Murakami thought he was doing fine when he managed to resolve both Counterbalance and Monastery Mentor. The problem was, he would not live to see his next untap step.
Using Lion's Eye Diamond to check the top card of Murakami's deck, Thiele decided to go for the combo when Monastery Mentor was revealed. This meant that every spell in his deck could resolve without contest.
The first Lion's Eye Diamond resolved, followed by the second one. Cabal Therapy forced Murakami to lose Force of Will, paving the way for Dig Through Time.
The Infernal Tutor he was looking for was indeed within those seven cards. Sacrificing both his "Black Lotus" while Infernal Tutor was on the stack, that enabled him to find Past in Flames.
Thiele started to fan out his entire graveyard and Murakami decided it was better to scoop things up and save time. There was no way Thiele could fizzle out.
Kai Thiele punches past Counterbalance to take Game One.
Kai Thiele 1 – Kazuya Murakami 0
Grafdigger's Cage was a decent foil against Thiele's combo deck. It did not nerf most of the cards in his deck, but it did stop the one crucial card the most. Past in Flames.
Counterbalance was the next barrier, and Murakami looked like it was in firm control of the game. However, he had yet to find the Sensei's Divining Top that would lock Thiele out of the game.
He dug with Brainstorm and Ponder, and did manage to produce Stoneforge Mystic (along with Batterskull, of course).
Thiele tested the waters with Lotus Petal and Murakami revealed Seal of Cleansing at the top of the deck. This meant that Cabal Ritual, Burning Wish, or Infernal Tutor would not resolve this turn. Thiele was forced to pass the turn.
Meddling Mage, meddling with Infernal Tutor, seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. Even though he had Krosan Grip to remove Counterbalance, he had no way to deal with "Chris Pikula".
Kazuya Murakami disrupts his opponent with Grafdigger's Cage, Counterbalance, and Meddling Mage.
Kai Thiele 1 – Kazuya Murakami 1
The final game played out pretty much similarly to the second. Counterbalance and Meddling Mage caused Thiele much anguish, while Stoneforge Mystic and Batterskull chipped away at his life total.
Murakami knew he was going to win. He was holding Flusterstorm. That card was practically reverse engineered to destroy "Storm" strategies. When Thiele tried to execute his combo, Murakami sent him packing by negating all his efforts for just a single mana.
Kai Thiele 1 – Kazuya Murakami 2
Kazuya Murakami defeats Kai Thiele and advances to the finals!