Top Stories of Grand Prix Nagoya 2018

Posted in Event Coverage on October 14, 2018

By Chapman Sim

After fourteen rounds of Team Sealed and two Team Drafts, we have crowned a trio of Grand Prix Champions. Aside from commemorating their victory, let's also recap the top moments which defined this spectacular weekend!

Ready? Let's go!

Exploring the Guilds of Ravnica!

After eight merciless rounds of Swiss, 664 teams was reduced to just 83. In Day 2, all players were given a new card pool to tackle. After scouring the room, we handpicked the scariest-looking decks!

Join me as we explore the Guilds of Ravnica with five of the most esteemed players in the room!


The best Boros deck in the entire room belonged to Grand Prix Chiba 2016 Top 8 competitor Koichi Miyabe. All the overzealous army wants to do is to attack, and their spirit is best reflected in their signature mechanic, Mentor.

  • Tajic, Legion's Edge
  • Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice
  • Boros Challenger
  • Sunhome Stalwart
  • Wojek Bodyguard
  • Justice Strike

You know the deck is fantastic when it is spearheaded by Tajic, Legion's Edge and Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice. Interestingly Miyabe wasn't the only one with both these Boros powerhouses, because Sato Rei had them too!

Anyway, the pair of Healer's Hawks will curve out beautifully with Boros Challenger or Sunhome Stalwart and then the pair of Legendary Creatures followed by a hasty Skyknight Legionnaire or Barging Sergeant! Finish things off with a lethal Cosmotronic Wave or Inescapable Blaze!

If you're looking to build a Boros deck in Limited, Miyabe's deck serves as an excellent point of reference.


Next, we have Grand Prix Kobe 2015 Champion Takuma Morofuji. His Golgari deck was laden with thematic rares, starting with Pelt Collector, Charnel Troll, Beast Whisperer, all the way to Underrealm Lich and Golgari guild champion Izoni, Thousand-Eyed!

  • Glowspore Shaman
  • Swarm Guildmage
  • Underrealm Lich
  • Izoni, Thousand-Eyed
  • Pitiless Gorgon

Morofuji commented, "these five rares are very powerful, and I have most of the key uncommons such as Glowspore Shaman, Swarm Guildmage, and Price of Fame. Cards like Hired Poisoner, Kraul Harpooner, Pitiless Gorgon, and Affectionate Indrik are especially important, since they are ‘removal spells' in the form of creatures, and that can really help you fill up your graveyard to gain some value from your Undergrowth creatures such as Kraul Foragers, which is very good for swinging games in your favor. I am missing Golgari Findbroker though, that card is perfect for a deck like mine."

Golgari might not be the strongest guild in a vacuum, but as the guild draws power from life and death, they can have a pretty dominant late game.


The White-Green guild features the only returning mechanic in Guilds of Ravnica, and that is Convoke. Pictured below is Pro Tour Hall of Famer Makihito Mihara's masterpiece.

  • Emmara, Soul of the Accord
  • Venerated Loxodon
  • March of the Multitudes
  • Siege Wurm
  • Worldsoul Colossus

Emmara, Soul of the Accord is remarkably powerful when used alongside Convoke creatures as well as Ledev Champion and Mihara kept up with the tokens theme with Sworn Companions and the game-breaking March of the Multitudes. Venerated Loxodon is one of the most potent bombs this archetype can ask for - think of it as a zero-mana 4/4 creature which distributes five +1/+1 counters - while Mihara also has Light of the Legion and Bounty of Might to boost his team!


Pro Tour Hall of Famer Shuhei Nakamura showcases House Dimir's most powerful cards. A guild of secrecy and manipulation, the House's trademark mechanic, Surveil, certainty fits the flavor.

  • Nightveil Predator
  • House Guildmage
  • Darkblade Agent
  • Whisper Agent
  • Artful Takedown
  • Notion Rain
  • Disinformation Campaign

The most important card in any Dimir deck is usually Nightveil Predator since it is one of the most challenging cards to deal with in the format. You'll also want House Guildmage, Darkblade Agent, and Whisper Agent to go along with strong spells such as Artful Takedown, Notion Rain, and Thought Erasure.

Known for his love of five-mana creatures with huge-toughnesses - you know Nakamura loves his Pheres-Band Centaurs - he had no problem running Douser of Lights as an additional win condition. All in all, this was a great deck which could potentially help Nakamura crack his 30th Grand Prix Top 8 this weekend.


Last but not least, we zone in upon Toru Inoue's Izzet deck. The two-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor has most of the staples, such as Goblin Electromancer, League Guildmage, Wee Dragonauts, Murmuring Mystic, and Niv-Mizzet, Parun! This bunch of spell-loving creatures work great alongside one another and genuinely reflect the core values of the Izzet League, masters of science and spellcraft.

  • Hypothesizzle
  • League Guildmage
  • Goblin Electromancer
  • Wee Dragonauts
  • Niv-Mizzet, Parun
  • Direct Current
  • Piston-Fist Cyclops

"Hypothesizzle is one of the best commons in the format, and every Izzet deck wants a copy or two. Piston-Fist Cyclops is also perfect, doing double duty as a good blocker as well as an attacker when you need it to be. Jump-start is a great mechanic, and it keeps your spells flowing. Oh yes, Niv-Mizzet, Parun is crazy too!"

We hope you enjoyed this overview of the format. Perhaps these exemplary decks will give you an idea on how to tackle your next Sealed Deck or Booster Draft!

Far Across The Distance

Each of our 664 teams has a story, a story of how they first met, how they became friends, how they became teammates, and how they traveled to Nagoya together. Naturally, Hiroshi Itani, Kazumasa Wada, and Ken Sawada had their very own story too!

(From left to right) Hiroshi Itani, Kazumasa Wada, and Ken Sawada belong to one of the most unique teams at Grand Prix Nagoya!

Living in Hokkaido, Miyazaki, and Aichi respectively, they are the team in the room with the most significant geographical distance between them; for they resided in different corners of Japan.

The distance from Sapporo to Aichi was nearly 1000 miles, and if you continue from Aichi to Miyazaki, it was an additional 500 miles more.

The trio explained that they got to know each other through the Judge Program and they have been actively involved for a long time. Sawada was also the most accomplished Magic player among the trio, with two Grand Prix Top 8s to his name.

Since Grand Prix Nagoya was a Team Limited event - and also since they rarely get to compete - they jumped on the opportunity to compete alongside each other.

"We're really glad our paths crossed. We share a common interest and a common love for Magic. Without Magic, we would never have known each other," the three shared in unison.

Itani further added that "not only can we make many friends from all over Japan through playing Magic, we can also make many friends from all around the world. I am truly blessed to be part of this community."

I could not agree more on these sentiments. Magic has brought me all around the world, and I have friends in over fifty countries. It is incredible that Magic can connect us. We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.

True friendship is when friends walk in opposite directions, yet remain side by side and there is no distance too far between friends. This weekend, the trio of Sawada, Wada, and Itani demonstrated that true friends stay with them no matter the distance that separates you from them.

The Heartbreak Of All Heartbreaks

This weekend, a record of 11-2-1 was sufficient to make it through to the Top 4.

Guillem Salvador, Toshiya Kanegawa, and Shin Tomizawa had a blistering run all weekend and looked like they were well-poised. After finishing Day 1 as the only 8-0 team, they steamrolled through the first three rounds of Day 2 as well.

Guillem Salvador, Toshiya Kanegawa, and Shin Tomizawa were the only 11-0 team at one point.

Going 11-0, they would have been the first team to lock up their Top 4 berth, if not for the fact that they were too far ahead of the pack. Because they were the only undefeated team left, they found themselves in the unfortunate position of being paired against three opponents who could not afford to take an intentional draw.

After their 11-0 streak, they failed to secure the one match point they needed.

Salvador, who won Grand Prix Chiba three months ago, was shooting for his second title in three months, while Kanegawa had hoped for a fifth trip to the elimination rounds. If they had secured that elusive match point, Tomizawa would also have made his first Grand Prix Top 8, and qualified - together with his teammates - for Pro Tour Ravnica Allegiance in Cleveland.

Unfortunately, the trio lost not one, not two, but three matches in a row after their 11-0 run resulting in one of the biggest heartbreaks one can experience. The trio maintained that they had tried their very best and they looked forward to yet another attempt in future. You only fail if you stop trying, aye?

Thirtieth Time's A Charm

At Grand Prix Las Vegas a few months ago, Martin Jůza made history by becoming the first player to make 30 lifetime Grand Prix Top 8. This weekend, Shuhei Nakamura did the same, becoming the second player to cross over to "Number 30". To make this moment even more precious, he had old friends Yuki Matsumoto and Yoshihiko Ikawa by his side.

Yuki Matsumoto, Shuhei Nakamura, and Yoshihiko Ikawa were all smiles all weekend.

He was also the also the most prolific player on the Grand Prix circuit, with seven Grand Prix titles to his name - currently tied with Yuuya Watanabe. If Nakamura were to win out this weekend, he would become the first player to win eight Grand Prix titles, not that he needed to do that to prove that he was one of the game's greatest players of all time.

Congratulations to Shuhei Nakamura for this historic feat!


Well... enough said. The average for these twelve players was an astonishing 6.66 Grand Prix Top 8s and 1.4 Grand Prix victories per player. Our Top 4 today was really #superstacked and #crazygood.

Yukuhiro / Sato / Yamamoto Clinch Their Second Title

After fourteen rounds of Team Sealed and two exciting Team Drafts, only one team was left standing after annihilating 663 others.

Calling themselves "Japanese Peach Garden Oath", Ken Yukuhiro, Rei Sato, and Kentaro Yamamoto clinched the top spot and each added a second Grand Prix title to their already impressive résumés! 11th-ranked Yukuhiro previously won Grand Prix Singapore 2013, while Sato and Yamamoto took down Grand Prix Hong Kong 2017 and Grand Prix Chiba 2016 respectively!

Congratulations to you three for winning Grand Prix Nagoya 2018!

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