Kentaro Yamamoto's Origin Story

Posted in Feature on August 19, 2015

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

A longtime player but only recently has he broken through to the upper echelons of the Pro Tour Players Club and Top 25 rankings, Kentaro Yamamoto became a name the game's top players burned in their memory when observing his play at the 2014 World Championship. It was there that the utmost respect for Yamamoto's discipline and dedication to Magic was forever cemented in the heads of many, as Yamamoto's tight play earned him a spot in the Top 4 that year.

However, even before that moment, Yamamoto's career boasted some solid results. His second Pro Tour Top 8, at Pro Tour Theros, was instrumental in giving Yamamoto a necessary lead in the Pro Points race for a 2014 World Championship slot.

Before that, Yamamoto's first Pro Tour Top 8 was tied to San Diego in 2007, where he and Yuta Takahashi made it to the finals of the one and only Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour to ever take place.

2015 World Championship Competitor Kentaro Yamamoto

Yamamoto's origins with the game, however, began many years before that.

"My younger brother brought home a starter pack of some sort from Mercadian Masques and he showed me how to play," Yamamoto recounted. "Gameplay aside, I was interested because I was drawn to the illustration of Silverglade Elemental. My brother quit playing right away, but I started going to a nearby toy store to buy boosters every time I received an allowance."

Yamamoto stuck with the game, eventually reaching the Pro Tour pedestal in a city that has a history with him and first-time experiences: San Diego.

"My first Pro Tour was San Diego in 2004," Yamamoto relived. "I was really most nervous about playing Magic in English. However, once I was in the tournament, the players spoke primarily 'Magic language' in a match, and I realized that I was worrying about nothing. I remember that I was so excited about being there and playing such high-level games in a foreign country."

It was too fitting that Yamamoto's Pro Tour debut happened in San Diego, since that city would also become the place where he earned his first Pro Tour Top 8 three years later.

This season, Yamamoto was in dire straits to lock up Platinum status, and needed an impressive Pro Tour performance at Pro Tour Magic Origins. Instead of sweating the challenge, Yamamoto crushed the field, becoming one of the first players to clinch a Top 8 berth that weekend, which guaranteed him Platinum and moved him ahead of Jason Chung and Shota Yasooka to clinch a seat in the 2015 World Championship as one of the Asia Pacific region's top Pro Point earners.

Now Yamamoto is returning to the 2015 World Championship for the second year in a row. Will he improve on his Top 4 finish from last year?

The 2015 Magic: The Gathering World Championship takes place in Seattle, Washington, during PAX Prime on August 27, 28, and 30. To learn more about this year's competitors, head over to the 2015 World Championship Competitrs page, and check back every weekday leading up to the World Championship for new profiles on each of this year's competitors.



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