In the day's final draft round, Kentaro Yamamoto was out for revenge against Patrick Chapin for defeating him in Modern on Day One.
The overnight buzz was rightly on Patrick Chapin. Fans were lighting up social media rooting for him after his spectacular 7-0 start to the tournament. Though he picked up his first loss, he's still pacing the field. Here he looks to get further ahead with a Jeskai deck.
Kentaro Yamamoto's 5-2 start was good enough to tie him for second place, and he's built on it with a 2-0 record in the draft rounds. Retribution would be doubly sweet as it would give him the clean sweep. He's playing a blue-green deck with a light red splash that looks to make the most of Alpine Grizzlys with a lot of tempo plays.
While Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin hopes to preserve near sterling record, Kentaro Yamamoto continues his race to the top.
Yamamoto was first on the board with a turn-three Alpine Grizzly. Chapin played Jeskai Windscout. Yamamoto locked it down with Singing Bell Strike and summoned Wetland Sambar before passing. Chapin tried a morph, but it met the same fate, and now it was 6 on the chin, leaving him at 11. Yamamoto summoned a morph, creating an overwhelming board position.
Chapin drew and passed. He'd missed his land drop and had four mana open. Yamamoto went for the jugular with Incremental Growth. Chapin had a Bring Low for the Sambar that would've gotten three counters, but it did little to stave off defeat. He was down to just 2 life and facing a pair of giant monsters. He drew and scooped.
Going first in the second game meant Chapin could get in under Yamamoto's aggression. He started with Wetland Sambar but had no play off perfect mana on turn three. Yamamoto dropped the mighty Alpine Grizzy. Chapin got in for 2 and put up a blockade of Salt Road Patrol. Unfortunately Yamamoto was not dissuaded and swung in. Chapin wasn't about to roll over to Dragonscale Boon so he let it through. Yamamoto added Scaldkin to the board and passed.
Chapin summoned Mantis Rider and attacked for 3, two mana open. Still Yamamoto was not deterred. He swung in with Scaldkin. Chapin let it by. Yamamoto passed the turn. The warning signs for Boon couldn't be brighter, and Chapin heeded them. He summoned Bloodfire Mentor and activated his Patrol, passing the turn without attacking. Yamamoto dutifully played the Boon on his Scaldkin, knowing they weren't fooling each other.
Chapin awaits his opponent's next big play.
The big Scaldkin swung in again and Chapin fell to 10. Yamamoto played out Highland Game and a morph. Here Chapin paused and looked things over. He had six mana and the ground was getting cluttered. Plus there was the 4/4 flier making his life miserable. He decided to loot for answers, then played a morph and hit for three with his Mantis Rider.
Yamamoto tried to find a way through the ground snarl but nothing seemed worth trying. He just hit for 4 in the air, summoned a morph, and put Singing Bell Strike on the Mantis Rider. Hardly the ideal use of the card in the abstract, but with the race so close, depriving Chapin of six mana could be all the edge he needed. Chapin paid the untap tax and hit for three. They were tied at 7 life apiece. Yamamoto made it another 4 in the air, played a second Strike on the Rider, and summoned Highland Game.
Yamamoto sees the point where racing is required.
Chapin paid again with a shrug and brought the life totals 4-3 in Yamamoto's favor. This time he had three mana left over and could at the least get a loot in with Bloodfire Mentor. Yamamoto spent a minute calculating potential attacks, but in the end just sent the Scaldkin. Chapin pushed Mantis Rider in front and sent it to the bin. He looted away a land, then untapped and swung out with everything. Yamamoto blocked all the creatures, losing two Highland Game in the process and going up to 8 life. Naturally, Chapin's next play was End Hostilities to clear the board. Yamamoto was able to unmorph Kin-Tree Warden and regenerate it. Chapin's last card was Jeskai Student.
Yamamoto still had a few cards in hand. He brought out Longshot Squad which demanded an immediate answer. Chapin's deck served up Jeskai Windscout. Yamamoto turned both his creatures sideways and Chapin went for a double-block on the Squad, mentally crossing his fingers. Unfortunately for him, Yamamoto had another Dragonscale Boon to take the match.
Chapin 0 – Yamamoto 2
The always stoic Yamamoto was able to manage a smile for the cameras after his 3-0 sweep. I took a few minutes to ask him about his draft, having heard that he wasn't happy with it initially. He said that seeing a pair of late Singing Bell Strikes in the first pack convinced him to head into this archetype, having started out with heavy green. The idea was to wind up either Temur or Sultai, but to play only a small splash of the third color, staying mainly green-blue. The problem was that he never made a commitment to either. I asked him about Incremental Growth that he'd seemed excited to take out of a stacked pack, and he said that especially in green-blue the card is very powerful.
Was he excited to be sitting at 8-2, within arm's reach of the Top 4? The surprising answer was "No." He went on to explain that he just didn't have confidence in his deck choice for Standard, so he wasn't getting his hopes up just yet.