Scourge and a pair of goblins—Goblin Warchief and Siege-Gang Commander. Ikeda talked to his teammates and they began to work on a new iteration for this event. This was a separate development from the Standard deck that Tsuyoshi Fujita developed—he is not a part of Fireball Pro.
The addition of the new cards was better than they could have expected and they knew that they would all play the deck this weekend. Itaru Ishida was so impressed that he predicted nothing less than 4-2 records for the team on the Extended day of competition. His prediction was remarkably close to accurate:
*Jin's draw was intentional and his loss was a concession to Dave Humpherys.
** Tsuyoshi had to leave early for family reasons
*** Hisaya and Nao are not members of Fireball Pro but are friends with Ikeda and were privy to the list.
The key to the deck is the Goblin Recruiter. Itaru Ishida claims the hidden treasure from Visions is the best goblin ever printed and compares it in power to Necropotence. Heady claims indeed but consider this; with an opening hand of six lands and a Goblin Recruiter you can win on turn four. How?
Turn two Goblin Recruiter puts the following cards on top of your library: Goblin Warchief, Goblin Ringleader, Skirk Prospector and three Piledrivers. You draw and play the Warchief and on the next turn you play your Ringleader and put the Skirk Prospector and three Piledrivers in your hand. With the remaining mana you cast a Prospector and sacrifice your Ringleader, Recruiter and Prospector to cast all three Piledrivers and attack for the win.
While that is an unlikely four turn scenario for the opening of a game, it is not as unlikely later in the game after your opponent has dispatched your early threats. The deck's ability to spring out from nothing makes it feel more like a combo deck than a beatdown deck. Once traditional goblin deck's first wave of assault has been dealt with they are usually out of gas—not so with Gob-vantage.
If you can somehow cope with a Goblin Lackey spitting out a turn two Siege-Gang Commander you still have to deal with four and five goblins being drawn a turn once the first Recruiter hits play. There was one match this weekend where a player with Reanimator got his ideal draw in two games—a turn two Verdant Force—and it was not enough to beat the deck.
On the strength of the deck, Jin Okamoto was able to cap a tremendous two day performance with a 4-1-1 record to become the first ever Japanese player to make the Top 8 at World's. He takes no credit for the design though. He claims he was sleeping while everyone else did all the work—although he does think the deck could have been improved had they included the Goblin Sharpshooter in the main deck.
Before you rush out and trade for all the cards (don't forget the Goblin Assassin for the board. It is the deck's only way of dealing with protection from red creatures like Silver Knight and Akroma as well as Phantom Nishoba) Ishida advises that the deck is significantly weakened by exposure. If more decks had packed Engineered Plague, for example, they wouldn't have put up such gaudy numbers. The fact they so successfully kept the deck under the radar played a huge role in its success.