Posted in GRAND PRIX KOBE 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 24, 2014

By Ben Swartz

A massive crowd gathered as the headline quarterfinals began. On one side sat 14th ranked Yuuiki Ichikawa and his Blue-Red Splinter Twin deck. Unlike many Splinter Twin players this weekend, Ichikawa had opted not to taint his deck with Tarmogoyfs--keeping his two card combo deck clean and simple. Though Ichikawa already has two Pro Tour top eights on his resume, a Grand Prix top eight had eluded him until now. He earned it by winning a nail biting match in round fifteen and praying that his tiebreakers would carry him through.

His opponent, Yuusei Gotou, on the other hand, was able to intentionally draw his way into the top eight. Escaping the swiss rounds with only one loss, Gotou headed into battle with his innovative "No Affinity" deck. Gotou's deck was named as such because his artifact based deck included zero cards with the Affinity keyword. In their place, Gotou had access to serious heavy hitters: 4 of each Tarmogoyf, Ensoul Artifact, Shrapnel Blast, and Galvanic Blast. Throughout the weekend Gotou had been able to get through massive damage with his large creatures and finish opponents off with burn.

The Games

While Ichikawa begrudgingly kept 5 cards, he was happy to see that Gotou did not have the most explosive draw that his deck could muster: turn one Memnite, turn two Cranial Plating.

Gotou pried into Ichikawa's hand on the third turn with a Thoughtseize revealing that Ichikawa had only lands.

Yuuki Ichikawa

While Gotou's hand was not explosive, Cranial Plating was able to tack on six points of damage when Gotou equipped it to his Memnite. Noticing that his future was bleak, Ichikawa packed up his cards and headed for his sideboard.

Gotou 1-0 Ichikawa

Gotou's start in the second game consisted of a singleton Vault Skirge. When Ichikawa used Lightning Bolt to remove the 1/1 flyer, Gotou was unable to attain Metalcraft, leaving him with a useless Mox Opal and only a single mana source.

Yuusei Gotou

Gotou was able to land another artifact--Chromatic Star-- a few turns later, allowing him to landa Tarmogoyf. By this time it had already grown to be a 5/6. While Ichikawa had the counter in the form of Sower of Temptation, Gotou used a Path To Exile to regain control of his Lhurgoyf.

Ichikawa found a Relic of Progenitus on his next turn and used it in combination with a Lightning Bolt to remove the Tarmogoyf.

Gotou had an opening to land a pair of Cranial Platings and a Vault Skirge. Holding all the answers Ichikawa cast and sacrificed an Engineered Explosives on 2, destroying all three of Gotou's newly minted artifacts.

Gotou's final two cards were a third copy of Cranial Plating and a Thoughtseize. He cast thoughtseize and saw what could only be described as a nightmare: Ancient Grudge, Anger of the Gods and Spell Snare. Gotou took the Ancient Grudge and fired up his Blinkmoth Nexus and equipped it with Plating. Ichikawa immediately flashed back his Ancient Grudge to destroy not the Plating but the Nexus.

Gotou peeled a second Blinkmoth Nexus and halved Ichikawa's life total dropping him to 6.

Ichikawa used Sower of Temptation to provide a blocker for the Blinkmoth Nexus. Gotou used his following turn to bait out Ichikawa's Spell Snare with a Tarmogoyf, allowing for him to cast Whipflare on the following turn.

Gotou allowed his Blinkmoth Nexus to get Lightning Bolted and baited out Ichikawa's Anger of the Gods with a Memnite and resolved a Vault Skirge.

When Gotou equipped the Vault Skirge with Cranial Plating and attacked, Ichikawa revealed his hand full of lands and wished his opponent luck in the semifinals.

Yuusei Gotou defeats Yuuki Ichikawa 2-0