Finals Feature Match: Yamamoto/Kitahara/Yukuhiro vs. Takimura/Ichikawa/Matsumoto

Posted in GRAND PRIX KYOTO 2016 on September 11, 2016

By Ben Swartz

You couldn't pick a better finals than this one to top off Grand Prix Kyoto. The two most dominant teams of the tournament sat down to play against each other after completing their final booster draft of the tournament.

On one side of the table sat Kentaro Yamamoto, Hiroaki Kitahara, and Ken Yukuhiro. After running the tables on day 1, they easily made their way into top 4. In the semifinals, the Japanese pros quickly dispatched Kenta Harane, Tomonori Hirami, and Fumiya Matsumoto. For the finals Yamamoto brought a pretty standard white red deck, Yukuhiro brought an evasion heavy blue green deck, and Kitahara brought a removal heavy black green deck.

Facing off against them was one of the Japanese super teams of the event: Yuki Matsumoto, Yuuki Ichikawa, and Kazuyuki Takimura. While they finished day 1 with a single loss, they ran the tables on day 2 and finished the swiss atop the standings. In the semifinals they quickly removed Czech hopefuls, (25) Petr Sochůrek, Tom Ristovsky, and Pavel Matousek. In their final draft of the weekend, Takimura brought a standard blue black deck, Matsumoto brought a stock white green deck, and Ichikawa brought a very aggressive white red deck.

Kazuyuki Takimura (Blue Black) vs. Kentaro Yamamoto (White Red)

Yamamoto began the first game with a Dauntless Cathar and then used Cathar's Shield to pump up his attacker.

While his Cathar perished, he replaced it with a Cathar's Companion. By this point Takimura was able to stall out the board with a number of creatures.

Thinking he found an opening, Takimura attacked with his creatures and attempted to use Spiteful Motives to deal lethal, however, Takimura had Throttle to take out the enchanted creature.

From there Takimura was able to move in with his army and take the first game from Yamamoto.

Yamamoto 0-1 Takimura

The second game started with creatures on both sides: Dauntless Cathar for Yamamoto and Thraben Gargoyle for Takimura.

After trading creatures back and forth, Yamamoto got stuck on 4 lands. Before long, he was at 12 life, but he found his 5th land and started to battle back with Incorrigible Youths.

Takimura had a removal spell for Yamamoto's 4/3 and started to stall out the board with a Silent Observer. From there Takimura chipped away at Yamamoto's life total and transformed a Thraben Gargoyle to get through the last few points of damage.

Kazuyuki Takimura defeats Kentaro Yamamoto 2-0

Yuki Matsumoto (White Green) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (Blue Green)

Matsumoto started with Solitary Hunter which quickly got enchanted by Sleep Paralysis from Yukuhiro.

From there, Yukuhiro was able to amass a small army of blue and green creatures, but Matsumoto used Collective Effort to remove the enchantment and clear the way for his own army.

Yukuhiro wasn't out of the woods just yet, though, he was able to use Unsubstantiate and Prey Upon to buy himself some time.

That time gave Yukuhiro the opening to flash Pack Guardian into play and eat some of Matsumoto's creatures during combat. From there Yukuhiro was able to take the first game of the match.

Yukuhiro 1 - 0 Matsumoto

Game two started with a pair of Primal Druids for Matsumoto. The 0/3's stemmed the bleeding for a little while, but Yukuhiro found a Nebelgast Hearld and quickly dropped Matsumoto to 9.

Matsumoto seemed to have found the perfect answers to Yukuhiro's game plan: he used Clear Shot to take out the flyer and slammed down Ulrich of the Krallenhorde.

From there the Legendary Creature took over the game. While Yukuhiro put up his best fight, he perished to Ulrich transforming back and forth several turns later.

Yukuhiro 1 - 1 Matsumoto

Game 3 ended as quickly as it started. Yukuhiro curved out with Tattered Haunter, Uninvited Geist, and Nebelgast Hearld.

Without answers to the fliers and facing down 8 damage on the 5th turn Yukuhiro closed out his match sending the finals to a third and decisive match between Yuuki Ichikawa and Hiroaki Kitahara

Ken Yukuhiro defeats Yuki Matsumoto 2-1

Yuuki Ichikawa (White Red) vs. Hiroaki Kitahara (Black Green)

Play started back and forth in the first game of the deciding match. Kitahara started things off with a Mournwillow and Ichikawa countered it with a Galvanic Bombardment. When Ichikawa cast a Dawn Gryff, Kitahara removed it with a Sinister Concotion.

Things continued to go back and forth, with Spirit tokens from Ichikawa looking like they were going to go the distance. Kitahara had a different plan, however, and used Prey Upon to remove Ichikawa's only blocker and attack for lethal to take the first game

Kitahara 1 - 0 Ichikawa

Looking to reverse how things went in the previous game, Ichikawa began game 2 with a pair of Dawn Gryffs. From there he was able to drop Kitahara to 13.

Right when Kitahara looked like he could mount a defense, Ichikawa used Alchemist's Greeting to remove the lone blocker and sent the match to a third game.

Kitahara 1 - 1 Ichikawa

Ichikawa began things with a Gibbering Fiend, while Kitahara played a Wailing Ghoul. While the 1/3 kept Ichikawa's Devil at bay, he quickly followed it up with a Howlpack Wolf and a Dawn Gryff

Kitahara had Murder but no access to a second black mana. He was forced to use Sinister Concoction to stem the bleeding from Ichikawa, falling to 11 in short order.

Ichikawa slammed down Mirrorwing Dragon on his next turn. He followed it up by attacking with all of his creatures. After considering for some time, Kitahara came up with some mediocre blocks to prevent him from immediately pershing.

Surveying the board, Ichikawa cast Otherworldly Outburst. Thanks to Mirrorwing Dragon, all of his creatures got a buff and Ichikawa took down the match and won the tournament for his team!

Congratulations to your GP Kyoto 2016 Champions: Yuki Matsumoto, Yuuki Ichikawa, and Kazuyuki Takimura!