Posted in NEWS on April 13, 2014

By Nate Price

A longtime member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage staff, Nate Price now works making beautiful words for all of you lovely people as the community manager for organized play. When not covering events, he lords over the @MagicProTour Twitter account, ruling with an iron fist.

The Players

Neither Takashi Boku or Takatoshi Satou had ever experienced any success on par with their appearance here in the Semifinals of Grand Prix Nagoya. Now, both of them have not only secured themselves an opportunity to become the most recent Japanese Grand Prix Champion, they earned themselves a trip to Pro Tour Magic 2015 in Portland this August. Without the pressure of qualification on their shoulders, both players were cordial as they talked and joked before the match.

Takashi Boku vs. Takatoshi Satou

The Decks

Takashi Boku's black/green deck was able to utterly shred through Chapman Sim in the Quarterfinals due to a number of very inexpensive creatures and two copies of Ordeal of Erebos. In both games, his Fleshmad Steeds became so large that Sim had trouble keeping up, and, even when he did, Boku's Herald of Torment and Mistcutter Hydra could simply finish the job.

Satou's green/white deck, however, was far more standard fare. He had his own cheap creatures and enchancers in his green/white deck, including the Swordwise Centaur and Feral Invocationhe used to dispatch Hiroshi Date in his Quarterfinal match. On top of those, he had a number of large bodies, including an undisclosed number of Snakes, from Nessian Asp to Snake of the Golden Grove.

The Games

Boku's deck had shown its ability to quickly decimate opponents in his Quarterfinals match against Chapman Sim, as he obliterated Sim's hand with multiple copies of Ordeal of Erebos over the course of their match. He kept that streak alive in the first game of this Semifinal match. Opening with Asphodel Wanderer allowed him to begin building his Ordeal on turn two. To make matters worse, he added a second ordeal to his Wanderer on the following turn, obliterating Satou's hand in two turns and leaving a 5/5 regenerator in its place.

Surprisingly, Satou wasn't completely dead, as bestowing Observant Alseid on his Bronze Sable allowed him to get enough to keep things interesting, attacking and blocking. Even more interesting when Satou played Snake of the Golden Grove, gaining him enough life to actually take the lead over Boku 9-8. Unfortunately, it was all smoke and mirrors, as Satou still had no way to deal with the 5/5 regenerator on Boku's side of the table. He was able to survive, but not for more than one more turn before the dominating creature forced a concession.

The second game of the match started just as Boku's Quarterfinals had: with a Fleshmad Steed enchanted with Ordeal of Erebos. This time, however, it was SAttou that would get card advantage, using Excoriate to remove the Steed before it got a second counter.

Dueling Snake of the Golden Grove. Only Satou's Decorated Griffin was able to attack through the stall, taking two-point bites out of Boku's life total. Boku chose to break the stalemate by adding a Baleful Eidolon to his Nessian Courser and attacking with his two 4/4s. Satou thought for a while before deciding to take the damage, dropping to 11. His counterstrike with his whole team ended up evening up the life totals, before he once again took the lead with yet another Snake of the Golden Grove.

Boku's hand was running out of gas, and Satou had just refilled his tank. Still, the threat of two deathtouch defenders kept Satou's ground forces home, leaving the attack to his fliers. This armistice lasted for a few turns, as Boku's life drained away in the sky. He tried to turn the tables and eliminate Satou's attacker using a Boon of Erebos on a Blood-Toll Harpy, but a Mortal's Resolve kept the Griffin safe. It did buy Boku a turn to find a Cavern Lampad, though, which he put on his Harpy to completely shut down Satou's attack.

Takashi Boku

He could see the end, smell the blood with Boku on 4 life, yet Satou couldn't finish him off. Even when he finally drew a Feral Invocation to push past the Harpy, he was rebuffed by a Necrobite. The Necrobite was doubly dangerous, as it not only removed Satou's only thread, but it removed his only blocker should Boku go on the offensive! Fortunately for Satou, his green/white deck was chock full of tricks, and he drew one of the best ones one turn later. After taking a hit from the Harpy down to 5, Satou sent his whole team. Boku lined up his blocks, letting only the two one-powered creatures through, but Satou had drawn his Reap What Is Sown, a poignant way to win this drawn out game if ever there was one.

The third and final game was strange from the outset. Boku's draw was a step back from the level of his previous ones, as it didn't have his seemingly constant Ordeal of Erebos to enhance his quick Fleshmad Steed. As such, he built his army much slower, running Felhide Minotaur and another Fleshmad Steed out before bestowing Cavern Lampad and Baleful Eidolon on them. Boku was able to use all of his mana every turn, giving him a distinct edge over Satou.

Takatoshi Satou

For his part, Satou looked like he would be able to begin dropping his many five-drops extra early in the final game thanks to an early Voyaging Satyr, but instead he passed turn after turn. Every time he flashed his hand even a little, all I could see was Forests and Plains. Each turn that passed, Boku's advantage grew greater until a 5/5 Mistcutter Hydra came down to knock Satou to 2. Already clearly dead, Satou laughed when Boku tapped four mana for a Whip of Erebos on his following turn.

"There's more," he asked with a laugh? All he could do was shake his head and Boku's hand, exiting the tournament without a win, but with an invitation to Pro Tour Magic 2015 in August! As for Boku, his enchanted Top 8 run would continue, as he stepped aside to wait for his last opponent.