Posted in NEWS on December 22, 2013

It was nearly a month ago that these two players, Tomoharu Saito and Shota Yasooka, played next to each other at Grand Prix Kyoto. The two, alongside Katsuhiro Mori, finished in fourth place at the team tournament. Today, however, they were opponents. Having both rattled off 6 wins, only one of them could leave the feature match area with flawless 7-0 record.



Tomoharu Saito brought a blue-white control deck to the table. Very similar to the deck that William “Huey” Jensen got second with at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth, Saito had made one significant change to the deck. With Master of Waves and Frostburn Weirds sitting in his sideboard, Saito had the ability to transform his deck into a faux blue devotion deck for games two and three. Presumably, this improved his matchup against other control decks while allowing him to finish matches within the time limit.


On the other side of the table, Shota Yasooka stuck with a deck he was familiar with: blue-black control. Having played the deck to a 46th place finish at Pro Tour Theros, Yasooka felt confident about his choice here in Shizuoka. Without white, Yasooka had to find a replacement for Sphinx’s Revelation. Opportunity was exactly what he needed, and with access to black cards such as Hero’s Downfall and Thoughtseize, Yasooka had a control deck that had all the tools he needed to defeat every deck in the format.


The games:


The game progressed as draw go for the first few turns, until Saito attempted to resolve a Jace, Architect of Thought. Yasooka attempted to counter the planeswalker with Syncopate, but Saito had a Syncopate of his own.


Jace netted Saito a Sphinx’s Revelation, but Mutavault on Yasooka’s side spelled a quick end for the planeswalker.


The back and forth continued. When Saito found an opening to resolve an Elspeth, Yasooka spent no time dispatching it with Hero’s Downfall. When Yasooka landed a Prognostic Sphinx, Saito used Supreme Verdict to clear away the flyer. When Yasooka played Ashiok, Saito had Detention Sphere to bring the board was back to even.


Finally, it was an Elspeth backed up by a Syncopate from Saito that prompted the concession from Yasooka.



Saito 1 - 0 Yasooka



Play began with Yasooka casting planeswalkers: Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and Jace, Architect of Thought. Saito had counters for both of them, giving him an opening to land a Jace, Memory Adept.


Yasooka didn't bat an eye; he cast and resolved Jace, Architect of Thought against the tapped out Saito. He followed up the planeswalker with Thoughtseize, removing Saito's Sphinx's Revelation, and Pithing Needle, turning off Saito's Jace.


A couple turns later, Saito resolved a Jace, Architect of Thought, allowing him to remove his lame-duck Jace Memory Adept. When Saito used Jace's -2 ability he revealed his transformative sideboard: Master of Waves and Frostburn Weird.


Saito took and cast Master of Waves, which prompted Yasooka to crack his Ratchet Bomb, clearing the board. With Saito out of cards and with an empty board, Yasooka was able to resolve Prognostic Sphinx, riding it to victory a few turns later.



Saito 1 - 1 Yasooka


Based on the previous game, it was obvious to Yasooka that Saito had moved to a transformative sideboard for the final two games. Saito was able to cast Frostburn Weird on the second turn and used it to quickly drop Yasooka down to 13.


Finally, Yasooka grew tired of the Weird; he used Doom Blade to get rid of it during Saito's turn. With five lands, Yasooka landed a Pack Rat.


By this point, it was clear to Yasooka that Saito had sideboarded out his Supreme Verdicts; Yasooka decided to go all in on Pack Rat. Though Saito was able to resolve a Master of Waves, it was only a matter of time before Yasooka's rat army overran Saito.


Shota Yasooka 2 - 1 Tomoharu Saito