Deckbuilding with Kato/Yasooka/Kakumae

Posted in GRAND PRIX BEIJING 2015 on October 25, 2015

By Chapman Sim

Kazuki Kato, Shota Yasooka and Teruya Kakumae are three lucky ducks.

Of the 271 teams to arrive in Beijing, only 40 survived the cut to Day 2 and this Japanese team squeaked in at 40th place by a fraction of a percent on the tiebreakers. In stark contrast to the previous Deck building report where we featured the team who was Top in Swiss, we're featuring the team at the bottom of the pack.

That was not to say that they were a weak team. After all, they're all Grand Prix winners, led by a Hall of Famer. Perhaps they were having a bad day? Then again, it could be worse and I believe none of the three players could be too disappointed about the close shave.

The Work Begins

Their style was pretty clean and crisp. After separating their cards by colors, they sorted all cards in each color by mana cost, just to get a feel of what each color's mana curve looked like. This way, it was easy to identify which color lacked two-drops, or had too many four-drops, for example. As a matter of fact, this is one of the ways you'll be able to compensate for the lack of a good curve, by pairing a color with a adequate two-drops with another color that is devoid of any.


The embarrassing pool of Black cards.

It was clear as day that they didn't have the Blue-Black Ingest deck they desired. Murk Striders were spotted on the sidelines and Kakumae could only lament that they didn't have the Ingest deck. As a matter of fact, their Black cards were pretty embarrassing and offered nothing spectacular. Kato said, "these Black cards such as Mire's Malice would probably serve as the sideboard for the Blue deck. We will swap out the Red for the Black when we play against Black-Green Ramp decks. That way, we have a way to empty after hands after they spend a lot of resources to ramp their mana."

First Things First

Kakumae quickly assembled a nearly mono-Blue Devoid deck, featuring triple Eldrazi Skyspawners, splashing red only for Kozilek's Sentinel and a pair of Touch of the Void. This way, he was able to free up most of the Red cards for the other Red deck that Yasooka was working on.

Was it the Landfall deck?

Nope, not really. They didn't have the staples for that either. Instead, it was a Red-Green Ally deck with Beastcaller Savant to enable a light splash for Resolute Blademaster. However, after reviewing the entire deck, Yasooka decided it wasn't good enough

"Red-Green, no good," Yasooka couldn't have put it any simpler.


Shota Yasooka, Kazuki Kato and Teruya Kakumae wrecking their brains.

What's Next?

"Now, we'll try the 5-Color deck."

Double Lifespring Druid, double Natural Connections and a single Nissa's Renewal formed the cornerstone of the mana base, further supplemented by Canopy Vista and a pair of Evolving Wilds. The powerful Green bombs naturally joined the foray, including Greenwarden of Murasa and Oran-Rief Hydra.


Shota Yasooka endorses the 5-Color deck to jam in as much power as possible.

What were the payoff cards for dabbling into all five colors?

The intent was to splash Unified Front, Brilliant Spectrum, Skyrider Elf and Roil Spout, while retaining a Blue-Green core. Yasooka tried to stuff as many of their rares into this deck, and with all the coincidental mana acceleration, it seemed like a good shell to support Oblivion Sower and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. In addition, a Black splash would allow him to utilize two copies of Rising Miasma, a backbreaking card against Allies, Landfall and Ingest strategies they were bound to encounter.

Kato quickly threw out Bring to Light into the junk pile. Despite being quite the Modern wonder-child, it wasn't ever going to do enough in Limited. As Yasooka was doing the math, Kato put together a lightning fast White-Red Ally deck.

The Third Deck is Born

With the Blue cards and slower midrange cards out of the way, what was left were the cheap creatures and efficient tricks, which would form the perfect aggro deck.

Two Expedition Envoys. Two Kor Castigators. Two Firemage Mantle. Two Shadow Glider. Resolute Blademaster, Turn Against, Akoum Firebird and Kor Entanglers provided the hyper aggressive deck with a late-game plan.

Kakumae and Kato could only nod, and quickly moved on to registering their decks as the clock ticked down. If they wanted to make it to the Top 4, they'll need to win at least three of their matches. If their tiebreakers were a letdown, they might even need the fourth win.

Regardless, the team leader was confident and Yasooka could only present two words in display of his confidence.

"Good, good."

Silent, but strong. Very typical of Yasooka.

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