Posted in NEWS on December 22, 2013

The Matchup

One of Japan's "Big Three" of the moment, 11th Ranked Makihito Mihara, a five-time Pro Tour Top 8'er and Hall of Fame hopeful up against amateur Yuichi Uzawa.

Mihara is playing his signature Green-Red Devotion deck that made a splash at Pro Tour Theros. It aims to accelerate into a host of giant-sized threats and take full advantage of Garruk, Caller of Beasts. Uzawa is also with Devotion, but for red alone. His plan is beatdown with efficient creatures in the early game, and then dropping the elbow with Fanatic of Mogis, often for double-digit damage.

(11) Makihito Mihara

The Games

Mihara led out with Elvish Mystic, then hit for one and added Voyaging Satyr. Uzawa summoned Ash Zealot and hit for two while mentally crossing his fingers that all that acceleration would lead nowhere. Mihara squashed those hopes with a turn-three Arbor Colossus.

Uzawa summoned a second Zealot and held back. He was given a glimmer of hope when Mihara made his unblocked Colossus monstrous. Was he really out of gas? Uzawa hit back for four and played Fanatic of Mogis. Mihara was down to nine. He hit back all-out, losing his Satyr to the Fanatic but leaving Uzawa at just one life. After combat he spilled out the rest of his hand: Burning-Tree Emissary, Voyaging Satyr, and Sylvan Caryatid. Surprisingly good news for Uzawa.

He took further control with Chained to the Rocks, getting rid of the Colossus. Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx gave him a huge mana boost, and he used it to power out Hammer of Purphoros and start making golems. All Mihara could add to the equation was a Stomping Ground. Uzawa played it cautiously, only attacking with a pair of Golems the following turn, but he was too far ahead. Not even Garruk, Caller of Beasts could save Mihara. A Boros Reckoner and another Hammer activation later Uzawa was crashing with all his creatures for far more than lethal.

Uzawa 1 - Mihara 0

Yuichi Uzawa

Uzawa mulliganed and frowned at his six, but ultimately chose to keep. Mihara summoned Voyaging Satyr and took two from an Ash Zealot that hit the ground running. Next turn, Mihara revealed that he was stuck on two forests. He played a second Satyr and hit for one. Uzawa hit for another two, then added a pair of Burning-Tree Emissaries to the board. Mihara was in trouble.

Still no third land, but he did have an Emissary of his own to get the red mana for Domri Rade. He upped Domri's loyalty and flipped over a second Emissary, but he didn't have the mana to cast it this turn. He passed. Uzawa only had two lands as well, but he was not suffering. He sent all his creatures at Domri Rade, and after clearing him off the board, added Frostburn Weird.

Mihara was starting to find a foothold despite his mana problems. He added Burning-Tree Emissary and Scavenging Ooze to his board, then let out a cry of despair as Uzawa flipped over his next draw: Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx. Going from two to eight mana counts as "a big deal," especially when you spend that mana on Purphoros, God of the Forge and a Fanatic of Mogis. Mihara peeked at his top card, and then scooped.

Yuichi Uzawa defeats Makihito Mihara 2-0

The Aftermath

Mihara's faith in his deck is still unshaken. He said he's made very few modifications since the Pro Tour, the only notable one being the inclusion of more Mistcutter Hydras out of respect for Mono-Blue.