by Worth Wollpert
Japan's top-ranked composite player, Yoshikazu Ishii, sat down across from PT veteran, Darwin Kastle for the last round of one of the coolest formats of the weekend, BYOB (Bring Your Own Block). This format allowed the players to pick three different blocks (one from the standalone sets, and one each from the middle and end sets) and build a deck. One of the most innovative and generally neat decks built was Ishii's who decided to go with Invasion-Nemesis-Destiny, a combination that no one else played. Opting for red/green beats, these sets offered a great array of beatdown cards, like Blastoderm, Masticore, and Saproling Burst, all fueled by Fires of Yavimaya. Darwin went with a new version of his old favorite and standby, Survival of the Fittest. Using Ice Age for Ashen Ghoul and mana elves, Darwin chose Legacy for the good echo creatures and of course Exodus for Survival itself and Oath of Ghouls. These two decks make for an interesting matchup, basically Kastle's plan was to stay alive and counter enough of the early rush with cards like Spike Weaver and Radiant's Dragoons so he could stay alive long enough get into Ashen Ghoul and Oath of Ghouls recursion. Ishii obviously wanted to get out of the gates fast and put a ton of pressure on Darwin before he could set up his graveyard manipulation stuff. With a handshake and a smile on both sides, we were off to game one...
Ishii won the flip and chose to play first, only to draw up his hand and see a lone forest. After a mulligan, he had a fairly decent hand, getting quickly up to five mana and playing out a Saproling Burst. Darwin had an awesome start too, with a first turn elf combined with a Multani's Acolyte and Spike Weaver early on. Darwin used his Spike Weaver to effectively nullify the Saproling Burst for a couple turns, while continuing to set up with a turn 5 Yavimaya Granger and turn 7 Survival of the Fittest. Things started to get a little dicey for Ishii at that point, but he kept fighting, and eventually, his deck rewarded him with a Masticore. Masticore is an absolute game breaker against Darwin's deck, and Darwin was visibly shaken by it when it hit the table. Fortunately for Darwin, the gods smiled upon him, as Ishii got a bit ahead of himself the next upkeep, and between fading counters on Blastoderm and Saproling Burst, forgot to pay Masticore's upkeep and the artifact behemoth was buried. Ishii was a little flustered by the mistake, and without the Masticore, there was no way for him to deal with the recurring Ashen Ghouls and Deranged Hermit that hit the board on Darwin's side shortly thereafter. After a concession, we were off to game 2.
I think both players realized that game one took a long time and after some quick sideboarding, we were ready for game two. Ishii again chose to play first of course, and there were no mulligans to be seen this time. After a few land on both sides, and a stall at two land for a turn by Ishii, the monsters started dropping. These are consecutive plays by Ishii: Blastoderm, Saproling Burst, Masticore, Kavu Chameleon, Saproling Burst, Masticore, Blastoderm. So he won right? Holy Pikula! Darwin was under a ton of pressure the entire game from the aforementioned squad of beefy monsters, but he didn't let it phase him. Calmly using his sideboarded in Swords to Plowshares on various different creatures (mostly Masticores), Darwin used his Survival and creature elimination to stay alive long enough to be able to fill up his graveyard and drop the bomb, Lhurgoyf. Lhurgoyf has been good against red since the beginning of time, and this was no exception. After nearly winning with the wave of huge creatures, Ishii was forced to stare down a 11/12 Lhurgoyf with no blockers. Even at 30 life like he was, it didn't take long for the 'goyf' to finish the job and give Darwin the match win 2-0.
Final Result: Darwin Kastle defeats Yoshikazu Ishii (2-0-0)