Ken Yukuhiro spent 2013 becoming the Next Big Thing in Japanese Magic, demonstrating that his Top 4 finish at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored was no fluke. He's put up a number of Grand Prix Top 8's, but has yet to claim the trophy. He's hoping this weekend will change that.
Jun'ichi Endo is an amateur hunting for a breakout performance. He's been making the rounds of the Japanese GPs, but hasn't been able to convert a Day 2 appearance into something more.
Yukuhiro has brought a slow, defensive-minded Green-White-Red deck with cards all over the power spectrum. Astral Cornucopia and Traveler's Amulet help with the mana as he works towards a big monster.
It was all haymakers all the time in this match. Game one saw Yukuhiro build a 5/5 Observant Alseid with Ordeal of Nylea and then use the extra lands to threaten monstrous with Nessian Asp. Endo's ragtag collection of beaters held out as long as they could, but were overpowered.
Yukuhiro 1 - Endo 0
Both players went to their sideboards. Endo, considering the way the first game had gone, swapped out a Pillar of War for a splashed Sudden Storm. Yukuhiro decided to go even more defensive and sought help from the Guardians of Meletis. It all came into play as Endo's slow start turned into a Cyclops of One-Eyed Pass with Observant Alseid on it, too big for Yukuhiro to stop with the Guardians. He decided to risk falling to six, and was surprised by the Sudden Storm cast off Temple of Enlightenment.
Yukuhiro 1 - Endo 1
Endo matched answers to Yukuhiro's early threats. They hit the midgame on a nearly empty board, and Endo started working towards ruling the skies with Wingsteed Rider and Ornitharch. Yukuhiro had a Vulpine Goliath, and tapped five for a backbreaking Hunter's Prowess. Endo, ever the gentleman, let Yukuhiro draw the full nine, and conceded on the following turn.
Ken Yukuhiro defeats Jun'ichi Endo 2-1