ROUND 5 FEATURE MATCH: SHOTA YASOOKA VS. SHINICHI UENO

Posted in GRAND PRIX SHIZUOKA 2015 on January 10, 2015

By Frank Karsten

Earlier today, I caught a glimpse of Shota Yasooka’s five-rare five-color Sealed Deck, and I wanted to see it in action. Would his high card quality hold up, despite a relatively weak mana base?

The Players

Yasooka is an 18-time Grand Prix Top 8 competitor with a Player of the Year title and a Pro Tour trophy to his name. Shinichi Ueno has no big finishes to his name yet, but just like Yasooka, he is sitting at a 4-0 record so far.

The Decks

As mentioned, Yasooka has a five-color deck with a ton of good rares: Sagu Mauler, Rattleclaw Mystic, Duneblast, Savage Knuckleblade, and Butcher of the Horde. But this format is not just about the rares---mana consistency is also a hugely important factor. Yasooka dealt with that by building a base green-black deck with a lot of Forests and Swamps, effectively splashing most of his bomb rares. This way, his deck would operate even if he couldn’t draw all of his colors early on. He also included two Banners. “I like Banners in Sealed Deck,” he said, echoing an opinion held by many Japanese players. They are not ideal in a format where you often want to play a morph on turn three, but being able to consistently cast your cards is even more important.


Yasooka trying to figure out his mana base during the deck building portion.

Meanwhile, Shinichi Ueno built an Esper deck. It’s not a usual color combination because it’s not one of the Khans of Tarkir clans, but sometimes the best cards in your pool are spread amongst three colors that don’t form a clan.

Game 1

After the opening salvos of morph exchanges and removal spells, the game turned into a board stall. With the help of Feat of Resistance and Efreet Weaponmaster, Yasooka was able to maneuver himself into a more favorable board state, although there was still a Riverwheel Aerialists on both sides of the board.

Both 4/5 flyers were towering over the battlefield, making attacking difficult for either player. Yasooka solved the conundrum with a Windstorm for X=5. This killed his opponent’s 4/5 flyer, but left his own copy alive due to prowess. Afterwards, Yasooka unmorphed Abomination of Gudul, which had survived the Windstorm as a morph. “I like Windstorm maindeck, but only in Sealed,” Yasooka told me after the match.


Shota Yasooka (left) and Shinichi Ueno (right), with head judge Kevin Desprez keeping a watchful eye in the middle.

Ueno fought back with End Hostilities, evening out the match, but Yasooka had a perfect reply on the next turn: Savage Knuckleblade. It was a Constructed-worthy exchange. With 10 mana at his disposal, Yasooka was able to attack, bounce it, and replay it as a blocker. It didn’t take long for Savage Knuckleblade to take over the match.

Shota Yasooka 1 - Shinichi Ueno 0

Game 2

Yasooka used Rattleclaw Mystic to ramp into Riverwheel Aerialists on turn five. A while later, he had a huge turn: Abzan Banner into Rakshasa’s Secret and Kin-Tree Invocation. The result was a big Riverwheel Aerialists and, even better, an 8/8 token. You know, when Yasooka told me that he liked Banners, I thought that he was mainly interested in them for their mana fixing. But it’s great to see that Banners allow for other sweet plays as well.

A while later, Butcher of the Horde came down on Yasooka’s side of the board as well. You know, the usual green spell into blue spell into Mardu card. Although Ueno tried to fight back with blockers and removal spells, Yasooka had already cast too many high-impact cards for him to deal with.

Shota Yasooka 2 - Shinichi Ueno 0