Team Hareruya Pros

Posted in Event Coverage on January 30, 2016

By Chapman Sim

For the past few years, Hareruya has grown from strength to strength. Not staying little for very long, Hareruya has since exploded within the Japanese market and now has the most famous Japanese Magic store in the world. The fact that they have a 500-player tournament center in the heart of Tokyo is also not a coincidence.

Despite being relatively-new, Team Hareruya has deep roots and a rich heritage. The roster has many decorated players, but some faces are more familiar than others. For instance, the main proprietor is a figurehead that is practically a household name in the Magic world.

Tomoharu Saito leads the charge, and has rallied by his side several other titans, such as Hall of Famer Kenji Tsumura, three-time Grand Prix winner Yuta Takahashi. As a matter of fact, these close friends were last seen at Grand Prix Beijing, where they competed alongside each other in Battle for Zendikar Team Limited.

Team Hareruya Pros, last sighted at Grand Prix Beijing

Team Hareruya Pros didn't make the Top 4 in Beijing, but Pro Tour San Diego Top 8 competitor Yoshihiko Ikawa did. By doing so, he will join the above-mentioned three players at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch in Atlanta next week, together with newly-inducted Hall of Famer, Shota Yasooka.

Being the road warrior that he is, Saito has traveled to Mexico City in an attempt to find an easier path to the Pro Points he needs in the "Grand Prix Master" race. Currently, (7) Reid Duke has the lead, at 27 Points, while Saito trails behind by 2 Points. Close behind are Fabrizio Anteri and Brian Braun-Duin, both at 21. With Grand Prix Nagoya at over 2600 players, it is safe to assume that Mexico City would not exceed this number, and we hope that Saito's gambit pays off.

Tsumura, Takahashi and Ikawa have elected to remain in Japan, before traversing across the Pacific next week. Despite donning the same maroon team gear, they're working separately for the upcoming Pro Tour.

Seeing how Saito is already in North America along with most of Team MTG Mint Card's members, he will be collaborating with probably the strongest Asian superteam for the third time running. His choice is not disadvantageous, however, because he has the very best players from Asia Pacific by his side.

Gold Pros Paul Jackson, Huang Hao Shan and Yam Wing Chun are part of the team Saito will be playtesting with, as well as Platinum Pros Jason Chung and (18) Lee Shi Tian. Not christened the Modern Master for nothing, Lee has made the Top 8 of all three Modern Pro Tours he has played in, and his reputation for excelling in high powered formats is well-deserved.

With Saito already in a different time zone, will Team Hareruya Pros be lost?

From left, Yoshihiko Ikawa, Kenji Tsumura, Shota Yasooka, and Yuta Takahashi. These four form Team Hareruya Pros and will be cooperating for Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch!

I hardly think so.

Because I'm a little closer to the grapevine than you are, I know for a fact that they're far from being neglected. The roster is already stellar as it is! To make it more impressive, all four players have Pro Tour Top 8 appearances, totaling 10!

Chikara Nakajima, the secret advisor!

In addition, they also have a "secret advisor", who seemed to have been lost with time. Well, just because you can't see gravity doesn't mean it's not there! Chikara Nakajima, who is Saito's right-hand man in the massive Hareruya enterprise, might have slowed down in competitive Magic owing to managerial responsibilities, but let's not forget that he made the Top 8 of the very first Modern Pro Tour and remains very active in building the Japanese Magic Community! Back in 2011, Nakajima came in 4th at Pro Tour Philadelphia, the very same one that saw Samuele Estratti win with the recently-banned Splinter Twin. Nakajima's input and insights will benefit Hareruya Pros greatly, and his opinions are still very much sought after.

Splinter Twin (and Summer Bloom) might be gone, but Team Hareruya is here to stay. How will they do at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch? Only time will tell. But first, let's get past this triple Grand Prix weekend!

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