Round 4: Antonio Del Moral León (Esper Dragons) vs. Yuta Takahashi (Red Abzan)

Posted in Event Coverage on October 16, 2015

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Antonio Del Moral León was relatively unknown when he won Pro Tour Fate Reforged last season. Since then, Del Moral León has proven himself both as a player and a deck builder that's willing to take big risks for the chance at bigger payoff. This weekend, Del Moral León has chosen to pilot an Esper Dragons deck that uses countermagic, removal, and card draw to dominate the game before sealing the deal with Dragonlord Ojutai.

His opponent, Yuta Takahashi, has been a force to be reckoned with on the Pro Tour for the better part of the last decade. Takahashi came out swinging in the 2007 Pro Tour season with a finals appearance at Pro Tour San Diego where he lost to one of the most strikingly handsome, talented, and well-spoken individuals in the known universe. Takahashi is armed with an aggressively bent Abzan deck with a small Red splash.

Pro Tour Fate Reforged ​champion Antonio Del Moral León has proven his skill, but longtime pro Yuta Takahashi boasts quite a resume as well.

The Games

Both players spent the first few turns simply playing lands. Del Moral León sculpted his hand a bit with Anticipate, while Takahashi drew some extra cards with Abzan Charm. Siege Rhino came down for the Japanese master and Del Moral León let it resolve before using Foul-Tongue Invocation to deal with it before Takahashi's turn had ended.

Next up was Anafenza, the Foremost, which ate an Ojutai's Command, leaving Del Moral León tapped out. Takahashi took advantage of the opportunity by resolving Hangarback Walker.

Del Moral León stuck Jace, Vryn's Prodigy, but Takahashi went bigger with Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Del Moral León would need an answer quickly and he tried to find one by tapping out for Dig Through Time on Takahashi's end step. Takahashi was at the ready, though. Hangarback Walker was upgraded and Dromoka's Command further grew the spidery construct and dealt with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy while the Spaniard was tapped out.

From here, Del Moral León struggled to keep his head above water. He was countering threats and drawing extra cards, but he couldn't deal with Takahashi's board.

Del Moral León looks for a solution against his opponent's constant threats.

Dragonlord Ojutai made an appearance, but an attack from Takahashi and a pair of Siege Rhinos to power through Del Moral León's lone piece of countermagic secured the first game of the match.

Takahashi got things started quickly in the second game of the match with Warden of the First Tree. Del Moral León was able to deal with it via Complete Disregard, but Takahashi had another Warden in hand.

After playing Jace, Vryn's Prodigy on the previous turn, Del Moral León thought for a bit and decided to block when Takahashi attacked on the following turn and Takahashi decided not to attempt to pump and kill the Jace in fear of a removal spell. It became abundantly clear why Takahashi was willing to forgo that opportunity when he cast Painful Truths to draw three cards after combat.

Del Moral León was quickly falling behind in the card advantage war and could do nothing but simply activate Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to draw and discard.

Takahashi tried for Gideon, Ally of Zendikar, but Del Moral León had Silumgar's Scorn. The follow-up Tasigur, the Golden Fang met a Murderous Cut from Del Moral León.

Takahashi builds pressure with one massive threat after another.

Takahashi continued grinding his way to victory with Den Protector and another copy of Tasigur, the Golden Fang. Sure, Del Moral León had removal and countermagic, but Takahashi had just previously drawn three cards with Painful Truths, a very powerful new card from Battle for Zendikar.

Things looked like they may have turned around for Del Moral León when he cast Dig Through Time and followed it up with Crux of Fate, but Takahashi was able to get the opposing Planeswalker off the table by combining Shambling Vent with Abzan charm for a pair of +1/+1 counters.

Del Moral León stuck Dragonlord Ojutai and Dragonlord Silumgar, but it was still unclear if he had found his way back into the game. Takahashi kept on coming with a follow-up consisting of Siege Rhino, Anafenza, the Foremost, and a now 5/6 Shambling Vent. Del Moral León's life total was low enough that he was forced to trade off his Dragonlord Ojutai for a Siege Rhino.

The follow-up 1/1 Hangarback Walker would prove to be the last screw in Del Moral León's coffin. Crux of Fate cleaned up the board, leaving only Shambling Vent and a 1/1 Thopter token. Takahashi was happy to send the pair into combat on the following turn and Abzan Charm was able to make the thopter token into a lethal body and secure the match for the Japanese master.

Del Moral León 0 - Takahashi 2

Antonio Del Moral León—Esper Dragons

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Yuta Takahashi—Red Abzan

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