With no undefeated teams left in the tournament, the remaining four 8-1 teams were the hot favorites to make it through to the Top 4. Among them were the all-star teams of Craig Wescoe, Rich Hoaen and Mike Hron as well as Shintaro Ishimura, Yoshihiko Ikawa and Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion, Kazuyuki Takimura.
Both teams could still afford to pick up one more loss, but of course none of them wanted to be the victim. Who will emerge victorious and face of the other 9-1 team in the other bracket?
Table A: Craig Wescoe (Bant) vs. Shintaro Ishimura (White-Black Allies)
Game 1 concluded rather quickly. After Stasis Snare took care of Wescoe's Woodland Wanderer, Ishimura tried to get to the finish line with Retreat to Hagra and Bloodbond Vampire. Despite the nifty combo, Wescoe was able to clinch Game 1 with some well-timed tricks and an unstoppable air force.
In the second game, Wescoe sought advice from Hoaen whether he should mulligan a five-land hand with only Pilgrim's Eye and Clutch of Currents. The decision was to keep, but Ishimura quickly put up some pressure with Felidar Cub and Makindi Patrol. Thankfully, Wescoe drew into Cloud Manta and Sheer Drop, providing him a chance to race.
The tables were turned momentarily when Ishimura coughed up Courier Griffin, not only gaining him some life, but also offering a blocker for Cloud Manta. Despite having Mire's Malice to clean our Wescoe's grip, Ishimura fell to the overwhelming forces spearheaded by a 5/5 Woodland Wanderer, coupled with the tempo and body provided by Clutch of Currents.
Craig Wescoe smiles for the camera after winning his match while his teammates Mike Hron and Rich Hoaen try to win another.
Craig Wescoe 2—Shintaro Ishimura 0
Table B: Rich Hoaen (Black-Green) vs. Yoshihiko Ikawa (5-Color Green)
Ikawa's early Skyrider Elf took a walk down the Ruinous Path, but he was able to rebuild with Tajuru Stalwart and Woodland Wanderer, all fully Converged. Hoaen tried to stem the beatings with Eyeless Watcher and Kozilek's Channeler, but a 6/6 trampler proved too much to handle.
As for Game 2, Hoaen assembled the combo of Rot Shambler and From Beyond and tried to race against a 3/3 Skyrider Elf. Eyeless Watcher was the follow-up, but Ikawa trumped with Oran-Rief Hydra. Thankfully, Hoaen had Grip of Desolation to relieve himself of the trampling creature, and closed the game with an enormous Rot Shambler and wave of Eldrazi Scions.
Stuck on three lands, Ikawa sought Ishimura's approval to cast an unawakened Clutch of Currents on the opposing 3/2 to push some damage, before adding Snapping Gnarlid. Hoaen was down to 10 from this attack, and further reduced to 5 on the next turn, but Hoaen was able to comeback by raising Wasteland Strangler from the grave with Mortuary Mire and using Grip of Desolation to not only clear away both of Ichikawa's creatures but also his fourth land, a tapped Lumbering Falls. Blighted Fen took care of Cloud Manta and a Swarm Surge from Hoaen was able to deal 16 damage before a 5/5 Woodland Wanderer could matter!
Hoaen 2—Ikawa 1
With the victory already secured for the American team, the match between Pro Tour Champions Mike Hron and Kazuyuki Takimura was irrelevant. Regardless, let's take a look at how the games played out!
Table C: Mike Hron (Blue-Red Devoid) vs. Kazuyuki Takimura (Blue-Black Ingest)
Opening with Mist Invader, Murk Strider and Ulamog's Reclaimer, Hron quickly put his opponent on the back-foot, even finding himself time to crack Blighted Cataract to refill his hand. Takimura tried to stabilize with Kozilek's Channeler, but it was roasted with Processor Assault.
Does whatever as advertised.
On to Game 3! Deflecting early threats with Horribly Awry and Titan's Presence, Takimura was able to deploy Kozilek's Channeler to fend of Kozilek's Sentinel and Nettle Drone. Hron was holding Sure Strike, and marched into the red zone anyway, prompting the Takimura to consult Ikawa.
They decided to block, forcing out the trick as expected. That prevented his life totals from plummeting, granting Takimura breathing room to deploy Ruin's Processor to further cushion his life total. Reviving Kozilek's Channeler with Mortuary Mire, that created sufficient speed bumps to stop Hron's land forces. By the time Hron deployed Akoum Hellkite, it was too late.
Shintaro Ishimura, Yoshihiko Ikawa and Kazuyuki Takimura pick up their second loss this weekend.
Mike Hron 0—Kazuyuki Takimura 2
Hoaen: Good job Craig, you finally won a relevant match!
With himself and Hron going 9-0 and 8-1 yesterday, Hoaen was poking well-natured fun at Wescoe's “accomplishment” of finally contributing to the team. Regardless, a win's a win!
Team Wescoe/Hoaen/Hron advance to 9-1, one of the top 2 teams in the field. Ishimura/Ikawa/Takimura drop to 8-2, their dreams of making the Top 4 barely alive.