Itou started out with an inauspicious mulligan. He seemed less than pleased to keep the six that followed, but he deemed them good enough to go. Mihara's early Wall of Omens didn't get to see a lot of action until Itou was able to stick a turn three Dauntless Escort. Mihara had tried to cut of Itou's green with a Spreading Seas, but a second Forest gave him access to the Bant domain.
Unfortunately for Itou, his third land was all he had, and he didn't have a creature to join the Escort. Add to that a second Wall from Mihara, and Itou wasn't getting in anytime soon. During his next draw, he was able to finally snag himself a Misty Rainforest, allowing him a Jace, the Mind Sculptor. Jace is incredibly powerful in the slower control matchups, and he got right to work sculpting his hand.
Mihara had a planeswalker of his own, and his Gideon Jura made sure that he not only got that Dauntless Defender to attack into a Wall, but he would have a creature to attack Itou's Jace. Not wanting that to happen, Itou played a Gideon of his own to kill both before Mihara could activate his and attack. This time, he started building his Jace for the kill, but, just as had happened on the previous turn, a second copy destroyed both before things could get rowdy.
With the board now clear, Itou added a Lotus Cobra and an Elspeth, Knight-Errant to fill the void. His Elspeth lifted the Escort over the Walls to finally get at Mihara's life total. After being knocked to fourteen, Mihara dropped a second copy of Jace, the Mind Sculptor. After sculpting his hand, Mihara tapped the remainder of his mana to cast Oblivion Ring on Elspeth, keeping Itou's creatures on the ground. Itou did have an answer to Jace, though, and his Celestial Colonnade took it out, leaving him in a pretty dominating position. After combat, he added a Knight of the Reliquary to his team and passed the turn.
Now it was Mihara's turn to think. He first played a second Celestial Colonnade, and, after several halfhearted reaches towards the middle of the table, signaled for Itou to go. Itou lifted up his Colonnade and sent it in. Mihara lifted his own up, and the two manlands traded. With the two Walls in play and the threat of the defending 4/4, Itou had to leave the rest of his troops home. After the attack, Itou dropped a Noble Hierarch into play. With the sky now belonging to him, Mihara activated his remaining Colonnade and attacked Itou down to fifteen. At the end of Mihara's turn, Itou used his Knight of the Reliquary to search up a Terramorphic Expanse, which he promptly sacrificed to make his Knight even bigger.
Now, Itou had enough large creatures to start battling through Mihara's Walls. He began by sending just his Escort in. Thanks to the exalted trigger, it ate the first of Mihara's two Walls. After combat, Itou added a second Knight and Escort to his team. I sense a beating in the near future…
After a simple draw and pass from Mihara, Itou once again began Knight tricks, this time going for a Verdant Catacombs and sacrificing it. An Elspeth joined his team as well, and he lifted a Knight into the air into the air. He sent the Escort and two 8/8 Knights into attack. Mihara activated a Colonnade and blocked the two largest creatures, but he was unable to find a miracle card to make all of the creatures disappear and conceded.
Makahito Mihara 0 – Motoaki Itou 1
For the second game, Mihara once again came out and set up a Wall of Omens to protect Jace, this time a Jace Beleren. Itou used a Lotus Cobra to throw down an Elspeth, Knight-Errant, allowing him top fly over the Wall and take Jace out after only one activation. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor replaced the cheaper version and sent Lotus Cobra back to Itou's grip, slowing him down immensely.
Itou filled his board with an Elspeth token, Lotus Cobra, and Noble Hierarch on the following turn before passing to Mihara. Mihara used his Jace to sculpt his hand before using a Scalding Tarn to wash away the chaff. He recruited a Gideon Jura to run interference for the Jace and then passed to let Itou's turn unfold.
Now bound by Gideon, Itou thought for a moment about how to proceed. After much deliberation, he chose to use his Hierarch and a Cobra mana to turn on his Colonnade. He then lifted his Cobra into the sky with Elspeth and sent into Gideon for nine, affectively getting Time Walked. Using his borrowed time, Mihara sculpted his hand some more with Jace before once again washing cards away with a Scalding Tarn. After freshening up the top of his deck, he took care of the opposing Elspeth with one of his own.
By this point, Mihara seemed in control. A Tectonic Edge had eaten one of his Colonnades, leaving him a mana short of activating the other and thus no way to get to Jace. Fortunately, he was able to find another Elspeth to lift his Soldier token over the Wall and into Jace. A baby Jace filled the Mind Sculptor's big shoes and went to work drawing cards for Mihara. Once again needing to deal with Elspeth to protect his Jace, he dropped an Oblivion Ring onto the opposing planeswalker. Proving that Elspeth isn't his deck's only path to planeswalkers, Itou dropped a Sejiri Steppe into play and attacked with his exalted Soldier.
At this point, roles kind of reversed. Itou dropped a Jace, the Mind Sculptor and started drawing cards while Mihara used Elspeth to make tokens. When Itou attempted to attack Mihara's Elspeth with an exalted Colonnade, Mihara got all tricksy. He had left one Island untapped last turn after playing a Celestial Prism. He tapped it and filtered it through the Prism to make the mana to Path to Exile the flying land before it could take Elspeth out. With Itou now tapped out, Mihara was free to lift his Soldier and take Jace out. After combat, with Itou on the roped, Mihara pressed with a Baneslayer Angel.
Itou drew his card with a sigh. He knew he was getting close to out of options, despite having a full hand of cards. All he could do was play a pair of Knights of the Reliquary and pass the turn. Baneslayer got all fat and sassy and virtually exchanged life totals. After combat, Mihara played Day of Judgment to clear the board, killed one of Itou's manlands, and made a new token with Elspeth. A Jace, the Mind Sculptor came down and bounced the token, leaving just planeswalkers on the table. Mihara just untapped and added another token and Baneslayer to his team. With a Gideon Jura joining them soon after, Itou picked it up for game three.
Makihito Mihara 1 – Motoaki Itou 1
It took Itou until turn three to get a creature on the board, but the Knight of the Reliquary he found was more than up to the task of taking out Mihara's Wall of Omens. Before it would get the chance, it was hit with a Path to Exile, helping ramp Itou up closer to the Sovereigns of Lost Alara in his hand. The extra land also gave him the mana required for a fourth-turn Gideon Jura, but Mihara was ready with the Negate.
Now at four mana, Mihara made a white planeswalker of his own, an Elspeth, Knight-Errant. For his turn, Itou got silly with a Lotus Cobra and an Arid Mesa to allow him to get a Sovereigns into play alongside the 2/1. First and foremost, Mihara locked the Sovereigns inside an Oblivion Ring. Secondly, he made another Soldier token to wall off his Elspeth. Once the defense was all set up, he managed to get in for a point of damage with his other Soldier.
On his turn, Itou made another Sovereigns, turning his attacking Lotus Cobra into a surprise 12/11. Luckily, Mihara had another Path to Exile to exile the newest Eldrazi conscript. On his turn, dropping to a single card, Mihara sent a 4/4 flying Soldier into Itou, dropping him to thirteen. In the ensuing calm, he added a Baneslayer to his team and passed the turn with a Glacial Fortress up.
Itou was done with the kid gloves. Tapping all of his lands, he hard cast an Eldrazi Conscription (the only other one in his deck) on his Sovereigns and attacked.
At this point, a bit of conversation ensued. It was explained to me that Mihara said that he had been playing specifically expecting one of the Conscriptions to be sided out since he has so many good answers to the aura. When Itou played the second, it caught him completely by surprise.
Annihilator ate two lands, and the new conscript ate a Wall of Omens and a huge chunk of life. Mihara was able to keep in things by enhancing his Baneslayer with Elspeth and swinging with his team. Itou went to four and he raised up to sixteen.
With no cards in hand, Itou began his turn. After drawing, he immediately moved to attack Elspeth. Annihilator ate two lands, leaving Mihara with four lands, two Soldiers, and a Baneslayer Angel. After combat, he made a lonely Birds of Paradise which would enable him to hold off the Baneslayer for an important turn. Mihara began doing some math and then attacked. Before blockers, Itou turned on one of his Colonnades. Mihara declined to Tectonic Edge it, and the Colonnade blocked a Soldier while the Birds blocked the Baneslayer.
On his turn, Itou once again attacked. Annihilator ate a land (leaving him with four) and his Oblivion Ring, returning a Sovereigns to Itou's side. Mihara dropped to five. On Mihara's turn, he attacked with his Baneslayer. Itou fired up a Celestial Colonnade and stuck it in the way. After combat, the death knell was sounded as a Jace, the Mind Sculptor forced the Sovereigns back to Itou's hand. With the last Conscription taken care of, the Baneslayer was able to finish Itou off and send Mihara to the finals.