Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

Yesterday was a day fraught with instability for the would-be King of the Hill. Awarding the title first to Hall of Famer and 9th-ranked Shuhei Nakamura in Round 4, we saw Nakamura immediately lose the title to Tomo Takebayashi, who then immediately lost in Round 5. The usurping King Kantarou Yuasa finally managed to hold onto the seat for a second round, though he fell in Round 7 to Kalim Oldziey. From that point on, Oldziey would be the King, winning his next two matches and ending the day with an 8-0-1 record, an interview with the video team at Nico Nico, and the title of King of the Hill.

Day 2 broke early this morning, and Oldziey was in the seat of honor to begin the day. He was the featured drafter on Nico Nico's stream, and took front row center for the first Feature Match of the Day. Unfortunately for him, it was not to be. His first draft did not go the way he wanted at all, and he ended up dropping his first match to the 8-1 Yo Tezuka, whose UW Heroic deck appeared at first glance to be a thing of beauty. Multiple copies of Battlewise Hoplite, Wingsteed Rider, Gods Willing... it was one of those decks that just makes you feel good when you see it laid out.

It was as good as advertised, too, as he managed to defeat contender Masaki Sugai, one of the three 10-0 players in the tournament, in Round 11. Sugai's deck was sugoi, too, so it was no easy feat. Multiple copies of Wingsteed Rider, Hopeful Eidolon, and Favored Hoplite made for an incredibly strong set of threats. Tezuka managed, at one point, to beat a 5/5 flying, lifelinking Wingsteed Rider by virtue of having a humongous Battlewise Hoplite to take the match in historic fashion.

In Round 12, Tezuka found himself up against another very powerful deck, this time in the hands of Yuuki Ichikawa, another of the Day 1 undefeated players. His blue/red deck featured Lightning Strike, Bolt of Keranos, Whelming Wave, two copies of Nimbus Naiad, and a small black splash for Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver. Ichikawa put up a very good fight, managing to once again press Tezuka to a third game through a combination of burn spells and fliers. In that final game, however, his Hoplites picked up their shields and charged across the field at record speed, putting Ichikawa down before he could put up a fight.

After Round 12, the King retired to his throne, awaiting the second draft of the day. Unfortunately for him, it would not go nearly as well as the first. While his first deck had been a power-laden monstrosity, his second deck was anything but. Unable to really find a color other than green for a good portion of the draft, Tezuka ended up with a mostly gree/blue deck, featuring a few good tricks, but little in the way of good bodies to use them with. If someone had shown up packing 3/3s for four mana against his previous deck, even with the tricks his second deck had, he would have laughed at them on the way to a 2-0 stomping.

As such, it was no surprise that he was dethroned when he came up against Ryuuji Itagaki and his very potent blue/black deck in Round 13. Itagaki's deck had Master of Waves, a pair of Nimbus Naiads, some good bounce, and an Insatiable Harpy that just did work. Tezuka was actually up at multiple points in the match until the Harpy, often bestowed with one or both of the Naiads, went to town, sustaining Itagaki while feeding on Tezuka. In the end, Itagaki, aided by Tezuka's lack of Islands, ascended to the King of the Hill throne.

Round 14 was the last big battle for King of the Hill, and it was Yuki Hirabayashi who would have the last say as to who the King of the Hill for Grand Prix Nagoya would be. Hirabayashi's deck was another black/blue deck, just like Itagaki's, but featuring a touch of white for Divine Verdict and Scholar of Athreos. He also had a couple pairs of powerful cards, boasting two copies each of Sea God's Revenge and Fate Unraveler. In the end, however, the Insatiable Harpy and his Naiad friends kept Itagaki afloat, netting him an incredible amount, all in one match. His win gave him enough match wins to draw into Top 8, and, more importantly, by virtue of not having to play the final round, his title of King of the Hill carries over, making him the ultimate King of the Hill for Grand Prix Nagoya! The real test for the King will come in the next three rounds. Will he exit the tournament early, or will he be able to add a second title to his crown, and emerge the King and Champion of Nagoya?