Sunday, 11:06 a.m. – Drafting with Kazuya Mitamura

Posted in Event Coverage on July 17, 2011

By Rich Hagon

Rich Hagon combines a deep knowledge of the players of the Pro Tour with a passionate love of the game. He's a regular commentator for Pro Tour and Grand Prix live video coverage, and is the official Pro Tour Statistician. He has been covering Magic events since 2006.

The 2009 Pro Tour Honolulu Champion came into day two with a 6-1 record, having made a clean sweep of his draft pod yesterday. It was green that served him well on day one, but he seemed happy to see what the cards brought him.


What the cards brought him first was a green rare, Skinshifter. This is just the kind of card a Pro player loves - something with options.

A 4/4 trampler, a 2/2 Bird, or a 0/8 Plant, and all three can be useful in the right situation. Given the green opening, it was a surprise when he passed on the opportunity to take Overrun in pack two. Instead he took the much more manageable and always excellent Incinerate. Greater Basilisk was next, and then a Titanic Growth over Stampeding Rhino - perhaps he felt one 4/4 trampler was enough! Acidic Slime rounded out the first five picks, and all seemed well.

Then the shape of the draft began to kick in, and things started to go not so well.

To his right, Yuuta Takahashi, a multiple Grand Prix winner, was taking red aggressively, but had begun to take green as a support color. To Takahashi's right, Garruk, Primal Hunter had been opened, and that meant that he too was going to be green. As the first pack wound down, the good cards dwindled markedly, with a playable/sideboard Plummet the only thing of note.

Warstorm Surge

Into pack two then, and Mitamura found an easy pick waiting for him, quickly shuffling the six casting cost red rare Warstorm Surge to the front of the pack. Of course, it's quite an investment, being six mana and a card for something that does precisely nothing alone, but it's also the kind of card that can finish off an opponent just as they're starting to gain control of a game. Chandra's Outrage brought him some more removal and burn in a neat package, but the third pack saw him disappointed. There were plenty of quality cards left in the pack, with a blue-white player having Pacifism, Merfolk Looter, and Divination to choose from, but Mitamura was left with a Lightning Elemental, normally a 'filler' card in the mid to late picks.

Then came a real choice in pack four:

Garruk's Companion is an excellent card. It's really efficient, always does a job for you, whether that's beating, trading aggressively, or taking removal from an opponent's hand. Meanwhile, there's Furyborn Hellkite. That's a 6/6 flyer for seven mana that has Bloodthirst 6. That's potentially a 12/12 flyer. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is one of those 'Pro v Joe' picks. Personally, I'd take the flyer. It makes for great stories, it's really hard to kill, nobody wants to lose to a gigantic rare flying man, and it's mythic, so how often are you going to get to play with it? Then there's the Pro argument. Games don't always get to seven mana. What if they have Act of Treason or Mind Control? If you have it in your opening hand, it's as if you mulliganed. The Companion is ultra-consistent. Consistent wins games, games win matches, matches win tournaments, so take the Companion.

Mitamura took the Companion.

He had some decent cards the rest of the way through pack two, which is no surprise since the player to his left was solidly black-white.

Llanowar Elves, Shock, Stampeding Rhino, and Trollhide all made their way into his pile. This is all good, but it needs to be, because green and red would be in short supply in pack three.

Lightning Elemental

What he really wanted was a nice opening pack, and that's certainly what he didn't get. In the second booster he took Lightning Elemental as a third pick. Here, it was his first pick. With a weak pack second that only featured Manic Vandal in red and nothing in green, he took Gideon's Lawkeeper, presumably to help clear the way for his hasty 4/1s. Incinerate and Titanic Growth are nice at three and four, but then another blank, with all the cards he wanted already gone. He took Pacifism. Does anybody splash for Pacifism and Gideon's Lawkeeper?!?

Another Titanic Growth and Fiery Hellhound were all that the rest of the pack had to offer.

So, a plan: Use some removal to clear a path, beatdown with hasty men, and pump them up for maximum damage. Then cast Warstorm Surge and deal the final points to the face.

It sounds like a good plan. Not sure it's going to be that easy...

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