Coming down the stretch, with two rounds to go, there are a mere twenty-five players with perfect records. There has been utter decimation amongst the strongest players in the room, with only Ken Yukuhiro and Grand Prix Shanghai Top 8 competitor Rei Satou managing to run the gauntlet unscathed. Beyond them, there are a number of notable players sitting with a single loss to their name.
First up are the players from the Blue side of the standings. Sitting down in 52nd place is Chinese Taipei's Tzu-Ching Kuo, captain of the team that won the first World Magic Cup. Following close on his heels is Masaya Kitayama, winner of Grand Prix Yokohama just over one year ago. A little further down the standings is one of the coolest guys in the old school of Japanese Magic, Masashiro Kuroda, the first Japanese player to win a Pro Tour. All three of these players are sitting pretty with 6-1 records, still highly in contention for the top spots in tomorrow's action.
Dropping down to players on the bubble, we see Jun'Ichirou Bandou, another player who has been a fixture of Japanese Magic for the better part of a decade. Katsuhiro Mori, the 2005 Magic World Champion, also sits down around 153rd, needing a win to stay alive in the tournament, as does Makihito Mihara.
Kentarou Yamamoto and Shota Yasooka are another two notable players with no losses left to give, as is Hao-Shan Huang, from Chinese Taipei. All of these players, despite being some of the more notable names in the room, sit precariously at 5-2, needing to win out in order to secure their berth in Day 2.
On the Black side, things have been even more difficult for the big names in the field. Singapore's Chapman Sim has managed to scrape together a 6-1 record through seven rounds, but he is the only big player to manage to make that mark. The rest of them still live in the tournament are languishing at the 5-2 mark, desperately fighting to keep their tournament hopes alive. I'm talking big names, too, like Yuuya Watanabe, Samuele Estratti, and Martin Juza. All three of these top flight players have struggled all tournament, though none of them really seem to know why. Juza stopped by with a bewildered look on his face after picking up his second loss of the day.
"I don't get it," he said. "Sure, my last round opponent's deck was very, very good, but I didn't think this deck was a 7-2 deck. It's exactly what I wanted when I opened my pool. I just don't know why I'm not winning."
Just before Round 8 started, you could see him sitting at a table near the corner with Watanabe going through each other's decks with a shrug, neither one able to see why they had fallen so low in this tournament. Still, their results are much better than those put up by some of the other big names in the tournament. For example, you may notice my failure to mention Shuhei Nakamura, Hall of Famer and one of the Top 25 players in the world. He posted a picture to twitter in Round 5 of his entry slip into a Sealed Deck side event. GG, indeed. There are other notable players who failed to make the cut, as well, including Tomoharu Saito and Naoki Shimizu.
All in all, it has been a bad day to be a top-level Pro here in Nagoya. By the end of the day, there will be about a half-dozen undefeated players left in the tournament, and almost none of them will be a known quantity. Will they continue to dominate tomorrow, or will the generally more skill-intensive Born of the Gods/Theros Booster Draft format tomorrow herald a return from the brink for the languishing Pros? In either case, they still have two rounds to go, and many of the Pros can't afford one more loss. It's going to be a tense affair as the rounds tick down to completion here at Day 1 of Grand Prix Nagoya.