by Josh Bennett
High school student Katsuhiro Mori was qualified for last year's Magic Invitational as the highest rated APAC player. His spot passed down when he was unable to attend because of school. This is his first Pro Tour, despite three top eights at Japanese Grand Prix. His fast R/B/u deck is rich in removal. His opponent for this round was two-time Canadian National Champion Gary Krakower. His long career features first and second place finishes at Grand Prix, as well as numerous top thirty-twos. He is unimpressed with his U/W deck, but it has many quality cards.
Mori started out game one slowly. He had a Shivan Zombie and Kavu Aggressor, but Krakower's Stormscape Apprentice only let him hit for two a turn. When Mori had no play on turn five, Krakower Repulsed the Zombie, buying time and hunting for land. He swung for three and cast an unkicked Benalish Lancer.
At the end of his next turn, Mori Tsabo's Decreed away the Lancer and a freshly-cast Galina's Knight, revealing Krakower's strong hand of Faerie Squadron, Razorfoot Griffin, Prohibit and Obsidian Acolyte. Mori untapped and hit for three. Krakower tapped out for his Razorfoot. Mori enchanted his Aggressor with Maniacal Rage and attacked, putting Krakower a six.
Krakower drew the Dismantling Blow, and with the help of Razorfoot Griffin two-for-one'd his opponent. Mori held only land, and sent his few remaining creatures on a bluffed attack into Krakower's defenses. Krakower called him on it and killed his whole team. Mori scooped.
Both players kept two-land hands for game two. The jig was up when Mori missed his third drop and Addled away a Crimson Acolyte. Krakower pulled a land off the top, and Repulsed into a fourth. Mori drew lands as well, dropping his fourth one a turn behind.
Krakower was ahead in the race, but Mori had all the answers: a Breath of Darigaaz for an Obsidian Acolyte, then an Exotic Curse for Galina's Knight. A Pouncing Kavu joined an Aggressor, and suddenly Krakower had to hold his Razorfoot back. He didn't draw anything to stop the first-striker and conceded in the face of lethal damage.
Mori began game three with a mulligan and a Rogue Kavu. Krakower found the more dangerous Crimson Acolyte and an Angelic Shield to protect it. With Mori's best creatures being red, he knew he had to get rid of it. His Exotic Curse forced Krakower to bounce it with the shield.
Krakower recast the Acolyte and added a Visionary into the bargain. Mori's kicked Skizzik trampled over them both for three. Mori tried a second Curse, but Krakower Prohibited it. This let Mori sneak in four more damage.
Krakower put down a Glimmering Angel and seemed to have rock solid defenses. Mori Decreed away a Stormscape Apprentice and a Visionary, seeing Krakower's lone plains in hand. Krakower murmured, "Tokyo goes bye-bye."
His sentiment seemed justified when Mori removed the Acolyte with Cursed Flesh. Krakower drew Faerie Squadron and kicked it into play. His defenses were slim, but he decided to race his Angel and Squadron against Mori's Skizzik. His Galina's Knight fell to the third Curse, and his Metathran Transport soaked three damage. Krakower returned fire, leaving only a Razorfoot Griffin to block. Any spot removal from Mori and he loses. Mori drew and conceded. His next card was Soul Burn.
"I honestly thought the match was over with that Decree. He just had answers, answers, answers after that." -- Gary Krakower
Final Result: Krakower defeated Mori 2-1