Player Profile: Yuuya Watanabe

Posted in Event Coverage on August 26, 2012

By Wizards of the Coast

Country: Japan
Invitation Source: Top Pro Points, Japan
Lifetime Pro Points: 277
Professional Magic Accomplishments:

  • 2009 Player of the Year
  • 2007 Rookie of the Year
  • National Champion / Top Pro on Japan national team at 2012 World Magic Cup
  • Grand Prix Kyoto 2007 Champion
  • Grand Prix Melbourne 2009 Champion
  • Grand Prix Shanghai 2011 Champion
  • Grand Prix Pittsburgh 2011 Champion
  • Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2011 Champion
  • Grand Prix Manila 2011 Champion

Player of the Year Top 10s: 3

  • 2009: 1st
  • 2010: 8th
  • 2011: 7th

Pro Tour Top 8s: 1

  • Austin 2009: 6th

Grand Prix Top 8s: 16

  • Kyoto 2007: 1st
  • Kobe 2009: 2nd
  • Bangkok 2009: 6th
  • Niigata 2009: 8th
  • Prague 2009: 2nd
  • Melbourne 2009: 1st
  • Kitakyushu 2009: 5th
  • Sendai 2010: 6th
  • Manila 2010: 4th
  • Sydney 2010: 5th
  • Kansas City 2011: 2nd
  • Shanghai 2011: 1st
  • Pittsburgh 2011: 1st
  • Kobe 2012: 7th
  • Kuala Lumpur 2012: 1st
  • Manila 2012: 1st

National Team Appearances: 3

  • 2008: 4th
  • 2009: 7th
  • 2012: 60th

Rookie of the Year ... Player of the Year ... Surefire Hall of Famer ... One of the best ever ... Terrifyingly proficient.

Aside from those accomplishments, there may not be anything that emphasizes how important Yuuya Watanabe is to the Japanese Magic community and the global community as a whole than the following story.

There are two great ways to identify Watanabe in a crowd: the grin that appears on his face every time he isn't deep in thought in a match, and his black and turquoise checkered jacket. Since there is always the chance that he might be in the middle of a match, the first one is a little unreliable. Turns out the second may not be as reliable either, as the recent Japanese Grand Prix displayed.

As a writer was looking to grab Watanabe for a quick interview, he took the visual shortcut to start walking toward that tell-tale jacket as soon as it was spotted. When the writer arrives, it isn't Watanabe sitting in the jacket, it's someone completely different. A bit confused, the search began again. This time, the jacket (and its wearer) was spotted getting ready to walk out of the door, going for a bit of fresh air. But once again, it was a Yuuya doppelganger. Yet another jacket was spotted near the feature match area, but once again that wasn't him ... but it was someone watching the real Yuuya finishing up his match!

The adoration and respect for Watanabe from the Japanese community is obvious, and he clearly deserves the adulation. His accomplishments in Magic often overshadow Watanabe's personality as an incredibly funny, very likable guy who never shies away from an interview, even knowing that his English isn't the best. He loves telling stories and acting out funny moments from his weekend. He just happens to win Grand Prix titles while he's doing it. And the Japanese love him for it, enough to emulate his trademark fashion. If more people could get past the statistics, they'd realize that he's more than just a great player. He's also a great guy.

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