Just a little more than one year ago, at Grand Prix Yokohama, a player by the name of Tomoya Motomura made an impressive 9-0 run through the Sealed Deck portion of the largest Japanese Grand Prix ever held. He went on to make the Top 8 of that Grand Prix before falling in the Quarterfinals. Here in Nagoya, he is well on his way to a second 9-0 Sealed Deck, coming into this round with a perfect 6-0 record. His opponent, Ryota Takeuchi, has dreams of his own perfect Day 1, and presents a formidable roadblock to Motomura's attempt at repetition.
Motomura came packing an impressive WR deck featuring a number of aggressive creatures, some reasonable removal, and topping out at Elspeth, Sun's Champion. On the other side of the table, Takeuchi's deck was a very aggressive RG build that came equipped with plenty of ways to finish a game, including Ember Swallower and Polukranos, World Eater.
Tomoya Motomura vs. Ryota Takeuchi
The first game of the match proceeded at a rapid pace. On the play, Motomura fell behind to Takeuchi's incredibly fast draw, finding himself on the wrong end of a 12-17 deficit. Both players had Arena Athletes, but with Takeuchi in the early lead, his Arena Athlete would be the one that set the pace. Eventually, though, with Motomura down to 7, he ran out of ways to trigger heroic, and Motomura's large defenders forced him to keep his team home while he looked for an out. Still, his own army was impressive enough to inspire the same fear from Motomura, and the game ground to halt, both players simply adding to their board.
A simple swing away from victory, Takeuchi found the avenue to victory he sought, recruiting an Akroan Conscriptor to his side of the board before giving it a Fearsome Temper. This allowed him to steal Motomura's largest blocker and turn it into another massive attacker, giving him the advantage he needed to take a victory in the first game.
The second game began much slower than the last, with Motomura not even making it onto the board until turn four, when he added an Ill-Tempered Cyclops to his side of the board. Takeuchi hadn't been that productive himself, and had just added an Archetype of Aggression to his side. Still, Takeuchi continued on curve, adding a Pheres-Band Tromper and Akroan Conscriptors to his side of the table. Not wanting a repeat of the previous game, Motomura thought hard before using Bolt of Keranos to remove the Conscriptors that had cost him a win in Game 1.
Motomura was a bit behind, but he turned the corner with a Hopeful Eidolon on his Cyclops. After becoming monstrous, the Cyclops was able to completely negate any damage that Takeuchi was able to deal on his turn. This kept him out of danger while simultaneously dropping Takeuchi to a precarious 5 life. He even had a Rise to the Challenge to push past a Pheres-Band Centaur bestowed with a Leafcrown Dryad. Takeuchi's attacks were growing ever stronger thanks to his Tromper, but Motomura still sat on 20 life.
The attacks grew fiercer and fiercer, as Takeuchi's attackers inched closer to being able to end the game in one swing. In one of the last turns of the game, he added a Fearsome Temper to his Archetype of Aggression and swung with it and the Tromper to deal fifteen damage in one turn. Motomura had the end in reach, but he was unable to get through with his attacker to finish the job. More frustrating, the Archetype Takeuchi controlled removed the trample from his Cyclops, preventing it from simply trampling over for the final points of damage. Motomura didn't realize this, however, and attempted to finish the game with a Fanatic of Mogis to drop Takeuchi to 2 before attacking for what he assumed to be lethal damage.
When it was pointed out to him that the Cyclops didn't have trample, Motomura gasped and slammed his head on the table. When he pulled it up, he had a big smile on his face, but clearly couldn't believe that he had just made that mistake. To make matters worse, he revealed the Elsepth, Sun's Herald, in his hand that he could have instead played to remove the most threatening of Takeuchi's creatures. He would have lost his own lifelinking attacker in the process, but it would have been much better than simply being dead.