Round 10 Feature Match: Shota Yasooka (OmniTell) vs Tomoharu Saito (Blue-Red Delver)

Posted in GRAND PRIX KYŌTO 2015 on April 19, 2015

By Ben Swartz

While over 200 players made the second day of competition in Kyoto, it is no surprise that many well known Japanese players found their way to the top. Hot off his second place finish at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir, Shota Yasooka ran the tables on Saturday with a perfect 9-0 record using OmniTell. Yasooka had been seen throughout yesterday using Show and Tell to sneak an Omniscience into play and then casting things like Emrakul, the Aeons Torn to take down opponent after opponent. Last weekend saw Yasooka's second Pro Tour Top 8; his first being at Pro Tour Charleston nearly a decade ago. Yasooka's teammate at Charleston? Tomoharu Saito.

A juggernaut of the Japanese Magic community, Tomoharu Saito, came into Sunday with an undefeated 8-0-1 record. After getting a draw in round 6, his Blue-Red Delver deck continued to run amok. Saito was a big fan of the U/R Delver deck that featured Treasure Cruise before the recent Banned and Restricted announcement. Once Treasure Cruise got banned he simply replaced one blue spell with another; Dig Through Time took the place of the banned sorcery. Saito hoped to get down an early overpowered creature--Delver of Secrets, Young Pyromancer, etc--and protect it with a fist full of countermagic while dealing the last few points of damage with burn spells like Lightning Bolt. Saito was looking to improve on his previous 4th place finish at the last Grand Prix Kyoto this weekend.

Between the two players there are 38 Grand Prix Top 8s, 7 Pro Tour Top 8s, and 2 Player of the Year titles. At the end of this match, however, only one of them will remain undefeated.

The Games

Saito started off game one with his deck's namesake Delver of Secrets. Knowing the clock that the pesky one-drop represented, Yasooka spent no time using Force of Will to counter it. Saito kept up the pressure by casting a Young Pyromancer on the second turn, but Yasooka had a second copy of Force of Will.

Saito cast a Monastery Swiftspear on his following turn and started getting in the damage. Thanks to a couple of attacks and a Lightning Bolt, Saito dropped Yasooka to 7 life and left him with only a couple turns to combo off.

Yasooka had the combo in his hand, but thanks to Gitaxian Probe, knew that Saito had Force of Will. Yasooka thought through his options and passed the turn back. Saito drew his card for the turn and found a second copy of Forked Bolt in his hand. Along with Monastery Swiftspear, Saito had lethal damage. After Yasooka let Saito's first Forked Bolt resolve, Saito cast his second. Realizing that he was dead if the Forked Bolt resolved, Yasooka used Spell Pierce to counter the burn spell.

This put Saito in an awkward position. If Saito cast his Force of Will he would win if Yasooka didn't have a second counterspell. If Yasooka did have a second counterspell, however, he would have a free turn to combo off. Saito thought about it and decided to let his burn spell get countered; he figured that his Monastery Swiftspear could deal lethal damage over the next two turns.


Tomoharu Saito

This strategy paid off: when Yasooka attempted to cast Show and Tell the following turn, Saito used his Force of Will. Without access to another copy of Show and Tell, Monastery Swiftspear attacked for the final two points of damage.

Saito 1 - 0 Yasooka

The second game started off with a counter war over Saito's first turn Ponder. Yasooka decided it was worthwhile to spend a Spell Pierce to hinder Saito's start, and Saito fought back with a Daze to let his sorcery resolve.

After the dust settled, Saito cast a Monastery Swiftspear. Yasooka used Gitaxian Probe to get a look at Saito's hand which included, among other things, a Vendilion Clique, a Force of Will, and a Daze. When Yasooka attempted to cast Show and Tell on the following turn, Saito exiled his Vendilion Clique and used Force of Will to counter.

Saito then stocked his hand with a Dig Through Time and a Brainstorm--giving him access to even more countermagic: Daze, Force of Will, and Spell Pierce. Sitting behind this wall of countermagic, Saito continued to attack with his Monastery Swiftspear; he ended his turn by adding a Young Pyromancer to the board.

Yasooka went for it again on the following turn, casting Show and Tell with two mana up. Force of Will from Saito got countered by Yasooka's Flusterstorm, but Saito simply used his Spell Pierce to counter Show and Tell.


Shota Yasooka

By this time, Saito had amassed an army of elementals. Without access to a third Show and Tell, Saito quickly found his way to a victory over his teammate and remained undefeated at Grand Prix Kyoto.

Tomoharu Saito wins 2-0 over Shota Yasooka