Deck Tech: Shota Yasooka's Raptor Ascendency

Posted in GRAND PRIX SHANGHAI 2015 on May 16, 2015

By Chapman Sim

Word on the street is that No. 17 Shota Yasooka's playing something interesting. But then again, doesn't he always?

What did surprise me though, was that he wasn't playing a Blue Black control variant. I mean, Blue Black is like his comfort zone. Why would Yasooka deviate away from those colors, especially when the color pair most recently catapulted him to a 2nd place finish at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir?


Pro Tour Charleston Champion & Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir finalist, Shota Yasooka


"Everyone wants to know what Shota Yasooka is playing. It's the same for every tournament," I whispered to myself. "This would be a breaking story!"

I scoured the tournament grounds for the familiar face. I'm a journalist at heart, always looking for new scoops and juicy news. Like an eagle's eye hunting for the fleeting savannah hare.

However when I did find him, he flat-out refused to tell me what he was playing. He asked me to wait for a couple of rounds, to make sure that he didn't crash out. I told him it would be our little secret, but he kept up with his shroud of mystery. He nudged me away lightly and let out bouts of hearty laughter mixed with genuine embarrassment.

Yasooka: "GO AWAY! I don't want to tell you what I'm playing! Haha! Maybe it's a bad deck!"

Shuhei Nakamura and the other Japanese guys could only giggle at the sight. For one, Yasooka was almost blushing with my constant badgering. For another, his deck was indeed amusing! Everyone has a goofy side after all.

Now that Yasooka is at 5-1 and it seems like his deck is working, I present to you yet another of his masterpieces!


Yasooka, going where no man has gone before.

Shota Yasooka's Raptor Ascendency – Grand Prix Shanghai 2015

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The essence is that he's playing with the Jeskai Ascendancy combo deck, popularized by fellow MTG Mint Card teammate Lee Shi Tian, with a twist.

He's added the Deathmist Raptor and Den Protector package into a deck that was already running Rattleclaw Mystic. "I can discard the Deathmist Raptor to Jeskai Ascendancy and then get them all back once I morph up Rattleclaw Mystic or Den Protector."


Protecting the combo, Yasooka-style.

"Den Protector also protects me from Thoughtseize and Duress, as it allows me to rebuy an important combo piece from the graveyard. Also, now I can actually attack for the win, rather than relying 100% on the combo."

Wow. Genius. Bordering insanity.

Commune with the Gods was already an integral part of the deck, because it helps search for the engine of the deck, Jeskai Ascendancy. To play Deathmist Raptors alongside them was like killing two birds with one stone. He's also added Taigam's Scheming to the mix, ensuring that he could find his Deathmist Raptors as consistently as the Sultai player would.

"Instead of Astral Cornucopia, I have Tormod's Crypt as my zero-mana spell for the infinite loop. It is also good against opponent's raptors."

Clearly, Yasooka has thought this through. Jeskai Ascendancy combo decks have traditionally preyed on the Abzan decks. To quote Lee Shi Tian, "I want to play against the green decks."

True enough, the metagame has moved away from Esper Dragons. The "Ojutai decks" are dying away, and the "Raptor decks" are getting popular. The Red Green Dragon decks are traditionally removal-light in the first place, and even the Abzan Aggro decks are shaving down on Hero's Downfall.

Yasooka's sideboard has a pair of Stratus Dancers to supplement his "Megamorph" theme, as well as Arashin Cleric  and Seismic Ruptures for the dreaded red matchup. And if all else fails, he has the Prognostic Sphinx in the sideboard.


That has Shota Yasooka written all over it!

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