Heading into the final round of the day, tensions were high. After this round only 8 players could continue playing here at Grand Prix Kobe. Two of them sat down in the feature match to decide their fates.
On one side sat two-time Pro Tour Top 8 Competitor Kotaro Ostuka. Though the Japanese player hasn't made much noise recently, he quietly snuck to a 12-2 record with his Rally the Ancestors deck. With a list very similar to the one Simon Nielsen piloted last weekend in Brussels, he had success with it thus far versus the sea of Abzan he faced in Kobe.
His opponent, Hokkaido native, Akio Chiba has been a solid Magic player with a handful of top 32 finishes at Pro Tours, but so far no Top 8 finishes at Pro Tours or Grand Prix. He decided on Esper Dragons. His list differed from a lot of players in this tournament opting for multiple copies of Painful Truths.
Without a lot of early action Chiba pulled ahead with a sixth turn Silumgar, the Drifting Death.
From there Ostuka attempted to get some card advantage by playing two copies of of Grim Haruspex. Silumgar continued to attack Ostuka before he was eventually able to mount an army and force a standstill.
Akio Chiba (left) and Kotaro Ostuka (right)
At the beginning of Chiba's following turn, Ostuka cast Rally the Ancestors for 5, but Chiba had been holding a hand full of countermagic and used a Clash of Wills to counter the instant. From there he cast Dragonlord Ojutai. Ostuka conceded a turn later.
Chiba 1—0 Ostuka
Ostuka didn't want to give Chiba any breathing room, so he filled his board with a Catacomb Sifter and a Nantuko Husk. Stuck on lands, Chiba was forced to use Dig Through Time to find a pair of them—effectively turning off his Jace for a number of turns.
Chiba was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He wanted to come up with answers for Ostuka's creatures, but also needed to make sure he held up mana for countermagic. He went with the latter and countered Ostuka's Abzan Ascendancy before landing a Silumgar, the Drifting Death. Ostuka used Fleshbag Marauder to remove the dragon on the following turn
Again the game stalled out with a Husk on Ostuka's side and a transformed Jace on Chiba's side. A few turns later, Chiba went for the combo kill: he attacked with Husk and attempted to cast Rally the Ancestors. Chiba had Clash of Wills, but he fell to 3 from Ostuka's Husk.
Chiba removed the insect with an Ultimate Price and looked poised to win the game with a hand full of countermagic when time in the round was called. With Ostuka unable to close the game out the match ended with a 1-0-1 victory for Chiba.
Akio Chiba wins the match and seemingly locks up a Top 8 berth!