Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Josh Bennett

After a quick tour of the Top 8 during their deckbuilding period, Ryuuji Itagaki's blue-green deck was one that stood out to me. It had a solid core of creatures, a few powerful key cards, and a good suite of tricks. Maybe the weekend's King of the Hill would also be its Champion?

His first challenge was Hisataka Matsui and his Green-White heroic deck. He had many of the standout cards of the archetype, including as Reap What is Sown and Chronicler of Heroes, but a shortness of playables kept the deck from being as powerful as it could be.

Itagaki kept his opening seven almost immediately, but Matsui paused over his with a deepening frown. He took a moment with his head in his hands, and decided he would keep.

Ryuuji Itagaki

Itagaki hassled Matsui early with Deepwater Hypnotist while Matsui returned fire in the skies with an unaugmented Akroan Skyguard. When Matsui tapped out for Stout-Hearted Warrior, Itagaki seized his chance to rid himself of the flier. Time to Feed on his Triton Fortune Hunter got him a card and three life.

Matsui used Reap What is Sown to grow his Warrior to a 5/5 when it went unblocked. Itagaki summoned Nessian Asp and took another hit. This one was for nine thanks to Battlewise Valor. Still, Itagaki had chump blockers to spare and Matsui only had the one attacker. Itagaki went to the skies with Horizon Scholar and started taking large chunks out of Matsui's life total. A timely Griptide sent the Warrior to the top of Matsui's library. It was far less scary the second time around. A few hits from the airborn 4/4 and they were on to game 2.

Itagaki 1 - Matsui 0

Itagaki had Annul for Matsui's first play of Leafcrown Dryad, and tried to stop a Nyxborn Wolf with Noble Quarry. Matsui was ready with Feral Invocation. However, he was stuck on three forests. Itagaki played out Courser of Kruphix, no help for the immediate problem of the 5/3 across the board.

Hisataka Matsui

Matsui slowly peeled his top card and dropped land number four into play. He tapped all his lands and bestowed a second Leafcrown Dryad. Itagaki confirmed that the Wolf was now a 7/5 and made a face. He hit for two and played Nessian Asp, accepting that he would have to take seven more on the chin. Excoriate got the Courser off the board. Finally, a bestowed Nyxborn Triton meant that his Asp could blockade against the titanic Wolf.

Matsui began diversifying his portfolio. He summoned Pharika's Mender and got back his ill-fated Dryad. Itagaki played his seventh land and waited to monstrous his Asp. He would need it, too, because next up for Matsui was Vulpine Goliath. Itagaki tapped out for Arbor Colossus and Vaporkin, but that was still only two blockers and he was down to just eight. Matsui untapped and gave his Mender the Dryad, which meant he had three attackers with at least six power, and Battlewise Valor meant the game was his.

Itagaki 1 - Matsui 1

Matsui mulliganed and seemed unenthused with his six, but decided to keep. Again Annul dispatched Leafcrown Dryad. This time Itagaki had the tempo, playing out Agent of Horizons onto the empty board. Matsui summoned Nyxborn Wolf and went for the trade. Itagaki had no trick to stop it. He summoned Vaporkin and passed.

So they matched smaller creatures while the Vaporkin went overhead, and then Itagaki took command of the situation with Vulpine Goliath. Unfortunately for him it would only attack once thanks to Excoriate, and soon they were back to just a lone Vaporkin attacking in the air. Matsui all but slammed his sixth land when it came off his deck and threw down a Vulpine Goliath of his own. It was a tight race: Itagaki was at a comfortable life total, and his attack brought Matsui to just six.

Matsui returned fire with the fox and added Battlewise Valor. His top card was a keeper. Itagaki hit again with his Vaporkin but his deck was giving him no help. Matsui hit for six with the Vulpine Goliath and with a flourish summoned a second copy to the battlefield, earning approving murmurs from the crowd. Itagaki peeled his top card slowly and peeked. He checked the board, and then extended the hand, congratulating Matsui on his victory.

Hisataka Matsui defeats Ryuuji Itagaki 2-1