5. Free entry offered to 500 participants.
In an unprecedented move by any tournament organizer, 20% of the field didn't pay an entry fee to participate in Grand Prix Chiba. To nurture the next generation of Magic players, Tomoharu Saito (CEO of Hareruya) opened up 500 free entries to students, on a first-come, first-served basis. If you notice, amongst Day 1's 9-0 players, there were a handful of players who were playing in their very first Grand Prix. Clearly, this initiative had allowed many students to come forth and try their hand at a Premier Event with little to no cost.
Tomoharu Saito, CEO of Hareruya, offers 500 free entries to students to help nurture the next generation of Magic players.
There was no promise that any future event could follow suit but Grand Prix Chiba will be fondly remembered by at least 500 participants who didn't have to fork out a single penny to compete and still went home with a bunch of freebies, in addition to enjoying a weekend of premier VIP hospitality!
Saito cited the reasoning that "our youth is our future and we believe that encouraging young people to be involved in Magic is the way to keep our community growing."
4. Becoming The Monarch and also losing it.
It looks like Death and Taxes is as strong as ever.
There was no question that some cards from Conspiracy: Take the Crown were going to be good in Death and Taxes, one of the most powerful and popular archetypes in Legacy. It was also obvious that Sanctum Prelate and Recruiter of the Guard were going to impact the format greatly but there was a lot of speculation as to whether it was worth the trouble in trying to become The Monarch.
Liu Jin, the only non-Japanese player in the Top 8, made history when he successfully resolved Palace Jailer. This marked the first time that someone became The Monarch in a Top 8 of a Premier Event, and amusingly it is also the first time someone actually stole it! Watanabe counterattacked with a horde of Monastery Mentor tokens and took The Monarch for himself!
Liu Jin is the first player to become The Monarch in the Top 8 of a Premier Event, while Yuuya Watanabe is the first player to steal it away!
3. Chandra and Nissa "Planeswalk" into Legacy from Kaladesh.
Legacy is a very high-powered format because it has a very large card pool. In order for a card to be deemed suitable or worthy for such an intense environment, it has to either be very powerful or provide a niche function.
Chandra, Torch of Defiance is a great addition to Dragon Stompy as demonstrated by Taishi Aoki, while Quarterfinalist Akira Honma also successfully resolved Nissa, Vital Force against Kentaro Yamamoto and even tried to race Emrakul, the Promised End (but was two damage short).
Whatever it is, it is nice to see new cards make it into Legacy, because that way, you know that those are the really awesome ones! However, I really don't see Dovin Baan replacing Jace, the Mind Sculptor anytime soon!
2. Yuuya Watanabe makes a wager, and loses.
Prior to Grand Prix Chiba, Hall of Famer and No 13-Ranked Yuuya Watanabe did not feel confident at all. Chatting with Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion and No. 25-Ranked Kazuyuki Takimura, Watanabe said that he would never make the Top 8 of a Legacy Grand Prix.
Kazuyuki Takimura and Yuuya Watanabe make a pact.
"I've only played in one Legacy Grand Prix before. This is my second one. I spend a lot of time practicing Standard, Limited and Modern and don't have any time for Legacy. The Legacy players in Japan are very good. Some of them even play only Legacy. I have no chance."
With that, Takimura suggested something to spur on his buddy. Knowing that Watanabe will try his best no matter what, Takimura made Watanabe promise to change his hairstyle if the did make Top 8 and it had to look just like Takimura's! This means that Watanabe would have to shave the right half of his head and comb whatever's leftover to the left. Thinking that it was impossible, Watanabe agreed even if he thought that he would look "unbelievable".
After taking the ID in Round 15 to lock up his spot, we quickly asked him when he would be going to the hairdresser. "Probably, next week. I'll post some pictures on my Twitter account after it's done. Also, instead of a left-comb, I might do a right-comb instead. That way, we can look like Splinter Twin!"
In the meantime, we'll have to make do with this!
>An "artist's impression" of what's coming your way!
Regardless of what happens, this is a hilarious story that will be remembered within the Japanese community for a long, long time to come! More importantly, the moral of the story is to never stop believing in yourself and trust that you have what it takes to accomplish something you've never done.
1. Kentaro Yamamoto wins his first Grand Prix!
Making the Top 8 at Grand Prix Chiba felt like any other tournament for Yamamoto. After all, he had been here eight times before and not once did he go home the victor.
Could this just be another day of "disappointment"?
It's no secret that Yamamoto loves combo decks and has a penchant for cheating creatures onto the battlefield. In particular, the thought of Griselbrand and Emrakul, the Aeons Torn simply tugs at his heartstrings. Just three months ago, he was doing the exact same thing at Grand Prix Guangzhou with Goryo's Vengeance and Through the Breach.
In the first game of the finals, he was dealt the above opening hand on the play, which was unbeatable unless finalist Atsuki Kihara had two Force of Wills and two other blue cards! A turn-one Emrakul paved the way for Kentaro's ultimate victory and he went home $10,000 richer and five pounds heavier. Luckily for him, home is just thirty minutes away and he doesn't need to lug his shiny trophy around for too long!
Coincidentally, Yamamoto was also recently dropped from rankings and fell out of the Top 25. Him winning this event is probably the best way to say 'take that!" and Takimura will likely be displaced next week.
No matter because the entire Japanese community is wholeheartedly rejoicing this well-deserved and long-awaited victory. Congratulations once again to Kentaro Yamamoto for winning his first Grand Prix!
Kentaro Yamamoto, Grand Prix Chiba 2016 Champion