Posted in GRAND PRIX SHANGHAI 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 5, 2014

By Chapman Sim

Shouta Yasooka and Ken Yukuhiro are two of the most accomplished players in the room and need little introduction. Interestingly, they have both drafted almost identical Sultai decks which attempt to abuse the Delve mechanic. The concept of turning dead cards in your graveyard into "mana" seemed to be broken enough to appeal immensely.

Despite light-hearted friendly banter, both friends weren't exactly happy to play against each other. Having already picked up two losses each, the loser of this match would most likely be knocked out of contention for the Top 8. They shook hands graciously and began the exciting match.

Game 1

Yukuhiro rigged his future with Talgam's Scheming, before summoning Icefeather Aven. When Yasooka attacked with his morph, Yukuhiro opted to take two damage before killing it with Debilitating Injury. It turned out to be a very good catch, since Yasooka could flip up the Hooded Hydra on the next turn.

Despite the devastating loss, Yasooka bounced back with Swarm of Bloodflies, Sultai Scavenger and Shambling Attendants on turns five through seven.

However, Armament Corps showed up to upgrade Icefeather Aven into an Air Elemental. Next, Yukuhiro destroyed Swarm of Bloodflies with Rite of the Serpent, and coughed up his own copy of Sultai Scavenger to trade.

In possession of the lone flyer on the board and having the ground all gummed up, Yukuhiro was able to clinch the first game with ease.

Ken Yukuhiro swoops in for the win.

Shouta Yasooka 0 – Ken Yukuhiro 1

Game 2

Yukuhiro spent his third turn morphing down Pine Walker and turn five turning it face up. With the addition of (splashed) Abzan Guide, he assembled quite a dominating board by turn six.

Not wanting to risk the Debilitating Injury this time, Yasooka chose to cast Hooded Hydra face up. When he tried to block and pump the hydra with Dragonscale Boon, Yukuhiro responded with Force Away to prevent the fiasco. This key maneuver from Yukuhiro put him significantly ahead in the damage race and board state. A second Pine Walker joined the first.

Yasooka had no solid option except to recast his Hydra for 5, this time successfully holding back Yukuhiro's entire team. That was until Yukuhiro summoned Necropolis Fiend the next turn.

Dead Drop forced Yukuhiro to lose two Pine Walkers but Yukuhiro attacked relentlessly with the Necropolis Fiend. Strategically sandbagging the pair of Archers' Parapets, he waited until Yasooka was down to six life to recruit both. This key play forced Yasooka to be able to deal with all three creatures on the same turn, a tall order considering all of them had 5 toughness.

Despite having a removal spell for the flyer, Yasooka eventually got smothered by the pair of life-leeching defenders.

Shouta Yasooka falls to 7-3 and would need a miracle to break into a Top 8 this weekend.

Shouta Yasooka 0 – Ken Yukuhiro 2

Ken Yukuhiro triumphs over Shouta Yasooka in the mirror match.