Posted in Event Coverage on July 13, 2003

By Mike Thicke

As soon as the Top 8 was announced, there was guaranteed to be a Japanese player in the finals. The only questions were how many, and who it would be. The other semifinal match would determine the how many, and this one would determine the who. Would it be an all-"Goblin Bidding" finals to make the perfect ending for a new deck archetype, or would the venerable combination of green creatures and red burn be the spoiler?

Neither Ishida or Fujita are strangers to the final rounds of a Grand Prix. Osamu has played in two, both in the team format, and Ishida has made the cut a staggering eight times before.

Ishida, with a win to his name as well, has the edge in pedigree, but what he lacks is an answer to Patriarch's Bidding or many useful sideboarding options. Fujita's sideboard, in contrast, clearly was built with Red/Green in mind, sporting Smothers and extra Gempalm Incinerators.

Game 1

Fujita won the die roll, and both players kept their hands. Fujita had some quality goblins in his hand, with Goblin Piledriver, Goblin Sharpshooter, and Goblin Matron, but lacked a first turn play. Ishida, though, did not, and led with Llanowar Elf. Fujita lacked the Firebolt to take it out, and replied with a lonely looking Piledriver instead. The Elf accelerated out a turn two Call of the Herd for Ishida, and Fujita played Sharpshooter, which could go a long ways toward evening the playing field if it survived. Unfortunately for Fujita, it did not, as Violent Eruption cleared his side of the table, clearing the way for the elephant token to come trumpeting in for three.

Fujita, now definitely backpedaling, summoned a Goblin Matron to search for Siege-Gang Commander. The Commander is a key card against Red/Green, as it allows the small goblins to compete with Red/Green's larger and more efficient creatures.

Next turn, Ishida played the Blistering Firecat he had been holding all game, and it and the Llanowar Elf took Fujita to seven, while the Matron prevented three elephant damage on the way to the graveyard. Ishida was holding Violent Eruption and Volcanic Hammer at this point, so the game ended on the next turn.

Ishida - 1 Fujita - 0

Game 2

Ishida brought in Moment's Peaces and Phantom Centaur for the Elephant Guides, and Fujita brought in his Smothers, another Gempalm Incinerator, Patriarch's Bidding, and the Shadowblood Ridge.

Ishida again had the first play, but this time it was only Basking Rootwalla. Fujita continued to show contempt for the theory that goblin decks are supposed to be fast, and passed his first turn. Fujita's second turn Sparksmith met Firebolt, but Goblin Warchief swung in for two the next turn. Ishida had Call of the Herd on turn three, and Fujita considered Smothering it right away, but opted to search for Siege-Gang Commander with Goblin Matron instead. Fujita with two goblins in play already, could have gotten Sparksmith and killed the elephant immediately, but opted against that plan, perhaps fearing Violent Eruption.

Goblin Matrons never seem to have a very high life expectancy in Fujita's hands, he is always eager to get them in the graveyard for any kind of advantage. The most recent incarnation is no different, as it blocks Rootwalla to prevent Ishida from flashing the Call that turn.

Throughout the game Fujita opts to avoid damage at all costs, declining to use Sparksmith's ability, in favor of just chumping with it, and searching for Commanders instead of more aggressive goblins. He was also stuck on three land for most of the game, but had Patriarch's Bidding in hand. Eventually he manages to get up to a higher land count, and a massive Bidding ends the game when the previously dead Matrons search for hasted Sharpshooters.

Ishida - 1 Fujita - 1

Game 3

For the third time in a row, Ishida had the first play, with Basking Rootwalla, while Fujita failed to find any one casting cost goblins to play. Fujita did have Smother for the 'Walla, and a Warchief next turn though. Ishida had Firebolt as well, and dispatched the Warchief on his turn. The players traded sac-lands on their next turns, but Ishida had the next real play, and it was a good one: Phantom Centaur.

Fujita began the Matron game again, but Ishida took the wind out of his sails with Violent Eruption. On the next turn Ishida had Firebolt to take the match.

Game 3 proved to be a repeat of Game 1, as Ishida maintained tempo advantage, and prevented Fujita from ever setting up a solid defense.

Final Result: Ishida - 2 Fujita - 1

So there will be no all Goblin finals, but it will be an all Japanese finals, as Tsuyoshi Fujita won his Semifinal match.

Itaru Ishida

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Fujita Osamu

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