by Mark Wraith
This match sees a change of cultures from previous featured games. Team Occult System contains three of the top Japanese players:- Kenichi Fujita, Koichiro Maki, and Tsuyoshi Ikeda. Kenichi is one of only four players who has won two Grand Prix, the others being Kai Budde, Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz, and Jon Finkel. Koichiro Maki played in the 1999 Duelist Invitational, and has the rare accolade of having won a car in a Magic tournament, in the Hong Kong Open. Tsuyoshi Ikeda is much less well-known players, but he has played in a couple of Pro Tours, and is a very good player.
Their opponents are Team Latin Lovers. All three of these players are from Spain, and many would say that they are the best that their country has to offer. Carlos Barrado won GP Madrid last season, and Hector Fuentes showed that extended is one of Spain's best formats by finishing in the top 8 of PT Chicago last year with a blue control deck. The final member of the team, Roc Herms Pont, came 9th in PT London, and is one of the top DCI rated players on the continent.
The matchups are:
Roc Herms Pont (Black/Green) versus Tsuyoshi Ikeda (Black/Green)
Hector Fuentes (Blue/Red) versus Kenichi Fujita (Blue/White)
Carlos Barrado (Blue/White) versus Koichiro Maki (Red/White)
In game one of the Herms Pont - Ikeda match, Roc starts out well. He plays a Blastoderm, a Silt Crawler, and a Horned Troll. Tsuyoshi has only a Belbe's Percher, so it's looking bad for him when his Vintara Elephant receives a Vendetta. He manages to stabilize with a Forced March, wiping out all of Roc's board position, and leaving Ikeda with many more cards in his hand. The advantage that he has just gained in terms of cards in hand shows immediately as he plays a Noxious Field, a Blastoderm, and an Undertaker. As all Roc has left is a Cateran Persuader, he is soon killed by a Blastoderm which gets resurrected by the Undertaker once its fading counters have run out.
The Spanish put up a much better show in the Fuentes - Fujita game. Hector brings out a Rishadan Airship at the third turn, and Kenichi simply draws no answer to this flyer. Although he manages to deal a few damage of his own with a Blockade Runner, his other ground based creatures are stymied by a powerful defense by Fuentes.
While the first two games were quick affairs, the same can definitely not be said for the third pairing - Carlos Barrado versus Koichiro Maki. In the early game Carlos brings out a defensive board of Trenching Steed, Stinging Barrier, and a Ramosian Sergeant. The Sergeant is a big long term threat, as Koichiro does not know how powerful Carlos' rebel engine is. Thus he feels the need to go on the offensive, attacking with both his Keldon Berserker and his Spur Grappler. He also has a Fresh Volunteers in play. Maki's assault proves ill-timed, as Carlos has both an Orim's Cure, and a Flowstone Armor, and is able to deal with both of the creatures, losing only a single land to his Trenching Steed. Carlos plays out a Hollow Warrior as well, and the Fresh Volunteer is no match for this as Carlos goes on the attack. Koichiro draws only land for the remaining three turns of the game, and dies to the Steed, the Hollow Warrior, and the Stinging Barrier.
By this time the other two matches have already finished. Game two of Herms Pont - Ikeda is one of the quickest games of Sealed Deck this weekend, with Ikeda playing an early Bog Smugglers and Cateran Slaver. As Roc has a Swamp in play both of these creatures are unblockable, and his deck has no way of getting rid of the slaver. Tsuyoshi uses a Vine Dryad and a Maggot Therapy to ensure that Roc can't do anything in time.
Hector keeps the match alive in his second game against Kenichi Fujita, with a bevy of flyers. He has a Rishadan Airship and a Stronghold Zeppelin, controlling the board with a Waterfront Bouncer. He also plays a Zarapa the Minotaur, and a Lightning Hounds. As Kenichi's life slips away quickly, Hector rubs salt into the wound by casting a Kyren Negotiations. As he also has a Thwart in his hand for anything that Kenichi might try to do, the game is over.
So the match comes down to Carlos Barrado versus Koichiro Maki. They are still sitting at 1-0 Barrado by the time the other two matches have finished.
Koichiro's start is good; he plays a Steadfast Guard, and a Spur Grappler. Carlos has only a Nightwind Glider, and when it tries to block the Steadfast Guard with it, the Guard receives a Mageta's Boon, making it a 3 / 4. Carlos plays a Trenching Steed and puts Cho-Manno's Blessing on it, to be able to hold off the burly Guard. However he can't deal with the Zarapa the Minotaur, or the Kyren Negotiations that Koichiro plays over the next two turns.
So the entire match comes down to a single deciding game, with a little under ten minutes on the clock, there is a real possibility that it will end in a draw. This becomes a little more likely as both players have no real offense, and a good defense. Both players remove their opponents threats, with Stinging Barrier, and Rhystic Lightnings. Neither player can make any inroad into the game, and the match ends in a draw, with both Koichiro and Carlos on over ten life.
Latin Lovers draw 1-1-1 with Occult System