Tireless warrior Yuuya Watanabe, currently #8 on the Top 25 Player Rankings, is looking to reaffirm himself as a two-sport athlete this weekend. After bringing home the gold playing Standard at Grand Prix Beijing, he's shifted gears for this weekend's Limited Grand Prix. He even gets home field advantage. When I found Watanabe to get his take on our Sealed Deck pool, he was already hard at work, rebuilding players' sealeds and walking them through his rationale. I joined the queue and waited my turn, mental notebook at the ready.
First for Watanabe was a pass through the whole pool, fanning the colors out in front of him, drinking in the whole picture. White was an early frontrunner for consideration, but after he got to green he packed all the other colors away and laid out a green base, adding Xenagos, God of Revels.
He tried pairing with red but didn't get far before abandoning the idea. Not only was it too shallow, but all it could offer in the way of spells was a lone Fall of the Hammer. Watanabe put it alongside Xenagos as a possible splash. Next came the white, which lent a nice curve to the deck, but the whole time Watanabe was just shaking his head. He double-checked with a black-white aggro build featuring the pair of Ordeals but he was still unsatisfied. I asked him about this after. He said that white basically came down to two cards: Phalanx Leader and Heliod. It was simply too short on the essentials. Not enough bestow, not enough Heroic, and not enough tricks to back everything up.
Watanabe worked quickly, doggedly trying out every color pairing, no matter how thin it seemed on the surface. His method was interesting to watch. He would lay out all the playable cards, sometiems as many as thirty, getting an overall sense for the deck. Then, he would begin making cuts. So it was with his build of choice, green-black. Swordwise Centaur left for mana considerations. Time to Feed had to hit the bench because of his shortness of fatties.
That left him with a little room, and for that he briefly considered Necrobite, but eventually chose to dip into blue for the mighty Sea God's Revenge. The Springleaf Drum that had been lurking at the periphery also got to join the team. Watanabe even triple-checked for extra inspired creatures beyond the one Servant of Tymaret, but none were hiding.
My first question was about the blue splash. Watanabe was very comfortable having just one island and the Springleaf Drum for blue mana. He also pointed to his Returned Phalanx and Agent of Horizons. "Without the splash, these two aren't really worth it." Next I asked him about Eye Gouge, which was a fixture of all his attempted builds. He said that this format has a lot of one-toughness creatures, so that it's very rarely bad in your match. He went on to say that the more tricks your deck has in this format, the better it is, so cheap instants go up in value.
All in all, Watanabe said he would be very happy to have this pool, and would expect to at worst finish the day at 7-2, though probably set himself up for a Top 8 run with an 8-1 record. "It's got everything I want. Powerful cards, evasion and tricks."