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

By Josh Bennett

The Players

One of the smilingest men in Magic, Ken Yukuhiro made a big splash with his semifinals appearance at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, and put up four Grand Prix Top 8's in 2013, including a win at Singapore. This weekend he's come armed with a further refinement of the Rock with White deck, adding the power of Hero of Bladehold and spot removal in the form of Path to Exile.

This round he squares off against Japan's Dandy in Chief, Katsuhiro Mori. He may have lost a step since his heyday as World Champion in 2005, but he has remained dedicated to playing the game at the top levels, and is a fixture on the Japanese GP scene. His deck this weekend earned a lot of puzzled looks. It's a blue-red combo deck, but in this case the storm is Possibility Storm. The key combo is getting a Storm into play, then casting the deck's one Ornithopter (tutored up by transmuting Tolaria West, usually) and then hitting the deck's only other creature, Emrakul, the Aeons Torn. Through the Breach provides a backup solution.

Katsuhiro Mori

Both players managed to sneak into Day 2 with the minimumm 7-2 record. However, the road to greatness runs over the bodies of enemies defeated. Only one would remain in Top 8 contention.

The Games

Yukuhiro was stalled on just two lands, and without green mana early in game one. Inquisition of Kozilek and Thoughtseize taxed Mori's hand, and he churned through his deck with all four Serum Visions. Yukuhiro finally hit his third land and bot on the board with Lingering Souls. Another Thoughtseize drew out Cryptic Command the turn after, clearing the way to resolve Tarmogoyf.

Ken Yukuhiro

Now Mori was on a clock. He kept Hero of Bladehold at bay with Remand and dug further with Think Twice. He transmuted Tolaria West into Ornithopter, but he still had no Possibility Storm. Yukuhiro flashed back Lingering Souls to put lethal on the board. Mori flashed back Think Twice at end of turn, untapped, and drew. His eyes swept the board once, and then he packed up his cards.

Yukuhiro 1 - Mori 0

Yukuhiro sideboarded heavily, taking out his slower threats and useless removal. It looked good for him early in the second game when a first-turn Inquisition of Kozilek left Mori with nothing but lands in hand. Mori was unable to stop the Tarmogoyf that followed, so his deck would have to be kind.

He managed to find a Think Twice that served up Serum Visions. Mirran Crusader hit play for Yukuhiro, but Mori had found Lightning Bolt. Another hit from the Tarmogoyf left him at twelve, and this time Yukuhiro got Hero of Bladehold to stick. Mori transmuted for Ornithopter and passed with two mana open. Yukuhiro ripped Thoughtseize, and his excitement was visible as he checked to make sure the way was clear, and then attacked with all his creatures. Mori nodded, taking the damage, then did a double-take. He had miscounted, and Yukuhiro had just hit him for lethal.

Ken Yukuhiro defeats Katsuhiro Mori 2-0