Feature Match: Round 7 – Shouta Yasooka vs. Tetsuya Kaji

Posted in Event Coverage on July 16, 2011

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.
The players prepare for battle

Here in the final round of day one, both these players will be looking to take a giant step towards the top 8. Win here, and they'll go to bed tonight with a perfect record. Lose, and their 6-1 record - while still excellent - may well need to be replicated tomorrow if they are to make the top 8. Tetsuya Kaji is clearly the underdog, at least on pedigree. Who wouldn't be, when their opponent is a former Player of the Year like Yasooka? We followed Yasooka through the draft, and he ended up green-white, with triple Garruk's Companion. As for Kaji, we would have to see.

Game 1

Kaji opened with a Mountain opposite a forest, with Goblin Tunneler facing Garruk's Companion after two turns. Shock dealt with the Companion, leaving the Tunneler to attack for one. Yasooka replaced his Companion with another, and passed the turn. Slaughter Cry during combat from Kaji sent that one to the graveyard too. Kaji cast Griffin Sentinel, and the 1/1 Griffin Rider, which rather handily turned out to be a 4/4.

Yasooka cast Lurking Crocodile, and proceeded to run it into the Griffin - it was a bluff, with no tricks deployed on either side.

Yasooka added Jade Mage, but the target on its back found Incinerate waiting. Playing at a dizzying pace, Yasooka dropped the enormous 5/7 Arachnus Spinner.

Tetsuya Kaji

Kaji attacked through the air with his Griffin for four, finishing the turn with Stonehorn Dignitary, robbing Yasooka of his next attack.

Yasooka activated the Spinner, and got Arachnus Web for the Goblin Tunneler. Timely Reinforcements were exactly that, gaining him both six life and three 1/1 soldiers. Now the Arachnus Spinner attacked, with Yasooka emptying his hand with Vastwood Gorger and Gideon's Lawkeeper. At end of turn, Chandra's Outrage killed the Lawkeeper before it could become active.

Kaji went back to the air, and added more aerial threat with Peregrine Griffin. Vastwood Gorger attacked, but Kaji again using Slaughter Cry to good effect. Yasooka activated the Spinner once more, delivering the second Arachnus Web onto the 2/4 Peregrine Griffin. In came the Yasooka team, and Serra Angel joined the battle. As so often before in the history of the game, that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back.

Yasooka 1 - 0 Kaji

Game 2

Goblin Fireslinger began game two for Kaji, with the 1/1 Griffin Rider not far behind, opposite Gideon's Lawkeeper for Yasooka. The Drake got tapped, Kaji had no third land, and Yasooka wa in business once again with Garruk's Companion. There was still no third land, so Yasooka saved his tap ability from the Lawkeeper. If Kaji wanted to attack, that was just fine with the former Player of the Year. Kaji did at least have a play, the 2/1 Crimson Mage. Garruk's Companion attacked, with Sacred Wolf from Yasooka ratcheting up the pressure.

Shouta Yasooka

When Kaji still saw no third land, Yasooka opted to now tap the Crimson Mage, causing Kaji to pass the turn. passes. Arachnus Web landed on the Goblin Fireslinger. Yasooka tapped down the 1/1 Griffin Rider and went to work, piling in with both Sacred Wolf and Garruk's Companion. When Kaji eventually drew a third land, he laid Griffin Sentinel, and mounted a fairly feeble attack. Yasooka, with huge spells in hand that he actually couldn't cast thanks to being stuck on five mana, cast Timely Reinforcements for more soldiers. The beats continued, with Kaji horribly hampered, although at least Incinerate took out the Lawkeeper.

Yasooka sent his men into the red zone once more, prompting a double block for Garruk's Companion from an increasingly desperate Kaji.

Yasooka reached his sixth land, and banged down Arachnus Spinner, spelling the end. A pyrrhic Act of Treason from Kaji at the last changed nothing, and it was Yasooka who would enter day two with the perfect record.

Shouta Yasooka 2 - 0 Tetsuya Kaji

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