While Nakamura's victory over Tommi Lindgren was rather mundane, it's fair to assume that Landoni's heart was thumping wildly after a last-card win over Jorg Unfried of Germany. Nakamura had Player of the Year to think of, while Landoni was all about the here and now in his first Grand Prix top 8.
Trigon of Rage and Horizon Spellbomb from Nakamura faced a classic opening for the Italian. Silver Myr, and then Argent Sphinx, with Chrome Steed not far behind. Nakamura cast and then attacked with Ferrovore, with Landoni happy to take the damage. This was, after all, a race he was currently winning. Tangle Angler threatened to change things somewhat, Landoni sending the Sphinx in for a second time before dropping a matching pair of Auriok Replicas.
For the first time in the match, the pace slowed, as Nakamura forced one of the Replicas to block his Tangle Angler, using Trigon of Rage to raise the Angler to lethal on the Replica. Landoni equipped his Chrome Steed with Bladed Pinions and piled in once more. 16, 12, 4, dead.
Now that was brutal.
Nakamura 0 – 1 Landoni
The Japanese former Player of the Year had seen little cause for optimism in game one, which a mulligan from Landoni did little to change. Mana Myr traded in the early going of game two, Nakamura assembling an average Ferrovore and Wall of Tanglecord, Landoni bringing a distinctly not-average Grand Architect, plus Auriok Replica equipped with Bladed Pinions. The Trinket Mage from Landoni that followed was decent, fetching Darksteel Axe, which also joined Bladed Pinions on the Auriok Replica.
Turn to Slag must have been the fear, but Nakamura contented himself with back to back Molder Beasts. Nakamura had Wing Puncture for the Auriok Replica, using a Molder Beast to deal it five damage. Trinket Mage became the new bearer of assorted equipment.
For the third time, Nakamura spent five mana on a creature, this time the 4/2 Saberclaw Golem. Now Landoni sent the equipment to yet another new home, the Grand Architect, while Nakamura cast the Tangle Angler that had struggled in game one. Still, this time the 1/5 might be able to sculpt an enormous attack in a classic 'yoo-hoo, look at meeeee everybody!' moment. In came the Angler, the Ferrovore, the Saberclaw Golem, both Molder Beasts. With no tricks, Landoni took a humungous sixteen damage, dropping to two, and there was no comeback from there.
Nakamura 1 – Landoni 1
Surely Nakamura wasn't about to pull out yet another victory, against a deck that looked clearly superior?
Perilous Myr and Snapsail Glider was a good opening for Landoni, with Chrome Steed on turn four. By then all Nakamura had was three land and a Throne of Geth. Still, his fourth turn tilted things more favorably, with Oxidda Scrapmelter destroying the Chrome Steed before it could overrun him entirely.
Landoni continued aggressively, attacking before adding Vedalken Certarch to the battlefield, with Metalcraft already online. Nakamura Imprinted Clone Shell, and passed. He used Throne of Geth to sacrifice the Shell, revealing a second Clone Shell underneath, which Landoni aimed Disperse at. Nakamuia was still in big trouble, though, as Landoni pounded into the red zone once more with Snapsail Glider, Auriok Replica, and Perilous Myr, with Riddlesmith up next.
Nakamura returned Clone Shell to play, but Landoni had a big fat Tempered Steel just around the corner, straight from the top of his deck, which drew a breath from the large crowd. Snapsail Glider dropped Shuhei to just four life. He checked. He checked again. And he extended the hand in, as always, gracious defeat.
Shuhei Nakamura 1 – 2 Nicola Landoni