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

By Chapman Sim

It has been said that Japanese Nationals is one of the toughest tournaments in the world, owing to its high concentration of pro players in the country. Tamada Ryoichi's most notable achievement was making it to the Top 8 in 2010 and 2011. Today, he was hunting for his first Grand Prix Top 8.

Joe Soh, on the other hand, has been there before and was hoping for a back-to-back performance. After the hot streak at Grand Prix Taipei, Soh was hoping his good fortune would continue.

Both players have identical 12-2 records. Unfavorable tiebreakers forced them to play it out, rather than take an intentional draw. Needless to say, only the victor of this match could advance to the Top 8.

Game 1

Ryoichi opened with Ainok Tracker and Mardu Hateblade, only to have it cleared away by Soh's Arc Lightning. This move put two cards into his graveyard, allowing Ryoichi to summon Sultai Scavenger on turn 4.

Soh turned up the pressure with Bear's Companion, Summit Prowler and a mystery morph. When Ryoichi pointed Rite of the Serpent on it, Soh flipped over Kheru Spellsnatcher, redirecting the removal spell back against it's owner's Sultai Scavenger.

Well... nobody could possibly come back from that...

Joe Soh's Kheru Spellsnatcher does a great impression of Willbender.

Tamada Ryoichi 0 – Joe Soh 1

Game 2

Ryoichi quickly upgraded Ainok Bond-Kin into a 3/2 first striker, accompanied by a morph. Soh attacked with a morph of his own, prompting Ryoichi to put his in the way. When Soh tried to save it with Awaken the Bear, Ryoichi trumped by turning over Ruthless Ripper.

This two-for-one blowout was as devastating as the Arc Lightning in Game One, made more apparent when Soh passed his fifth turn with no action. Ryoichi wasted no time summoning Alabaster Kirin and Sultai Scavenger. Raiders' Spoils put the game to a premature end. Soh's Snowhorn Rider and Hooded Hydra hit the battlefield, but were no good against the opposing flyers.

Yamada Ryoichi takes an eye for an eye and clinches Game Two with alarming speed.

Tamada Ryoichi 1 – Joe Soh 1

Game 3

Soh led out an audible sigh after kickstarting the game with nothing but two Forest and Islands. Lacking Mountains, he could only manage Longshot Squad.

When Ryoichi's morph crashed into the red zone, Soh decided to block. Ruthless Ripper once again made its appearance, causing Soh to lose his only creature. Ruthless Ripper's death enabled double Sultai Scavengers to hit play on turns five and six

Still deprived of any red mana, Soh could only watch helplessly as the pair of flyers robbed him of his second Grand Prix Top 8. Mana screw clearly struck Soh at the dearest of times.

Tamada Ryoichi 2 – Joe Soh 1

Tamada Ryoichi defeats Joe Soh and advances to the Top 8!