Round 14 Featured Match: Shota Yasooka (Esper Control) vs. Yuuki Ichikawa (Sultai Seasons Past)

Posted in GRAND PRIX TOKYO 2016 on May 8, 2016

By Chapman Sim

As the Swiss rounds approach its final throes, two of the best players at the top tables have clashed. On one side of the table was Hall of Famer, Shota Yasooka, and on the other, two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Yuuki Ichikawa.


Shota Yasooka (left) and Yuuki Ichikawa (right)

We've previously featured Ichikawa's Sultai Seasons Past in a Deck Tech, and the fact that he was playing for the Top 8 is solid proof that his deck was working like a charm. However, to secure a spot, he would need to get past the "Control Master", and then win his next match as well.

Naturally, Yasooka came armed with Esper Control, and is at a similar 11-2 record. Since both players' decks had a Blue and Black shell, the matchup seems to be pretty even. However, I'm sure one of them will find a way to outwit another.

Game 1

Not that Seasons Past has a weak late game, but simply due to the fact that Ichikawa had cheaper creatures in his deck, it would seem that he was more suited to be the aggressor. He kicked off with Sylvan Advocate, while Yasooka tried Transgress the Mind only to see it fizzle.

Ichikawa dropped a topdecked Nissa, Vastwood Seer, recovering from the mulligan he took. Yasooka could only bemoan his ill fate. Not only did his discard spell fail to work, he also failed to find his third land, or any Blue mana at all.


Yuuki Ichikawa assumes the role of the beatdown player.

Discarding Painful Truths was... painful, especially when Ichikawa pressed the advantage with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy which allowed him to filter through a couple of cards to solidify his lead. When Yasooka finally found his third land, he pointed Ruinous Path at Sylvan Advocate now that Ichikawa was approaching his sixth.

No matter.

Casting Dark Petition and laying Evolving Wilds, it would seem that Ichikawa had just tutored for his deck's signature Sorcery to return his entire graveyard to his hand. Yasooka wasn't about to stay and find out, and quickly scooped up his cards. There was no way that a high-caliber player such as Ichikawa could have selected the wrong card off Dark Petition to throw the game.

Shota Yasooka 0 – Yuuki Ichikawa 1

Game 2

Sideboarding for control mirrors is particularly intricate.

Do you take out some or all your creatures and attempt to blank your opponent's removal spells? Or will your opponent take out some removal spells and transform into a deck with more creatures and Planeswalkers? How good is countermagic against an opponent with discard spells? These are questions that both players need to ask themselves.

As a matter of fact, the first war started as quickly as both players reached three mana. Ichikawa instigated with Duress, which Yasooka promptly Negated. Since information was of utmost importance in the control mirrors, Ichikawa replied with a copy of his own Negate. That forced Yasooka to lose Painful Truths, but Ichikawa groaned as Yasooka topdecked another copy!

"Oh dear, oh dear, this is painful, that's three cards"


Shota Yasooka refills his hand.

The usually-silent Yasooka simply smiled and went ahead to draw three cards, but found little action. Using that window, Ichikawa resolved Nissa, Vastwood Seer which forced Yasooka to deal with it quickly before it could transform into a more problematic Nissa, Sage Animist.

Grasp of Darkness killed Nissa, while Ichikawa baited out Ultimate Price with Jace. That cleared the path for Sylvan Advocate, which Yasooka had no immediate solution to.

Things escalated rather quickly after that.

From out of nowhere, Ichikawa topdecked not one, but two copies of Hissing Quagmire, which combined with Sylvan Advocate quickly mopped things up before Yasooka could even attempt to race with Dragonlord Ojutai.

Yasooka could only smile and pick up his cards. In Ichikawa's words, "that was such a bad game, and I am so lucky!" Only 5 Pro Points away from securing Gold, Ichikawa is already guaranteed three at this point. One more win will put him into the Top 8 for four, and if he advances to the semifinals, he will be locked!

The entire match lasted less than fifteen minutes, and the producer asked innocently if it was a Mono Red mirror.

We use cookies on this site to personalize content and ads, provide social media features and analyze web traffic. By clicking YES, you are consenting for us to set cookies. (Learn more about cookies)

No, I want to find out more