Drafting with Shuhei Nakamura

Posted in Event Coverage on February 1, 2016

By Melissa DeTora

Melissa is a former Magic pro player and strategy writer who is now working in R&D on the Play Design team.

It's Draft 2 here at Grand Prix Vancouver and Hall of Famer and member of Team Face-to-Face Shuhei Nakamura is sitting at 10-2 . The Japanese player needs a 3-0 record to lock up his twenty-eighth Grand Prix Top 8. It's hard to believe that a single player can have that many GP Top 8s. Most players haven't even played in twenty-eight GPs! Currently twenty-eight is the record for most GP Top 8s by a single player and that record is held by Olivier Ruel of France. A Top 8 from Nakamura will tie that record.

What's even more impressive is that if Nakamura wins the event this weekend he will break the record for most Grand Prix wins held by a single player with eight wins. He has been tied for first with Japan's Yuuya Watanabe for a while now and he's hoping to break that record with a win in Vancouver today.

Nakamura began the draft with a first pick Flayer Drone over Blinding Drone. He felt the pick was very close and he thought about it for a while. Blinding Drone would keep him a bit more open as he could go into blue-black or blue-red. He made a riskier pick of Flayer Drone which set him into red-black because this was his color preference.

His next few picks set him up further for a red-black aggressive deck. He drafted Unknown Shores very early. Shuhei explained that “I could have taken a good blue, green, or white card, but I took Unknown Shores. The third pack has no colorless.” He wanted to make sure he had the colorless sources he needed in packs one and two.

At the end of Pack One Nakamura had the start of a solid aggro devoid deck but it was lacking two-drops. The curve looked clunky and he needed to pick up some early creatures to round out his deck. A Zada's Commando was taken early to fill this role but not much came his way in the way of two-drops. While his deck was missing key pieces he was able to pick up a Thought-Knot Seer and strong removal in the form of Oblivion Strike and Reality Hemorrhage.

The biggest surprise of all for Nakamura was Pack 2 Pick 9 when he was passed his third Flayer Drone. Nakamura practically slammed it in his pile. “I was pretty happy of course,” Nakamura recalled.

Nakamura met Pack 3 with another extremely difficult pick: Ruinous Path or Grip of Desolation. Nakamura took the entire time to make the decision and finally added the Ruinous Path to his draft pile. When asked why he chose the Path he explained, “Generally I like the six-mana one, but the format is different, there's less awaken. I don't need to kill lands. Also I do not have process so I don't need to exile.”

The rest of the Battle for Zendikar pack gave Nakamura many more aggressive colorless creatures to go along with his three copies of Flayer Drone. Forerunner of Slaughter, Culling Drone, Kozilek's Sentinel, and three Silent Skimmers were added to his pile. He ended up with a nice Red-Black Devoid deck that was a little on the slow side but had plenty of late-game power.

Nakamura was pretty happy with his deck. “I hope to 3-0. I never say that I'll 3-0, but I hope.”

After the first two rounds of play, Nakamura found himself 2-0 with his deck. He just needs one more win to lock up his twenty-eight Grand Prix Top 8 and become one step closer to being the winningest Grand Prix player in the history of the game.

Shuhei Nakamura - GP Vancouver Draft 2

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