Posted in Event Coverage on January 25, 2004

By Toby Wachter

Itaru Ishida has practically owned this tournament from the start, going through the first day undefeated before clinching his Top 8 spot. All that's left now is one more match win to put the cap on a great weekend of Magic for one of Japan's best. Making this finals match a little more interesting is the fact Ishida conceded to Kazumasa Shiki in the last round to let him into the Top 8. Shiki is playing Goblins against Ishida's Reanimate deck, and is going to need his draws to be a little fast, and Ishida's draws to be a little slow. The last thing he wants is to have his Goblins staring across the table at a Phantom Nishoba, and the quicker his offense comes out, the less time Ishida will have to make that happen.

Game 1

Ishida mulliganed down to six. Shiki's first turn play was Mogg Fanatic, and Ishida's Careful Study put Visara and Phantom Nishoba into the graveyard. The Fanatic attacked, and was joined by a Piledriver. Ishida had exactly what Shiki didn't want to see, casting Reanimate to put the Nishoba into play. Shiki summoned a Warchief and charged his whole team into battle, trying to at least make a dent in the Nishoba. It blocked and killed the Piledriver, and soon got to work attacking. Duress hit nothing, revealing a hand of Siege-Gang Commander, Goblin Ringleader and Goblin Matron. Cabal Therapy took care of the Commander, and Shiki was in trouble. His Ringleader was very impressive, hitting Mogg Fanatic, Sparksmith and a Piledriver. Still, the Nishoba presented a giant mountain to overcome, and when Ishida cast Vampiric Tutor, Shiki was none too happy. Hew knew that a bad situation was about to become a lot worse, as Ishida untapped, and Reanimated the Siege-Gang Commander. He then sacrificed one of the Goblin tokens to flash back Cabal Therapy, and surprisingly took the Matron out of Shiki's hand instead of Siege-Gang Commander.

The good news for Shiki was that he had weathered the worst part of the storm, since the Nishoba was now down to 4/4. He drew a land and was able to play the Commander from his hand, slowly stabilizing the board by throwing chump blockers in front of the Nishoba. A Piledriver, Fanatic and Sparksmith improved his side, and even though he was at six, things suddenly didn't seem so lopsided. Ishida simply played a Putrid Imp and ended his turn, and now it was Shiki's turn to go on offense. His Ringleader hit a Piledriver and a Matron, and he used the Commander to shoot down the flying Imp. The Matron searched out Goblin Sharpshooter on the following turn, it came into play, and shot down all of Ishida's creatures. This cleared the way for the whole squad to attack, giving Shiki the first game.

Shiki- 1 Ishida- 0

Game 2

Ishida summoned Putrid Imp on turn one, and Shiki cast Cabal Therapy, naming Vampiric Tutor. It missed, as Shiki saw a hand with two Phantom Nishobas, two more Putrid Imps, and Reanimate. Once again, the Nishoba came out on turn two, along with another Imp to help with the attack. The best Shiki could muster was Chrome Mox and Goblin Piledriver, and Powder Keg blowing up the Mox made things even worse. Shiki's Vampiric Tutor got a Terminate to deal with the monster, but Ishida casually played another Reanimate to bring it right back. It went right back to work as the three Putrid Imps in play cheered on, and Shiki conceded.

Shiki- 1 Ishida- 1

Game 3

With the tournament on the line, Ishida concentrated on his hand for a bit, before sending it back. Shiki played a Prospector, followed by a Piledriver. Ishida cast Brainstorm on end step, played and sacrificed a Polluted Delta, then cast another Brainstorm as he looked for something to put together. Luckily for him, Shiki was stuck at two lands, and wouldn't be able to optimize his offense. He attacked with the Piledriver and Prospector, and simply played a second Prospector. Ishida played Powder Keg, and Shiki sacrificed a Prospector to get Goblin Warchief into play, bringing Ishida down to eight. A third Brainstorm didn't lead to any answers, and Ishida extended his hand.

Shiki- 2 Ishida- 1

Kazumasa Shiki

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Itaru Ishida

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