Tokyo's Shota Takao first hit the spotlight with a Top 8 appearance at the last Japanese National Championships, and is looking to add another notch in his belt at the upcoming Pro Tour Born of the Gods in Valencia, Spain. His opponent this round is Toshiaki Murata of Shiga. He's been playing at the GP level for some time with a few money finishes and a Top 8 at Grand Prix Taipei last year.
Murata is playing the Black-White Midrange deck that has become so popular lately. It can play the control role with Thoughtseize, removal and Underworld Connections, but it can also beat down quickly with Desecration Demon and Blood Baron of Vizkopa. It also features the hated Pack Rat.
Takao is playing a deck that takes the Black-White shell a step farther, adding blue into the mix, becoming a kind of Esper Humans deck. Blue mana lets the deck have versatile answers like Detention Sphere and Far & Away. Xathrid Necromancer provides a strong Plan B for an initial rush.
At first it looked like it would be a slow grind of a match. Murata led out with Thoughtseize and Underworld Connections. Takao resolved an Imposing Sovereign and took care of the Connections with Detention Sphere. The damage was adding up for Murata. He tried a Blood Baron of Vizkopa, but it fell to Away. Desecration Demon got to stay, but Takao went on another tack with Obzedat, Ghost Council.
Now the clock was really ticking for Murata. He hit with his demon, knocking Takao to fifteen, then played out Pack Rat, but had only one card left in hand. The Ghost Council came back into play and swung in alongside Mutavault. Murata activated his Rat and blocked both. A Lyev Skyknight from Takao detained the Desecration Demon and left Murata helpless.
Takao 1 - Murata 0
On the play, Murata had a turn-two Pack Rat. He got to activate it once, then Takao put a stop to it with Detention Sphere. Murata tried Desecration Demon, but Away took care of it. He replaced it with Obzedat, Ghost Council, hoping it would serve him as well as it had served Takao the previous game.
Takao had the trump, however: Blood Baron of Vizkopa. Murata had no way to remove it, and worse, nothing to add to the board. Meanwhile Takao was summoning a pair of Xathrid Necromancers for backup. In fact, he had so much action that he was happy to trade his Blood Baron for Murata's two Mutavaults, replacing it with an Imposing Sovereign and a Desecration Demon. Murata's last gasp was a Demon of his own, but it hardly made any difference as Takao's human army marched to victory.
Shota Takao defeats Toshiaki Murata 2-0