Gateway Round 4 Feature Match: Rolled-Up Aces vs. Nagoyan

Posted in Event Coverage

By Adrian Sullivan

The Rolled Up Aces came into the Final Four with something to prove. The team of Dan Clegg and brothers Shawn and Thomas Keller had initially been invited to the prestigious Team Masters Tournament only to have the invitation revoked after a ratings appeal thrust Japanese team Panzer Hunter into their slot. Easily the veteran team in the matchup, most players are looking to Rolled Up Aces to make it all the way to the finals to fight for their lost Masters slot.

Local up-and-comers Nagoyan (Koji Nose, Ryoma Shiozu, and Ryo Ogura) also had something to prove. The mostly untested Nagoyan were the only remaining Japanese competitors left in the Masters Gateway, leaving Japanese stars like the Executioners (Satoshi Nakamura, Ken'ichi Fujita, Koichiro Maki) and Shop Adept (Tsuyoshi Fujita, Tsuyoshi Douyama, Masayuki Higashino) as spectators. Nose is considered by the Japanese to be the anchor for their team, with a Top 8 at Japanese Nationals in 2000. Shiozu and Ogura have much less experience, with Shiozu having experience at Pro-Tour London. This is Ogura's first Premiere Event.

The matchups had few surprises, with all the players playing allied two or three color decks. Nose had a slow start with his Black/Blue deck against Dan Clegg's Blue/White deck. Nose dropped a Dream Thrush early, but lacked any land other than Islands. As his gating creatures came into play, he temporarily lost access to Black, a problem not helped by Clegg's using Barrin's Unmaking to keep Nose's board clear.

Meanwhile, Shiozu and Thomas Keller had already finished their first game. Shiozu experienced rough mana problems, continuously discarding his Green/Blue/White spells for the first several turns of the game before sweeping up his cards to Thomas' Green/Red swarm.

Ogura and Shawn Keller also had a quick first game, but one with a little more substance. Ogura's aggressive Red/Green/Black started with some quick beats, only to be stopped by Shawn Keller's Plague Spitter. After clearing the Spitter out of the way, Ogura used his Shivan Emissary twice with the help of a Darigaaz Charm to kill Shawn's few busty creatures, and a Serpentine Kavu sealed the deal.

Nose and Clegg still hadn't finished their first game. Nose had mostly recovered from the initial mana issues, and had brought out a Phyrexian Bloodstock, Dream Thrush, and Cavern Harpy pressing in against a lone Galina's Knight. Clegg had been holding back for his Rout, following up with a Stormscape Apprentice, Hunting Drake, and Tower Drake.

Nose tried coming back, but was slowed down again by the gating creatures. Even though he dropped the powerful Doomsday Specter (joined by a support cast of Shoreline Raider and Cavern Harpy), he was unable to drop everything on the table at once, and his life total continued to drop rapidly. Even Washout and a Nightscape Master were unable to keep control as even more creatures dropped onto the table.

Shiuzu and Thomas Keller had a more interesting Game 2. Shiozu's first few creatures were removed with Thomas's abundant burn spells, but Shiozu was full of powerful threats. Wayfaring Giant and Silver Drake started on the offensive after Shiozu dropped a Crimson Acolyte to protect his creatures. Eventually, Keller would fall to the Drake after Hobble took out his one real threat on the table, Verdeloth.

Things continued to look up for Nagoyan as Ogura continued to thrash Shawn Keller. Both players traded creatures back and forth, with a Keller using a Mourning to keep the advantage in the creature war. After a small skirmish, Keller pressed for the advantage by tapping out for two more creatures.

Ogura made his move. Recovering a Lava Zombie, he gated his Caldera Kavu putting Keller's Mourning into the discard pile. The card from Recover brought him to Serpentine Kavu. Suddenly, Ogura had the upper hand, and Shawn fell quickly to the onslaught.

Shiozu and Thomas kept fighting back and forth in their next game. Shiozu dropped several creatures, only to have Flametongue Kavu, Thunderscape Battlemage, and a Horned Kavu (bouncing the Flametongue) tear up Shiozu's side of the table. A Hobble and Prison Barricade slowed down the attack and Shiozu used Repulse to save his Prison Barricade from more elimination. Soon, Steel Leaf Paladin joined the defense.

Time was called, with the Nose/Clegg matchup surprisingly unfinished, giving the match to Clegg. Time extension was awarded to Shiuzu/T. Keller for a ruling, and the entire match would be on the line based on the results of their match.

Things had begun to look good for Shiuzu. He was holding the table with a Prison Barricade and Steal Leaf Paladin, facing down a Root Greevil, Thornscape Battlemage, and Kavu Climber. Clegg's hand was empty of threats, and Shiuzu's hand included a few minor creatures.

From off the top, Clegg drew a Serpentine Kavu. All of the damage that had been hitting Shiuzu as he struggled to stabilize came into play finally. On the next turn, despite dropping yet another creature, Shiuzu couldn't hold the table. Rolled-Up Aces had the match.

Final Result: Rolled Up Aces wins 2-1 over Nagoyan.

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