Grand Prix Shizuoka 2008
Faeries Fly High in Shizuoka!
March 8-9, 2008
Under the shadow of Mount Fuji, over 800 players came from all around Japan to compete in the only Standard Grand Prix prior to Pro Tour-Hollywood. Only one pro traveled from further afield, and that pro, Olivier Ruel rode his Faerie deck all the way to the finals. In a field packed with good players causing trouble with Reveillark decks, faeries were a good metagame call that dealt with the deck handily. While Olivier has now dethroned Alex Shvartsman as the player with the most GP Top 8s ever, he did not prevail here in Shizuoka.
It was Yuuta Takahashi, one of the finalists of Pro Tour-San Diego who prevailed in a tense final. Takahashi, who also piloted faeries, had a hard-fought victory, as he defeated Kenji Tsumura in the semifinals to make it to the finals.
For more of Standard, our eyes now turn to Pro Tour-Hollywood. For Japanese Grand Prixs we have to wait a little longer, but when the Grand Prix return to Japan on the weekend of August 2nd they will be do so in expanded form. Announced just this weekend for Kobe, the first Japanese Summer Series Grand Prix -- with extra money and extra Pro Points -- will not be one to be missed
Congratulations again to Yuuta Takahashi, GP Shizuoka 2008 Champion!
top 8 bracket
Olivier Ruel, 2-0
Ryousuke Masuno, 2-0
Kenji Tsumura, 2-1
Yuuta Takahashi, 2-1
Olivier Ruel, 2-1
Yuuta Takahashi 2-0
Yuuta Takahashi, 2-0
- Finals: Yuuta Takahashi vs. Olivier Ruel
- Semifinals: Olivier Ruel vs. Ryousuke Masuno
- Quarterfinals: Olivier Ruel vs. Akira Asahara
- Info: Top 8 Decks
- Day 2 Blog: Feature Match coverage, Metagame Breakdown, Undefeated Standard Decklists and more!
by Tim Willoughby
- Day 1 Blog: Feature Match coverage, Top of the Tribes, and more!
by Tim Willoughby
- Info: Last Chance Grand Prix Trial Winning Decklists
by Event Coverage Staff
- Info: Fact Sheet
by Event Coverage Staff
|1. Takahashi, Yuuta||$3,500|
|2. Ruel, Olivier||$2,300|
|3. Tsumura, Kenji||$1,500|
|4. Masuno, Ryousuke||$1,500|
|5. Mitamura, Kazuya||$1,000|
|6. Ishimura, Shintarou||$1,000|
|7. Fujimoto, Taichi||$1,000|
|8. Asahara, Akira||$1,000|
pairings, results, standings
Quarterfinals – Olivier Ruel vs Akira Asahara
Olivier Ruel All weekend Olivier has been talking about how good his matchup against Reveillark is. This top eight is a great place for him if he is correct. With the possibility of a Reveillark matchup every round, his faeries seemed a sound metagame call. Against Akira Asahara's build of Reveillark, which doesn't have Wrath of God until after sideboarding, he felt the matchup was even better than normal.
Having won the roll, Olivier kept and started things off with Oona's Blackguard, one of the cards he says he would remove from the deck if he were making adjustments. Asahara had a Mind Stone to accelerate with, and a Venser, Shaper Savant ready to hold off Scion of Oona. Venser even got stuck in for two before Akira passed his turn.
A Rune Snag from Asahara stopped Pestermite, and it was up to Oona's Blackguard to nip in alone, for only small amounts of damage. The second time that Scion of Oona came down it was hit by a second Rune Snag, leaving Olivier with only the slowest of clocks, losing in a race to a lone Venser.
Asahara tried for a Sower of Temptation, only to have it stopped by Cryptic Command. On Oli's turn, the Blackguard got stuck in, and Notorious Throng meant another faerie, and another turn with which to beat.
Olivier Ruel 1 – 0 Akira Asahara
For Game 2, Asahara kept a land heavy hand, which was somewhat speculative. He topdecked a Careful Consideration, which found him more. Unfortunately for Arita, while this was happening, Olivier had a turn two Bitterblossom, which was followed by Pestermite, with which beats could be applied. Sower of Temptation stole Pestermite, to slow things for the Frenchman. He had a Pendelhaven though, which made blocking a mite toughter for Asahara, who dropped to 18 on attacks.
Akira AsaharaAsahara drew, played Mind Stone and passed. Olivier shrugged, put more faeries into play and beat with them. At the end of Ruel's turn, Asahara tried for Teferi, only for Rune Snag to thwart him. Asahara was in the awkward position of not being able to wait for Olivier to act so that he could respond with Teferi, as Bitterblossom already gave him a threat each turn.
On his own turn, Asahara played Mulldrifter, a land, and passed. Oli had a Pestermite at the end of turn, and ran in with is team on attack. Asahara traded Pestermites using the Pestermite that Sower of Temptation had stolen, but took three. There were then sad looks from Ruel as his Notorious Throng was countered.
"Please no Crovax" begged Oli, still despondent at his failed Notorious Throng.
There was not one, only a Riftwing Cloudskate who bounced a token. Asahara beat in, in what had become an old fashioned race. Akira tried for a Reveillark, which was hit by Spellstutter Sprite. His Rune Snag got Rune Snagged, and Olivier clapped his hands as he looked at his attacks, with what was now 6 faeries. Akira drew his card, played a land and said go.
Attacks from Ruel took Asahara to 5, while Ruel, who had been taking damage from Bitterblossom all game, was on 4. He'd not been attacking with too many faeries, just to make sure that he had enough blockers just in case.
This all changed on the final turn though where he attacked with just enough to elicit the scoop from Akira.
Olivier Ruel wins 2-0
Semifinals – Olivier Ruel vs. Ryousuke Masuno
Olivier Ruel was really hoping that Kazuya Mitamura would win his match. The elf matchup for the French Level 8 pro is a much harder one than Reveillark. The match itself didn't kick off until a little later than expected, as Olivier was nowhere to be found. When he eventually showed up, he had food.
"Is there enough for everyone?"
Yes, as it turns out there was. Olivier shared his dinner with both his opponent and a jubilant Mitamura.
Olivier was less jubilant with the way that the game started. A quick Llanowar Elves enabled turn-two Imperious Perfect. The second Imperious Perfect got countered, but Masuno still had quite a clock. Oli had a Pestermite to stop Mutavault attacking him for 3, but still went to 14 on attacks.
Masuno was short on coloured mana, with all of it coming from a Llanowar Wastes, but he was hardly complaining. He got to beat Oli down to 9 with his creatures while the Frenchman had no black mana and, it appeared, little response to the assault.
Oli cracked back with his team, taking Masuno to 12. This became 11 when Llanowar Wastes was used by Imperious Perfect to make another Elf Warrior. In Masuno's upkeep, Mistbind Clique came out both to tie up the Japanese player's mana and to serve as a warm body to attack and block with. Following blocks, a Nameless Inversion off a fresh Swamp and Llanowar Elves took down the big faerie, but there was still some racing potential. After attacks from Oli the life totals were 7 each, and Ruel had both Oona's Blackguard, and another Mistbind Clique with which to put the hurt on Masuno. Suddenly Ryousuke was reluctant to attack. Olivier beckoned him to try it, and in the end two elf tokens ran in.
Olivier wasn't scared, blocking one with the Mistbind Clique. There were no tricks from Masuno, and on the swings back it was on to game 2.
Olivier Ruel 1 – 0 Ryousuke Masuno
Masuno stated out with a turn one Llanowar Elves, and got hit by Thoughtseize before he could play his Imperious Perfect on turn two. The Perfect hit the bin, though Wrens Run Vanquisher and Bramblewood Paragon stayed in his hand. The following turn he played the Vanquisher, and saw his Llanowar Elves die soon after to Peppersmoke. The Vanquisher then got hit by Unsummon, forcing Masuno to waste a turn replaying it.
Bramblewood Paragon came down for Masuno, while Olivier's first creature of the game was a Scion of Oona with nothing else to help. Attacks back took Oli to nine, while he applied some largely ineffectual beats. He used Notorious Throng to produce a single 1/1 Faerie Rogue token, without gaining a turn out of it. Attacks from Wren's Run Vanquisher took him to 6. Still Oli had no gas. One more turn's attack was enough to end it.
Olivier Ruel 1 – 1 Ryousuke Masuno
Masuno contemplates his next move.
Olivier was quick to keep his hand for the deciding game, but Masuno chose to mulligan, looking for a start that included a turn one mana elf to accelerate threats. He kept his six, which included Squall Line, Wren's Run Vanquisher and Imperious Perfect, but sighed and leaned back in his chair in the face of turn one Thoughtseize. The sorcery too the Vanquisher, and Masuno had to look on as Ruel started making an army with Bitterblossom. He had a Flash Freeze for Imperious Perfect, and another Thoughtseize just in time to take Squall Line. All Masuno had left in hand was a Civic Wayfinder, Nameless Inversion and land.
There was another Flash Freeze on the Civic Wayfinder, which prompted a very unexcited sounding "Wow." from the Japanese player. The next Civic Wayfinder got hit by Spellstutter Sprite. It seemed that Olivier's plan for Game 3 involved opponent's never resolving a spell. Randy Buehler thought of that one a while ago, but it seems it's still a good plan.
Olivier swung in for five, to drop his opponent to just 8. He was facing a Treetop Village but not much else. Mistbind Clique seemed like a good answer to that threat, and whatever lurked on top of Masuno's deck. This was enough to win it for the Frenchman.
Olivier Ruel wins 2 – 1, advancing to the finals of Grand Prix–Shizuoka.
Finals – Yuuta Takahashi vs Olivier Ruel
Olivier Ruel has already beaten Alex Shvartsman's record on GP top eights this weekend. The pro points he has received will help him in his bid to catch Jon Finkel on lifetime points. If he wins this one final match here in Shizuoka, he will be able to again take away a claim to fame of Shvartsman's. Alex is the only non-Japanese Pro to ever win an individual GP in Japan.
Unfortunately for Ruel, his opponent, Yuuta Takahashi, who beat Kenji Tsumura in the semi-finals, has already beaten Olivier once in the tournament. Also playing faeries, in the Frenchman's opinion Yuuta's build is better, especially in the mirror match.
While Takahashi won the die roll, he did have to mulligan his opener. Both players had a Bitterblossom to begin their offensives, and Takahashi had a suspended Ancestral Visions to follow – a play that Olivier could not match. For Ruel there was a Pendelhaven, which effectively made his faeries better able to win fights. When every creature in the match can fly, you don't exactly have a ground stall, but functionally it that is kind of how it works.
Olivier was the first to attack, with extra confidence thanks to his legendary land. He did not play a spell though, passing the turn wary of countermagic. On either side of the board life totals were dropping, but it was only Olivier attacking, so he looked to have the best of it.
Two faeries came in from the French side of the table, and when each was blocked, Ruel used Pendelhaven to gain the advantage in one fight. There were no tricks from Takahashi's side of the board, and Oli played a second Bitterblossom. Without lifegain available on either side of this matchup, it would end fast.
Yuuta had a Sower of Temptation to allow for some attacks at Ruel's expense, but Olivier's board was soon refilled by the pair of Bitterblossoms he controlled. Takahashi had a big turn coming though. Ancestral Visions gave him a lot more options, and he attacked with all the faeries he could given that Ruel was shocking himself each turn to get more creatures.
For the first time in the match, Olivier declared his attack step – fishing for a Cryptic Command from his opponent. He didn't find one, and got to swing with Pestermite and two tokens. The Pestermite traded, while Olivier hit his opponent down to 12. On just 8 himself, things looked tough for the Frenchman. At the end of Oli's turn, Yuuta used a Cryptic Command to bounce Pendelhaven and draw a card. This allowed Sower of Temptation to attack, and Yuuta tried to frustrate a double block with a Nameless Inversion. An Unsummon on Sower was Olivier's response, and the Sower was then dealt with for good by a pair of Rune Snags. Olivier was on 6, and his opponent tapped out. Now was the time to strike if ever. A Notorious Throng would be sufficient to do it, but unfortunately for Olivier he didn't have his big sorcery. He knocked Yuuta down to 5 with his attacks. This soon became 4 thanks to Bitterblossom, and at the end of Yuuta's turn Olivier brought out Pestermite to tap one of his opponent's faeries. Cryptic Command tapped Olivier's creatures, but it couldn't stop Mutavault taking Takahashi to 2. On just one life after his upkeep, he drew and smiled.
Yuuta attacked with 2 faeries, needing to do 2 damage so that Bitterblooms could finish Olivier off. Olivier activated Faerie Conclave to make a blocker, but a Scion of Oona meant that the damage would sneak through regardless, and the Frenchman scooped up his cards for game 2.
Olivier Ruel 0 – 1 Yuuta Takahashi
There was no Bitterblossom for Olivier for game 2, but there was the start of a pair of Ancestral Visions from Takahashi. In upkeep a Pestermite tapped down one of Takahashi's lands, but this did not stop a Bitterblossom from the Japanese player who appeared to have all the right cards for this final.
Olivier had a second Pestermite at end of turn, knowing that there was a Mistbind Clique in his opponent's hand thanks to having seen it on a Secluded Glen reveal. The Pestermite was countered by Spellstutter Sprite, and Ruel shrugged, not happy about how things were going. He had a Spellstutter Sprite of his own to stop Ancestral Visions #1, but was quite far behind on the board. In upkeep, Mistbind Clique tried its luck, only to be stopped by Rune Snag from Olivier. Another Spellstutter Sprite stopped the second Ancestral Visions, and the life totals were even at 15 each. How long could Ruel hold out against the ongoing threat of Bitterblossom for though? That amount of time was reduced as Sower of Temptation built Yuuta's board yet further. It seemed Olivier's predictions of a bad matchup were accurate.
Ruel played Mistbind Clique, but took quite a beating as Yuuta floated mana and cast Scion of Oona. On just 7, to Takahashi's 14, he was close to out of the game. When he attacked with Mistbind Clique, he was one mana off being able to prowl out Notorious Throng. He did cast it regular style though, and got 4 tokens for his trouble. These could no longer trade with their counterparts on the other side of the board, but served as adequate blockers nonetheless. Olivier went to one in the combat, and hopefully drew for his turn.
He didn't find what he needed though, and extended his hand.
Congratulations to Yuuta Takahashi, Grand Prix Shizuoka Champion!