Building a Team (Sealed)

Posted in GRAND PRIX KYOTO 2016 on September 10, 2016

By Ben Swartz

One of the great things about Team Limited tournaments is the ability to play with your friends–regardless if those friends live in a different country or speak a different language. Three of the most accomplished players in attendance this weekend teamed up: Lee Shi Tian, Tomoharu Saito, and Katsuhiro Mori.

Katsuhiro Mori, Tomoharu Saito, and Lee Shi Tian

While the three had never teamed together before, Lee mentioned that teaming this weekend was Saito's idea.

"We had tested for Pro Tours and Saito asked if we could team for this event and I said, why not sure."

Although Lee doesn't speak Japanese, he didn't think the language barrier between the two players would be a problem:

"So far we don't have problem in deck building [with language]. In game playing, it is not really a problem. Sometimes commentating too much on a game is not good, because the player has been playing their match. Even if you finish a match really quick, you don't really know the whole game play."

Even if all else fails, Saito speaks English well enough to act as a translator between Mori and Lee.

Having high expectations of themselves, the three players started deck building. Saito had come up with a system to help them through team sealed deck construction. After sorting the cards by color, they started marking the potential of the colors on a piece of paper using circles, triangles, and X's to describe each color's viability for main color or support color.

"How about white for a main color," said Saito.

"White has no spirits, with only three removal," countered Lee.

"Okay, then it should be a second color," Saito said as he nodded in agreement.

Their judgement of colors went back and forth. At one point Saito and Mori started having a discussion in Japanese. Realizing that Lee was out of the conversation, Saito said, "only English," and started acting as a translator for Lee.

They then started talking about the color combinations that their decks could be. Using the chart they created earlier as a starting point, they paired colors and looked at the possibilities of decks

"We think black-green is good, what do we do with white? White has no reach we need to pair it with something," explained Saito.

That's one of the problems with team sealed: you have 5 colors but you usually end up making 3 two-color decks. One color needs to be shared between two decks. For this team they decided to make two different splits of colors and then talk about the strengths and weaknesses of those three possibilities.

"What do you [guys] think about blue-black?" Saito asked his teammates.

"What kind of style?" replied Lee.

The discussion between the three continued back and forth with Lee and Saito dominating the conversation.

"I think that black can be two styles; Madness and Vampires" explained Lee.

"What about separating the red? We haven't talked about that. Red has spells for offense and spells for defense" Saito mentioned.

Once they decided on the possibilities Saito assigned his teammates to build the decks.

"You like white-blue, right?" Saito said to Lee, "That's your kind of deck, you try building it."

Saito and Mori sat next to each other attempting to build the black-green and black-red decks respectively. They talked to each other in while swapping black cards back and forth between their two decks.

Once Lee was finished with his deck he looked over to Mori. Lee wanted to put Graf Rats into the black-green deck and Mori disagreed. After the conversation had gone on for a bit, Saito noticed and shouted, "Let's not talk about these things now–these are small differences, we just want to see the viability of these combinations!"

Once they were finished with the first division of the colors they rated their decks on a scale from 1-10. They realized that they had two 7's and a 8 and looked excited to build their second option.

Their second option of decks looked even worse than their first so Lee suggested a radical idea, "What if we just don't play white?"

"Let's try," Saito said excitedly.

That possibility didn't work out either, so the three of them went back to their original split. This time they switched up the deck builders of the three decks; Saito swapped places with Lee and went off to build the white-blue deck.

With only a few minutes remaining in deck construction, Lee and Saito got into a long discussion over the final touches on the white-blue deck.

As they finished filling out their decklists I asked Lee about their chances.

"I think the blue is fine to below average, I think our deck is okay, but we found something for our blue, so it's good."

With a long day ahead of them, the three pros sleeved up their decks and looked forward to the start of the tournament.