Shuhei Nakamura is the Grand Prix St. Louis Champion. For the last six rounds on Sunday, the three time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor was deeply unhappy with his deck that had none of the degenerate redundancy of the other decks everyone around him seemed to be sporting. He contented himself with a pair of Heidar, Rimewind Masters and a pair of Blizzard Specters. He was too busy paying attention to his snow mana to get duplicates of his other cards.

The big story coming into the Top 8 was Kenji Tsumura questing for his third straight Limited Grand Prix title. With all the pressure and attention on Kenji, Shuhei quietly dispatched his first two opponents before squaring off with Zac Hill's degenerate Surging Sentinels deck in the finals. Zac had derailed Kenji in the semifinals but he could not withstand the hand-stripping fury of Blizzard Specter in the final game or the pro-white of a jump knight in the first one. In between, Zac got off a degenerate surge of soldiers on turn three but it was the only time they stood for inspection in the whole Top 8.

top 8 bracket


Jeremy Kunkel

Kenji Tsumura

Dalton King

Zac Hill

Shuhei Nakamura

Alex Kim

Pierre Mondon

Chris Fennell


Kenji Tsumura, 2-1

Zac Hill, 2-0

Shuhei Nakamura, 2-0

Chris Fennell, 2-1


Zac Hill, 2-1

Shuhei Nakamura, 2-0


Shuhei Nakamura, 2-1


  • Blog - 10:29 p.m. - Finals: Shuhei Nakamura vs. Zac Hill
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 9:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Kenji Tsumura vs. Zac Hill
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 8:22 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Kenji Tsumura vs. Jeremy Kunkel
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 7:50 p.m. - The Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Blog - 7:04 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Drafting with the Stars, Day 1 Undefeated Decklists, Multiplicity, DeRosa Drafts, Coming Down the Stretch, Top Pro Play, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall & Brian Kowal
  • Round 12: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Trial Winners, The POTY Leader, Alice Snapped, Top Pro Play, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Shuhei Nakamura $2,400
2. Zac Hill $1,700
3. Kenji Tsumura $1,200
4. Chris Fennell $1,000
5. Alex Kim $800
6. Pierre Mondon $800
7. Dalton King $800
8. Jeremy Kunkel $800

pairings, results, standings


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


Sunday, July 23: 7:04 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks

Jeremy Kunkel


Alex Kim


Kenji Tsumura


Shuhei Nakamura


Zac Hill


Dalton King


Chris Fennell


Pierre Mondon

Top 8 Player profiles

Chris Fennell

Chris Fennell

Age: 23

Occupation: Ballroom Dance Teacher with an electrical engineering degree? Are you kidding me?

Hometown: Fort Meyers, Florida

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc):
Winner GP: DC
Cash finishes in three Limited PTs; Amsterdam, Prague, and San Diego

Record Day One: 6-2 Day Two: 5-1
MVP Card Day One: Tidespout Tyrant and Verdant Eidolon. They're in love
Day Two: Gelid Shackles

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today? Green-white Shackles with Aurochs

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Whatever comes…open minded.

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Auroch Herd & Icefall (besides the obvious)

Uncommon: Resize, Juniper Order dude

Rare: Valkyrie - I have 8 now from a total of 11 events

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? See commons

Pierre Mondon

Pierre Mondon

Age: 22

Occupation: PNA

Hometown: Columbus, Ohio

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): 4-0-1 Prerelease

Record Day One: X-1 Day Two: X-1-1
MVP Card Day One: Guildmage(s) Golgari and Dimir
Day Two: Auroch Herd
What decks did you draft in the first two pods today? B-g and R-w

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Crush

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? White ones

Jeremy Kunkel

Jeremy Kunkel

Age: 32

Occupation: Call center rep

Hometown: Toronto, Ont EH!!!

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): 4 PTQ Top 8s, 1 PT

Record Day One: 6-1-1 Day Two: 5-1
MVP Card Day One: Cleansing Beam
Day Two: Resize (I had three!)

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today? Black-red agro, red-green aggro

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Red-blue aggro

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Skred or Thermopod
Uncommon: Stalking Yeti
Rare: Void Maw

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? Termopod

Dalton King

Dalton King

Age: 20

Occupation: School

Hometown: Springfield, MO

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): 0

Record Day One: 8-0 Day Two: 3-2-1
MVP Card Day One: Demonfire
Day Two: Surging Sentinels

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today?
Draft 1 was almost mono-white splashing for four green spells. I had five Sentinels
Draft 2 was blue-black with a white splash

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Try to draft green or white with a good curve.

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Ronom Hulk
Uncommon: Stalking Yeti
Rare: Sunscour

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? White cards in general (mostly in the first draft) and Sound the Call.

Alex Kim

Alex Kim

Age: 16

Occupation: School

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): I once won FNM at my local store!

Record Day One: 5-1-1 Day Two: 5-0-1
MVP Card Day One: Forest
Day Two: Snow-Covered Forest

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today?
Decks that involved my favorite common, Krokikan Mist…multiples of them!!!!

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Take cards with pretty art.

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Krovikan Mist (I am hooked!)
Uncommon: Adarkar Windform (He helps Mist!)
Rare: Allosaurus Riders

Shuhei Nakamura

Shuhei Nakamura

Age: 24

Occupation: Satsugai from Social Works

Hometown: Osaka

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): The man who beat me on Sunday at the Pro Tour has gone on to become Champion.

Record Day One: 3 byes & 3-2 Day Two: 6-0

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today?
Ripple soldier and just a bad deck.

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Rare draft

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: I like Gelid Shackles but the best is Skred
Uncommon: Crazy yeti
Rare: Broken Dragon

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? Gelid Shackles

Kenji Tsumura

Kenji Tsumura

Age: 19

Occupation: Semi-Pro Magic Online Player

Hometown: Hiroshima, Japan

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc):
7 GP Top 8s, 3 PT Top 8s

Record Day One: 7-1 Day Two: 4-1-1
MVP Card Day One: Rumbling Slum
Day Two: Surging Sentinels

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today?
18 white cards and 4 red cards, 18 white cards and 4 green cards

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Enjoy Magic :)

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Squall Drifter
Uncommon: Jotun Owl Keeper
Rare: Rimescale Dragon

What cards did you think were underdrafted today? Surging Sentinels

Zac Hill

Zac Hill

Age: 20

Occupation: Student/Writer

Hometown: Memphis, TN

Previous Magic Accomplishments (GPs/PTs/Nats/FNM/etc): 3 GP Day Twos, 2 PT Day Twos, GPTs, DI (50+) PTQ Top 8s … so nothing :P
OH, SCG Featured Writer…unlike Richard Feldman who is a PREMIUM writer and my host for this card trip.

Record Day One: X-1-1 Day Two: X-0-1
MVP Card Day One: Compulsive Research
Day Two: Into the North / Martyr of Ashes + Icefall (the combo)

What decks did you draft in the first two pods today?
Green-blue fatties and the Martyr deck (insane)

What is your strategy for the Top 8? Keep my options open in the draft and capitalize on the possibility for multiples of a single card.

Best Limited cards in Coldsnap:
Common: Skred/Ronom Hulk (same level)
Uncommon: Mouth of Ronom (Because of Into the North)
Rare: Sunscour

What cards did you think were underdrafted today?
Icefall/Red Martyr and Aurochs Herd; the red Martyr deck was insane for me on the beta, but it loses to the Auroch Herd deck. Fortunately only Fennell valued the Herd as highly as it is worth so…
And don't believe Alex Kim about Illusions.dec; it really cuts when one of them dies.

Sunday, July 23: 8:22 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Kenji Tsumura vs. Jeremy Kunkel

Jeremy Kunkel

Kenji Tsumura veered from the plan. All day long he had been drafting white decks with as many Surging Sentinels as he could get his greedy little mitts on. Perhaps sensing that the Top 8 was on to the value of white - a color reportedly underdrafted all day long - he tried to draft an aggressive red-black deck with multiple Balduvian Fallens.

Jeremy Kunkel was getting more an more nervous throughout the day as he could smell his first ever Top 8 match getting closer. OK Jeremy you wanted a Top 8 match? Well you have one now. Let's see how you fare with the likes of Kenji Tsumura, riding a two GP wave toward his third trophy and a possible run at back to back Player of the Year titles.

Game 1

Game 1 was a flurry of Kenji playing creatures and Jeremy nullifying them with a non-stop stream of Frozen Solids and Skreds (sometimes both on the same guy) that was topped off with two Stalking Yetis. Kenji could not draw more creatures than Jeremy had removal for.

Game 2

"My body heat is going crazy," complained Kunkel as he was now one win away from foiling Kenji's dream of a threepeat. "Everyone is complaining about the room being cold but I think it is perfect right now."

Kenji kept. Kunkel mulliganed. Scoundrel from Kenji drew an immediate Skred. The PoY followed up with Gutless Ghoul. He had no fourth land and added Orcish Bloodpainter. Kunkel iced the Ghoul with Frozen Solid. Scoundrel number two made an appearance.

Balduvian Warlord for Kunkel did not want to tussle with the Scoundrel. Ohran Yeti was next. Kunkel had plenty of Frozen Solids and was not scared to use them. He locked down the Scoundrel. The only problem was that with Orcish Bloodpainter and Gutless Ghoul on the board there were plenty of ways for Kenji to still get use out of them.

Kenji Tsumura draws upon his inner strength

Balduvian Fallen and Goblin Rimerunner got out of hand fast and were more than enough to steamroll the manaflooded Kunkel.

Game 3

Kunkel looked at a hand of four blue cards and three Mountains. He quickly sent it back mumbling something about shuffling and cutting under his breath. Kenji's hand had three land and the first wave of creatures.

Karplusan Wolverine led off Kunkel's game and got to beat for two turns unabated. Kunkel missed land drop number three and Kenji had a Bloodpainter. Disciple of Tevesh Szat was next for Kenji. Kunkel chose to Skred the Oricsh Bloodpainter instead. Kenji flung the three drop at the Wolverine. Both players made Thermopods on the next turn and they collided in the red zone.

Balduvian Fallen and Scoundrel came down on turn six. Kunkel could only Skred the Disciple. Greater Stone Spirit was enough for Jeremy to lay down his hand of blue cards with only Mountains in play.

"Now that you have won, I can wish you luck. I hope you threepeat."

Sunday, July 23: 9:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Kenji Tsumura vs. Zac Hill

Can Kenji Tsumura pull a threepeat?

You might think maybe Kenji has gotten a little jaded about these things by now but that notion would be quickly dispelled by Kenji's display of emotion when Zac rolled a 1 under Kenji's 2 on a twenty-sided die.

By now everyone is well aware of Kenji's many accomplishments. Perhaps a little introduction for Zac Hill is in order. Zac is a semi-regular writer for Star City Games with roughly a bajillion PTQ Top8's under his belt. He has been as far as Day Two on the Pro Tour a couple of times but this was his highest profile finish to date. If he could derail the threepeat dreams of Kenji Tsumura his reputation would be firmly established as a slayer of giants.

Zac knew this would not be easy as he had played Kenji before on the Pro Tour. He was hoping that they would not meet again before Kenji died of old age. "I figure that is the only way I can beat him."

Game 1

Scoundrel and Rimerunner came out quick for Kenji. Zac answered with Surging Sentinels but whiffed on the ripple. Kenji needed a moment to read Vanish into Memory before it went to the bottom of the deck. Rimerunner kept the Sentinel from blocking and Zac took two. Ohran Yeti joined Kenji's army. Another Surging Sentinels - surely this one would hit.

"You are actually joking!"

Surging Flame

Balduvian Fallen was up next. Zac mustered a Frost Raptor. Kenji went for the throat with Martyr of Ashes revealing Surging Flame but Zac had War Cry to keep his team on the board. Kenji lost his Scoundrel and had no good attack what with first strikers and all.

Squall Drifter joined Zac's fragile forces. Kenji used his Rimerunner on one of the Sentinels and attacked. Zac had another War Cry. Kenji killed the other Sentinel in response with his Flame. Zac fell to four on the attack but he started attacking with his flier - an indication that he felt comfortable with his board.

Kenji upkept his Fallen and let Zac tap it. He played another of the high maintenance zombies. Zac whittled away in the air. Kenji paid five to pay for both of his undead and attacked with his lower rent version. Zac boinged it with Surging Aether - no ripple. Boreal Griffin provided additional defense and potential offense on Zac's side of the red zone.

Kenji could not upkeep his Fallen and let it go. He replayed the original and also cast Orcish Bloodpainter. Zac sighed. He tried another Sentinels without luck and just rolled his eyes without (much) comment. He was able to get Kenji down to seven on his next airstrike.

Kenji played a Scoundrel and passed without attack. Zac went into the tank to figure out the exact sequence of plays that would occur based on any action he chose. Kenji could shoot the tapper with his Bloodpainter, making things complicated. He chose to only attack with the Griffin and played another. Now it was Kenji's turn to think. He had to throw a guy at Zac, draw a Surging Flame, and then throw another guy for the win. He had a little trouble with the middle part of that sequence.

Once again, Kenji Tsumura dropped Game 1 in an elimination match on the road to his third straight Grand Prix title. Zac turned to me, "So as a journalist you have to be rooting against me winning…the whole emotional, Player of the Year, threepeat thing."

"I can work with it either way," I replied coolly.

I guess…

Game 2

Kenji wasn't happy with having to do this merely down a game. He wanted to go down a card too. He sent back his openers and shuffled for quite some time. All joking aside, the possibility of a threepeat was looming large on Kenji's mind and he looked sour about his current scenario. He kept the next six.

Outrider was the first play from Zac. Kenji had a Bloodpainter which Zac followed with Frost Raptor. Kenji had no fourth turn play - his land came into play tapped - and could only take four from Zac's squad. Sentinels whiffed for the fourth time in the match, this time sending a pair of War Cry's to the bottom.

Not if Zac Hill has anything to say about it

Feast of Souls took out a soldier. Zac had another whiff with his next one. Kenji played Deepfire Elemental but Zac demonstrated the principles of tempo with Surging Aether and attacked. Kenji blocked the Outrider with Bloodpainter and shot the Sentinel before damage. Gelid Shackles was on the curriculum for advanced tempo class and Zac demonstrated on the replayed Elemental, dropped Kenji to five. Zac's soldiers were AWOL and whiffed one more time but he did not seem to mind as he was in control of the game. Kenji emptied his hand of Balduvian Fallen and Magnetic Core.

Kenji fell to one on the next attack. Zac threw down another Sentinels (whiffed again) and Phyrexian Ironfoot. Kenji would need a miracle that was not on the top of his deck. Suddenly the streak was over. His beloved Surging Sentinels tried not to work against him but in the end they knew he abandoned them and would not let him win his third Grand Prix in as many tries. The Top 8 streak is still going though…

Kenji walked off a little stunned as he drifted away from the feature match area. Tim Aten was waiting along the rail, staring at him. He waited until Kenji was right in front of him and theatrically high-fived Zac before exiting stage left. Everyone had a good laugh…even Kenji.

Sunday, July 23: 10:29 p.m. - Finals: Shuhei Nakamura vs. Zac Hill

This was the second time in as many drafts that Shuhei Nakamura was displeased with his draft deck. His decks don't really look like other players decks. They look more like Jim Roy constructed decks…you know, with threat diversity.

Game 1 had little to do with threat diversity. His lone Stromgald Crusader was capable of holding off most of Zac's deck, such as the Squall Drifter that came down on turn two. Shuhei followed up with a Scoundrel.

Zac winced as he played Surging Sentinels. You would not actually believe there were six of them in Zac's deck -- he had yet to hit a ripple and this time was no different. The Crusader stayed back to hold off the white creatures while Frost Raptor gave Zac something that could tussle with the Crusader.

Heidar, Rimewind Master touched down on Shuhei's side with three snow perms in play. Finally a Sentinel hit ripple - only once - but he flipped past Sunscour to do it. Shuhei had no play. When Frost Raptor attacked, the Japanese player jumped his Knight and blocked. Not surprisingly, he had Grim Harvest and replayed it on his turn. Zac had also played Boreal Griffin but he could not attack into the Crusader without throwing a guy away.

"Keep on shuffling," muttered Zac, who would not have minded getting back to his Wrath because with four of the Sentinels in play the whiffs were now routine. Shuhei untapped to Deathmark the tapper and Krovikan Whispers the Boreal Griffin.

"Nice turn," admired Zac.

Shuhei was now on the offense and attacked with the stolen flier. Zac played out his fifth Sentinels and his sixth - rippling each time to dig for his Wrath. Rime Transfusion on a Scoundrel dropped Zac to eight on Shuhei's attack which was followed up with Rimebound Dead.

Zac played another tapper and reconsidered his initial notion of passing the turn and doing nothing, "I am thinking."

"What game are they on down there?" DeRosa suddenly bellowed from across the room. "USA! USA! USA!"

Shuhei smiled politely and pushed his two guys into the red zone. If Zac didn't chump one of them with Squall Drifter he would go to one. Instead he Surging Aethered the Control Magic and went to four from the Scoundrel - he could have aimed at his flier and made Shuhei lose a big chunk of life but probably did not realize the wording on the card. The bigger problem was that Shuhei still had active Rimewind Master along with a Krovikan Whispers in hand.

Zac attacked with almost everyone - five Sentinels and Boreal Griffin. Shuhei blocked three guys but Zac had War Cry. Shuhei lost his Rimewind Master, but not before bouncing the Boreal Griffin, and fell to eleven. He untapped and had enough black mana to finish Zac off with the nigh unblockable and untargetable - at least by anything white - Crusader.

Shuhei - 1 Zac - 0

Game 2

Zac kept a hand with at least three lands and Surging Sentinels - maybe one day he would get to live the dream - while Kenji cashed in a hand with three lands and some four casting cost spells.

Ronom Unicorn led off for Zac. Turn three finally saw him ripple into one Sentinel - could he hit another? He could. How about one more time? Yessir! That was all he had - eight points of first striking power on turn three. Shuhei killed one with Feast of Flesh but he fell to eleven on the attack. "That deck is cold," came a whisper from the crowd, referring to Shuhei's chances.

DeRosa looked up from his draft and bellowed again, "Are they going to Game 3 already?"

"Yeah he won on turn three," laughed one spectator.

"Bro," DeRosa was shouting/talking to Zac, "The whole country is relying on you."

Zac looked back and frowned, "America is effed."

Shuhei - 1 Zac - 1

Game 3

Shuhei kept a hand with all black spells but no black mana. Zac mulliganed his opening hand and hoped for the best - something like last game. Krovikan Scoundrel led things off and Zac played Squall Drifter which was promptly Deathmarked.

Zac had the turn three Sentinel and a ripple of excitement went through the crowd. "C'mon…ace!" shouted once spectator.


Zac found himself looking down the barrel of Blizzard Specter. Shuhei respected the bluff of War Cry when Zac attacked and took two. He then began taking apart Zac's hand. Sentinel number two hit another copy but with a freshly cast Stromgald Crusader on the team it was not going to get through for much.

"How did turn three go?" DeRosa echoed from his draft on the other end of the cavernous hall. Squall Drifter joined Shuhei's team with Krovikan Whispers -- after attacking and making him discard again. Zac had one card left. Shuhei ate a Sentinel when Zac tried the old alpha strike. Zac had another Squall Drifter but it was boinged with Surging Aether and the Specter stripped it from his hand.

The American player drew another card but laid it down in concession. He looked back at the crowd of his supporters who had been urging him on to victory.

"I know I let my country down but it might work out for the best…I don't have to buy all these guys dinner."

Cedric did a double take, "Whoa…whoa…whoa…no dinner?"
Final result: Shuhei Nakamura - 2 Zac Hill - 1

Congratulations to Shuhei! Not only is he the Grand Prix St. Louis champion but the six Pro points he picked up should push him within one or two Pro Tour appearances of leveling up for next season.

Look for Kenji and Shuhei at their next U.S. appearances at Grand Prix Phoenix and Grand Prix New Jersey.

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