GRAND PRIX SHIZUOKA 2013 - JAPAN'S BIG 3 LOOK BACK AT 2013

Posted in NEWS on December 22, 2013

WIth Grand Prix Shizuoka being the last event of 2013 I caught up with the top 3 rated Japanese players in the Top 25 Pro Rankings to ask them about their favorite memories from 2013 and their aspirations for the coming year.

 

 

(6) Shuhei Nakamura

 

 


(6) Shuhei Nakamura 

 

Along with his top eight performances in the World Championships, Grand Prix Providence, and Grand Prix Houston, Shuhei mentioned that he was especially proud of two things this year. First, with his win at Grand Prix Hong Kong, he has successfully won a Grand Prix in each Magic region: GP St. Louis in North America, GP Hiroshima in Japan, GP Stuttgart in Europe, GP Costa Rica in South America, and finally GP Hong Kong from Asia. Second, he was really proud that this weekend he has the opportunity to commentate for the live broadcast of the tournament.

 

After joking around about his favorite card of the year (Pheres-Band Centaurs), he explained that Thundermaw Hellkite was the most memorable. I remember being with Shuhei when the card got revealed last year; he made a prediction that it was going to be one of the strongest cards in the upcoming year. Over a year later, his prediction has held true, and while it is not legal here this weekend in Shizuoka, Thundermaw Hellkite radically changed Standard in the previous year.

 

 

(7) Yuuya Watanabe

 

 


(7) Yuuya Watanabe 

 

When I caught up with Yuuya Watanabe, he explained that he was a little disappointed with his performance this year. While at the end of last year he won the Players Championship before placing second at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, this year he was only able to claim a single Grand Prix top eight in Bangkok and finished outside of the top four at this year’s World Championships.

 

He explained that while his results were simply average, he was especially proud to be a member of Team Mint. He explained that his sponsor has taken really good care of him and even made commemorative tokens for the previous two Japanese Grand Prix.

 

 

 

Yuuya also neglected to mention that, this year, he happened to be the player with the highest win percentage in Magic Online 8-4 booster draft events. When I congratulated him on this accomplishment earlier in the weekend he explained that it came as a complete surprise to him. Sure, Yuuya spends most of his waking hours on Magic Online, and, sure, he is one of the world’s best players, but being the best Magic Online drafter of the year is an impressive and surprising feat.

 

Yuuya was especially proud of Makihito Mihara’s performance this year. He was overjoyed to see his friend make two Pro Tour top eights this year and hoped that the following year would bring Mihara a Hall of Fame induction.

 

 

(11) Makihito Mihara

 

 


(11) Makihito Mihara

 

While Makihito Mihara is currently the third highest ranked Japanese player, his results this year outshine the other two. After making back to back Pro Tour top eights at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze and Pro Tour Theros, the 2006 World Champion has once again shown that he is one of the best Japanese players in the game.

 

While he was proud of his performance at Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze, Mihara was especially proud of his placing at Pro Tour Theros. He explained that Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx was his pick for card of the year. The legendary land allowed him to power out gigantic creatures and play what he explained to be a green red “combo” deck. His faith in his deck is still strong, with him playing it again here in Shizuoka.

 

Along with his Pro Tour performance, he mentioned that he was overjoyed with his performance at Grand Prix Kyoto. Being able to play alongside two of his friends, Jun’ichiro Bando and Kentaro Yamamoto, while earning second place was the cherry on top to an already exceptional year.

 

Heading into next year, Mihara made clear that he wanted to become a Platinum Level pro. He also hoped that his recent performance would give him the boost he needs to make it into the Hall of Fame in the coming year.