by Keita Mori / Daisuke KawasakiStaff Quick QuestionsWhat is your favorite memory of Grand Prix Kobe 2009?
by Keita Mori / Daisuke KawasakiQuick QuestionsIf the format for the Grand Prix today had been changed to Standard, what deck would you have played?
by Zeilend PowellFeatureOn the Bubble
by Brian David-MarshallDeck TechKnight Zoo with Tomoharu Saito
by Brian David-MarshallFeature Match Coverage: Round 13Kenji Hamamoto (Scepter Zoo) vs. Tatsuya Chi (TEPS)
by Keita Mori / Daisuke KawasakiQuick QuestionsCongratulations on making it through Day 1 undefeated. Which card was your MVP today?
by Zeilend PowellFeature Match Coverage: Round 11Shuuhei Nakamura (Knight Zoo) vs. Jin Okamoto (Elves)
by Brian David-MarshallDeck Tech:Scepter Zoo
by Event Coverage StaffFeature:Day 2 Deck Breakdown
by Event Coverage StaffFeature:Undefeated Day One Decks
by Zeilend PowellFeature Match Coverage: Round 9Yoshihiro Naka (Elves) vs. Yuuya Watanabe (TEPS)
by Brian David-MarshallSaturday, 9:15 a.m.Photo essay: Full of Fish
Saturday, 9:15 a.m. – Photo Essay: Full of Fish
I had a hard time imagining that I would have any meal on this trip that would even come close to matching the Kobe beef experience I had on Friday night at Sakurai. After venturing out on Saturday evening for a sushi dinner at Hatsu I could not give you a definitive answer as to which one was better. I was dubious when we started. The bowl in front of me contained stewed the stewed tentacles and head of a baby octopus. Most of my culinary experiences with octopus have been tedious chewathons but this was tender and steeped in miso flavor -- boded well for the remaining courses.
Next up was a platter of fish, shrimp, raw octopus, and sea urchin. Everything was perfectly prepared and fresh tasting but what really struck me was the quality of the soy sauce that was served with the course. It was not as salty or as cloying as what you commonly encounter back home and served to compliment the flavor and texture of the fish as opposed to overwhelming it.
This was followed by two plates of whole cooked fish. This one was accompanied by a block of tofu and burrdock root – which was apparently mistaken for tree bark by American POWs back during WWII. While I am okay with a pair of chopsticks my limitations are underscored when trying to take delicate meat off of a whole fish.
When the sushi platter came they had replaced one of the pieces with a beef nigiri. It wasn't quite up to the ones we had the previous evening but it still the third best piece on the platter. It was only surpassed by the eel and – my favorite food of all time – the fatty tuna.
The meal was supposed to wrap up with a steaming bowl of miso soup with clams...
...but we had to go back in for an encore of the otoro. If you have never had fatty tuna I don't know how to describe it in a way that does it justice. I once described it as a having the mouthfeel of a tuna flavored Snickers bar but I would compare it more to a pat of sweet butter.
Not pictured – but thoroughly enjoyed -- was a sake tasting with dinner. One of our fellow diners was essentially a sommelier for sake and he walked us through and array of brands that started with a +5 Black Dragon and worked it was up the scale to a +15 Northern Snow Demon Killer.
I can only imagine what Sunday holds in store – the bar has been set very high.
Round 9: Yoshihiro Naka (Elves) vs. Yuuya Watanabe (TEPS)
Both players came into this round with undefeated records. Former Rookie of the Year Yuuya Watanabe was sitting on 22 points and his opponent, Yoshihiro Naka with a solid 8-0 run on the first day of the competition.
The first game of the match began with both players surveying their opening hands, each proclaiming a quick keep. Naka started things off with a Pendelhaven-fueled Nettle Sentinel. Watanabe laid a Flooded Strand before setting a Lotus Bloom into play, which is definitely the way that he wanted to start things off against the opposing combo deck. He rounded out his turn by fetching an Island from out of his library and playing Sleight of Hand.
The turn passed back to him, Naka swung with his 2/2 before playing a Birchlore Ranger, which fueled a flurry of creatures coming into play thanks to the untap clause on the Nettle Sentinel. Before passing the turn back to his opponent, he was able to drop an Essence Warden, another Nettle Sentinel, Wirewood Hivemaster, and Heritage Druid onto the board, although he was forced to skip his land drop for the turn. Watanabe looked warily at the growing swarm of little green men across from him before dropping a Polluted Delta and saying go.
Realizing that the Lotus Bloom on the other side of the table was going to come into play the next turn, Naka went into the tank to calculate exactly what he needed to do to allow him to win before the storm deck would be able to go off. After a few minutes, he attacked for 3, putting his opponent's life to 14. Post combat a smattering of elves and 1/1 insects from the Hivemaster were on the table, bringing his life up to 31. Naka tried to play an Elvish Visionary to dig through his deck a bit more but, seeing that he only had one mana available, Yuuya Remanded it back to his hand, forcing the Elves player to pass the turn.
Before drawing his card for the turn, it was Watanabe's turn to calculate if he could survive the next combat phase or had to go off on his turn, the latter being the ultimate decision. After getting a Steam Vents via a Flooded Strand, he played a pair of Seething Songs and Manamorphoses into a Sleight of Hand and Mind's Desire for six with no mana floating. He looked at the first five cards (Remand, Ponder, Rite of Flame x2, and a land), and then spent time deciding if he should let the final copy resolve, before deciding that it was the was the only way to try to squeak out a win. The final copy of the spell resulted in Peer Through Depths.
It looked impossible for Watanabe to pull out a victory from this less-than-impressive Mind's Desire, but he decided to go for it anyway. He Peered through the depths of his library, revealing a Seething song. He then cast a Rite of Flame, and Remanding it so he could look at an extra card. Then he played a Ponder, choosing to shuffle his library instead keeping the top cards. He then played the second Rite of Flame that was revealed by Desire, Seething Song, Manamorphose, another Ponder (this time choosing to keep), the Rite of Flame that was in his hand, followed by his fourth Manamorphose. Watanabe grinned, and then revealed the Tendrils that he had drawn before playing it. Although his Naka was at 31 life, the storm count of 17 more than managed to seal the deal.
While shuffling up for Game 2, Watanabe apologized for his seemingly miraculous win. Naka replied that Yuuya had done everything he needed to do to win, and that that's what it means to be a pro. Choosing to go first, Naka looked at his opening hand before proclaiming a mulligan, keeping his six, and leading the game off with a Forest and Nettle Sentinel, and opening that was trumped by his opponent's Island into an Engineered Explosives for one, meaning that it would be difficult for Naka to combo.
The Elves' player attacked for two and played a Wirewood Symbiote before passing. Watanabe played a Dreadship Reef and said go. On his turn, Naka attempted to get some elves into play, with a Birchlore Ranger, but Watanabe put an end to that by blowing up his Explosives, and Naka returned the Sentinel to his hand.
Both players played land -- or, in Naka's case, land, 1/1 -- go for a few turns. Watanabe looked to be digging at one point, with a pair of Manamorphoses, but it was apparent he didn't draw into what he needed to win that turn and passed.
Naka appeared a bit nervous at this, and spent his next turn in a flurry of action. He played Heritage Druid and then Glimpse of Nature to fuel his hand for the rest of the turn. After playing some elves, he was clearly not happy with what he was drawing off the top of his deck. The best he could do was Chord of Calling for Tidehollow Sculler to hopefully disrupt his opponent enough to keep him from going off on his turn. Watanabe revealed a hand of Rite Flame, 2 Desperate Rituals, Seething Song, and Tendrils of Agony – Naka chose to take the win condition.
Faced with lethal damage next turn (life totals stood at 17 to 7), Watanabe peeked at the top of his deck, clearly happy with what he saw. He drew and played a Sleight of Hand, laughing at the two cards he looked at. After playing the rituals in his hand, he cast a Mind's Desire for 6, revealing some spells and one more Tendrils of Agony before Naka scooped them up.
Final result: Yuuya Watanabe – 2 Yoshihiro Naka – 0
Undefeated Day One Decks
Feature: Day 2 Deck Breakdown
|Next Level Blue||12|
|The Extended Perfect Storm||12|
|Mono Red Burn||3|
|Day 2 Total:||103|
The number one deck archetype on Day Two of Grand Prix Kobe was far and away Ranger Zoo – or Naya Zoo as it is still referred to in Japan. Almost one in four of the 103 players who were playing on Sunday will be playing turn one Wild Nacatl today. There were 25 Zoo players in total with 22 of them playing what we have come to know as Ranger Zoo – and a little less than half of those players sporting Knight of Reliquary. One player was playing Scepter Zoo – one of two undefeated Zoo lists on Day One, the other was Knight Zoo -- and two players had a Tribal Flames-y Domain Zoo.
The next most played archetype was Elves, which was closely followed by Next Level Blue, Loam Rock, and TEPS at a dozen players apiece. When you look at the top five decks you can see that almost half the Day Two field is playing Tarmogoyf between Zoo, NLU, and Loam.
Deck Tech: Scepter Zoo
At the start of play yesterday there was quite a bit of buzz around the first GP Trial winner of the weekend – a Kenji Tsumura advocated Tezzeret deck with Time Stretch. Kenji did not show up for this tournament due to a personal commitment and after getting off to such a strong start at the Trial, the Stretcherator failed to show up as well.
As we started play on Day two there was another deck – and another Kenji – generating buzz. Kenji Hamamoto, an Osaka amateur who has been playing Magic since 1999, swept through Day One with his Scepter Zoo deck – the only one of 25 Zoo decks to include Isochron Scepter.
“I took a break after Grand Prix Nigata in 2005 but came back at Grand Prix Okayama,” said Hamamoto of his Magic career. It was at Okayama that he won the Super Grand Prix Trial, which earned him travel expenses and lodging for this event as well as free entry into the GP to go with his three byes.
“I am a beatdown player. I like to play beatdown decks,” said Hamamoto when asked why he chose to play Scepter Zoo for this tournament. “The other decks in the format don't really appeal to me. It was either burn or Naya Zoo. Burn just didn't work for me so I went with Naya Zoo.”
Hamamoto decided to include Scepter in his list out of concern for the mirror match – a reasonable assumption since one in every four Day Two players were packing Zoo.
“I was looking at old decklists. There was a Legacy Zoo deck from 2005 that played Isochron Scepter to imprint Sword to Plowshares and other creature control cards. Well, the formula for Zoo is essentially the same so I thought it would be good for this tournament. It has been very, very good against other decks with creatures – even against Affinity.”
Even the most seasoned Pros have not been able to maintain their steely resolve when Hamamoto has led off with Wild Nacatl only to follow it up with a Scepter imprinting Path to Exile, Lightning Helix, or Incinerate.
“At the Grand Prix you play a lot of Pros and they all have poker faces. They never reac t as you play something but as the games have gone on they have gotten upset as I remove all their creatures,” he said. He continued to explain why he knew he would be seeing so many mirror matches. “ Looking at GPT results and playing in PTQs told me I would be facing a lot of Zoo.”
Hamamoto took his first loss of the tournament in Round 10 against Yuuya Watanabe playing TEPs and he admits that his deck has some problems with a combo deck as well as facing uphiull battles against Loam and Elves but claims those matchups are all 50/50.
“I have not lost to Zoo yet,” he smiled – as well he should. He was 4-0 in the mirror to this point.
Feature Match Coverage: Round 11 – Shuuhei Nakamura (Knight Zoo) vs. Jin Okamoto (Elves)
Although his name may not be well known to a newer generation of Magic players, Jin Okamoto is famous within the Japanese community, where he is known as the “Last Emperor”, having posted a first-place finishes in the last of the now-defunct APAC Championships. Despite not having played much competitive Magic in recent years, he decided to come to Kobe and put up a very respectable 7-1 finish on Day One with Elves. Reigning Player of the Year Shuuhei Nakamura needs no introduction, and is looking to make up some ground in this year's PoY race, as neither LSV or Gabriel Nassif decided to make the trip to Japan. He is playing a variant of Ranger Zoo designed by Tomoharu Saito, playing the slower Knight of Reliquary as a creature that gets around Circle of Protection: Red.
Okamoto started off with a mulligan and spent time agonizing over the next six cards before keeping. Nakamura matched him with a mulligan to six of his own. Okamota's first play was fetchland-into-Wirewood Symbiote, while the PoY could only muster a Wooded Foothills before passing the turn. Okamoto swung with his insect before playing Wirewood Hivemaster, hoping to create an army of 1/1's with which to overwhelm his opponent. Unfortunately for him, Shuuhei calmly untapped and put an Ethersworn Canonist into play, promising to slow the game down and prevent the Elves player from having a big turn. Okamoto could just play a second Wirewood Hivemaster for passing the turn, with Shuuhei casting a 4/4 Knight of the Reliquary, which would be a nearly insurmountable wall for the 1/1's on the other side of the board.
Another turn went by, and Okamoto played Ranger of Eos, fetching Nettle Sentinel and another Wirewood Symbiote. Unfazed, Nakamura played Umezawa's Jitte, equipped it to his now-5/5 Knight and sent it into the red-zone. Without much thought, Okamoto placed his Insect tokens and Ranger of Eos in front of it, eliciting a trade. Nakamura used the two counters on the Legendary Artifact to clear his opponent's board of everything but a lone Heritage Druid. The next turn Okamoto played the Nettle Sentinel that he had tutored for and said go. Nakamura tapped his four land for Ranger of Eos and fetched a pair of Mogg Fanatics. Although Okamoto could do little but cast 1/1's on the following turns, his opponent was able to get a Fanatic and yet another Knight of Reliquary into play, as well as swinging with a Umezawa's Jitte-equipped creature each turn. After playing like this for a few minutes, Okamoto decided to scoop up his cards in the face of the Kamigawa-block Equipment.
Nakamura mulliganed to start the second game and Okamoto looked to punish his opponent, casting a Llanowar Elves and two Wirewood Symbiotes in the first two turns of the game. Facing a board consisting of a Temple Garden and tapped Treetop Village, he played an Umezawa's Jitte of his own on his third turn, and then tapping the mana-elf to equip to one of his Symbiotes before crashing into the red zone. Nakamura had nothing but land in play at the end of his turn, and fell to 13 on his opponent's next attack. Post combat, Okamoto played Mirror Entity. Nakamura killed the unequipped Wirewood Symbiote with a Lightning Helix, then dropping a Knight of the Reliquary on his turn.
After confirming that the Knight was 3/3 (with the potential to become a 4/4 with the Windswept Heath still on the table), Okamoto swung with his three creatures, pumped them all to 4/4 with Mirror Entity's ability, and again Nakamura declined to block, dropping to 3.Hoping to stave of his opponent's creatures, Nakamura played a Umezawa's Jitte of his own, and then Firewhip, which he used to kill the Wirewood Symbiote and Mirror Entity. Unperturbed, Okamoto untapped, played Glimpse of Nature, Nettle Sentinel, Birclore Rangers, and then a Heritage Druid. Without waiting to see anymore, Nakamura decided to concede.
Realizing there were less than 15 minutes remaining in the round, both players began to pile-shuffle quickly and kept their opening hands. Nakamura led off with a Wild Nacatl, looking to go aggro in the final game of the round. Okamoto opened on a Llanowar Elves, but cringed when his opponent played an Ethersworn Canonist on turn two after swinging with the 3/3 cat. Looking to gain some leverage in combat, Okamota played Umezawa's Jitte and Birchlore Rangers on his own second turn. Nakamura, however, attacked, dropping his opponent to a mere 8 life, before playing Mogg Fanatic, which would be sure to keep counters off of the legendary artifact. Okamoto could just equip his Rangers before saying go.
Nakamura played his won Umezawa's Jitte and attacked his opponent down to 5 life with the Wild Nacatl before playing a second copy of the Canonist. Okamoto drew his card for the turn, and then congratulated Nakamura for winning the match.
Final Result: Shuuhei Nakamura-- 2 Jin Okamoto - 1
Quick Questions: Congratulations on making it through Day 1 undefeated. Which card was your MVP today?
Yuuya Watanabe (Kanagawa): TEPS: I think I did a good job putting my sideboard together. Engineered Explosives holds Elves and Zoo in check, and really helped. But it probably still takes a backseat to Ponder. I'm hoping to become the best Ponder user in Japan!
Jun'ya Iyanaga (Tokyo): Ranger Zoo: Figure of Destiny. I know a bunch of people like Tomoharu (Saito) don't like it and don't play with it, but I think Kird Ape is ugly and don't like him so I picked the Figure over him.
Yoshihiro Naka (Ishikawa): Elves!: Mirror Entity. It's unbelievably strong. It can work as an aggro card or a control card. Also, the Pendelhaven I added as a 61st card has done a lot for me. I'd like to thank everyone who helped me tune the deck.
Kenji Hamamot (Osaka): Scepter Zoo: Isochron Scepter, easily. Imprinting Path to Exile or Lightning Helix in the mirror basically means I just win. It makes the deck a little slower, so it's harder to beat Elves, but I didn't play any yesterday. Maybe my best MVP was my luck with pairings.
Feature Match Coverage: Round 13 – Kenji Hamamoto (Scepter Zoo) vs. Tatsuya Chi (TEPS)
This was only the penultimate round in the tournament but it was likely the defining round for these two PTQ regulars if they were going breakthrough into the Top 8 of a Premiere Event for the first time in their careers. Hamamoto was playing – what was to my mind – the most exciting deck at the top tables, a Zoo update with a never ending supply of Path to Exile thanks to the deck's inclusion of Isochron Scepter.
If Hamamoto wanted to get to the Top 8 he was going to have to do so against his worst matchup with more than a half dozen dead cards Game 1 against Tatsuya Chi's TEPs deck.
Hamamoto came out of the gate with a pair of Wild Nacatl while his opponent dug for cards with Sleight of Hand and stockpiled counters on Dreadship Reef. His body language suggested that he was considering an attempt to go off sooner than he had hoped to – he was at nine and dead on the board if Hamamoto had any burn spell. Chi took an exploratory look at the top of his deck with Ponder and decided it was now or never. He played Desperate Ritual and Manamorphose. Hamamoto decided to change the math a little by playing Lightning Helix. Chi could not “go off” but was able to play a small Tendrils to drop Hamamoto to 10 and bring himself back up to 16.
Hamamoto just stuck to the script, attacking and sending fire at Chi's dome. Another Helix dropped Chi down to 7 and a Tarmogoyf joined the team. Chi played Mind's Desire as the third spell in the next turn. He flipped over Ponder, land, and Manamorphose. He opted to shuffle his deck after Pondering and hoped the top of his deck would be kind to him. He sighed and played Manamorphose followed by another one he drew. Rite of Flame was next and the spell count was mounting well past the point where anything with the word “storm” on it would be lethal. A Seething Song was followed by Sins of the Past. Chi pointed to the Tendrils in his yard and after reading all the relevant cards to make sure he was not missing anything, Hamamoto scooped.
Hamamoto took out his package of creature cards to bring in Pyrostatic Pillars, Oblivion Rings, and another Gaddock Teeg. He opened on a hand featuring first turn Nacatl, second turn Fanatic, and a turn three Thoctar but seriously considered sending it back. Ultimately he decided he liked it better than taking his chances on six cards. Chi went to six and was on his heels immediately.
Nacatl attacked for three on turn two and the Fanatic came down to join him. Chi was on 12 by turn three. Hamamoto forsook the Thoctar to play another Nacatl and have mana open to Incinerate Chi when he tapped out to Peer Through Depths for a ritual.
Chi was in virtually the same spot as Game 1 – at nine life and looking at 8 damage on the board. There was nothing he could do after Pondering and had to hope that Yamamoto did not have burn or a Fanatic. He attempted to bluff Remand but Hamamoto showed him the Incinerate and they were on to the rubber game of the match.
Neither player kept their opening hands – the clocks on both these decks were so fast that neither player could afford to keep hands that you might otherwise hope to open on. They might not have been happier with their six card hands but neither of them was willing to go to five. Chi had many of the necessary pieces but was light on mana while Hamamoto beat down with Kird Ape and played Tarmogoyf. Chi passed the third turn with only two lands. Hamamoto was not making things easy either. He played Fanatic and Pyrostatic Pillar on turn three with Chi already at 14. Chi decided to bounce the enchantment – falling to 12 – but was still missing the critical third land. He played Rite of Flame and used the two mana to Manaporphose into a Dreadship Reef. He played another Manamorphose and went back to 20 off of a small Tendrils. He suspended Lotus Bloom and passed the turn.
Hamamoto Helxied his opponent and attacked him down to 11 before replaying the Pillar. Chi had to pass the turn and fell to five on the next attack. Hamamoto all but locked up the game with Gaddock Teeg. Chi bounced the Pillar with a second Echoing Truth but could not fight through the Teeg as well and buried his head as he saw his chances of breaking into the Top 8 slip away.
Final result: Kenji Hamamoto – 2 Tatsuya Chi – 1
Deck Tech: Knight Zoo with Tomoharu Saito
We have been paying a lot of attention to the Scepter Zoo deck played by Kenji Hamamoto but it is former Player of the Year Tomoharu Saito who sits atop the standings with his take on Zoo going into the last round of the tournament. His version – dubbed Knight Zoo in the coverage – replaces Wooly Thoctar with Knight of the Reliquary, maindecks Ethersworn Canonist, and can attack with some of its lands as well as having some interesting cards in the sideboard for various matchups.
“With normal Zoo the maindeck is kind of rough against Storm and Elves,” said Saito of how he came to play the deck. “Why not play a deck that can play Ethersworn Canonist maindeck, which is good against those decks. Now, Canonist is weak against Loam and Faeries. Against Faeries and Loam we have Ranger of Eos but you need more land so I put in Treetop Village which is land and a creature. If you are going to play Villages then you want Knight, which is better in this case than Wooly Thoctar.”
Saito went on to point out that the Knight was able to find him a fourth land for the Ranger when necessary by floating mana from the land you are about to sacrifice and that it is not shut off by COP Red like the Thoctar in sideboarded games.
“The end result of how I got here was that I was trying to make a metagame deck that was good against the Top 5 archetypes,” said Saito, who was in first place as we spoke. “Everyone who had three byes, playing the deck made Day Two.”
Feature: On the Bubble
With Round 14 the last Swiss round of Day 2 of GP Kobe, there were 10 players in reach of the projected 34 points needed to make the Top 8. Jin Okamoto, the a Top 8 competitor from the last Extended Grand Prix in Japan (GP Kitakyuushuu in 2005), was at 33 points, where a draw would make it possible to make Top 8, but by no means a guarantee of it. His opponent, Kenji Hamamoto was also sitting on 33 points, and although they may have both been able to draw into the final tables, they decided that it would be best to play it out. Okamoto was playing Elves, the breakout deck from Pro Tour Berlin, while Hamamoto was playing Scepter Zoo, which is the deck that Brian David-Marshall was most excited about on the weekend.
The first game looked like it was going well for the Zoo player, with burn spells killing the first two creatures that Okamoto could play on the board. Despite playing a threat each turn, including Gaddock Teeg, which turned off Okamoto's Chord of Calling, it was not enough to fight the combo deck. On the seventh turn of play, Okamoto hard-cast Regal Force to draw 9 cards and was able to combo.
Game 2 looked promising for the former APAC Champion, as he came out of the gates with a Birchlore Ranger, Wirewood Hivemaster, and Heritage Druid. Unfortunately, his opponent wiped the elvish army from the table with a Volcanic Fallout. Facing down a Wild Nacatl and Tarmogoyf and no answer coming, Okamoto quickly scooped them up.
In game 3, Okamoto looked strong in the first few turns of the game, with turn one Llanowar Elves powering out Glimpse of Nature, Nettle Sentinel and Wirewood Symbiote. Hamamoto had a pair of Magma Jets to keep things from getting out of control, and the two players spent a few turns attacking each other into the single-digits. Unfortunately, with the life total 6-8 in favor of Hamamoto, time was called on the round. Neither player was able to mount a strong enough offense to break through the other's board, and the match ended in an unintentional draw.
In the end, Hamamoto went on to make his first ever Top 8, with Okamoto left in the always-disappointing ninth place.
Quick Questions: If the format for the Grand Prix today had been changed to Standard, what deck would you have played?
Jun'ya Iyanaga (Tokyo): Blue-black faeries. It's the Standard deck I'm most practiced with, so it would be my first choice.
Chikara Nakajima (Kanagawa): Mono-white kithkin. I played with it in the Standard portion of PT Kyoto, and it seemed like a good deck.
Shu Komuro (Tokyo): Huh? You should know better than to ask me about Standard...
Hmmm, I guess Obelisk. Yeah, Obelisk Toast.
Kotaro Ootsuka (Kanagawa): I guess if I someone told me to go play in a Standard tournament today, I would play blue-black faeries.
Staff Quick Questions: What is your favorite memory of Grand Prix Kobe 2009?
Zeilend Powell (Nagoya): English Coverage: From a reporting angle, I was most impressed by the skill of Yuya Watanabe during his match with Yoshitaka Nakano. He was able to pull out of what looked like a certain loss through meticulous play, and it was amazing to see him eke out the win with a perfectly-timed Mind's Desire.
Rob Alexander (Oregon): Guest Artist: It's always a pleasure to come to a show and meet my many fans, but the highlight of this trip is definitely the Kobe beef I've had. I had heard that Kobe Bryant's father was so impressed with the beef that he named his son for it, and I can say I now understand why he did that.
Takeshi Miyasaka (Chiba): Head Judge: I'd like to thank the players, who have been very cooperative. Thanks to them, we were able to finish an 8-round event with 545 players before 19:00 on Saturday. It is always great when we staff can work together with the players to achieve a fun and enjoyable event for everyone.
Tomohiro Kaji (Tokyo): Japanese Coverage: This is my first time doing coverage, but I have to say watching so many exciting matches take place in front of my eyes really makes me want to play some Magic. Last night, after returning to the hotel and finishing the last of the articles, I played Magic Online all night! Doing coverage reminded me of how interesting Magic is.