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

By Josh Bennett

The Players

You probably don't recognize Yuusei Gotou, but you may very well be familiar with his work. A renowned deck designer from Nagoya, it was his design that put Naoki Nakada into the Top 8 of Pro Tour Paris in 2011. Naturally he's playing a brew this weekend, an innovative take on Affinity.

This round he squared off against Issui Matsuda, an amateur hoping to make his mark this weekend with Jund. Both are already locked for Day 2 with perfect 7-0 records, and are looking to continue their winning ways.

The Games

Matsuda laughed at his first seven cards and sent them packing. Gotou joined him in a mulligan, and both stayed on six with some reluctance. The cause for Gotou's concern was revealed by Matsuda's Inquisition of Kozilek: He'd kept a hand that couldn't yet produce mana. Matsuda stole Memnite and left behind Mox Opal, Shrapnel Blast, Vault Skirge, Galvanic Blast and Cranial Plating. Gotou plucked Ornithopter, then put it and the Mox Opal into play. Matsuda pulled the trigger on Abrupt Decay for the Mox Opal.

Issui Matsuda

Unfortunately for Matsuda, Gotou ripped Mana Confluence the following turn, activating half his cards. He started with Vault Skirge, and then Thoughtseize the following turn. Now it was Matsuda's turn to be embarrassed. He turned over a hand of only lands. Things got worse for him from there. Gotou drew Blinkmoth Nexus and used it to cast a 5/6 Tarmogoyf. Matsuda summoned Dark Confidant, but remembering the nine points of burn waiting in Gotou's hand, he could only chump. It wasn't long before Gotou took the game.

Gotou 1 - Matsuda 0

Matsuda showed some relief as he kept his opener, but there was none for Gotou, who went to six, and then five. He got on the board with Ornithopter, Glimmervoid and Vault Skirge on his first turn. Matsuda played Dark Confidant. Gotou Thoughtseized away a dangerous Anger of the Gods, but saw a hand full of goodies for Matsuda. Gotou played a second Glimmervoid and passed.

He winced as Dark Confidant revealed a Terminate for Matsuda, seeing all too clearly what was coming. He knocked his deck but couldn't find another artifact to put into play. Terminate at end of turn, and then Nature's Claim on Matsuda's turn left Gotou's Glimmervoids unsupported. His whole board had gone into the bin. He saw no point in playing on.

Gotou 1 - Matsuda 1

A bit of fine-tuning from the sideboard for Matsuda and they were off. It started with Darksteel Citadel, then Glimmervoid and a sad 0/1 Tarmogoyf for Gotou. Matsuda played out fetchlands and waited. Cranial Plating "supercharged" the 'goyf into a 2/1 ("Nice Bonesplitter" said a nearby Shuuhei Nakamura) and Gotou swung in. Matsuda weighed his options carefully. He popped both his fetches for basics and dropped Abrupt Decay on the Tarmogoyf.

Gotou summoned a replacement that hit play as a more respectable 3/4. Matsuda continued to play a reactive game, waiting to deploy his spells. However, he had no answer in hand for what was up Gotou's sleeve: Ensoul Artifact on Darksteel Citadel. Terminate took care of Tarmogoyf, but Matsuda took five across the chops. He passed another turn without a play. Again Gotou sent the Ensouled Citadel, and now Matsuda was down to the single digits. Gotou didn't even bother equipping the Plating, preferring to keep his mana open. He just played Memnite and passed.

Yuusei Gotou

It all seemed to spell doom for Matsuda, but he played on. Dark Confidant bought Matsuda a turn's respite from Citadel attacks, but only because Gotou was happy to put him at the mercy of his Confidant triggers. There was also the problem of the two metalcrafted Galvanic Blasts that joined the trigger on the stack.

Yuusei Gotou defeats Issui Matsuda 2-1

The Aftermath

Naturally I had to get the lowdown on Gotou's creation. He said he had been working for a way to solve Affinity's problems. Sure, it was a great game one deck, but then your opponent hit the sideboard and dismantled you in the next two games. Tarmogoyf was the first step, a powerful non-artifact threat, but as Gotou kept tinkering he realized that he was really building what he calls "Not Affinity" - No Signal Pests, no Steel Overseers, no Etched Oracles. Instead it boasts the full complement of Ensoul Artifacts and a deadly burn package. The other advantage is that because he has fewer interdependent cards he's able to sideboard more effectively.