Round 6: Andrew Cuneo (Infect) vs. Ken Yukuhiro (Abzan)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 6, 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

Gold-Level Pro Andrew Cuneo is no stranger to the top tables at the Pro Tour. With two Pro Tour Top 8s and two Grand Prix Top 8s, the Pennsylvania native has proven that he can tango with the best. Cuneo pioneered the Melira Pod versions of Birthing Pod that led the Modern format for so many years. This weekend, Cuneo is piloting an Infect strategy championed by Tom Ross that features cards like Wild Defiance and Become Immense to win the game seemingly out of nowhere.

His opponent, Ken Yukuhiro, is a Gold-level Pro from Japan. Yukuhiro has one Pro Tour Top 8 and an impressive six Grand Prix Top 8s. Yukuhiro is piloting the ever popular Abzan deck. Yukuhiro finds himself in a precarious situation against the explosive power of the infect strategy. Thoughtseize and Lingering Souls are the best card’s against the Infect deck and victory will strongly depend on his ability to draw multiple copies of these two key cards in conjunction with well-timed removal spells. 

Both Andrew Cuneo and Ken Yukuhiro, Gold-level pros, tackled the Modern format in different ways.

The Games

Cuneo got off to a fast start in the first game with Glistener Elf into Blighted Agent.

Yukuhiro had Thoughtseize, but Cuneo had already deployed multiple infect creatures and a glimpse at his hand revealed three redundant pump spells. Yukuhiro took Vines of Vastwood to possibly improve his ability to resolve removal.

Cuneo declined to try for the win on the following turn with Become Immense, but was forced to go for it when Yukuhiro cast Lingering Souls on the following turn. Yukuhiro didn’t have the requisite Path to Exile or Dismember required to survive and they were on to the second game.

Cuneo's threats were already on the battlefield, and at that point any pumps would suffice.

The players remained silent as they shuffled for the second game. This time, Yukuhiro would get the play, significantly diminishing the potential for Cuneo to win the game in the first few turns.

Cuneo had Glistener Elf on the first turn again, but Yukuhiro played Tarmogoyf, which would soon be big enough to do some blocking duty.

Yukuhiro used Maelstrom Pulse to kill Cuneo’s Glistener Elf and proceeded to cast Lingering Souls either from his hand or from the graveyard on every subsequent turn of the game. 

Cuneo tried to work his way through the army of spirit tokens with Pendelhaven, but three copies of Lingering Souls provided far too many blocking bodies as Yukuhiro’s Tarmogoyf and eventual sidekick, Voice of Resurgence, were enough to close the game.

The players were asked to stop for a few minutes while the cameras finished covering another match. Yukuhiro stood up to watch the other Japanese players, sixteenth-ranked Kentaro Yamamoto and Shuhei Nakamura, play their match.

Cuneo inquired, “Who do you want to win?”

Yukuhiro pointed at Yamamoto, “My teammate.”

The other match ended and the cameras found their way to the table. The third game was underway.

Cuneo led things off with Noble Hierarch and Yukuhiro used Thoughtseize to remove Become Immense, a card capable of winning the game by itself, from Cuneo’s hand.

Yukuhiro's deck sports a suite of powerful disruption.

Cuneo used Gitaxian Probe on the following turn and immediately realized the uphill battle that he’d be fighting this game. Yukuhiro had another copy of Thoughtseize and Lingering Souls in hand with a plethora of spot removal spells.

Cuneo tried to put up an offense, but there was little he could do in the face of such a strong resistance.

Yukuhiro’s Tasigur, the Golden Fang provided a clock and the potential of valuable card advantage against an opponent that already lacked any sort of reasonable offense.

Eventually, Cuneo stuck Blighted Agent, the one card capable of attacking through a line of spirit tokens.

It wasn’t meant to be, though, as the Japanese pro had Abrupt Decay to squelch any spark of hope for the American.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang attacked a few times while Cuneo floundered to establish some sort of offense and the game ended in just a few short turns.

Cuneo - 1 Yukuhiro - 2

Ken Yukuhiro – Pro Tour Fate Reforged

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Andrew Cuneo – Pro Tour Fate Reforged

Download Arena Decklist

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