Round 13: Hall of Fame Showdown

Posted in NEWS on October 20, 2012

By Tim Willoughby


Thirteen rounds in, and we still have a gathering of Hall of Famers in the feature match area. For my match, I have a doozy: Kenji Tsumura, the little master from Japan who has not been at the Pro Tour since Amsterdam in 2010, against Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, who came into this tournament with a win percentage of better than 66% in the last year, in nearly 100 matches at premier level.

Tsumura, with a blue-red-green control deck, was up against the powerhouse that is Jund, as piloted by one of the games all time greats. Jon Finkel (another Hall of Famer in the feature match area) had described Damo da Rosa as being a real threat to his record number of Pro Tour Top 8s, with his conversion rate being somewhere between 25-30% across his entire career.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Kenji Tsumera, two new Pro Tour Hall of Fame members and both masters of Magic, square off for a shot at the Top 8.

Game 1

Kenji would be on the play in this match, and with each player at four losses, there was still the potential that a late run might be enough to sneak in to top 8. For the record, in the last four rounds of Swiss competition is Damo da Rosa's most successful time. His win percentage in the last four rounds at this level is over 80%.

Things kicked off with a Serum Visions from Tsumera, which cleared a few less than optimal cards from the top of his deck. A Mountain followed, allowing Lightning Bolt on a turn two Dark Confidant from Damo da Rosa's Jund deck. Liliana of the Veil met a Mana Leak, after which Tsumura kept his train a-rollin' with another Serum Visions. Dark Confidant number two went the same way as the first, with Damo da Rosa having missed his fourth land drop. Back when Jund was a deck in Standard, the easiest way for it to lose was to mana issues, and while Damo da Rosa's mana color mix was good, he could certainly stand to have a few more lands in play.

Tsumera gets ready for a long battle, as Damo da Rosa's Jund deck was capable of some heavy hitting plays.

Tsumura cast a Tarmogoyf, to which Damo da Rosa replied with Liliana of the Veil. Her -2 ability came along, and Tsumera responded with Vendilion Clique. Damo da Rosa fired off Lightning Bolt, then lost a Geralf's Messenger to the Clique ability. Finally Liliana's ability got its turn, and Tarmogoyf was removed from the board.

The early turns had been a flurry of activity, and at the end of it, Damo da Rosa seemed to have the best of things, with an active planeswalker on the board. He tried to solidify this with a Geralf's Messenger, but lost the zombie to Snapcaster Mage and Mana Leak. The Mage killed off Liliana, but ultimately there was another copy of the planeswalker to get the wizard.

Damo da Rosa's Jund deck, while not having the color most traditionally associated with card advantage, did a reasonable job of getting some, casting Bloodbraid Elf and hitting a Geralf's Messenger. Now the Brazilian had a board presence, something Tsumera was a little short of. Snapcaster Mage from Tsumera let him recast Serum Visions, but at this point he was very much on the back foot.

Terminate cleared a path, and Damo da Rosa attacked Tsumera to 9 before playing a sizeable Tarmogoyf. That was enough for Tsumera, and it was on to game 2.

Paul Vitor Damo da Rosa 1, Kenji Tsumera 0

Game 2

Both players went to their sideboards for game 2. Given that Tsumera had already played Damo da Rosa's team mate Josh Utter-Leyton, there was a good chance that each player had a bit of information to work with beyond what they had seen in this one game; Tsumera based on what he'd seen of Josh's deck, and Damo da Rosa based on feedback he might have got on Tsumera's from Utter-Leyton.

On the draw, Damo da Rosa elected to mulligan his first seven cards, hoping to find better on a reshuffle to six. A turn one Deathrite Shaman from Damo da Rosa was certainly a fine start, especially in light of Tsumura having used a fetchland on the first turn (which would mean that the Shaman could legitimately accelerate things). This good fortune was heightened by the fact that Tsumera's first play was Tarmogoyf, something that would be actively shrunk by Deathrite Shaman doing its thing. The Shaman allowed a Lightning Bolt, and then Inquisition of Kozilek came. It saw three lands and a Cryptic Command. A swing and a miss, though Damo da Rosa did have quite a bit more information to work with.

You can't be too sad about your Inquisition of Kozilek discarding nothing when you know there's nothing going on for a few turns.

Thoughtseize from Damo da Rosa showed that little had changed for Tsumera in the turn that followed. He took the only card it could, that Cryptic Command, and showed Tsumura's hand to be jam packed with lands.

Damo da Rosa wasn't exactly presenting a particularly aggressive clock himself. While he'd got up to three lands, he still only had Deathrite Shaman as a creature, something that was soon killed off by Lightning Bolt. Normally one would feel that a game of draw-go would favour the control deck, but in this matchup it seemed that on average the Jund player had more powerful cards to draw into, meaning that this wasn't automatically true.

The stalemate was broken with an Olivia Voldaren from Damo da Rosa. When Tsumera tried for a Vedalken Shackles, the Brazilian had Abrupt Decay. It seemed that Damo da Rosa's late tournament prowess would again be demonstrated as he swung in unimpeded for a number of turns, whittling down Tsumera's life total to single digits. When he cast Tarmogoyf, it seemed the writing was on the wall. Tsumera tried to find an answer with Vendilion Clique, but it was all for naught. All to soon, Tsumura was extending his hand to his fellow Hall of Fame inductee, Damo da Rosa.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 2, Kenji Tsumera 0

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa's Jund

Download Arena Decklist

Kenji Tsumura's RUG

Download Arena Decklist