Round 14: (2) Seth Manfield (Abzan) vs. (8) Shota Yasooka (Abzan Company)

Posted in Event Coverage on September 3, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Going into Round 14, both No. 2-ranked Seth Manfield and No. 8-ranked Shota Yasooka were at 8-5 and would need to win this match for a chance to reach the Top 4—which they have been working so hard toward all weekend. Whoever wins, it will be a repeat trip to the Top 4. Manfield is looking to become a back-to-back World Champion, while Yasooka will appreciate another attempt at his first title.

Despite both decks being of the same colors (white, black, and green), they take vastly different approaches. Manfield's Abzan deck is way more disruptive, and the plan was to discard his opponent's key cards, kill opposing threats, and quickly seal the game with efficient beaters such as Tarmogoyf and Siege Rhino.

Yasooka on the other hand has the Collected Company deck, which means he has few spots for non-creature spells. However, he does have the ability to create an infinite combo that can shut down Manfield's path to victory entirely.

If he has either Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit or Melira, Sylvok Outcast in play, he will be able to sacrifice Kitchen Finks or Murderous Redcap repeatedly to Viscera Seer. This will result in him either gaining infinite life or dealing infinite damage. For that to happen, he will rely heavily on Collected Company to find some pieces of the puzzle and use Chord of Calling to complete it. Naturally, it is Manfield's job to break up the party.

Another way for Yasooka to win is of course to win the attrition war. If he cannot assemble his three-card combo, at the very least he needs to outlast in terms of card economy. For example, Kitchen Finks has two lives, which stacks up well against Manfield's Liliana of the Veil. Also, Collected Company usually nets Yasooka two creatures, and in combination with Eternal Witness allows him to do it again. Gavony Township will also "refresh" any creatures with persist while creating a formidable force.

Manfield doesn't like the matchup very much, by his own admission, but let's see how things pan out.

The Games

Yasooka was on the play, but Manfield took the lead with the help of Noble Hierarch, powering out a turn-two Lingering Souls and turn-three Siege Rhino. This was a pretty good start for the reigning World Champion, but that was hardly good enough.

In fact, he had just lost the game despite the near-perfect opening.

Yasooka, who made a turn-three Kitchen Finks, untapped and proceeded to drop Sylvok, Melira Outcast and Viscera Seer. Well, that's it boys. Yasooka soon had infinite life and scryed through his entire library to find Murderous Recap. A turn later, he summoned it to deal infinite damage, putting an end to Manfield's agony.


Shota Yasooka only needed four turns to take Game 1 over the defending World Champion.

In Game 2, Manfield led with Noble Hierarch and created two Spirit tokens with Lingering Souls. Yasooka summoned Birds of Paradise, enabling an early Kitchen Finks.

Manfield wasn't about to die to the combo this time, even if Yasooka had the required components. Manfield flashed back Lingering Souls and then cleaned out both graveyards with Rest in Peace. This would prevent the infinite loop while he tried to win the game with four Spirit tokens through the skies.

Yasooka had to move on to plan B.

After attacking with Kitchen Finks, he summoned Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and Viscera Seer. This allowed him to bolster 1, which grew Birds of Paradise into a 1/2—a very convenient blocker against the horde of Spirits.

Liliana, the Last Hope poked away Viscera Seer. Yasooka had to act before the planeswalker could cause more casualties. Attacking with Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit and Kitchen Finks forced Manfield to shove three tokens in Anafenza's way while chumping Kitchen Finks with Noble Hierarch. However, a timely Collected Company (getting a second Kitchen Finks and a Qasali Pridemage) created another two bolster 1 triggers for Yasooka, turning Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit into a 3/3 (trading with all three Spirit tokens) and turning Birds of Paradise into a 2/3 flier.

Despite drawing Rest in Peace, the crucial enchantment to disrupt Yasooka's combo, Manfield was very behind on the board state. After casting Lingering Souls (which was exiled immediately because of his own Rest in Peace), all Manfield had was three Spirit tokens against Yasooka's Qasali Pridemage, 2/3 Birds of Paradise, and double Kitchen Finks. Rest in Peace also stifled Manfield's Liliana, the Last Hope, preventing it from returning cards from the graveyard, but Yasooka decided to send in his entire army to kill the planeswalker anyway.


Seth Manfield had found his Peace, but was it too late to save him?

Two tokens traded with Kitchen Finks #2, and Yasooka dropped a third copy. Manfield tried to pull back into the game with Painful Truths. He found Inquisition of Kozilek and saw that the last card in Yasooka's hand was Murderous Redcap. Naturally, it came down the next turn to finish off Liliana, the Last Hope.

After whiffing on his next two draw steps, Manfield extended his hand and wished Yasooka good luck.

Shota Yasooka defeated Seth Manfield 2–0.

"I sideboarded out Tarmogoyf because I had to bring in Rest in Peace. Kitchen Finks is pretty much one of the biggest creatures left," said Seth Manfield. "It's unfortunate that I also drew cards that interacted poorly with my own Rest in Peace. I didn't think I was going to win, and I didn't. Oh well, that matchup is just not great for me."

With that, Yasooka eliminated Manfield from Top 4 contention as he moved over to watch the match between Oliver Tiu and Márcio Carvalho. Should Carvalho win, Yasooka would be locked for the Top 4. Otherwise, he would need to hope that he wins the tiebreaker lottery.

"I beat Oliver three times this tournament, and he is playing for the Top 4 as well," said Yasooka. "[He's] such a good player. If he wins his final round and I end up being fifth or sixth, it will be sweet revenge for Oliver. Haha!"

Once again, let's see how things pan out.

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