Quarterfinals - Motoaki Itou (Mythic Conscription) vs. Yuuya Watanabe (Next Level Bant)

Posted in Event Coverage on June 4, 2010

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Itou thought for a while about a hand containing a Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Birds of Paradise, and five lands before keeping it. Both players led with one-drop mana producers, but Watanabe's Noble Hierarch gave him the advantage because it let him begin attacking on the second turn. Itou used his fast mana well, recruiting a freshly drawn Elspeth, Knight-Errant on the third turn. Elspeth immediately went to work building an army. Watanabe made sure to keep it curtailed, forcing Itou to block a Vengevine with a Soldier before it could get to Elspeth. When Jace, the Mind Sculptor joined forces with the Elspeth on the board already, the advantage firmly swung in Itou's favor. The Jace put the hasty Elemental back into Watanabe's hand, while Itou and Elspeth combined efforts to make a Soldier and a Birds of Paradise.

Watanabe began his fourth turn with three lands and a Noble Hierarch in play. He began rapidly shuffling his hand around as he thought about what to do. With a resigned look on his face, he replayed his Vengevine and sent it into Jace. Elspeth had her fellow planeswalker's back, tossing a Soldier in the way. After combat, Watanabe played a Stirring Wildwood and passed the turn.

This time around, Itou chose to use his Jace to Brainstorm rather than returning a creature to Watanabe's hand. A Noble Hierarch allowed his Birds of Paradise to attack for one, and he finished with another Soldier token and a Dauntless Escort to protect his team.

Watanabe was in dire straits for this first game of the quarters. His opponent had set up an iron lock defense at this point, and it looked like victory was out of his reach. The first step of his plan was to drop a Gideon Jura and force all of Itou's creatures to attack it. Before complying, Itou used Jace to return the Vengevine to Watanabe's hand. Inside combat, he turned on a Celestial Colonnade with his mana-producing creatures and sent his team at Gideon. After combat, he used Elspeth to add yet another Soldier to his army.

Motoaki Itou hangs out with planeswalkers. Lucky!

With the skies free, all Watanabe could do was use all of his mana to turn on a Celestial Colonnade and attack Jace to death. For his part, Itou started swinging for the fences. Dauntless Defender and a couple of Soldiers started banging in to hit Watanabe. When he revealed a second copy of Jace to replace the one that had just died, Watanabe just picked up his cards.

Motoaki Itou 1 – Yuuya Watanabe 0

Both players threw their starting seven back for the second game. Watanabe's six gave him a Forest and a Noble Hierarch for the first turn, which is always a decent starting point. Itou also had the potential for a first-turn mana critter, but he chose to open with a Stirring Wildwood and wait until the second turn to play his Birds of Paradise.

Now at four mana, Watanabe grabbed himself a couple of one drops with his Ranger of Eos. After drawing a Lotus Cobra, Itou had to think for a minute about his play. He also held a Knight of the Reliquary, and he ended up dropping it into play via the extra mana from the Cobra. Watanabe started his turn with the Noble Hierarch he had searched up, allowing his Ranger to attack in as a 5/4. Itou just took it, dropping to fourteen. After combat, the other Ranger recruit, a Scute Mob, made its way to the table, just one land from starting to grow.

Yuuya Watanabe didn't get to be Player of the Year through play skill alone; he also has super speed.

With his remaining three mana, Watanabe chose to simply put the Knight of the Reliquary on a Journey to Nowhere. He agonized for a minute about whether to hit the Knight or the Cobra, ultimately deciding to hit the Knight. After dropping a Linvala, Keeper of Silence and taking another hit from the Ranger, Itou finally got to put the color-fixing powers of his Cobra to use. Lacking a second blue source, Itou dropped a land, making that blue, and dropping the ever-important Jace, the Mind Sculptor into play. Rather than return a creature, he chose to Brainstorm and passed the turn to Watanabe.

During his upkeep, Watanabe's Scute Mob picked up some counters for the first time, turning it into a 5/5. The Mob crashed into Itou's Lotus Cobra, preventing him from dropping past nine. After combat, Watanabe fetched up a Birds and a Hierarch with a second Ranger of Eos. The Birds hit play, and he passed the turn.

Itou revealed one of the main reasons Jace is so good when he played and cracked a Misty Rainforest to get himself a fresh Brainstorm. In the cards he drew, he found himself another knight of the Reliquary, though he was low enough that he wasn't able to play it without having it immediately forced to chump block. Instead, he decided to play defensive for a turn, just playing a Noble Hierarch and passing with a Bant Charm in hand.

Watanabe thought for a minute before activating his Stirring Wildwood and attacking with it, the Mob, and two Rangers. The Wildwood was Charmed away, while the Birds and Linvala blocked. Without trample, all the Scute Mob could do was make sure the Birds really died, while Linvala ate one of the Rangers. The second hit home, dropping Itou to five.

Once again, Itou used Jace to Brainstorm. This time around, he managed to find a Lotus Cobra that allowed him to play his entire hand, dropping the Cobra and Knight, as well as Charming the giant Scute Mob away. Watanabe was down to just a Ranger of Eos, a Birds, and a trio of Hierarchs. With a shake of his head, he sent the Ranger into Jace, and it promptly ate a Lotus Cobra.

With Watanabe's forces mostly neutralized, Itou was finally able to play the Sovereigns of Lost Alara that he had been shuffling to the top of his deck with Jace. He played it and attacked with his Knights of the Reliquary. The inevitable Eldrazi Conscription came down, turning the Knight into a true beast. After much deliberation, Watanabe dropped to five. His last action for the turn was to use Jace to return Ranger of Eos to Watanabe's hand, leaving him with an army of one-toughness creatures. Knowing he was beat, Watanabe conceded.

Motoaki Itou 2 – Yuuya Watanabe 0

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