Osamu Fujita (Red-White Kithkin) vs. David Irvine (Esper Lark)Florida native David Irvine brings his successful blue-white-black ‘Esper Lark’ deck to the table.
Sitting in the center of the Arena, the shadows of the pillars ringing the stage fall in haphazard patterns across the oddly textured floor. Arrayed near the edge of the playing field and blocked off by a chain designed to protect the competitors from the bloodthirsty mob as much as it is to protect the spectators from stray blasts of eldritch power, three tables await the powerful beings who come into the Arena this morning to do battle. I took my seat at the middle table and cautiously awaited the entrance of the competitors I would be watching: Osamu Fujita of Japan and David Irvine of the United States. This site is a bit of home turf for Fujita, who appears to be quite at home with the home field advantage. He’s got seven Grand Prix Top 8s spanning seven years, most of which are here in Japan. Irvine is not one to be intimidated, though, having been a consistently strong combatant for just as long as Fujita. You could feel the tension building both in the Arena and around it as the booming voice of the Arena Master bellowed, "Round 2 has begun."
Mmm, flavor. Delicious.
The players shuffled up quickly and presented their decks. Fujita went into a bag for a handful of dice and pulled out the six-siders, which he showed to Irvine before asking him, "High roll?" Irvine nodded, and Fujita launched a salvo of dice onto the table. A couple of sixes and a two.
An amused Irvine chuckled as he picked them up. "Hoo, that’s a high one!"
His own roll wasn’t even a third of Fujita’s, and his Esper Lark deck would be starting from behind against Fujita’s blazing fast Red-White Kithkin deck.
Fujita started strong with a Goldmeadow Stalwart on his first turn. The little Kithkin was joined by a second as well as a Figure of Destiny on the second turn. Irvine’s slower control deck started to stem the bleeding with a Path to Exile on Fujita’s Figure during the next attack. He made sure that he forced at least one activation from Fujita. The Japanese player’s attack left Irvine at 14, but he didn’t play anything else to add to his team. It’s possible that with Irvine playing white-based control, he was avoiding overextension into Wrath of God.
Irvine forced Fujita to commit a little more to the board after he added a Stillmoon Cavalier to his side. The pro-white creature ground Fujita’s attack to a halt. All Fujita could do was add a replacement Figure of Destiny to his board and pass the turn without an attack. When Irvine played a second Cavalier on the following turn, Fujita just laughed. It appeared that Irvine had completely shut down Fujita’s offense, at least until he could turn his Figure of Destiny all the way on. Though Irvine looked safe, fortunes quickly reversed when Fujita played a Wizened Cenn, bolstering his troops enough that he didn’t have to fear the Cavaliers. All it took was a single two-mana creature, and the attacks could begin anew. Irvine blocked the biggest threats and dropped to 11.
When Irvine tried to regain control of the game by taking control of Fujita’s Cenn with a Sower of Temptation, Fujita played a Path to Exile to prevent it, leaving him with a dominating board position and a single card in hand. That last card was a third Goldmeadow Stalwart, which he added to his team before attacking. When the Stillmoon Cavaliers made a move to block the Wizened Cenn and then gain first strike, Fujita used his last card in hand, a Rustic Clachan, to reinforce the Cenn, keeping it and his whole team alive. It had taken all of his cards, but he had dropped Irvine to 2 and looked to finish things off on the following turn.
Irvine gained a couple extra life with a Kitchen Finks on the following turn, and also a valuable blocker that could kill the Wizened Cenn if it attacked. And attack it did. Fujita pumped his Figure of Destiny the whole way, forcing Irvine to either deal with it or put his Cavaliers on permanent Figure duty for whatever meager number of turns remained. Irvine decided that dealing with it was the best plan, and used a Cryptic Command to return it to Fujita’s hand and draw a card. He then got to kill the Wizened Cenn with his Kitchen Finks, which turned the 2 damage his Cavaliers had dealt to the Goldmeadow Stalwarts lethal. This dropped the tapped-out Fujita to a single Stalwart and a lonely Figure of Destiny in his hand. After his Finks persisted, Irvine was left at a precarious 3 life, but Fujita was going to need some serious work to finish him off.
Irvine made things even more difficult after untapping. He had a Tidehollow Sculler for Fujita’s lone card—the Figure of Destiny Irvine had bounced on the previous turn. He also had a Reveillark, which people sometimes seem to forget is a massive clock in addition to being a sick combo piece. When Fujita drew nothing of value over the next two turns, the massive 4/3 flier and friends finally completed the distance.
David Irvine 1, Osamu Fujita 0
Fujita started just a strong in the second game, with a Figure of Destiny that attacked for 2 before being joined by a second copy. He followed those up with a Glorious Anthem, and swung for 5, dropping Irvine to a quick 13. Irvine evoked a Mulldrifter on his turn, leaving a clear passage for Fujita’s troops to drop him to 7. Unwilling to extend on an already superior board, Fujita just passed the turn. Irvine made him very happy with his decision when he played a Wrath of God to kill Fujita’s two Figures. A third copy came down to replace them, though, keeping the pressure firmly on one side of the table.Osamu Fujita is on his home turf and rocking a serious scarf.
Irvine played a Kitchen Finks on his turn, gaining him a couple precious life points and a good blocker. His Finks were overshadowed, though, when Fujita made a battalion of flying 2/2s with a Spectral Procession. Now facing more than a single threat, Irvine was forced to use a second Wrath of God to clear things away. His Finks came back, netting him some more life, as well as providing an attacker for the now cleared board.
Fujita looked to refill quickly, though, and a Ranger of Eos went and snagged him his final Figure of Destiny, as well as the very versatile Mogg Fanatic. He’d have to wait a turn to play any of them, since the Ranger took all his mana. Irvine took advantage of this window to steal the Ranger of Eos with a Sower of Temptation. This cleared the path for him to get his first points of damage in, and he dropped Fujita to 17. Fujita added a second point of pain damage from his Battlefield Forge on his next turn to drop the Fanatic, as well as the Figure and a Knight of Meadowgrain. Two of those creatures had come from the Ranger of Eos, so, despite having a veritable army in play, Fujita still had three cards in his hand and wasn’t out of gas yet.
Irvine thought for a minute or two before sending his Sower and the tempted Ranger of Eos across to say hello to Fujita. The Ranger bit it at the hands of the Knight of Meadowgrain, and Fujita went back up to nineteen. After attacking, Irvine dropped the "probably too powerful" Reveillark onto his side. The pair of Mulldrifters in his graveyard did a little flying fish fist-pumping. Fujita had a card-drawing engine of his own, though, and a second Ranger of Eos fetched a pair of Fanatics from his deck. He also had a Windbrisk Heights to hideaway mystery card number one.
Irvine’s fliers went to work on Fujita, dropping him to match his own life total at 11. After that attack, Irvine played a third copy of Wrath of God, wiping the board, getting a couple fishies, and drawing four cards. Nice Wrath of God. Fujita vomited a bit of his own advantage onto the board with a Cloudgoat Ranger that gave him the same number of creatures as he had before the Wrath of God. A Path to Exile dealt with the Cloudgoat Ranger, but the tokens were still enough creatures to turn on the Heights. Irvine attacked with his two Mulldrifters, knocking Fujita to 7, and dropped a pair of Stillmoon Cavaliers into play.
Things were looking pretty bad for Fujita, as Irvine held the advantage in creatures, life, and cards in hand. He drew his card and then went deep into the tank. Leaning over the table, he carefully took stock of the cards on Irvine’s side of the table, and you could actually see him doing the math in his head. Finally, he straightened in his chair, grabbed his hand off the table, and attacked with his tokens. Irvine made the obligatory blocks and took his 2 damage, happy to have dealt with most of Fujita’s creatures but knowing that there was something hiding under that Heights that he would rather not think about. Time to see what’s behind door number one!
Cloudgoat Ranger. The Cloudgoat refilled his side of the table, and a Mogg Fanatic came down from his hand for good measure. With a few cards left in his had, Fujita passed the turn with four lands open. Irvine saw his window with Fujita at six. He played a Cryptic Command to tap all of Fujita’s creatures and draw a card. All of his men turned sideways. Before damage, Fujita had a Path to Exile to remove one of the Mulldrifters, but that still left a lethal 6 damage on the board. Mogg Fanatic dealt with one of the Cavaliers, allowing him to survive the turn. He then played a second Path to Exile on Irvine’s second Mulldrifter, which, considering Fujita still had a Fanatic to deal with the other Cavalier in his hand and Irvine presumably had nothing, prompted a scoop from the American. I only write this all out because Fujita actually did it step by step, making Irvine completely resolve everything before moving on to the next step.
"That’s game," Irvine said emotionlessly while reaching for his cards. "That was a pretty good draw."
Osamu Fujita 1, David Irvine 1
Irvine started the final game of the match off down a card and on the play. Fujita, the sportsman he is, matched his mulligan. Fujita kept his second draw, but it didn’t have nearly the power of the first two, and his first contribution to the table didn’t come until turn three. Irvine had already evoked a Mulldrifter by this point, and with this start, it seemed unlikely that Fujita was going to be able to apply the pressure needed to get Irvine low enough before he could establish control. His Mogg Fanatic seemed completely outclassed by the Glen Elendra Archmage Irvine dropped into play on the following turn. He had a Path to Exile for it, as well as a Glorious Anthem, but his slow start had given Irvine a good head start in establishing himself.
A Runed Halo from Irvine came down naming Mogg Fanatic, so Fujita just grew different threats. With Fujita committing a Cloudgoat Ranger to his board, Irvine finally had the impetus to Wrath of God the board away, shutting off a potential Windbrisk Heights activation. He followed that up on the next turn with a Reveillark, which only had a single Mulldrifter to get back. After refilling his board with a Spectral Procession, Fujita was down to just one card in hand and a mystery card under the Heights. A second Heights joined his row of lands, and he gave a little smirk as he decided on his card.
Reveillark got to block one of the Procession tokens, but the condition had been met for Fujita to activate his Windbrisk Heights. Door number one contained ... a new car (read: Ranger of Eos). This lavish luxury automobile came fully equipped with heated seats, power everything, and two passengers: Figure of Destiny and Mogg Fanatic. Both creatures came right into play, greatly diversifying Fujita’s army. This diversity was a tad problematic for Irvine, since, barring that single Wrath of God, his only answers had been a couple of Runed Halos. The second Runed Halo, which he just played, shut down the freshly cast Figure of Destiny before it could get out of hand, but Fujita still had a number of creatures that could slip under the Halos’ watch. The Reveillark he played did provide a nice body to jump in front of attackers, though, so it wasn’t all looking down.Fujita pushes ‘em in.
After thinking for a few minutes, Fujita chose to use a Martial Coup to trade his army of mostly useless attackers in for an even larger one that could completely bypass the Halos. His five Soldiers also greatly trumped the lone Mulldrifter that Irvine was able to get back with his Reveillark. Irvine used a Wrath of God to wipe the board himself. As expected, Fujita vomited some more creatures into play via a Cloudgoat Ranger. A second Wrath of God from Irvine put a stop to that, but another Cloudgoat Ranger from Fujita left Irvine without a response. All he could do was play a Glen Elendra Archmage to join the Mulldrifter he had played on the previous turn and pass the turn. Fujita chose to try and Path of Exile it at end of turn, forcing Irvine to sacrifice it to keep it in play.
Fujita sent his Cloudgoat Ranger and his Kithkin attendees. Irvine was forced to trade his Mulldrifter for a Kithkin, but left his Archmage out of the fray. This dropped him to 6. On his next turn, he simply attacked with the Archmage and passed the turn. When Fujita went to attack on the following turn, Irvine had two copies of Path to Exile to remove a token and the Cloudgoat Ranger. When Fujita tried to play his last card in his hand, a Knight of Meadowgrain, Irvine used Cryptic Command to counter it and bounce Fujita’s last token, completely clearing his board. Irvine then got to add a Stillmoon Cavalier to his board and begin to attack. He sent his men over to attack Fujita, which prompted an Unmake from Fujita on the Archmage, since the Stillmoon Cavalier was incredibly well protected against it.
About this time, time was called, giving the players only a few more turns to finish the match. Irvine had a lot of ground to make up, and pumped his Cavalier a bunch, dropping Fujita to 9. Fujita drew his card and glumly passed the turn. Irvine tried the same trick, attacking Fujita down to 2 with a massive Cavalier. Fujita had one last turn to deal with the Cavalier to force a draw and salvage some points out of this round. After drawing his card, he surveyed the board, admitted he had nothing, and shook Irvine’s hand.
David Irvine 2, Osamu Fujita 1