Hirabayashi Kazuya: of Hippos and Other Decks

Posted in Event Coverage

By Kim Eikefet

Hirabayashi Kazuya has been getting more and more respect throughout Japan in the last year for his deckbuilding. For Pro Tour New York, his Masques Block Constructed deck was one of the first versions of Snuff-O-Derm to be played in the World, and as the Japanese prepared for Pro-Tour Tokyo, several players chose decks designed by Kazuya.

This Pro Tour marks the first time the Japanese have spent significant time working together. Most of the top players in Tokyo and the rest of Japan competed in a series of mock Invasion Block Constructed tournaments to practice for the Pro Tour, and at the end of the three tournament series, Kazuya's combined 10-2 record for the series was the best of any of the other competitors.

Players like Zvi Mowshowitz and Raphael Levy are two of Kazuya's favorites when it comes to deckbuilding ideas. Kazuya's favorite deck that he's worked with is in Extended, running a Survival of the Fittest-Opposition deck similar to Masaya Mori or Brian Kowal's Extended decks. In Standard, he enjoys "Blue Skies" style decks more than most others, especially given his own success in local tournaments with a Blue Skies deck designed primarily by Chikara Hayashi.

For Pro Tour Tokyo, Hayashi was one of the first Japanese players to qualify, and when Kazuya qualified very late in the season from a ratings invitation, he quickly hooked up with Hayashi to catch up on the early work that had been done on the format.

"I was trying to build a deck that would do well for our qualified players and keep them on the Tour. Our testing in Japan was showing that Black/Red Void, and Counter-Burn style decks were some of the most powerful, and so Chikara's early Phelddagrif deck seemed like it could be promising. But, it wasn't quite right, and it only got 50/50 matchups. I did some work to increase those percentages."

After his success in the Japanese practice tournaments, many of the other players had come to respect his deckbuilding. Two players playing his decks (one the Phelddagrif deck, another a solid version of Black/Red Void) have been staying at the top of the field all weekend. Undoubtedly, he will continue to be making decks for the Japanese competitors.

Kazuya's next big Constructed event is Nationals. He's still thinking about what he wants to build, but he's got some ideas. "There's a lot going on, but I think that Parallax Wave is a card I'm going to try to put in my deck."

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