Round 6: (8) Shota Yasooka (Bant Company) vs. (14) Oliver Tiu (Turbo Emrakul)

Posted in Event Coverage on September 1, 2016

By Chapman Sim

Shota Yasooka might be one of many repeat competitors at the World Championship, but he was perceived as one of the top contenders. Not only has he won a Pro Tour, he's also one of the very few to have been crowned Player of the Year. A World Champion title eluded the tenured veteran, something that Yasooka was looking to change this weekend.

Yasooka's stature as a radical deck builder is one of the biggest factors that carried him into the Hall of Fame. It is also a poorly-kept secret that Yasooka doesn't need to test for Constructed, but we're still unclear if that is a result of years of experience or whether Yasooka simply has a genius mind wired to understand Constructed formats better than others.

Despite critical acclaim from peers and the general public, his 62% win rate at Constructed this season was dwarfed by his opponent's 70%.


Both Oliver Tiu and Shota Yasooka hope to improve their win rate with a strong result here.

In just four lifetime Pro Tour appearances, reigning Rookie of the Year Oliver Tiu has expeditiously earned a reputation for excelling at 60-card formats as well. Constructed Master is not an accolade awarded casually; Tiu earned it by doing better in Constructed than anyone else this year.

As one of the three players in the field piloting Turbo Emrakul, the distinction between Tiu's (as well as Ondřej Stráský's and Reid Duke's) list and traditional Temur Emerge decks was the inclusion of Nissa's Pilgrimage, Primal Druid, and Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. The goal was simply to cast Emrakul, the Promised End as quickly as possible while biding time with annoyances such as Ishkanah, Grafwidow, Elder Deep-Fiend, and Kozilek's Return.

Yasooka was one of six players running Bant Company, and his deck choice was unsurprising considering how well it served him at Grand Prix Rimini. However, Tiu was quick to point out something about Yasooka's tweaks.

"I came prepared for Bant Company, and I like this matchup even more since Yasooka only has 2 Spell Quellers. It's like the best card against me, since I have almost no removal against it."

Yasooka nodded grimly and would need Lady Luck to shine upon him in order to triumph over Tiu's killing machine.

The Games

Winning the die roll, Tiu led with Vessel of Nascency with the intent of cracking in on his second turn. However, that was a bad idea against Yasooka's turn-two Duskwatch Recruiter, so he offered Primal Druid instead.

Yasooka took to the skies with Selfless Spirit, weakening Tiu's future Kozilek's Returns. However, it wasn't all that much pressure, especially with Tiu putting up the perfect blocker, Pilgrim's Eye. Yasooka would need to find a way to break through the defenses, because the late game certainly did not benefit him. Even after coughing up Sylvan Advocate and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, Yasooka was still in the unfavorable position of simply being unable to attack profitably.

Tiu pulled the trigger on Kozilek's Return, dropping it into the graveyard—right where he wanted it to be. Perhaps this was indication of an impending Eldrazi on the horizon. Nonetheless, Yasooka had no choice but to sacrifice Selfless Spirit to preserve his board, before reinforcing with a second copy.

Now that Sylvan Advocate had grown into a 4/5, it prompted Tiu to send Primal Druid in as sacrificial fodder. Breaking Vessel of Nascency for Elder Deep-Fiend and using Traverse the Ulvenwald to tutor up another copy, the plan become glaringly apparent: tie up all of Yasooka's mana with the first Deep-Fiend (forcing Yasooka sacrifice Selfless Spirit) and after indestructibility had worn away, sacrifice the first Eldrazi Octopus to enable the second one. If this plan was successful, Yasooka's board would be completely erased.


Oliver Tiu sets his scheme in motion.

Tiu succeeded in his elaborate scheme, reducing Yasooka's board to nothing. Yasooka tried to rebuild with Tireless Tracker and Reflector Mage, but this futile attempt to recover did nothing other than send back Elder Deep-Fiend for another appearance.

Tiu's second copy of Traverse the Ulvenwald went for Emrakul, the Promised End, greatly diminishing Yasooka's chances of recovery. Despite valiantly fighting back with Collected Company to bounce Emrakul with Reflector Mage, he was unable to close the game before Tiu had a chance to recast the titan again.

In Game 2, Yasooka had no turn-two play but did have Nissa, Vastwood Seer on turn three. After casting and cracking Vessel of Nascency, Tiu had no other play other than killing Nissa with Kozilek's Return. Yasooka fired off Collected Company, finding Sylvan Advocate and Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, and a second copy of Kozilek's Return got rid of the latter. A second Sylvan Advocate joined the frontline.

When Ishkanah, Grafwidow and its underlings tried to hold the fort, Yasooka cleared the path with Declaration in Stone on the little Spiders and Reflector Mage on the big Spider. Crashing in with Sylvan Advocates reduced Tiu down to 10 life. Unable to recast Ishkanah, Tiu passed the turn and hoped that Yasooka did not have the sixth land.

Yasooka did have the land, and dealt exactly 10 with the pair of 4/5 Sylvan Advocates and a 2/3 Reflector Mage. Yasooka's answers had lined up perfectly with the hurdles he faced, quickly equalizing the score.


Shota Yasooka had Game 2 firmly in hand.

Mulliganing to six in Game 3, Tiu used Gather the Pack to find Pilgrim's Eye. However, he did not have a third land and quickly faced pressure from Selfless Spirit. When Tiu draw Traverse the Ulvenwald to try and fetch a third land, Spell Queller ate it up.

Yasooka's next two creatures were inconsequential because Tiu offered the handshake after his next draw step.

"It's Shota, I swear. I don't have a bad matchup against his decks. I have a bad matchup against him. He's the master. At Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, we were in contention for the Top 8 and he crushed me. I played against him in the Limited portion in the morning and he crushed me then, too. And now, again!"

Yasooka admitted that the matchup was horrible and he got really fortunate in the last two games.

"I think I used up all my bad luck just now. I was stuck with two Collected Company in my hand with no fourth land for many turns. On the turn before I lost, I drew a tapped land. Now that I'm 4-2, winning the last round of the day will put me at 5-2, and that will make me very happy!"

Shota Yasooka defeats Oliver Tiu 2–1.

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