Semifinals: Masayuki Higashino vs. Nobuaki Shikata

Posted in Event Coverage

By Wizards of the Coast

by James White

This was a high-pressure match, the winner advancing to the finasl to play for the prestigious prize of Grand Prix Hiroshima Champion. Masayuki had been playing black/red/blue all weekend, managing to construct this strong deck for every portion of the Grand Prix. I don't blame him, though: this deck archetype has proven to be very successful, evident by his own inclusion in the top four. Shikata was playing green/red/white, splashing blue. The strategy that most players seem to adopt with the green/white deck is to play green for the fat creatures and mana aids, white for creature control, protection and flyers, then chuck in any easy to cast cards from the other colors that happen to be powerful. Shikata included blue for such power spells as Wash Out.

Shikata started the first game and took advantage of Higashino's early mana difficulties by summoning Hunting Kavu, Kavu Climber and dealing with Higashino's Kavu Aggressor with a Scorching Lava and his Viashino Grappler with Simoon. With life precariously low for Higashino and the fifth and an all-important second swamp drawn, a Shivan Zombie and Duskwalker were played as chump blockers. A black Wash Out clears them out the way and sent Higashino on his way from game one.

Game two looked a lot better for Higashino with a spread of mana and strong mana curve in his opening hand. Shikata was not so fortunate, having to mulligan to six cards. The first two turns saw both players lay lands , then the black/red express started to roll out of Higashino's shed. Third turn Vicious Kavu, turn four Viashino Grappler, turn five Exotic Curse on Shikata's 4th turn Quirion Trailblazer to stop the blocking of the Grappler but it got worse. Sabertooth Nishoba looked like being the savior for Shikata until it came to an Agonizing Demise on turn six, a three point Soul Burn finishing the job next turn.

The deciding game in this semifinal was rather anti-climatic as Shikata gets mana screwed and very frustrated by his misfortune. Higashino's black/red/blue deck was probably the worst deck to be mana screwed against as it will have you for breakfast in a matter of six or seven turns given half the chance.

Shikata's first turn Geothermal Cave was met by 2nd turn Mountain and Meteor Storm. His 3rd land is not drawn until turn five, with Nomadic Elf coming down turn four. Higashino played 3rd turn Viashino Grappler, 4th turn Tribal Flames on the Elf and turn five Shivan Zombie and Vicious Kavu. A sixth turn Kavu Climber having to sacrifice the Geothermal Cave, saw Shikata draw and play Tinder Farm. All of Shikata's hopes were dashed when Higashino cast Plague Spores on Shikata's Kavu Climber and Tinder Farm. Higashino attacked for nine and Shikata conceded.

Final Result: 2-1 Masayuki Higashino

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