Junya Iyanaga piloted his controlling Blue/White deck through a star-studded Top 8 here at Grand Prix Kitakyūshū this weekend, defeating Grand Prix playoff veterans such as Shouta Yasooka and Olivier Ruel. Ruel had his own victory this weekend too, achieving Level 6 status within the Pro Players Club and keeping his hopes alive in the Player of the Year race. With only one more Grand Prix stop between here and the World Championships in New York in a month's time, PoY hopefuls are going to have their best game faces on for Daytona Beach next weekend. Tune in here next weekend and we'll keep you updated with who is still in the running as they round the last corner and make a b-line for the finish.

top 8 bracket


(1) Hirabayashi, Kazuya

(8) Iyanaga, Jun Ya

(4) Ruel, Olivier

(5) Tsumura, Kenji

(2) Park, Jun Young

(7) Yasooka, Shouta

(3) Tsai, chin-chun

(6) Asahara, Akira


Iyanaga, Jun Ya 2-0

Ruel, Olivier 2-0

Yasooka, Shouta 2-0

Asahara, Akira 2-1


Iyanaga, Jun Ya 2-0

Yasooka, Shouta 2-0


Iyanaga, Jun Ya 2-0


  • The Finals: Shouta Yasooka vs Junya Iyanaga
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Feature: Top 8 Draft with Olivier Ruel
    by Raphael Levy
  • Feature: Top 8 Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Semifinals: Olivier Ruel vs Junya Iyanaga
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Quarterfinals: Kenji Tsumura vs Olivier Ruel
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Drafting with Kenji, Drafting with Olivier, and much more!
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Building a Sealed Deck, Japan's Top Stars Featured, and much more!
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw
  • Info: Day 1 Undefeated Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Iyanaga, Jun ya $3,000
2. Yasooka, Shouta $2,000
3. Asahara, Akira $1,400
4. Ruel, Olivier $1,300
5. Hirabayashi, Kazuya $900
6. Park, Jun Young $900
7. Tsumura, Kenji $900
8. Tsai, Chih-Chun $900

pairings, results, standings


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Sunday, November 11: 6:46p.m. – Quarterfinals: Kenji Tsumura vs Olivier Ruel

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

To be quite honest, this would have been way cooler as a final, but DCI Reporter can be a fickle tool and we're left watching these long time friends duke it out in the quarters instead. Both Kenji Tsumura and Olivier Ruel are no strangers to the top 8 playoffs of a Grand Prix event. This being Kenji's 11th top 8 and Olivier's 21st, which ties him in first place for the most Grand Prix top 8's ever with Alex Shvartsman. This also puts Oli one point away from achieving level 6 in the Pro Players club, of which Kenji already is.

Kenji began pile shuffling a second time with a cheeky grin for Oli, who had a train to catch if he didn't emerge victorious from this tournament. Oli won the roll and charged out of the gate with a second turn Exiled Boggart and a Stonybrook Angler. Kenji could only play Plains after Plains until his fourth turn where he played a Hillcomber Giant, which despite Oli's Mountain, stayed on defense. Oli played a Fathom Trawl netting himself Tarfire, Peppersmoke and Dreamspoiler Witches. Another Plains from Kenji made things look even more one sided, and when Oli started firing off instants during Kenji's turn, Game 1 was all but over. A sixth Plains from Kenji was saw a Liliana Vess from Oli, and Kenji just picked up his cards and started shuffling for Game 2.

Still unsure of what Kenji's second color was, Olivier started badgering him.
"Merfolk? Goblins?!"
To which Kenji would only grin as he presented his deck. Kenji's start was much better in Game 2, managing to Summon the School, putting a pair of Rich Hoaen tokens into play. Olivier played out one of his many Dreamspoiler Witches, and spent the next few turns trying desperately to keep the Merfolk population under four. Throwing a Tarfire at a Mulldrifter, another at a Judge of Currents and playing a Gilt-Leaf Ambush, shooting down Merfolk wherever he could with the Witches.

Olivier again played out his Liliana Vess and started attacking Kenji's hand, knocking out a Benthicore that could have reinvigorated Kenji's supply of Merfolk. A Hillcomber Giant began to wear away at Liliana, and once on her last legs, Oli let her go to tutor up his Colfenor's Plans. The plans weren't spectacular however, revealing another Witches, a Skeletal Changeling, a Shapesharer and four lands.

The blood drained for Oli's face when Kenji stole one of his Witches with a Sower of Temptation and began to race back. Kenji also played a Merrow Harbinger, fetching a Deeptread Merrow that looked like it might even have been able to win the race. Olivier sunk into thought, and finally used his Shapesharer to copy the Harbinger, managing to Islandwalk through for enough damage the turn before Kenji would have been able to do the same.

Olivier Ruel defeats Kenji Tsumura 2-0

And true to form, Oli who is now level 6, would like to say Hi to his Mum and his brother, Antoine!

Sunday, November 11: 7:48p.m. – Semifinals: Olivier Ruel vs Junya Iyanaga

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

With Olivier Ruel's train deadline looming, the players got their game underway as swiftly as possible, with Olivier throwing a Tarfire at Junya Iyanaga's turn two Judge of Currents and telling everyone that this time he'd like to say hi to his Dad and Alex Shvartsman. A Pestermite came down to stall Olivier a turn, but attacked right into a Spellstutter Sprite, so Junya replaced it with a Hillcomber Giant. Stuck without Black mana, Olivier tried for a Faerie Harbinger but it fell to a Broken Ambitions, leaving him with nothing in play and no plays he could make. When his next draw failed to deliver a Swamp, Oli scooped up his cards in the face of the relentless Mountainwalker.

Olivier led Game 2 with an Island, a Mountain and thankfully, a Swamp before landing one of his Dreamspoiler Witches. Junya was attacking back in the air with an Avian Changeling and a Pestermite, but was missing his fourth land drop. After throwing a Peppersmoke and a Tarfire at Junya's men, Liliana Vess joined Olivier's side, and promptly started wearing away at Junya's hand. Junya rallied with a Hillcomber Giant, who wasted little time in attacking Liliana. Olivier played another Witches, and his Spellstutter Sprite powered them up to flat out kill an incoming Kinsbaile Balloonist. Olivier attacked back with his Witches and a few ground pounders, and Junya could see he wasn't going to win the race when he wasn't even attacking his main opponent, and soon packed it up in favor of Game 3.

Junya started the last game on the attack, sending his Kithkin Healer in for some early beats with Silvergill Douser backup. Oli dropped the Douser with a raw Peppersmoke, and made a Spiderwig Boggart so he could get in on the damage as well. Junya added a Sentinels of Glen Elendra and a Plover Knights to his board while Oli dug with his Fathom Trawl. A Dreamspoiler Witches fell afoul of a Broken Ambitions, which revealed a Mirror Entity waiting for Junya. Olivier could only tap down the Plover Knights with his Stonybrook Angler and wait for it to hit. When Junya finally when all in, throwing six mana into the Entity, Olivier popped the Healer with a Tarfire and chumped the Changeling to barely stay alive. Oli untapped and killed the Entity with a Hurly-Burly, but couldn't do enough to stop Junya's flyers from finishing him off.

Junya Iyanaga defeats Olivier Ruel 2-1

Sunday, November 11: 5:40p.m. – The Top 8 Draft with Olivier Ruel

by Raphael Levy

Olivier Ruel came back from the edge of elimination to make the Top 8 playoffs. Saturday around 7 p.m., he had his back against the wall, needing to win his last round in order to make Day Two. He was then paired against yours truly, and since then, has not dropped a match. That is what it takes, ladies and gentleman, to make the final 8 of a tournament: skills, focus, composure... and a little bit of luck.

We had been talking a lot about Lorwyn draft before this tournament, and the conclusion we drew is that drafting black offers the most possibilities. You are open to drafting Elves and Treefolk, not totally closed to Giants, and more importantly, open to Faeries and Goblins which are in our opinions, the two best tribes.

Olivier had been successfully drafting Faeries in his first draft with a 3-0 record, and Goblins in the second draft, winning two rounds and drawing in the top 8 against Kenji Tsumura.

With all this in mind, Olivier opened his first pack. Out of it, the first good card he revealed was a Tar Pitcher that he swiftly placed as a potential first pick... unless he would reveal something better, or that would contradict it. Fodder Launch and Boggart Mob were sitting in the same pack, making a first-pick Tar Pitcher a dangerous gambit. The other playable cards were Giant Harbinger and Woodland Changeling. Olivier weighted the balance between the most powerful cards, and the cards he would most likely be playing, and went for the Mob, knowing it was highly probable that he would waste his pick.

He was passed a mediocre second pack, featuring Faerie Harbinger, Avian Changeling and Dolmen Gate. Following his theory, he went for the Faerie. The Dolmen is a huge card for a fast aggro deck, that you would want to open preferably in the third pack, when you know it is going to be a house. Committing to it early either closes your possibilities or wastes you a pick.

He then drafted Moonglove Extract over Pestermite as the only blue card and other playables. He picked a card he card he was 100% sure he would play it over the Pestermite, that would have clearly signaled that blue was cut, but it was just not worth the trouble.

Fathom Trawl was his next pick over a Harpoon Sniper. He had seen no trace of Merfolk and as he had in mind to go on with Faeries, the Trawl, a very powerful card drawer was the right pick.

From then on, the packs became empty. Olivier took a couple of playable black and white cards, and clearly signaled that Merfolk was open, passing a second and third Harpoon Sniper.

The second pack offered Colfenor's Plans, Peppersmoke and Pestermite. Olivier went for the Peppersmoke, feeling bad about passing the plans (more about this card later). Shapesharer, Faerie Harbinger or Sentinels of Glen Elendra? Close call, but Oli took the rare. Cheap, efficient, it can turn the tide of a game when you have targets and enough mana to take full advantage of it.

The deck did not look very exciting so far, but things were about to change. Except for the Fodder Launch, Oli did not pass a single black card in the first pack, and he was rewarded for that. Dreamspoiler Witches showed up... in numbers! The second witch came after a Peppersmoke (that followed Witches number one), then Witches number three... and four joined the clan. Quite an impressive turn of events, as at that point, Oli's deck was lacking a bit of focus. From then on, he tried to fill the deck to support the black flyers.

Colfenor's Plans came back, a very underestimated card. While you will seldom have ways to get rid of it (Oblivion Ring, Æthersnipe, Wispmare), this card has potential that many players seem to ignore. Think about it from this angle:

  • You will play this card when you have no more plays from your hand.
  • When you play it, it is exactly like if you were drawing seven cards. The one-spell limit a turn is not that big of a deal (remember you had no cards when you played it right?). If you think the game will last more than 7 turns, then you should not play it. But with seven more cards in your hand, that usually does it.
  • If you're playing with clash cards, you are most likely to win all of them, because if your top card is a spell, it is unlikely that you'll send it to the bottom. So that means, chances to win clashes every turn and make cards like Captivating Glance much better... think about it.

After pack two, Oli's deck was missing instants and cheap creatures to lower his mana curve. But everyone will always have a use for a bomb, Oli's third pack offered him a goodie: Planeswalker Liliana Vess would sell her services to the French mage.

In his desperate search for instants, and if possible removal spells, Olivier took two Tarfires out of the following two packs. He would just need to find ways to cast them, in addition to his already drafted Vivid Marsh. The rest of the pack gave him a couple of more playables, Thieving Sprites, a Stonybrook Angler. Among the few decisions he had to take later on, Vivid Creek or Wanderer's Twig. While it is arguable, Oli went for the Twig. In case he had already too many playables, the twig would take a precious slot in the deck, whereas the Creek is just one of 17 or 18 lands, or let's say, a "free fixer." When there were only 5 cards left in the pack, Oli received a second twig, making his splash a very affordable one.

Thanks to the two twigs and the Creek, Oli was able to splash Gilt-Leaf Ambush, to add an extra instant to his deck and a fine way to stall the ground.

Sunday, November 11: 8:37p.m. – The Finals: Shouta Yasooka vs Junya Iyanaga

by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

And then there were two. Junya Iyanaga has had just a single Grand Prix top 8 appearance before this one, but despite his relative inexperience in the face of Pro Tour winner and multiple Grand Prix top 8 competitor Shouta Yasooka, he did just beat Olivier Ruel with his smooth controlling Blue/White draft deck.

Shouta stumbled into Game 1, missing his third land drop and having to ask his two drops to drum up extra mana with a Springleaf Drum just to play a Battlewand Oak. When he finally drew a third land to play a Bog-Strider Ash, Junya was waiting with a Broken Ambitions. After losing the clash, Shouta moved his card to the bottom to increase his chances of drawing more land, only to have the Counterspell mill four of them off the top. Meanwhile, Junya was swinging in with some flyers, and the Cloudcrown Oak Shouta played the following turn unopposed indicated that Junya may have been a little hasty in countering the Bog-Strider, which would have posed very little threat to him.

Now back in the game, even if only just, Shouta was still having trouble drawing more land to play out his hand. Junya found a Goldmeadow Harrier to start pushing damage past the Cloudcrown Oak, and soon added his Mirror Entity to the board. Shouta's next card earned a hiss of disapproval from its owner for obviously being yet another non-land card. On the next turn when Junya's Entity beefed up his army to 4/4 all 'round, Shouta peeked at the top card of his deck and found the land he had been waiting, four lands actually. He could only shake his head while shuffling up for Game 2.

Shouta made his third land-drop in this game, and played back to back Battlewand Oaks, but found their progress impeded by a Goldmeadow Harrier. Again he couldn't continue laying lands and needed to use an Elvish Harbinger to power out his Cloudcrown Oak, and follow it with the Jagged-Scar Archers they fetched. The Oak stopped Junya's Sentinels of Glen Elendra from attacking and he was forced to play out the rest of his guys for plan B, which followed a few turns later, the Mirror Entity. Shouta ripped the fourth land he needed off the top to throw a Weed Strangle at the Changeling, only to have Junya calmly tap two Blue and bounce his Judge of Currents to protect it with a Familiar's Ruse.

A second land off the top for Shouta allowed him to slam a Vigor into play and start attacking back. Junya began carefully managing his tap effects and ensuring he had enough bodies to power up the Mirror Entity without letting too much damage through from Green 6/6 Incarnation. Peering at the board position and counting up the damage in front of him, Junya finally pushed all of his men into the red zone. Shouta tried to find the optimal way to block, take down the Entity and still survive but he just couldn't find it. When Junya indicated his willingness to turn all of his men into 5/5's Shouta scooped up cards and offered his hand in congratulations.

Junya Iyanaga defeats Shouta Yasooka and wins Grand Prix-Kitakyuushuu!