Sunday, 11:08 a.m. – Drafting With Shouta Yasooka

Posted in Event Coverage on January 25, 2014

By Pip Foweraker

One of only 3 undefeated players coming in to the final day of Grand Prix: Kuala Lumpur, Shouta Yasooka is no stranger to the top draft tables. Going into a Theros draft, his natural preference is for more controlling, U/x decks, with a preference for a removal-heavy, evasion-creature-laden U/B deck if he can assemble the necessary pieces.

Yasooka's draft table held the other two undefeated players, Yuusuke Iwasaki and Jack Teo, as well as his long-time drafting compatriot, Makihito Mihara. With a challenging draft ahead of him, Yasooka cracked open his first pack.

Pack 1

Xenagos, The Reveler stared out at him for his first choice, facing off against a Wingsteed Rider and some scattered removal. The Planeswalker was a relatively straightforward first pick, but Yasooka took his time in the second, eventually settling for an Ordeal of Thassa over some mediocre R/G cards.

Yasooka's third pick was more interesting, having to choose between a Leafcrown Dryad, Magma Jet, and a couple of aggressive Red creatures. The Magma Jet won out, and Yasooka's next picks of Dragon Mantle, a Leafcrown Dryad to replace the one he'd passed, and a Satyr Rambler started to push him down the road of an aggressive Red-based deck.

Pack 2

Yasooka opened a second pack that was, on the surface, a little underwhelming. A Thassa's Emissary, a Rageblood Shaman, a Feral invocation and a Nylea's Disciple stared back out at him. Yasooka opted for straight-out power and chose the Emissary, clearly willing to move back into Blue if necessary at this early stage in the draft.

The next few packs yielded an Ill-Tempered Cyclops, a Wavecrash Triton, and a Pharika's Cure. Then, just as Yasooka's preferred colours seemed to open up, he was forced back to his original R/G build, picking up a bunch of low-cost favourites like Sedge Scorpion, Akroan Crusader, and Two-Headed Cerberus. Yasooka managed to wheel his Feral Invocation, upping the power of his aggressive and heroic smaller drops.

At the end of the second pack, Yasooka was firmly committed to Red, but looked undecided between a potential Blue splash and a bunch of solid dudes in Green.

Pack 3

Another disappointing pack, with a bevy of powerful Black and White cards, but nothing in Yasooka's colours more impressive than a Nessian Courser. The second pick had no R/G cards at all, Yasooka shaking his head and picking up a Vaporkin.

The next few packs saw him nab a Leafcrown Dryad, another Dragon Mantle, and a Spearpoint Oread. The wheeling packs, again, held no particularly interesting choices, with Yasooka spending his last picks rounding out a solid if low-curved creature base out of boosters that seemed determined to punish his colour choices in Pack 1.

Building the deck

It's always hard to measure the thoughts of Japanese Pro's, who tend to combine heroic levels of stoicism with an inscrutability that borders on the Buddha-like. Nevertheless, Yasooka seemed less than pleased with the result of the draft.

After tossing up whether it could be worth splashing for a third colour, Yasooka instead opted for a tightly focussed, if not particularly powerful, aggressive R/G deck. His strategy would be to try and run out games as quickly as possible with his aggressive low-costing creatures, and then strategically pump them with Dragon Mantles and Feral Invocations to push through the remaining points of damage. Without creatures with natural evasion, it looked like an uphill struggle for the former Player of the Year.

Shouta Yasooka Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2014 - Draft #1

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