With so many good Japanese Magic players in the field at GP Kobe, it's no surprise that two would meet sooner rather than later. The sixth round brought a match between Pro Tour Hall of Famer, Kenji Tsumura, and Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion, Kazuyuki Takimura.
Kenji Tsumura brought the same deck this weekend that he brought last weekend: Abzan. Although the Hall of Famer was eliminated from GP Brussels with a subpar 5-3 record, he decided to continue attacking his opponents with Siege Rhinos, Den Protectors, Heir of the Wilds, and Warden of the First Trees again this weekend. The biggest change that he made was the addition of Nissa, Vastwood Seer, to his sideboard. The deck has treated him well thus far, sitting with only a single loss as a blemish on his record.
It's a little surprising, then, that Kazayuki Takimura decided to change decks from his victory at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. This weekend he switched from Abzan to Rally the Ancestors. Takimura was afraid that he was going to face a bunch of Abzan mirror matches—a matchup he wasn't looking forward to playing—and thought that the Rally had all the tools he needed to win this weekend.
Kazuyuki Takimura (left) and Kenji Tsumura (right)
Tsumura started the match off with a perfect Abzan curve for the first game: Heir of the Wilds into Anafenza, the Foremost into Gideon, Ally of Zendikar. Takimura was only able to muster three copies of Catacomb Sifters.
While Tsumura's start was about all he could ask for, the Catacomb Sifters allowed Takimura to buy time with the Eldrazi Scion tokens and scry through a good portion of his deck.
The board got clogged up a little bit as Tsumura added more creatures to the board along with creating a Gideon emblem. With damage coming through every turn, time was running short for the Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar champion.
After scrying a couple of times and drawing a couple more cards, Takimura was unable to produce anything and fell to Tsumura's army a couple turns later.
Tsumura 1—0 Takimura
When Tsumura cast and attacked with a second copy of Warden of the First Tree, Takimura responded with Collected Company, bringing a pair of Catacomb Sifters into play. Takimura double blocked the Warden and Tsumura followed the exchange up with Siege Rhino.
The game went back and forth from there: Silkwrap traded with a Catacomb Sifter, Valorous Stance took out an Anafenza, the Foremost. When the dust settled Takimura was left with a pair of Eldrazi Scion tokens.
Takimura was able to play and transform Jace and, with it, was able to flash back Collected Company putting a Nantuko Husk into play. Tsumura found a Den Protector and used it to return Anafenza to his hand.
With Anafenza in play, Takimura was seemingly in a bad spot. Takimura had another idea, though. He cast Rally the Ancestors for 3 and brought his entire graveyard back. He attacked with his Husk and forced Tsumura to chump block with his legend. With Anafenza dead and no answer to the Husk paired with creatures to feed on, Tsumura got ready for the third game.
Tsumura 1—1 Takimura
Tsumura started the third game off with an aggressive face up Den Protector on the second turn. His aggression payed off on his third turn when he used a Dromoka's Command to power up the Den Protector and take out Takimura's newly minted Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.
It came down to a classic race between combo deck and aggro deck: Tsumura added Siege Rhino to the battlefield while Takimura started to prepare with Catacomb Sifter, Nantuko Husk, and Zulaport Cutthroat.
Takimura had the Rally the Ancestors, but only a single source of White mana—a cost of casting his second turn Jace. Sitting at 5 life and facing down Tsumura's creatures he reached for the top of his deck. When it didn't yield a white source, Takimura extended his hand.
Kenji Tsumura wins the match 2-1 over Kazuyuki Takimura.