Finals: Yūta Takahashi (Miracles) vs Kazuya Murakami (Miracles)

Posted in Event Coverage on April 19, 2015

By Ben Swartz

For making the finals in his first Grand Prix top 8, Kazuya Murakami seemed surprisingly calm as he sat down to the table. He had reason to be calm. He ran the tables with a Miracle deck of his own creation. More aggressive than most, it ran both Stoneforge Mystic and Monastery Mentor along with the standard Counterbalance-Sensei's Divining Top combo.

His opponent, Yūta Takahashi, was also playing Miracles, but his version was quite different from Murakami. The only creatures he had in his main deck were a singleton Venser, Shaper Savant and a pair of one of his favorite faeries: Vendilion Clique. Those two creatures treated him well thus far in the tournament. Venser allowed him to have a main deck answer to OmniTell decks. Vendilion Clique worked as fit many roles in his deck: it disrupted his opponents when necessary, smoothed out his draws, and, much of the time, attacked for the win.

While both players had access to the devastating Counterbalance-Sensei's Divining Top combo, only one of them could hold the trophy at the end of the tournament.

The Games

Play started off with a first turn Sensei's Divining Top for both players. When Murakami attempted to cast Counterbalance on his second turn Takahashi blurted out "Really?!"

Takahashi attempted to counter it with a Force of Will, but Murakami had a Force of Will of his own. On Murakami's following turn he cast and resolved a Stoneforge Mystic which netted him a Batterskull.

Takahashi took a look at his top three cards and said, "I have a game plan!" He Miracled out a Terminus during his draw step. With no six-mana card on the top of his library, Murakami was forced to put his Stoneforge Mystic on the bottom of his library.

Murakami simply drew a second copy of Stoneforge Mystic off the top and cast it. While he only had the one Batterskull to fetch out of his deck, the newly minted 1/2 allowed him to put it into play.

Takahashi fell quickly to the Batterskull. When he tried to muster a defense with a Vendilion Clique, Murakami revealed a Monastery Mentor on the top of his library. When Takahashi found a Venser, Shaper Savant, Murakami had Swords To Plowshares. When Takahashi found Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Murakami had Force of Will.

Kazuya Murakami

After a few more turns and a few more attacks Takahashi succumbed to Murakami's onslaught and prepared for the second game.

Kazuya Murakami 1 - 0 Yūta Takahashi

Game 2 started just as Game 1 did; both players cast a first turn Sensei's Divining Top.

Murakami Attempted to cast a Stoneforge Mystic on the following turn, but it was met with a Counterspell from Takahashi. When he attempted to cast Monastery Mentor, Takahashi had a second Counterspell

Finally Murakami got a Stoneforge Mystic to stick. Again, he went and found a Batterskull from his library. A turn later Takahashi attempted to cast Counterbalance; a counterwar ensued. Pyroblast from Murakami was Force of Willed by Takahashi, which was then Force of Willed by Murakami.

Takahashi had the last word, though; a final Pyroblast allowed Takahashi to assemble Counterbalance and Sensei's Divining Top.

Takahashi was not out of the woods just yet. He still had to deal with a Batterskull. Sitting on 10 life, Takahashi had two turns to deal with the living artifact and its 1/2 counterpart.

He found a Vendilion Clique which allowed him to cycle away a card and threatened to block the 4/4 on the following turn. Murakami tested the Counterbalance waters with a Sensei's Divining Top of his own. After looking through his top three cards, Takahashi decided on using Top's tap ability. In response, Murakami cast Swords to Plowshares on the Clique. Takahashi then used Karakas to return his Clique to his hand, then revealed that he had drawn Terminus to Sensei's Divining Top.

With Murakami's threats gone, and Counterbalance-Top in play, Takahashi recast his Vendilion Clique and started eating away at Murakami's life total.

Murakami returned his Batterskull to his hand and recast it, but was still on the back foot. Takahashi quickly found a Venser, Shaper Savant, which, paired with Karakas, made Murakami's attempts to attack with his 4/4 futile.

After Takahashi continually bounced the Batterskull turn after turn, his 3/1 Faerie went the distance and he evened the match up at one game a piece.

Kazuya Murakami 1 - 1 Yūta Takahashi

Murakami pondered his keep for the final game. When he played a Plains as his first land Takahashi was visibly excited. Without access to two blue mana on the second turn, Takahashi knew that Murakami would be unable to cast Counterbalance for at least two turns.

Murakami still had a second turn play: Stoneforge Mystic. When Takahashi didn't counter, Murakami casually mentioned that he had nothing to search for--he already had Batterskull in his hand. Takahashi smiled, untapped, and cast Counterbalance. Murakami had a Daze, though, and Takahashi was content with getting his enchantment countered.

Takahashi had a second Counterbalance and this time Murakami had a Force of Will to counter it. Looking to close out the game as quickly as possible, Murakami followed up his Batterskull with a Monastery Mentor.

Takahashi spent his entire turn looking for answer; Murakami was visibly excited when Takahashi shuffled with two Ponders. During Murakami's upkeep, however, Takahashi activated his Sensei's Divining Top and cast Terminus. Murakami simply passed the turn back and Takahashi played a Jace, the Mind Sculptor.

Yūta Takahashi

The following turn, Takahashi played Vendilion Clique. After that, it took little time for Takahashi to control the game with Jace. Once Takahashi found Venser, Shaper Savant it was just a matter of time until Murakami extended his hand and Yūta Takahashi became Grand Prix Kyōto 2015 Champion.

Yūta Takahashi Defeats Kazuya Murakami 2-1 and becomes Grand Prix Kyōto 2015 Champion!

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