Round 4 marked the first appearance of the King of the Hill at Grand Prix Nagoya, and they certainly rolled out all of the stops. Once they found out about our plans to create a King of the Hill table for the tournament, the tournament organizer set out to make sure that the table was clearly identified for the dozens of spectators huddling around the Feature Match area all day long, creating an awesome sign to designate the table. From there, it was just up to us to choose who the first King of the Hill would be.
Despite his recent win in Beijing, and his higher standing in the Top 25, we opted not to go with Yuuya Watanabe, instead deciding that Hall of Fame trumps all. Shuhei Nakamura, fresh off of a Sealed Deck seminar the night before would be the first to put his lesson into action as the King of the Hill. Unfortunately for him, the fates were not kind, and he also quickly became our first casualty of the fight to be the King. His Round 4 opponent, Tomo Takebayashi summarily dismantled Nakamura in a three-game match that saw a large number of Retraction Helixes and Sealock Monsters cast and tricked out.
In Round 5, Takebayashi himself fell prey to a stronger deck, as his Prognostic Sphinx proved no match for the Prognostic Sphinx and Arbiter of the Ideal, not to mention the Shipbreaker Kraken, of his opponent, Kentarou Yuasa. Yuasa managed to hold onto the seat for at least one more round, defeating Jun Kobayashi in the sixth round.
In Round 7, against Kalim Oldziey, Yuasa's luck ran out. Oldziey's very aggressive RW deck had picked up a draw early into the tournament, and he had gotten paired up against Yuasa to make it into the King of the Hill match. I have no idea how his deck actually drew after seeing the contents, as it was the stuff that Boros dreams are made of. Phalanx Captain, Anax and Cymede, Flame-Wreathed Phoenix, Favored Hoplite, Wingsteed Rider... his deck was absolutely loaded with the best cards red and white have to offer. As such, it was no surprise to see him run roughshod over his next opponent, Grand Prix Yokohama Top 8 competitor Tomoya Motomura. Motomura's deck was another aggressive RW deck, just like Oldziey's, but his featured Elspeth, Sun's Champion. Still, Oldziey was able to continue to make short work of his opponents dispatching Motomura to keep his victory streak alive.
The final round was a true showcase of the power of royalty. Finding himself paired down against Yasuaki Nakayama, Oldziey had to feel good about how things had been going up to that point. However that feeling of security came crashing down quickly when Brimaz, King of Oreskos, came down on Yasuaki's third turn. The big kitty is one of the most difficult cards in the format to beat, and Oldziey wasn't able to find an answer in the first game. In Game 2, Oldziey's own royalty appeared, Anax and Cymede, and they were more than up to the task of proving who the real King (and Queen) of the Hill were. Coming back from an unthinkable deficit, Oldziey's army was able to stop Nakayama's assault and turn the tides on him, sending the match to a decisive Game 3. Unfortunately, as good as the previous two games were, the final game was a bit on the lackluster side, as Nakayama found himself shy on lands, and Oldziey simply punished his poor draw, overrunning him with creatures.
It was fitting that Oldziey and his Anax and Cymede should end Day 1 as the King of the Hill, royalty begetting royalty. Still, with an 8-0-1 record, he still has a long road ahead of him to get to the Top 8.
"I was a bit confused when I got called up for my second feature match in a row," Oldziey laughed. "When I realized how the King of Hill worked, it all started to make more sense."
Oldziey was featured twice in his matches under the camera of the NicoNico video coverage, which took some serious getting used to.
"I was a bit nervous for my first feature match," he admitted, "But I quickly realized that it's just another game. Things were a bit different when I got on camera, though. When they're right there and you know that thousands of people can watch every move you make, it can be a little nerve wracking."
More nerve wracking than that, though, is the thought of beginning tomorrow as the King of the Hill.
"I didn't want to say this in my video interview, but I've only done like one draft with Born of the Gods," Oldziey laughed with a touch of a grimace. "I've got some serious studying to do tonight. I'm a little worried that once the draft starts, I'll be found out!"
Regardless, he was the longest tenured of all of our Kings today, and he earned his reserved seat for the first round of play tomorrow. Here's the weapon he used to do it: