GRAND PRIX KOBE 2008
The Faerie Tale Continues
August 1-3, 2008
Yuuta Takahashi and the Fae, it’s a match that can’t be beat. Quite literally, it turns out. After taking home the title in Shizuoka earlier this year, Takahashi has once again come out on top, with what practically amounts to the same deck. Showing an incredible aptitude with the archetype, he bested Katsuya Ueda in the mirror to take the quarterfinals, Masaya Tanahashi with Kithkin, also known as The Other best Deck in the semifinals, and Takayuki Takagi and his Doran, the Siege Tower deck in the finals. Congratulations to Yuuta Takahashi, the first back to back Japanese Grand Prix Champion!
Meanwhile, the Summer of Magic is set to continue. Next stop, Denver, Colorado August 9-10. Will Faeries continue to take home titles, or will one of the many other decks, as we’ve seen here in Kobe this weekend, step up to take down the Fae? Keep it locked here at magicthegathering.com and we’ll keep you in the know.
top 8 bracket
(1) Masaya Tanahashi
(8) Tsuyoshi Ikeda
(4) Katsuya Ueda
(5) Yuuta Takahashi
(2) Shou Yoshimori
(7) Koutarou Ootsuka
(3) Hirosi Yosida
(6) Takayuki Takagi
Masaya Tanahashi, 2-1
Yuuta Takahashi, 2-1
Shou Yoshimori, 2-1
Takayuki Takagi, 2-1
Yuuta Takahashi, 2-1
Takayuki Takagi, 2-0
Yuuta Takahashi, 2-1
- Finals: Twice in a Row?
Takayuki Takagi vs Yuuta Takahashiby Tim Willoughby
Takayuki Takagi versus Shou Yoshimoriby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Semifinals: Battling for the Repeat
Yuuta Takahashi vs Masayasu Tanahashiby Tim Willoughby
Koutarou Ootsuka versus Shou Yoshimori
Masayasu Tanahashi versus Tsuyoshi Ikedaby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Quarterfinals: A Tale of Two matches
Takayuki Takagi vs Hirosi Yosida
Yuuta Takahashi vs Katsuya Uedaby Tim Willoughby
- Info: Day 2 Breakdown
by Jun’ya Takahashi
- Info : Top 8 Player Profiles
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info : Top 8 Decklists
by Event Coverage Staff
- Feature: Ask the Artists
by Tim Willoughby
- Round 15: White Lightning
Shuu Komuro vs Masayasu Tanahashiby Tim Willoughby
- Feature: Deck Tech with Shuuhei Nakamura
by Tim Willoughby
- Round 14:
Naoki Shimizu versus Katsuya Uedaby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Round 13: Heating Up
Makihito Mihara versus Koutarou Ootsukaby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Blog: 12:35pm - Wary of the Heat
by Tim Willoughby
- Round 12:
Shuuhei Nakamura versus Takakuyi Takagiby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Info: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
by Tim Willoughby
- Round 11: Keeping the Streak Alive
Masayasu Tanahashi vs Tsuyoshi Ikedaby Tim Willoughby
- Round 10: Shhh Happens
Katsuya Ueda versus Tsuyoshi Ikedaby Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw
- Round 10: The Best Skizzik Ever
Shuuhei Nakamura vs Shingo Kuriharaby Tim Willoughby
- Info : Day 2 Player List
by Event Coverage Staff
- Day 1 Blog: Feature Matches, Player Lists, All the fun of the fair, and much more!
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info : Day 1 Player List
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Fact Sheet
by Event Coverage Staff
|1. Yuuta Takahashi||$4,000|
|2. Takayuki Takagi||$3,000|
|3. Masaya Tanahashi||$2,000|
|4. Shou Yoshimori||$2,000|
|5. Hirosi Yosida||$1,500|
|6. Katsuya Ueda||$1,500|
|7. Koutarou Ootsuka||$1,500|
|8. Tsuyoshi Ikeda||$1,500|
pairings, results, standings
Round 10: The Best Skizzik Ever - Shuuhei Nakamura vs Shingo Kurihara
Every now and then a feature match slips through the cracks. Sometimes, while trying to find a really interesting match to cover at speed around the time that pairings are posted, you just miss the big match between two name players. This can be a little awkward to say the least. There was no way that I was missing this one though. I’ve been waiting for a good opportunity to feature Shuuhei Nakamura’s deck since round 4 yesterday. Dubbed ‘the greedy deck’ it is yet another original creation to come from Nakamura who has been having a wickedly good season, and is currently pushing to become Player of the Year.
Nakamura won the die roll and elected to play. He had a dangerous looking turn two Bitterblossom to his opponent’s Bloom Tender, but followed up with Silvergill Adept, revealing Stonybrook Banneret. This was not your average faeries deck.
Kurihara comes out swinging!Kurihara wasn’t trying anything cute or clever. His elemental beatdown deck, as designed by Tomoharu Saito does have some tricks, but let there be no doubt, it is basically a deck that makes massive monsters and swings. He cast Chamelion Colossus and passed. Nakamura cracked in in the air with a Faerie Rogue, and took a hit back from the Colossus. He had mana up ready for something, but allowed Shriekmaw to kill his Adept, before playing Cryptic Command on an evoked Mulldrifter, bouncing that Colossus.
Shuuhei seemed content to let Bitterblossom be his offence, keeping his mana up during Kurihara’s turns. He had another Cryptic Command for that Colossus when Kurihara tried to replay it, and attacked to make the life totals 12 each before playing Stonybrook Banneret, leaving two mana up.
A pained expression came across Shuuhei’s face. This could be tough.
After a little thought, Kurihara slammed a Firespout onto the table. If it resolved, that would be the ball game...
Nakamura scooped up his cards.
Shuuhei Nakamura 0 – 1 Shingo Kurihara
During sideboarding, Kurihara complained that he didn’t know what to take out or put in... not so surprising against the hybrid deck of Nakamura’s. Tempted to put in all 15, then take out 15 at random, he eventually settled on an ideal configuration, declaring proudly that he’d done some pretty weird sideboarding. Shuuhei was all smiles. Going first for game 2, his changes had been quick, and appeared powerful against elementals – including a set of Puppeteer Cliques which would surely have plenty of targets.
On the play, Nakamura kept a five land hand, and had to show it off on Kurihara’s very first turn, when Thoughtseize came along, taking Stonybrook Banneret, leaving just Sower of Temptation as a spell in his hand. There were two Mutavaults there, so it was certainly far from bad news.
The bad news was for Kuriahara. When he played Bloom Tender, he found that Nakamura had topdecked a Peppersmoke, which along with Mutavault even drew Nakamura a card. Nakamura, short on counterspells, went on the offensive. With his land heavy draw, Mirror Entity looked quite the threat. Kurihara had another Thoughtseize, which took that Sower of Temptation, and revealed nothing but lands beyond that.
Nakamura carefully plans his next move.Somehow, Nakamura remained the beatdown in what had started quite a strange game. His Mirror Entity rumbled in for five, taking Kurihara to 9. Shingo struck back though, with a Horde of Notions who off a Smokebraider that had come the turn before. This alone looked quite the threat, as it could get back Nameless Inversion at any time, assuming that Kurihara could find the five mana he needded.
At the end of Nakamura’s turn, this is exactly what Kurihara did. The ‘best Skizzik ever’ as described by Tomoharu Saito tried it’s best to off Mirror Entity, but a Cryptic Command countered the spell, and bounced the legend.
It came straight back down again, and attacked Nakamura to 5. The legend on its own looked likely to be able to do the full 20. If ever there was a time for thinking for Nakamura it was now. His back against the wall, he did the maths of how a big Mirror Entity attack should go. He had 9 damage to do, but there were two blockers up to his potential two attackers. Horde of Notions and Smokebraider vs Mirror Entity and Mutavault didn’t excite Nakamura too much. After much thought, he ran in with just Mirror Entity, taking out Smokebraider. he then played Puppeteer Clique, removing that Smokebraider from the game.
The persist faerie would be a troublesome blocker for that Horde of Notions, or a powerful attacker given that Mirror Entity. Unfortunately for Nakamura though, there was an on board trick that would work for Kurihara. Nameless Inversion on his own Horde of Notions would allow sufficient trample damage through. Would Kurihara spot it?
Unfortunately for Nakamura, he did.
Shingo Kurihara defeats Shuuhei Nakamura 2-0!
Round 10: Shhh Happens - Katsuya Ueda versus Tsuyoshi Ikeda
As day one came to a close, three undefeated players remained. While Masayasu Tanahashi was paired down to play off against one of the 8-1’s, Katsuya Ueda and Tsuyoshi Ikeda dutifully took up residence on table one. Of course, we were having none of that, and herded them towards the feature match area.
Ueda takes control of the situationOn paper, Ikeda definitely has the better matchup here, with his Red deck being one of the better options for taking down the ever present and always strong Faerie decks, much like the one Ueda is running. He even got off to a roaring start with a six on the die to play first, leading with an Intimidator Initiate and a Smokebraider. The ‘Braider fell to a Peppersmoke from Ueda however, before a Bitterblossom came into play. If Ueda was to win any games against Red, this was just the kind of start he needed. The Bitterblossom gave Ueda control of the game, and allowed him to sit back on his mana, leaving himself able to counter any serious threats from Ikeda. A Vexing Shusher went down to a Nameless Inversion, and when Ueda had the Broken Ambitions for a Rage Forger, Ikeda moved for his sideboard to end Game 1.
Both players stalled on two lands briefly in Game 2, each chuckling as Ikeda made small men and Ueda killed them and dropped a Bitterblossom. Once both players had doubled up to four lands each, Ikeda made an Ashenmoor Gouger and Ueda Championed his Bitterblossom to a Mistbind Clique. A Rage Forger beefed up Ikeda’s small men, and a Tarfire helped kill of the Clique, only to see second one come down and a Cryptic Command bounce the Gouger. A Nameless Inversion paired up with a Peppersmoke to kill the Gouger when it returned, but Ikeda found and played a Vexing Shusher, that allowed him to topdeck a Rage Forger and play it unfettered. Ueda counted up the number of +1/+1 counters on Ikeda’s creatures and with an impending attack step, scooped up his cards.
Ikeda stacks his draws with Elemental HarbingerBoth players started a little slower in Game 3, with no turn one drop for Ikeda, and Ueda’s Bitterblossom not arriving until turn three. Ikeda played a Vexing Shusher, Harbinger’d up another Rage Forger and deployed a Smokebraider. Although Ueda was going to soon have an Army of Faeries to defend him, he wasn’t going to be able to stop Ikeda from practically dropping his hand into play the over the next two turns. Sure enough, down came another Shusher and the Forger pushed past a Spellstutter Sprite, which was at least able to trade with an incoming Smokebraider. Meanwhile, Ueda dropped dangerously low on life. With two Shushers already in play, Ikeda flashed Ueda a hand full of Flame Javelins, Flame Jabs, acetylene torches and a single box of matches. The Faerie player hurriedly packed up his cards with a laugh.
Tsuyoshi Ikeda defeats Katsuya Ueda 2-1
Round 11: Keeping the Streak Alive - Masayasu Tanahashi vs Tsuyoshi Ikeda
This would be it – following the showdown in round 11, there would be just one undefeated player left at Grand Prix Kobe. On one side of the table, Masayasu Tanahashi, playing a Kithkin deck greatly bolstered by the presence of the one man battle, Figure of Destiny. Opposing him, the finely chapeau-ed Tsuyoshi Ikeda, with the Red Shaman deck designed by Tsuyoshi Fujita, containing such Eventide hits as Flame Jab and a set of Thunderbluffs, which are capable of dealing a huge amount of damage if left unopposed.
Tanahashi deals a beating.Tanahashi won the roll and led with Goldemeadow Stalwart. Ikeda had Flamekin Harbinger for Smokebraider, and had to look on as the beats began as early as turn two. He used a Tarfire on Knight of Meadowgrain before it could get active, but continued to take beats from that turn one 2/2, and could only look on as Spectral Procession filled up Tanahashi’s board.
Smokebraider and another Harbinger came down from Ikeda, the latter fetching Rage Forger – the elemental that cold spell a huge amount of damage. That damage would need to be quick coming, as Ikeda dropped to 9 on attacks. Another Knight of Meadowgrain briefly graced the board with its presence, only for Tarfire to finish it off before it could get out of hand.
Rage Forger powered up Team Red, and Wizened Cenn did much the same for... oh wait, most of Tanahashi’s Team White were Spirits, and as such unconcerned with the Cenn, Wizened or otherwise. Tanahashi attacked Ikeda down to 6 with his creatures, cast Figure of Destiny, and prepared for a Big Red Assault.
Ikeda cocked his hat to a jaunty angle, and had a look at the situation. There were 3 blockers up, and he had 13 damage to deal. He couldn’t find that damage. Instead, he cast a Thunderbluff and passed. Tanahashi took the opportunity to get in for 3 in the air, played a Knight of Meadowgrain and another Figure of Destiny. The game seemed to be slipping from Tanahashi’s grasp. While the board was locked up on the ground, in the air, those Spirit tokens were going unopposed. It was after much though that Ikeda ruefully used a Flame Javelin on one of them just to keep himself from dying. When Cloudgoat Ranger showed up for Tanahashi, that was enough.
Masayasu Tanahashi 1 – 0 Tsuyoshi Ikeda
Ikeda returns the beating!Ikeda led off with a Flamekin Harbinger, going straight for Rage Forger. Tanahashi, off a mulligan, had Goldmeadow Stalwart revealing Wizened Cenn. Not the worst mulligan then. The flying start from the red deck was going to be tough to beat though, as back to back Smokebraiders were followed by Rage Forger.
When another Rage Forger came the following turn, Tanahashi was taking 8 damage on the swings before the declare blockers step. With just 2 creatures on the board, he scooped up his cards. This was not a fight the Kithkin could win.
Masayasu Tanahashi 1 – 1 Tsuyoshi Ikeda
Game 3 started with a Burrenton Forge-Tender from Tanahashi, who had no immediate follow-up. Ikeda had a turn two Smokebraider, but winced a little when he saw a Spectral Procession – his bane from game 1. He had an Ashling, the Pilgrim, but would have to get rid of Burrenton Forge-Tender before he could do much with her.
Ajani Goldmane from Tanahashi made the ‘getting rid of Forge-Tender’ plan look rather tough, as the planeswalker effectively shortened the clock on Ikeda by a number of turns, letting the white weenie team bulk up pretty effectively. With a small smile, Tanahashi played Moonglove Extract. He immediately killed the protection from red kithkin. All that was left to worry about were all those Spirits, and the Planeswalker leading them.
As it turns out there was nothing that Ikeda could do. His Ember Gale would no longer be good enough. Another set of pumps and attacks was enough to finish things.
Masayasu Tanahashi defeats Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2-1, advancing to 11-0 in the tournament!
Undefeated Day 1 decklists
After 9 rounds of intense play on Saturday, there were just 3 players undefeated. Each had a different archetype, and each seems a solid one to add to your gauntlet when testing for PT Berlin qualifiers. Does that look like a Tsuyoshi Fujita red deck list? Well, it wouldn’t be a Japanese GP if there wasn’t a good new Fujita red deck undefeated on day one - enjoy!
Round 12: Shuuhei Nakamura versus Takakuyi Takagi
Takakuyi Takagi got off to a strong start with his Wren’s Run Vanquisher charging in and backed up by a Wilt-Leaf Cavalier. Shuuhei Nakamura’s Greedy Three Color Merfolk deck looked like it might run into a spot of difficulty, until of course, a Sower of Temptation took the Cavalier under its wing. A Stonybrook Banneret powered up a Sage’s Dousing from Nakamura to take down a Chameleon Colossus, while a Wolf-Skull Shaman began to fill out Takagi’s side of the table. The Cavalier was doing a great job of holding them back however, while Nakamura was taking every opportunity to send his Sower in for two. Cryptic Command stopped a Nameless Inversion from reversing the tide, but this left room for a Firespout to clear out everything but the Cavalier, who had now returned to its rightful owner. Nakamura recovered with a Merrow Reejerey, and had another Cryptic Command to not only stop Takagi’s Profane Command, but bounce the Cavalier as well. Mirror Entity joined the Reejerey, and together with a Mutavault they began to attack to even up the life totals. With no apparent answer to the Entity, elected to Takagi scoop up his cards.
Takagi watches as Game 1 slips away from himWhen a Treefolk Harbinger tutored up a Doran, the Siege Tower on turn two, and Nakamura missed his third land drop, everybody knew we’d soon be shuffling up for Game 3. I wish I could say more, but repeatedly taking five to the face doesn’t leave much room for literary expression.
The third game looked much better for Nakamura, who had the Nameless Inversion for Takagi’s turn two Wren’s Run Vanquisher, and a Jace Beleren to fill out his hand. Another Vanquisher came down and Nakamura again got a little light fingered, stealing it with a Sower of Temptation. Takagi busted that plan right open with a simple Profane Command for two. Killing the Sower and getting back the recently demised Vanquisher. Nakamura tried to rally with a Stonybrook Banneret and a Merrow Reejerey, but again Takagi decimated the board, this time with a Shriekmaw on the Reejerey, the Vanquishers now finishing off Jace. Nakamura was unable to find a suitable way to stop Takagi’s three powered attackers, and things looked especially dire when a Doran showed up and Nakamura’s only reply was to cycle a Sage’s Dousing on it.
Nakamura pondering his playNakamura played a Secluded Glen untapped, revealing another Sower of Temptation, and started thinking about how best to play his turn. Could he turn the game around and steal it out from under Takagi’s nose? He played another Stonybrook Banneret, and stole the Doran with the Sower for the low, low price of UU. Doran happened to be Takagi’s only uptapped creature, so Nakamura animated two of his Mutavaults and swung in with the lands, the original Banneret and the Merrow Reejerey to halve Takagi’s health in one swoop. However, Takagi just untapped and took back the Legendary Treefolk with the help of a Nameless Inversion and swung back to drop his opponent to a mere three life. Nakamura was once again outnumbered and outgunned. He drew a Mirror Entity off the top and played it for a single White mana, decided very quickly that he was in no position to attack again and shipped the turn. Takagi untapped and dropped a profane Command on the table. Nakamura could only break out his now nearly trademark grin and shuffle up his cards.
Takakuyi Takagi defeats Shuuhei Nakamura 2-1
Blog: 12:35pm - Wary of the Heat
Mad dogs and Englishmen, it has been suggested, go out in the midday sun. Alas, by this reasoning, it was inevitable that I would end up getting surprisingly hot for a feature this weekend. It has been suggested that there might be such thing as a Kobe Summer Diet. Eat as much as you want – if you walk outside for an hour or two each day, you’ll sweat it all off.
Today I decided to find out how foils stand up to the crazy humidity if left to their own devices in the sun. After a trip to the dealers, for the princely sum of 50 Yen I had my companion, one Norin the Wary. My cardboard companion started out pretty flat, but all it took was a moderate amount of time in the heat, and he was developing curves like Oprah on the off-season. Never could his flavour text of “I have a bad feeling about this” been more apt.
Part way through this transformation process (in which I myself was becoming more liquid than human) I picked up Norin and gave him a shake. It turns out that shaking hot foil is pretty much the finishing point.
This entire feature took less than 20 minutes in the sun.
I guess that 20 minutes in the sun is more than I normally get at a GP.
Round 132: Heating Up - Makihito Mihara versus Koutarou Ootsuka
Ootsuka’s Faerie deck playing out like a dreamBoth of these World Championship top 8 veterans lead with enchantments, Ootsuka with the either popular or unpopular, depending on which side of the table you’re on, Bitterblossom, and Mihara with Knollspine Invocation. A Mutavault and a Faerie Token came over to visit, and when Mihara threw a Doran at the Mutavault, Scion of Oona made things a whole lot worse for him. Mihara simply untapped and threw down a Firespout, knocking out the Scion and it’s followers. Unfazed, Ootsuka swung back with two Mutavaults this time, continuing to batter Mihara. A Timber Protector came out to play, but decided to switch sides after a quick word with a Sower of Temptation. Mihara Evoked a Cloudthresher to again clear the air, but Ootsuka had another Sower to leave the Mihara with his head in his hands. He ditched a Nameless Inversion to the Invocation to get back his Treefolk a second time, but Ootsuka had the Cryptic Command to tap down the defender and push through the last of the damage needed to take Game 1.
Game 2 Ootsuka lead with a Thoughtseize, nabbing a Bosk Banneret, only to see Mihara topdeck a Devoted Druid and play that instead. Nameless Inversion killed the Druid, and a second Thoughtseize from Ootsuka took out a Masked Admirers. Demonstrating a true mastery of the top of his library, Mihara ripped and played a Doran, the Siege Tower. Ootsuka could only play a land and pass it back. When the Large Treefolk came in for a nibble, Cryptic Command bounced it and Mihara replayed it. Ootsuka played a Puppeteer Clique taking the Masked Admirers and then the Devoted Druid when Mihara forced it to Persist with a Nameless Inversion.
Mihara can only watch on as the Fae march all over himDoran attacked and the Clique didn’t chump, Mihara considered this a reasonable sign that Ootsuka soon intended to Champion it to a Mistbind Clique and decided to Evoke a Cloudthresher to deny Ootsuka the flier. When Doran attacked on the following turn, a Mutavault took it down with the help of a Snakeform. A Devoted Druid was nixed by a Spellstutter Sprite, and suddenly back to back Mistbind Cliques had Mihara tapped down and on the back foot. With nothing on the top of his deck to save him, Mihara reached for the result slip.
Koutarou Ootsuka defeats Makihito Mihara 2-0
Round 14: Naoki Shimizu versus Katsuya Ueda
Naoki Shimizu’s turn two Bloom Tender was dealt with by a Broken Ambitions from Katsuya Ueda, who followed that up with a Vendilion Clique to disrupt the Elemental Mage a little. Shimizu Evoked a Shriekmaw while Ueda was tapped low to pop a cap in the 3/1 flier, then landed another Bloom Tender, and looked like he was soon going to be able to play out whatever his Five Color Elemental deck desired. Ueda flashed in a Spellstutter Sprite at the end of Shimizu’s turn to get his attack started, sliced the Bloom Tender in two with a Peppersmoke, and then the Smokebraider with another. Thanks to a mulligan, Shimizu was now down to a pair of cards in hand, so he pushed out a Reveillark. Ueda simply Nameless Inversioned it, allowing the Smokebraider and a Bloom Tender to return to play. A Cryptic Command countered a Chameleon Colossus, but thanks to the excess of mana now available to Shimizu, he was able to then sneak out a second one.
Ueda Pondered, and Pondered again. He then attacked with the Spellstutter and dropped a Scion of Oona to step up his damage somewhat. However, this meant it looked like Shimizu was going to be allowed to keep his Colossus, which threatened take Ueda apart very quickly. Sure enough, when Shimizu attacked on his next turn, the Colossus landed a for a hearty 16 damage. Ueda attacked back with the Scion, Spellstutter and a Mutavault, dropping a second Scion to close the window of opportunity available to the Colossus. A second Mutavault blocked the Colossus on its return, and Shimizu had nothing when Ueda then swung back to take Game 1.
Ueda started Game 2 with a Thoughtseize, revealing two Makeshift Mannequins, an Impromptu Raid and a Mulldrifter. He took one of the Mannequins and made the signature Faeries play, a turn two Bitterblossom. Shimizu Evoked his Mulldrifter and then bought it back with the second Mannequin during Ueda’s upkeep. A Peppersmoke killed the Mulldrifter, and Ueda began the exponential Faerie Assault. Shimizu dropped a Firespout to kill off two tokens, and then played a Bloom Tender. Ueda again had the Peppersmoke to take care of that, and then a Broken Ambitions to counter the Impromptu Raid on Shimizu’s following turn, revealing a Snakeform on top for Team Faerie.
Shimizu going toe to toe with a Fae MenaceUeda stepped up the attack with a Mutavault joining a Faerie Token in the Red Zone, and had a Familiar’s Ruse to stop the second Impromptu Raid from Shimizu. Now seeming to be out of counterspells, Shimizu managed to land a Chameleon Colossus and another Chameleon Colossus. You know, in case the first one got lonely. Ueda’s Bitterblossom ticked out another wee flier, and he began to face the possibility of taking a considerable amount of damage from the Shapeshifters. Shimizu thought over his options, knowing that Ueda was still holding a Snakeform, and decided to send both Colossi in to face Ueda’s Mutavaults. Sure enough, one of them became a Snake, and Ueda correctly placed a Mutavault in front of each of them, plus an additional Faerie Token in front of the anything but Colossal Snake. Ueda seeming to have had a clear read on the Crib Swap in Shimizu’s hand. After combat, Shimizu had another Makeshift Mannequin for his Mulldrifter, and played a third Chameleon Colossus to replace the one recently seen slithering off through the grasssss.
A Thoughtseize from Ueda revealed the Crib Swap he’d predicted, and a Guttural Response, than soon hit the bin. He passed back the turn with his three Faerie Tokens and a Mutavault on defense. Shimizu slammed in with his Colossi again, this time a Vendilion Clique coming down to greet them, shipping Shimizu’s Crib Swap to the bottom of the deck. The Mutavault chumped one of the Colossi, and when no answer was found on the top of his deck, Ueda made the appropriate motions to move on to Game 3.
Apparently for Ueda, pigs do flyUeda again had the turn two Bitterblossom, while Shimizu accelerated with a Bloom Tender. A Vendilion Clique came down at the end of Shimizu’s third turn, eliciting an Evoked Cloudthresher in response. Shimizu continued to build his multicolored mana base while Ueda was content to sit back on his Mutavaults and let the Bitterblossom build him an Army. At the end of Ueda’s turn, a Spellstutter Sprite stopped the Makeshift Mannequin that threatened to bring back Shimizu’s ‘Thresher. The Elementals player untapped and made a Chameleon Colossus now that Ueda’s blue mana was tied up (his lands being Mutavault, Mutavault, Swamp and Sunken Ruins). On Shimizu’s next upkeep, Ueda dropped a Mistbind into play, Championing the Bitterblossom and forcing the Colossus to double up early. Shimizu drew for the turn and swung in for 8.
Ueda played a Secluded Glen and again probed Shimizu’s hand with a Thoughtseize, this time finding a Mulldrifter, a Cloudthresher and an Impromptu Raid. Not overly good news for the Faerie General. Ueda checked over Shimizu’s lands to see if he had enough Green mana to man up the Cloudthresher instead of just Evoking it, and decided to throw that one out of contention. The Colossus strode in and crushed the Spellstutter Sprite, and when Shimizu went for the Mulldrifter, Ueda confirmed Shimizu had only two cards in hand. The Impromptu Raid and whatever he had drawn this turn. He made for a Broken Ambitions on the Mulldrifter, looking to get through the last of the damage needed to finish the match, only to see Shimizu had drawn a Guttural Response. Instead, Ueda untapped and tapped down Shimizu’s flier with a Cryptic Command, finishing the match.
Katsuya Ueda defeats Naoki Shimizu 2-1
Feature: Deck Tech with Shuuhei Nakamura
Shuuhei Nakamura is one of those players who I see everywhere, because essentially, if there is a premier event happening, he will be there. For GP Kobe, he seemed particularly excited about his deck, and judging by his performance thus far, this feeling is entirely justified.
Designed by Yuuya Watanabe, the PWC Special (named after the Planeswalker’s Cup, a big tournament run in Tokyo of which Yuuya is the current champion) could equally easily be described as ‘The Greedy Man Special’.
Originally designed as a deck to make the most of the interaction between Bitterblossom and Mirror Entity, this deck, which has been played by Shuuhei, Yuuya and Katsuhiro Mori among others, has changed quite a bit since its inception. Where initially it was black/white, it was with the inclusion of merfolk that it really started to tick. In many respects it plays like a Merfolk/Faeries hybrid deck, but with it’s very own additional twists. In the main deck, the only card that uses white mana is Mirror Entity. Out of the sideboard though, there is access to Wispmare and Hallowed Burial. Mori even went as far as having an Arbiter of Knollridge in there in order to be able to fight burn more effectively!
It seems fitting that as the hybrid block completes, we start finding hybrids of existing archetypes. This merfolk/faerie mix might be one to look out for at PTQs to come.
Round 15: White Lightning - Shuu Komuro vs Masayasu Tanahashi
The winner here goes on...And so it comes down to the final round before top eight. For most there is still some work to do. For many, the need is to both win, and then get a little lucky. For Shuu Komuro it is very simple. A win and they are in.
Komuro, the first Japanese player to win a limited Pro Tour, winced as he had to mulligan his opener. He didn’t have a play for the first two turns beyond attacking with his Mutavault. Tanahashi, meanwhile, had a turn two Wizened Cenn. Just a turn later Komuro had one of his own, but was trumped by a turn three that saw another Cenn from Tanahashi, and a Figure of Destiny. Ajani made things thoroughly unfair. He attacked with his 3 creatures, all of which were 4/4s thanks to Ajani, and vigilant ones at that.
Komuro’s head was in his hands. He had to let both his Mutavaults die to be able to block both Wizened Cenn, and was faced with the concerning prospect of that Figure of Destiny getting huge. As it happens, this never came to be though. When Tanahashi played a Cloudgoat Ranger the following turn, that was enough to convince Komuro that it was time to scoop it up.
Shuu Komuro 0 – 1 Masayasu Tanahashi
For Game 2 it was Tanahashi’s turn to mulligan. He still had a turn one Goldmeadow Stalwart, and a second, along with Windbrisk Heights on turn two. Komuro was forced to laugh as he saw Knight of Meadowgrain join the other side of the board, while he had still yet to make a play.
Tanahashi attacked with his team, and revealed a Wizened Cenn. There was little fighting back from that. Komuro quickly drew, and scooped up his cards. While it was the Kithkin’s day, it was not the day for his Kithkin.
Masayasu Tanahashi wins 2 – 0, locking up his place in the top 8!Masayasu Tanahashi makes the top 8!
Feature: Ask the Artists
Here in Kobe Japan we are lucky enough to have not one but two eminent Magic artists who from the very start of the day are busy doing sketches and signings for an ever-increasing queue.
Both Jim Murray and Chippy Dugan originally hail from the United Kingdom, but somewhat bafflingly, they have travelled to Kobe from Montreal and Melbourne respectively. Any jet-lag is well behind them now though, and the queuing masses have to be thankful, as they dutifully wait for their cards to be signed.
Jim MurrayJim originally started in fantasy artwork illustrating British comic 2000AD, including Judge Dredd and Slaine, before transitioning onto Batman. This, if nothing else, makes him unassailably cool in my book. For those really on the ball, you might even spot some of his work in the hit British TV show Spaced by the team that made Sean of the Dead.
Jim’s first Magic cards were in Darksteel, and included the powerhouse 7/10 Sundering Titan. Following up with Razormane Masticore (now back in 10th Edition). More recently, the dynamic duo of Wolf-Skull Shaman and Bramblewood Paragon have been terrorising standard, as has Reveillark, all on its lonesome.
Reveillark is the card that Jim has been signing the most all weekend, and he seemed pretty pleased to find out that it has it’s very own deck. Not a player himself, Jim has to manage his jobs of freelance illustration and concept art for a computer games company against raising a family. Unfortunately this hasn’t left him a great deal of time for learning to play just yet.
That said, Jim is loving the travel that comes with being a bit of Magic celebrity. The trip to Pro Tour London wasn’t all that far for him back when he did his first signing, but since then he’s been at World in New York, and now for the first time, he’s had a chance to visit Japan. On the first night, Jim might have been a little hesitant about some of the raw fish on offer, but by Saturday night he was wolfing it down like an old pro.
All of Jim’s work, which is primarily character based, to suit his comicbook background, is painstakingly painted onto canvas, meaning that he has a wide array of original artwork on sale this weekend. He’s already sold the Gaea’s Herald original art, and there are many other incredible originals on offer. Oh but for the money with which to buy them.
Chippy DuganChippy Dugan, whose Scottish accent probably sounds a little out of place in Australia where he currently resides, got into illustration through being a gamer. Playing RPGs while growing up, there was a natural transition for him into doing fantasy illustration. In fact now, he is involved with the artwork for the new 4th edition of Dungeons and Dragons, along with his long term relationship with Magic.
Chippy had his first cards way back in Mirage, with Tainted Specter, Haunting Apparition, and Cycle of Life, a rare example of cards with faeries in before their recent resurgence. His latest hot numbers include Bloom Tender and Overbeing of Myth.
While back in the day, Chippy worked in paint, but now he is exclusively digital in his artwork. This doesn’t necessarily change his creative process in a big way, but means that he can easier create exactly the image he wants when he’s settled on it. Everything is still ‘painted’ but by being done on computer, control of colour is made that much easier, and the process generally flows for him more easily.
Chippy has worked on a large variety of cards over the years, including various lands, which is something that Jim is less inclined to move into. “Jeremy [Jarvis, the WoTC art director for Magic], is very good at putting people where they do their best work when it comes to picking artists for cards.” Chippy was happy to say, and following his initial leanings towards black cards, he has now branched out across the whole spectrum.
Normally the artists receive a fairly brief brief of what they should be painting, with a general description, along with some background, and details like the colour of the card that affects the palette that they might choose. This leaves quite a lot of room for creativity, and each artist will do a few concepts before sending through just the one sketch that is how they see the card.
“You don’t want to send more than one sketch, you just want to send what you want to draw” quipped Jim. He had a fairly bizarre brief when it came to Reveillark which is a picture of... well, the brief more or less describes what it is. A lot of wings with some shining gleaming eggs in the middle is one of the tougher images to easily conceptualise, but Jim has done a sterling job.
Between them, Jim and Chippy have been really busy this weekend, and judging from how much they seem to have enjoyed themselves, it seems likely that we will see them again at an event sometime very soon.
Yuuta Takahashi vs Katsuya Ueda
The quarterfinals of Grand Prix Kobe suddenly saw a crowd descend on the feature match area. Now there was only one place where the action would happen, and everyone was keen to get the best spot. With four great matches to choose from, I elected to get my seat in on the action looking at Takayuki Takagi and Hiroshi Yosida. It was no coincidence that from here I had a clear view of what GP Shizuoka winner Yuuta Takahashi was up to. The crowd favourite to win the whole show, Takahashi had a faeries mirror in the quarterfinals. He has plent y of practice with them though, having had to win one in Shizuoka against Olivier Ruel to win his last title.
Yosida watched his opponent mulligan, and kept a strong hand himself. On the draw, he saw an early Treefolk Harbinger to fetch Murmuring Bosk on the other side of the board, but was happy not to find a Doran, The Siege Tower, immediately after.
The red deck powered out first a Stigma Lasher, and then Boggart Ram-Gang. The Ram-Gang got hit by Nameless Inversion, but the Lasher gradually withered through that Harbinger. A Flame Javelin was enough to deal with Chameleon Colossus, and with a Figure of Destiny joining the team, Yosida was finally ready to start damaging his opponent.
Unfortunately for him, by this point, there were plenty of lands in play for Takagi. He had a Shriekmaw, and while it got hit by Lash Out, the next play was a turn of Doran and Wolf-Skull Shaman. Doran is not typically the friend of red decks, but Yosida seemed unworried. He played Figure of Destiny, and immediately turned it into a 4/4.
Wolf-Skull Shaman hit a Wren’s Run Vanquisher with the kinship trigger, and suddenly Yosida showed signs of concern. Deathtouch is a tough nut for Figure of Destiny to crack, and it forced Yosida to send his Figure of Destiny to it’s biggest stage, attacking in the air for 8. Now that the Kithkin could fly, it suddenly was enough to really trouble Takagi. When he didn’t draw an answer for it, he was quick to move on to the second game.
Takayuki Takagi 0 - 1 Hirosi Yosida
To my left, just as the Figure was achieving its destiny, Takahashi was busy finishing off Game 1 of the faeries mirror. In a game where both sides had played out their Bitterblossom, it was Takahashi’s ability to get most leverage out of Mistbind Clique that had swung an otherwise tight race.
For game 2, Yosida brought in some big guns. Deus of Calamity, Firespout and Soul Snuffers came in, while Stigma Lasher and Vexing Shusher were deemed unnecessary. This was a red deck with the power to go large.
The first play of game 2 was Wren’s Run Vanquisher from Takagi, while Yosida was slowed a little by a flurry of copies of Auntie’s Hovel. he had a turn two Figure of Destiny, and on turn three got to play a Hovel untapped by revealing Boggart Ram-Gang, which he promptly attacked with.
A Chameleon Colossus came down for Takagi, but as seemed to be fate for the 4/4 in the matchup, Yosida had a Flame Javelin waiting. He attacked with his team, forcing a trade between the Ram-Gang and Wren’s Run Vanquisher.
A Nameless Inversion killed off Figure of Destiny, and Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers came down to give the Doran deck a potent force on attack and defence. The life totals were 14 to 13 in Yosida’s favour, but now Takagi was dropping bombs, following up his attacks with another Chameleon Colossus.
For the third time in the match, Flame Javelin killed off Chameleon Colossus. Profane Command brought it back, and killed Figure of Destiny, but a combination of Puncture Blast and Soul Snuffers was enough to get rid of the changeling again.
When Yosida tried to swing in with Boggart Ram-Gang, he found a Cloudthresher waiting. This was bad news, as the 7/7 made life totals much more precarious for the red deck. It killed off the Ram-Gang, then traded for Soul Snuffers and Tarfire the following turn. Treefolk Harbinger for Doran was enough to keep that momentary pressure going though.
On the back foot, Yosida looked to his hand, and found it wanting. Nothing was stopping that Doran, and Takagi was on too high a life total to race. He scooped it up and went to his sideboard for the decider.
Takayuki Takagi 1 - 1 Hirosi Yosida
In the faerie mirror, things were looking less good for Takahashi in game 2. Stalling on land, and facing a Bitterblossom and a pair of Spellstutter Sprites, he attempted to play a Mistbind Clique to champion a Mutavault, only for the Mutavault to get effectively Repulsed in response. When he tried a similar trick the following turn, he was thwarted by another Spellstutter Sprite. It would go to a third game there too.
In game 3 of the Doran vs Red match, things looked big from the start, as Treefolk Harbinger quickly found Doran, which trumped Ashenmoor Gouger from Hirosi. The game quickly became a pure race, in which the red deck seemed behind. It’s easy for red decks to come back from such things though, and Yosida certainly did not seem afraid.
A Profane Command took Yosida down to 5, and brought back Treefolk Harbinger, who in turn found Chameleon Colossus. If ever there was a time to be afraid, this seemed to be it. He kept his cool though, playing a Demigod of Revenge as a chump blocker for Doran. The following turn he had Boggart Ram-Gang, a fearsome blocker. Unfortunately for him, it could not block though as a Nameless Inversion cleared the way.
When Takagi swung in with his entire team, Yosida had to extend his hand. He was defeated.
Takayuki Takagi defeats Hirosi Yosida 2-1 and advances to the semifinals!
Game 3 of the faerie mirror looked tight. Both players had Bitterblossom, and Ueda had aggressively countered Mistbind Clique with Familiar’s Ruse, but being a little short on coloured mana, this left him entirely open to Takahashi’s resolving a second Bitterblossom – with mana up to play another Mistbind Clique in Ueda’s upkeep. The faerie was hit by Cryptic Command, but again this forced Ueda to virtually tap out, meaning that Takahashi could resolve spells for fun if he wished. Takahashi chose to hold mana back to stop whatever came from his opponent. He had an aggressive clock in the form of his Bitterblossoms, and at this point could afford to take control.
A Scion of Oona in combat was countered by a Spellstutter Sprite from Ueda. When Ueda tried to follow up with his own upkeep Mistbind Clique though, it was stopped by a Cryptic Command, which also drew Takahashi a card.
All the Bitterblossoms on the board gradually bled each player, but there were no real decisive attacks. Mutavaults on Ueda’s side of the board put him slightly ahead. On life, he was ahead by 9 points to just 5.
It was time for the big guns from Takahashi. He played Oona, Queen of the Fae. He would have to be quite successful in his milling to get enough faeries for a win while on so tight a life total. There were no attacks from Ueda, and he watched intently as Takahashi went to 3, untapping with Oona in play. Takahashi nervously flexed his fingers and bared his teeth. This was going to be close...
He attacked with four faeries, including the queen, and 6 lands untapped. This would be a lethal attack if unblocked, and Ueda quickly looked to his hand, to plan out the following turn before blocking. He took one, blocking Oona and all but one of the faeries attacking.
The swings back were with a pair of Mutavaults. On just 3, Takahashi couldn’t afford to take a single point of damage, and blocked both. He activated Oona for 6, naming blue, and got 3 creatures for his trouble. There was a Scion of Oona from the other side of the board.
Takahashi reacted, but it wasn’t immediately clear whether it was with joy or fear. It became clear shortly after. A Cryptic Command was now clear to resolve to tap down Ueda’s team. On just 1 remaining life point following his Bitterblossom pain, Takahashi attacked for enough.
Yuuta Takahashi wins 2 – 1 and advances to the semifinals!
Quarterfinals: Koutarou Ootsuka versus Shou Yoshimori Masayasu Tanahashi versus Tsuyoshi Ikeda
After Shou Yoshimori won the die roll, Koutarou Ootsuka invoked the ancient rite of anyone unfortunate enough to roll a 3 on two dice, to choose which way around the Red Zone mat would go. He elected to have his deck on his left, which I admit, is how I like to have it as well.
To make matters worse, Yoshimori then mulliganed, and had to Treefolk Harbinger up a Murmuring Bosk for his second land. A third land allowed him to run his Doran, the Siege Tower into a Broken Ambitions, but thankfully the Clash revealed another land. Ootsuka made a Bitterblossom, giving Yoshimori the window needed to resolve a Chameleon Colossus, a particularly troublesome monster for Faerie decks to deal with. A second Bitterblossom for Ootsuka increased his recruitment drive and a Spellstutter Sprite came out to counter a second Doran. He then threw a Mutavault in front of the incoming Colossus while Yoshimori also played a Leaf-Crowned Elder.
Ootsuka continued to swing through in the air with his Faerie Rogues, this time a Spellstutter Sprite sacrificing itself to the Colossus for the greater good. With more Mutavaults in play now, it looked like Ootsuka had a pretty good shot at continuing to chump the Colossus until his Faeries could bring it home. A Profane Command dropped Ootsuka to 6 and reanimated Doran, making Yoshimori’s pair of Treefolk Harbingers particularly threatening, forcing him to chump with the two freshest Faeries and a Mutavault. Ootsuka dropped to 4 and swung back, leaving just enough Faeries and his last Mutavault to keep Yoshimori from killing him, before he finally dropped to 2 and attacked for the win.
Ootsuka’s turn two Bitterblossom was answered by Yoshimori’s turn three Doran. It seemed that both players had kept strong hands indeed. The first swing from Doran went unblocked, allowing Ootsuka to start attacking back before playing... you guessed it, yet another Bitterblossom. Yoshimori considered the end of Ootsuka’s turn a good time to Evoke a Cloudthresher, and when Ootsuka made a Spellstutter Speedbump, err, I mean Spellstutter Sprite, Yoshimori brushed it aside with a Nameless Inversion to get another five damage through, and added a Wolf-Skull Shaman to his team. It wasn’t long before another Evoked Cloudthresher had Ootsuka reaching for his sideboard.
Game 3 started out very badly for Ootsuka, who couldn’t find an opening hand worth keeping and opted to mulligan to five, eventually keeping a hand with only a single land. Yoshimori wasted no time fetching a Murmuring Bosk with his Treefolk Harbinger to allow him to build up to something big. He cleared the way with a Thoughtseize on his third turn and seeing Spellstutter Sprite, Thoughtseize, Nameless Inversion, Shriekmaw, Cryptic Command and a Scion of Oona that was chucked aside. Ootsuka drew a second Island, indicating that the coast was clear for Yoshimori to resolve whatever he had, but it turned out he was missing a fourth land, and could only pass it back without play. But don’t get your hopes up for poor Ootsuka, Yoshimori found the land he needed on the following turn and a Chameleon Colossus came down to mop up what was left of Ootsuka’s double mulligan.
Shou Yoshimori defeats Koutarou Ootsuka 2-1
Meanwhile, on the table next to me, Tsuyoshi Ikeda and Masayasu Tanahashi were tied at one game apiece, but things weren’t looking good for Ikeda and his Fujita Red deck. He was on the verge of losing for the second time today to Tanahashi’s Kithkin Hoard, in part thanks to White’s Critters being a tad better than Red’s, and in part because Ajani Goldmane was giving said White Critters +1/+1 counters. Okay, okay... mostly because Ajani Goldmane was turning said White Critters into Ridiculously Oversized Monsters.
Masayasu Tanahashi defeats Tsuyoshi Ikeda 2-1
Semifinals: Battling for the Repeat Yuuta Takahashi vs Masayasu Tanahashi
Throughout the coverage, we’ve been trying to refer to players largely by their surname, as is the custom in Japan (indeed I’ve started introducing myself as Willoughby-san to people). However for this match it will be Yuuta and Masayasu, as I’m worried that a typo from yours truly could easily make this match way more complicated than it needs to be.
Admittedly these two players have quite different decks. Masayasu finished undefeated on Saturday with his Kithkin deck, and has been powering through all day, while Yuuta, with the tribe that served him so well in Shizuoka, Faeries, has developed a very strong following among the Japanese coverage staff.
Masayasu was on the play and had a turn two Knight of Meadowgrain, which seemed a little outclassed by turn 2 Bitterblossom. That lifegain would make the race a little interesting though, and Wizened Cenn made that knight just a little more scary.
Yuuta turns the tides.Masayasu activated Mutavault and swung with his team, daring a response from Takahashi. who still just had a single Faerie token. this token joined forces with a Spellstutter Sprite to trade with Wizened Cenn, but Takahashi was still soon on 9, while his opponent rode high at 26.
Yuuta had a Shriekmaw to kill of the knight (finally) but was on just 8 at this point. The fight back would have to be hard and fast. Hard and fast is what Mistbind Clique is, and in Masayasu’s upkeep he played it, championing his Bitterblossom. He then attacked with his team, to take Masayasu to 13. The board was now his, and Yuuta pressed his advantage.
Masayasu, meanwhile, was drawing thin. He looked at the opposing army, which would flatten him the very next turn. This was not working. On to game 2.
Yuuta Takahashi 1 – 0 Masayasu Tanahashi
Masayasu exploded out of the gates in Game 2, with a turn one Goldmeadow Stalwart, turn two Knight of Meadowgrain. In this time, Yuuta, understandably, did comparatively little. It wsan’t until he played Nameless Inversion on Knight of Meadowgrain that he had played a spell at all. Masayasu had a Wizened Cenn to replace it, but there was a Stillmoon Cavalier from Yuuta, who would prove quite the blocker.
Masayasu was unafraid. His next recruits were Figure of Destiny and Wispmare. Team Kithkin had an elemental on their side, and in total they were ready for business. Everything but Wizened Cenn attacked. Yuuta blocked the Figure of Destiny. Post-combat Windbrisk Heights brought a Cloudgoat Ranger, but it was stopped by Cryptic Command, which also bounced Wizened Cenn, meaning that Figure of Destiny was destined to die also. Nice spell.
Wizened Cenn came back, and Masayasu looked at what was an impressive array of Windbrisk Heights under his control. Yuuta simply looked at his hand. At the end of turn he had a Nameless Inversion for Wizened Cenn and a Scion of Oona.
Attacks came from Stillmoon Cavalier, which couldn’t get blocked whatsoever. Attacks back saw Wispmare swingning in, only to be blocked by a surprise Mistbind Clique (which had to champion a Mutavault after Scion of Oona was hit by Unmake). The 4/4 was bad news for Masayasu, who now had two big unblockable threats to worry about.
Between them they were enough to finish Masayasu off.
Yuuta Takahashi defeats Masayasu Tanahashi 2 – 0, advancing to the finals!
Semifinals: Takayuki Takagi versus Shou Yoshimori
While this match may appear to be a Doran, the Siege Tower Mirror, Takayuki Takagi’s build is a little more aggressive, leading as he did in this game, with Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers and following it with a Chameleon Colossus. Shou Yoshimori assembled a defense with Doran himself and a Chameleon Colossus of his own, backed up by a Wolf-Skull Shaman. Takagi’s Cavalier went down to a well-timed Nameless Inversion, but he replaced it with another Colossus. Takagi continued to attack, trading one of his Colossi for Yoshimori’s while the other began to eat one after another of Yoshimori’s blockers. Eventually Yoshimori dared to attack with his Doran, before playing a Wren’s Run Vanquisher to hold off the Colossus. Takagi pumped his fist, promptly untapped and threw a Profane Command onto the table, killing the Vanquisher and doming Yoshimori for enough to make his attack step lethal.
Yoshimori kept his hand going into Game 2, but Takagi decided within seconds to ditch his for the chance at something better. A Treefolk Harbinger searched up another on Yoshimori’s first turn, suggesting that he would no doubt be following them up with a Doran. Sure enough, the second Harbinger on turn two tutored for the Legend. When it came into play, only a single Harbinger made it through for three while the other succumbed to a Nameless Inversion. Takagi could only pass his third turn and take eight on the nose from the incoming Trees. He played a fourth turn Colossus, which was enough to stop Yoshimori’s attack in it’s tracks for a turn.
Takagi watching his opponent tutor up a beatingBut it wasn’t long before Yoshimori went for the throat, leveling a Profane Command at Takagi and giving his men Fear, having 8 damage on the board while Takagi still was at 9. Takagi simply pointed a Crib Swap at the Doran, neutering the Harbinger as well. The pain on Yoshimori’s face was obvious, as he no doubt wondered how that would have played out if he had chosen to return the first Harbinger to play instead making Takagi lose life. Takagi’s followed that up with a Shriekmaw on the remaining Harbinger, while his Colossus began to attack back. Yoshimori played a Leaf-Crown Elder, but could feel what felt like his game slipping from his grasp. He could only play land and watch as Takagi Flashed a Cloudthresher into play at the end of turn, untap and pull out the win with a Profane Command.
Takayuki Takagi defeats Shou Yoshimori 2-0
Finals: Twice in a Row? Takayuki Takagi vs Yuuta Takahashi
Last time I sat down to do a finals match where Yuuta Takahashi was playing Faeries to win a GP, I have to admit, I had trouble seeing him as the favourite. His opponent there was Olivier Ruel, someone who it is not necessarily wise to bet against. I’m pretty sure now though that Takahashi is safe money to be amongst the best Faeries players in the world. His opponent, Takagi Takayashi, with Doran would have to get a fast start, and look to stick big creatures that are more resilient to the main Faeries removal, to have a good shot in the match.
On the play, Takagi led with Wren’s Run Vanquisher, which got hit by a Nameless Inversion. Wolf-Skull Shaman died to Shriekmaw. Things weren’t all beer and skittles for Takahashi though, as he was stuck on two lands. When he saw first Chameleon Colossus, and then Doran from his opponent he was all of a sudden in a world of trouble. He drew for the turn, and when he didn’t see a land, he quickly scooped up his cards. The game had taken less time than the shuffling.
Takayuki Takagi 1 – 0 Yuuta Takahashi
Luck didn’t seem to be with Takahashi in the finals, as he was forced to mulligan a hand with only Mutavault as its land in Game 2. He painstakingly shuffled, in the hopes of finding a 6 more to his liking.
A turn two Wolf-Skull Shaman from Takagi got hit by Nameless Inversion, but there was nothing to stop Doran, the Siege Tower the very next turn. Takagi forgot to attack with his Harbinger, but Takahashi had little action, and the following turn took 8 anyway. Cryptic Command from Takahashi countered Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers, and drew Takahashi a card. The reason for his not bouncing Doran soon became clear, as he first cleared Nameless Inversion using Thoughtseize, then took Doran with Sower of Temptation.
The other two cards in Takagi’s hand had been Wren’s Run Vanquisher and Wilt-Leaf Cavaliers. These each came down the following turn, and stopped Doran from getting stuck in. On just 7, Takahashi was really on the back foot, and Takagi seemed happy to keep him that way – though out of cards in hand, he would have to hope for more gas from the top of his deck if Takahashi did begin to take control.
After a little thought Takahashi played Bitterblossom, happy to take one each turn rather than however much an unblocked attacker could do. He killed off the Cavaliers by blocking, and the Vanquisher with a Nameless Inversion. Could this be a comeback?
Takahashi dropped to two in his upkeep to Bitterblossom. He attacked Takagi to four with his flyers. A Profane Command would still win it for Takagi, but it was not there, and Takahashi pumped the fist as his opponent scooped them up.
Takayuki Takagi 1 – 0 Yuuta Takahashi
Grand Prix Kobe 2008 would come down to the final game, and Takahashi gave a short sigh as he realised that after the tension of the previous game, he would still have to win another one to be able to call himself champion. The sigh was soon followed by a laugh. Following the previous game, he could very easily not have been in it at all – if Takagi had just remembered to attack with his 0/3 on turn three...
Takahashi stared with a Thoughtseize and saw 3 lands, Crib Swap, Firespout and Wolf-Skull Shaman. He took the creature, happy to see no early beaters left to worry about. All the early beats would come from the Bitterblossom that he had on turn two. This was the sort of game that Takahashi was looking to play. The Firespout he knew about, and could play around at leisure.
In upkeep, Takahashi played Mistbind Clique to get rid of that Crib Swap. By now Takagi had drawn a creature in the form of Wren’s Run Vanquisher, but Takahashi was now motoring at more of a pace, and had a second Mistbind Clique to buy a turn, and bring plenty more beats. Just 16 points more damage to deal to become a back to back Japanese GP champion...
Takahashi swung Takagi down to 10, and played Oona, Queen of the Fae. He now had 9 points of damage that didn’t care about Firespout, and a Mutavault that could come in on the ground for the final points if allowed an unopposed attack. Takagi was on the ropes.
Takagi drew for his turn, and thought. Serious throughout the match, this was the most grave situation he had been in at any point. Was there a way out? Even the Changeling token from Crib Swap made his life harder, as a Firespout would still leave lethal damage on the board. Takagi evoked Shriekmaw to kill Mistbind Clique. He attacked with Wren’s Run Vanquisher, and played a Chameleon Colossus, getting ready for the swings back. The air force took him to 4.
Takagi needed to draw more gas to get back in the game, but really, by this point there wasn’t enough gas left to get him there. He drew his card and extended his hand. It was all over.
Congratulations to Yuuta Takahashi, Grand Prix Kobe 2008 champion!