Round 7: (4) Seth Manfield vs. (12) Yuuya Watanabe

Posted in Event Coverage on August 28, 2015

By Chapman Sim

(12) Yuuya Watanabe has incredibly scary career statistics.

Every twelve times he's played on the Pro Tour, he's made the Top 8 once. Watanabe has also competed in 89 Grand Prix, winning seven times in 22 Top 8s. Watanabe is the only player to have been invited to all four World Championships and remains the only non-Shahar Shenhar winner of the tournament. But the Japanese winning machine wasn't going to stop at one World Champion title.

(4) Seth Manfield's numbers are also pretty impressive. Aside from three Grand Prix wins, his combined win rate at his thirteen Pro Tours and 60 Grand Prix are at 62% and 65% respectively. This season, Manfield has also crossed the 150 Lifetime Pro Points threshold, which makes him eligible to vote for the Pro Tour Hall of Fame.

While the presence of Yuuya Watanabe sitting across the table can still be intimidating, Seth Manfield was in a good position with a deck that matches up extremely well against his opponent.

Most importantly, he seems like he is capable of stopping the Japanese juggernaut in his tracks in the final round of today's tournament. Both players are sitting at 5-1 and the winner will likely be at the top of the standings.

The Decks

Watanabe has brought White-Blue Control to the table and rattled off three straight wins in the Modern portion. Clearly, his deck choice was great against the metagame. However, it seemed like Watanabe had run into a brick wall.

"I think it is a difficult match for me," he admitted. "So bad. So bad."

"Yeah, I think the matchup is in my favor, but Watanabe is on the play," Manfield said. "I'm not sure if it will make any difference."

The fact is that Watanabe did not come prepared for Hexproof Auras. With only one Spellskite and two Negates in his sideboard that are remotely useful, his main deck was full of cards which were narrow, slow, or downright useless.

Path to Exile could only hit Kor Spiritdancer, while he had no way to deal with Gladecover Scout and Slippery Bogle. Kitchen Finks, Restoration Angel and Dragonlord Ojutai could possibly help him race, but all Manfield needs is Daybreak Coronet to upset the math. By the time he could reach four mana for Supreme Verdict, it is likely that Manfield would have found one of his totem armor Auras to save his Bogles from impending death.

Regardless, don't count out Watanabe yet. He's Watanabe for a reason.

The Games

Watanabe led with Celestial Colonnade, while Manfield started with Gladecover Scout and Kor Spiritdancer. Watanabe wasted no time sending it on a Path to Exile, not that there were any better targets.

Manfield's intent of running Kor Spiritdancer into countermagic or removal was apparent. He was ready with a second copy and that allowed him to draw two cards after attaching Ethereal Armor and Hyena Umbra to Gladecover Scout.

Watanabe looks for any ways to win against his Hexproof Auras opponent.

The clock was ticking away for Watanabe, and he tried racing with Kitchen Finks and Restoration Angel. However, that plan was quickly thrown out of the window.

All Manfield had to do was to pile on the goodness, adding Daybreak Coronet and double Rancor to Gladecover Scout. That transformed it into fourteen-power lifelinking monstrosity, making it impossible for Watanabe to win barring a continuous chain of Cryptic Commands.

Manfield had his first drop once again in the second game, this time in the form of Slippery Bogle. Hyena Umbra and Spider Umbra quickly turned it into a 3/3 creature. Not needing to fear any sweepers, Manfield added Ethereal Armor and a second copy of Spider Umbra to the Bogle.

Manfield suits up.

If you're counting along, that's an 8/8 creature by turn three.

All this time, Watanabe sat still and went down to 9 life without even casting a single spell. This was one of the rare times which I've witnessed Watanabe looking as helpless as he actually is. To be fair, there was nothing much he could do.

Holding Spell Snare, Dragonlord Ojutai, and Path to Exile as well as Restoration Angel, it looked to me that he was drawing dead. Watanabe came to the same conclusion, and extended his hand in gracious defeat.

Manfield 2 - Watanabe 0

Seth Manfield's Hexproof Auras - 2015 World Championship

Download Arena Decklist

Yuuya Watanabe's White-Blue Control - 2015 World Championship

Download Arena Decklist

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