Semifinals: Andrew Elenbogen vs. Shota Takao

Posted in Event Coverage on May 30, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

Andrew Elenbogen just advanced to the semifinals of Grand Prix Minneapolis after a ninety minute quarterfinals match and is ready to face his opponent, Shota Takao of Japan. Both players are piloting white creature decks. Andrew chose to battle with Bant Company this weekend while Shota opted for a Red-White hyper-aggressive Humans list with Abbot of Keral Keep and Reckless Bushwhacker.

“We meet again! Best of luck,” Andrew exclaimed, to which Shota nodded in agreement.

Andrew finished at a higher seed in the Swiss rounds and elected to play first. The players shuffled up quietly without exchanging many words.

“I'm going to keep my seven,” said Andrew. Shota tanked for a while about his opening hand and then nodded in agreement. The game was underway.


Shota Takao

Shota began the action with a Town Gossipmonger to which Andrew answered with Thalia's Lieutenant. On turn two Shota played another one-drop in Expedition Envoy while dropping a tapped Needle Spires as his land for turn. It was only the second turn and both players had plenty of permanents on the battlefield in anticipation of a quick game.

Town Gossipmonger transformed and the beats began. Andrew double blocked the Gossipmonger with a pair of Thalia's Lieutenants and one of them hit the graveyard. Dromoka's Command took out Shota's Thalia's Lieutenant in an attempt to stop the aggression but Shota was able to surge out a Reckless Bushwhacker and attacked for six. All Andrew could do was play a fourth land and pass the turn.

Abbot of Keral Keep appeared on Shota's fourth turn and another pair of one-drops hit the battlefield. Shota was making great use of his mana and Andrew was falling further and further behind on tempo.

Andrew cast a Collected Company on Shota's end step but all he found was Thraben Inspector. Reflector Mage from Andrew bounced Kytheon, Hero of Akros but Shota still had seven power on the board.

A second surged Reckless Bushwhacker entered the battlefield on Shota's side and a ten-point attack brought Andrew down to one. He untapped and drew his card for the turn but it wasn't much help as he was facing down four lethal attackers and had an empty board.

Shota Takao - 1, Andrew Elenbogen - 0


Andrew Elenbogen

“I'll be on the play, good luck once again,” said Andrew, to which Shota nodded in agreement.

“Keep,” said Andrew with a thumbs up. Shota kept his hand as well and the players were on to Game 2.

Once again the action began early as Shota started the game with Town Gossipmonger on turn one. Andrew called with a turn two Lambholt Pacifist, hoping to stop the early aggression.

Shota played two one-drops on turn two and transformed his Town Gossipmonger. Andrew had a Duskwatch Recruiter to block, but his only green source was Yavimaya Coast and casting his spells was proving to be painful.

Declaration in Stone from Shota took care of Lambholt Pacifist and the Recruiter traded with Kytheon, Hero of Akros but Andrew was already down to ten after the attack on turn four. All he could do on his turn was sacrifice a clue and play a Fortified Village tapped. Shota showed no sign of stopping the beatdown and he played two more creatures in Anafenza, Kin-tree spirit and another Kytheon.

Andrew summoned a Reflector Mage in the attempt to stabilize but he was still under a lot of pressure as Kytheon transformed into Gideon, Battle-Forged. Four creatures entered the red zone for Shota and all Andrew could do was block one creature and fall to one life.

Andrew drew his card for his turn and hoped for an answer to Shota's three lethal attackers. Since Reflector Mage was forced to attack Gideon he had one less untapped creature to block with. To add insult to injury, Shota played Thalia's Lieutenant to make his creatures even more lethal than they already were. He sent another four creatures into the red zone with the hope to finish off his opponent.

Andrew played Collected Company, looked at his top six cards and extended his hand.

“Best of luck in the finals,” said Andrew graciously.

Shota Takao defeats Andrew Elenbogen 2-0 and advanced to the finals of Grand Prix Minneapolis 2016.

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