Quarterfinals: Quarterfinal Round-Up

Posted in Event Coverage on July 18, 2011

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

Ryoichi Tamada (Valakut) v Yoshihiko Ikawa (Tempered Steel)
Tomoya Fujimoto (Green-White) v Shouta Yasooka (Tezzeret)
Shouta Takao (Blue-Black Control) v Ryuuichirou Ishida (Tempered Steel)
Kouei Itou (Valakut) v Makihito Mihara (Valakut)

We're going to keep an eye on all the quarterfinal action as it happens, but we begin with Shouta Yasooka's quest for Player of the Year, a title he last won in 2006. He brings his Tezzeret deck into action against Tomoya Fujimoto, who is really living the dream this weekend, since he won the Last Chance Qualifier on Friday. He brings an interesting green-white deck, but it may not be seen to best advantage here against the might of Yasooka.

Shouta Yasooka, left, vs. Tomoya Fujimoto.

Yasooka opened the top 8 with a turn two Torpor Orb, by which time Birds of Paradise had been the perfect opening for Fujimoto. His turn two was a second Birds of Paradise and Nest Invader. Inquisition of Kozilek allowed Yasooka to strip Blade Splicer from Fujimoto's hand, before Yasooka added Ratchet Bomb, gearing up to kill Birds of Paradise the following turn.

Fujimoto cast Hero of Bladehold, then passed. As expected, Yasooka ticked up the Ratchet Bomb, blew it to kill both Birds of Paradise, then cast Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas before turning his Torpor Orb into a 5/5. Fujimoto piled into the red zone, sending Nest Invader, Hero of Bladehold, and the two bonus Soldiers that came with the Hero.

Tezzeret fell to dead, as did the Hero of Bladehold, and Yasooka fell to thirteen. He laid a second Tectonic Edge, taking him to five mana, and passed the turn with his 5/5 Torpor Orb his only board presence.

Shouta Yasooka

Fujimoto had Journey to Nowhere for the Orb, and crashed in with two Soldiers and Nest Invader, with Yasooka now at nine. He tapped out for Batterskull, which was enough to have Fujimoto simply lay a land and pass. Batterskull attacked unmolested, taking Yasooka back to thirteen. He used one of his Tectonic Edges to kill Stirring Wildwood, and went back to beating with Batterskull when Fujimoto had no play.

Yasooka used his four mana to cast Everflowing Chalice for two, which left Fujimoto a window to cast Acidic Slime, destroying the Batterskull.

Tomoya Fujimoto

Yasooka used his Everflowing Chalice to cast Consecrated Sphinx, two words that are never a good sign for an opponent. Black Sun's Zenith for two wiped the board except for the giant flying card advantage machine, and Yasooka completed a great turn with Jace Beleren, sending the planeswalker to five loyalty. Journey to Nowhere replied from Fujimoto, taking out the Consecrated Sphinx, but the card advantage had found Yasooka his new M12 kill card, Sorin's Vengeance.

Yasooka 1 - 0 Fujimoto

In the Valakut mirror match, it looked as if Makihito Mihara was taking control of game one. He had Avenger of Zendikar on the battlefield with seven plants for support, together with Oracle of Mul Daya, which may be quite good together...On the other side of the table Kouei Itou had just a pair of Solemn Simulacrum.

Kouei Itou vs. Makihito Mihara

Meanwhile, Yoshihiko Ikawa led Ryoichi Tamada by a lightning-fast 2-0, his Tempered Steel deck piling past the Valakut player, despite an eleven card sideboard package to swing the matchup back towards Tamada. In game three, however, Ikawa mulliganed to five, which was hardly promising.

Tamada opened with Valakut, but despite a double mulligan Ikawa had plenty of thinking to do about his turn one. He laid Glacial Fortress tapped and cast Memnite for free. Forest from Tamada led to Explore and a second Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Preordain from Ikawa revealed Seachrome Coast and Origin Spellbomb, which he unsurprisingly sent away, picking up Signal Pest from the top. Memnite attacked for the first damage, Ikawa laid a second land, and was done. Most definitely not the explosive starts of the first two games, but that's what happens when you mulligan to five.

Ryoichi Tamada

Tamada laid Khalni Heart Expedition and a Mountain to begin his quest to up the Mountains count, while Ikawa tapped out for Tempered Steel before attacking for three with his lonely Memnite. Tamada had Rampant Growth for a Mountain. In came the Memnite again, with Ikawa laying Signal Pest, still holding two cards in hand. Tamada, though, had four. The first was Explore, the next Raging Ravine, the next a Mountain, and the next Nature's Claim, taking out Tempered Steel.

Yoshihiko Ikawa vs. Ryoichi Tamada

Ikawa attacked for two, with Tamada down to eleven. Pyroclasm cleared the board, and Tamada felt confident enough to activate his Raging Ravine and pile in. That was the cue for Ikawa to sweep up his permanents, completing a comprehensive misfire that made the score..

Tamada 1 - 2 Ikawa

Score updates from the other quarterfinals

Fujimoto had managed to equalize againt Yasooka, making them now a best two out of three. Ryuuichirou Ishida had taken his Tempered Steel deck to a 2-0 lead over the Blue-Black Control of Shouta Takao, while Makihito Mihara had indeed taken the opening game of the Valakut mirror, and led 1-0.

Ikawa opened with Vault Skirge in game four, paying two life via Phyrexian mana. It attacked on turn two, followed up by Glint Hawk Idol. Tamada added to his Raging Ravine with a second copy, and passed. Mox Opal activated the Glint Hawk Idol before Ikawa cast Tempered Steel, crashing in for seven damage. Nature's Claim took out the Tempered Steel, which was precisely what Tamada needed to stay in contention. Ikawa cast Origin Spellbomb with his Mox Opal, activated his Glint Hawk Idol, and attacked. The card he drew with Origin Spellbomb still didn't net him a third land, and the pair of Hero of Bladehold he was holding were stuck there, worthless in his hand.

Still, Tamada was down to seven, and needed something more heavy-duty than Nature's Claim. Something like Creeping Corrosion, for example, which he promptly cast. Ikawa attempted to reload with two Signal Pests, but the sideboard of Tamada arrived again when he cast Pyroclasm to wipe the board again. When Tamada tapped six mana for Primeval Titan, Ikawa conceded, and we were heading for a very brisk game five shootout.

Ikawa 2 - 2 Tamada

Fujimoto now led Shouta Yasooka by 2-1, and was looking to cause an upset. It looked as if the Tempered Steel deck of Ryuuichirou Ishida was going to sweep the blue-black Control of Shouta Takao, while the Valakut mirror was still in the early stages of game two, so there's a good chance you'll be reading about that one in about three paragraphs from now....

Ikawa kept his opening seven, and so did Tamada, a bad sign for Ikawa, who opened with Vault Skirge. Preordain on turn two saw Memnite and Signal Pest on top, which Ikawa sent away, getting a land instead.

Vault Skirge attacked for one, with Inkmoth Nexus the turn two land from Ikawa. Tamada sacrificed Evolving Wilds for a Forest, and spent turn two on Explore, a Mountain, and Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

Ikawa landed Tempered Steel and attacked for three with his Vault Skirge.

Tamada used his three mana to Cultivate, adding a Mountain to the board, and a Forest to hand, which he cast as his land for the turn, leaving Nature's Claim mana open. The Vault Skirge attacked for another three, and Ikawa dropped Hero of Bladehold, apparently for the first time in the whole match, since Tamada wanted to check what the card did, Ikawa playing with an English version of the card...

Tamada reached six mana, and then moments later eight, which meant Primeval Titan. That had been the cue for the concession in game four, but not this time. Tamada was at thirteen and Ikawa had a possibly awesome turn coming. He opened with Preordain, seeing Memnite and Glint Hawk Idol, leaving them on top, and drawing the Memnite. He cast it, and used Dispatch to kill the Primeval Titan, now that he had Metalcraft. In came the Vault Skirge, the Hero of Bladehold, and two Soldiers, and now Tamada was at just two life.

The Valakut player untapped with eight mana, but basically needed Creeping Corrosion AND Pyroclasm on this one turn if he was going to survive. Or, a LOT of red-hot Valakut action.Ikawa sat motionless as he waited to discover his fate. Tamada cast Khalni Heart Expedition.

He cast Cultivate, but Ikawa had a card waiting - Unified Will!

Now THAT's why you play blue boys and girls...

During the final game here, two of the other quarterfinals reached their conclusion. As expected, Ishida took the third game and the sweep over blue-black, while Tomoya Fujimoto completed an excellent victory over Shouta Yasooka.

Ikawa 3 - 2 Tamada

Ishida 3 - 0 Takao

And you know what? That Valakut mirror was done too, and that could mean only one thing - a clean sweep for Makihito Mihara!

So, in a little less than an hour all four quarterfinals were done.

Ikawa had managed to squeeze past Tamada in a really tight five game set. He would now take his Tempered Steel deck into action against the green-white deck of Tomoya Fujimoto, who had taken out Shouta Yasooka by 3-1. In the bottom bracket, Ryuuichirou Ishida, on the back of his 3-0 quarterfinal win over Shouta Takao, would face the Valakut deck of Makihito Mihara, himself a 3-0 quarterfinal winner.

Steel against green-white.

Steel against Valakut.

Who would prove their metal mettle in the semifinals?

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