Posted in GRAND PRIX KOBE 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 23, 2014

By Ben Swartz

Pro Tour Journey into Nyx Finalist, Nam Sung Wook made the trip to Kobe with a pair of his MTG Mint Card teammates, Kuo Tzu Ching and Li Shi Tian. All three of them opted to play Blue-Red-Green Scapeshift this weekend. The Modern staple attempts to get seven or eight lands in play with mana accelerants such as Sakura Tribe Elder and Search for Tomorrow before using Scapeshift to put into play Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle and a number of Mountains, instantly dealing an opponent lethal damage.

His opponent was Japanese veteran, Kenichiro Arai. Arai has had high level tournament finishes since the late 2000s, but has yet to make a Grand Prix or Pro Tour top eight. This weekend, he brought his White-Blue-Red midrange deck into battle. Including high impact creatures such as Wall of Omens, Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, and Vendilion Clique, along with a countermagic suite, he hoped to land a creature and ride it to victory while countering anything that got in the way.

The Games

The first game started off slowly; Nam set up his draws with Serum Visions and Telling Time, while Arai played some Celestial Colonnades and a Wall of Omens.

At the end Arai's fourth turn, Nam attempted to use Cryptic Command, hoping to bounce one of Arai's Celestial Colonnades and draw a card. Arai responded with a Vendilion Clique.

Clique revealed a landless hand from Nam, which included a singleton copy of Scapeshift. Arai pushed the four-mana sorcery to the bottom of Nam's library.

Removing the Scapeshift was not enough, though. When Arai tapped out on the following for a Blade Splicer, Nam untapped and cast Scapeshift sending the match to a second game.

Nam Sung

Nam 1 - 0 Arai

The first big play of the second game was a third turn Vendilion Clique from Arai at the end of Nam's turn. Nam's hand was a little lackluster, only containing two lands, a Snapcaster Mage and Negate. Unsurprisingly, Arai let Nam keep all four of the cards.

Arai continued to get in for damage with his Vendilion Clique and cast a Blade Splicer. Nam continued to build up the number of lands in play and looked for his deck's namesake card, Scapeshift.

With Nam sitting at 10 life, Arai attacked in with his army. During combat, Nam cast Telling Time and then attempted to use Snapcaster Mage to flash it back and provide himself with a blocker. When Arai tried to counter the Mage with a Spell Snare, Nam slammed down a Negate. Arai, however, had a Negate of his own to make sure the 2/1 never entered play.

The attack knocked Nam down to 3, and Arai finished off the South Korean native with a Lightning Bolt.

Kenichiro Arai

Nam 1 - 1 Arai

Nam started game three with a pair of Sakura Tribe Elders, using them to accelerate into a fourth turn Batterskull. When Nam attacked with the Living Weapon on the following turn, Arai attempted to use Lighting Bolt and Snapcaster Mage to take it out. Nam had a Negate for the second time Lightning Bolt was cast, forcing Arai to trade off his Snapcaster Mage in order to remove the Germ.

Arai then presented a pair of threats in the form of Restoration Angel and Vendilion Clique. Restoration Angel was okay, but Vendilion Clique prompted an Izzet Charm from Nam. Arai, unphased, used a Spell Snare to keep his 3/1 alive.

Arai got a peek at Nam's hand which contained a pair of Scapeshifts, a Snapcaster Mage and a Cryptic Command. Arai, again, was content with Nam keeping his hand.

It was made clear when Arai untapped why he had done this. With Nam sitting on only three untapped lands, Arai was able to resolve a Kiki-Jiki Mirror Breaker, which, with Restoration Angel secured the match for Arai.

Kenichiro Arai wins 2-1 over Nam Sung Wook