Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

The Players

This is the first time for both of these players in a match of this caliber, meaning that the Champion of Grand Prix Nagoya will be a player without so much as a Top 8 to their name. Still, both players earned their seats the hard way. Boku was fortunate enough to come into this event with one bye, while Kasuga had to make his Top 8 in full man-mode, going 9-0 on Day 1 with zero byes.

The Decks

The most important thing to know about Boku's deck is that he is down with Erebos. Between Whip of Erebos, Boon of Erebos, and a couple of copies of Ordeal of Erebos, Boku's deck is probably enough devotion to Erebos to get him to materialize in the middle of the finals. Add to that Herald of Torment and Mistcutter Hydra, and you have a very powerful deck capable of either creating a difficult situation for opponents early, or staving things off until his late game can take over.

Takashi Boku

On the other side, Kasuga's red/black deck has an incredible amount of removal, something which will potentially pay him dividends against Boku's enchantment-reliant deck. In addition to Bile Blight, Bolt of Keranos, and Pharika's Cure, Kasuga's deck has a number of very good creatures, such as Purphoros's Emissary, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix, and Archetype of Aggression to make sure that opponents never have a chance to recover.

The Games

Boku managed a smile as he shuffled his deck, even after mulliganning his first two hands. His five-card hand gave him something to do, at least, so he kept. Still, it was an unfortunate showing in light of Kasuga's very good seven-card hand. Boku tried to get something going with a couple of early creatures and a Whip of Erebos, but Kasuga had, not only the removal, but the creatures to just push Boku over. Between Minotaur Skullcleaver, Ember Swallower, and Archetype of Aggression, Kasuga never failed to tap out on his turn. Boku, meanwhile, backpedaled in the face of Kasuga's aggression. He was never really in the game after Pharika's Cure gave Kasuga the initiative, which he never relinquished.

Ryousuke Kasuga

In the second game, it was Kasuga's turn to mulligan, and Boku's turn to take advantage of it. His Tormented Hero hit the table on turn one instead of turn two, and it was soon joined by a Nyxborn Wolf and bestowed soon thereafter with a Herald of Torment. Kasuga tried to stem the bleeding with a Bolt of Keranos to remove the Wolf, but dealing with a five-power flier was asking far too much. The first attack dropped Kasuga to 8, and the next, combined with a Boon of Erebos, did exactly enough to finish the job.

In the final game, Boku once again had an aggressive start, but Kasuga had the early Pharika's Cure and Lightning Strike to slow him down. Whip of Erebos hit the table on turn four, and suddenly Boku's surviving Fleshmad Steed looked just a touch more intimidating. It was even more intimidating when he used a Necrobite to clear away a Purphoros's Emissary, clearing Kasuga's board. Kasuga had the perfect answer to his current predicament, though, using Anger of the Gods to outright exile Boku's board.

Boku was still far ahead in life, and had a couple of creatures in his graveyard, so Kasuga was going to have his work cut out for him if he was going to get ahead in this game. He started with an Ember Swallower, adding a Cavern Lampad to make it unblockable on the following turn. Now, he had an offense to deal with the Whip's lifelink. Boku made a Herald of Torment, giving Kasuga pause to think about an impending race. He was at 12, Boku at 28. Things staying as they were, he would win the race, so he began to attack. Unfortunately, things never stay as they are, and Boku eliminated the Swallower with Sip of Hemlock. Had Kasuga made his Swallower monstrous during his attack, Boku wouldn't have had the six mana to kill it. Instead, he was forced to use Lash of the Whip to temporarily get rid of the Herald.

His attacks grew stronger while Boku's dwindled down. Spearpoint Oread gave the Lampad some extra oomph, and a Minotaur Skullcleaver joined the fray to drop the defenseless Boku to 12. Next turn, they dropped him to 6. Both players were incredibly low, but Kasuga had the advantage on the board. Boku tried to buy time with a Baleful Eidolon, but a massive Hammer of Purphoros came down to give Kasuga an extra, expendable attacker. The attack dropped Boku to 1. Next turn, the Hammer fell for the final time.

Ryousuke Kasuga defeats Takashi Boku 2-1 to become the Grand Prix Nagoya Champion!

Ryousuke Kasuga celebrates!