Posted in PRO TOUR KHANS OF TARKIR - COVERAGE - EVENTS on October 10, 2014

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

When I'm usually writing these things, it's at the Grand Prix level, and you often have to dig a little to build a resume for the players you're tasked to write about. It's a little easier at the Pro Tour. The last two Pro Tours? Bam. Yuuki Ichikawa Top 8'd both of them. Pro Tour Avacyn Restored? Bam. Alexander Hayne won that.

Both Alexander Hayne and Yuuki Ichikawa have some powerful recent finishes to their name: Hayne with a Pro Tour win in 2012, and Ichikawa with back-to-back Top 8s at the last two Pro Tours.

The Games

Whether they meant to or not, both players also wore their clan affiliations on their sleeves. Hayne's t-shirt happened to be black with a red and white logo, and after winning the die roll and choosing to play first, his early plays verified his allegiance with the Mardu hordes. Ichikawa had the Sultai logo on his actual card sleeves, and when his first-turn Embodiment of Spring fetched out a Swamp on turn two, it wasn't exactly subtle, you know?

What also wasn't subtle was Hayne's game plan. He deployed a series of small creatures across his first three turns, and topped that off with a fourth-turn Raiders' Spoils. With the pace of play established, Ichikawa happily trading off his blockers, successfully setting up a particularly nasty Dead Drop, clearing out Hayne's last two guys, including a face-down Ponyback Brigade.

Hayne recovered nicely with a Mardu Roughrider, a Chief of the Scale, and a Morph, while Ichikawa summoned a Tusked Colossodon. The Elephant looked mildly embarrassed as the Roughrider attacked Ichikawa down to 9, and even more ashamed when Ichikawa tried to See the Unwritten, but found only a single Dazzling Ramparts. Hayne attacked again, and revealed his morph to be a Master of Pearls to take Game 1.

Hayne 1 – Ichikawa 0

Hayne again took the driver's seat, and this time managed to turn his Ponyback Brigade face-up before Ichikawa could find and deploy his Dead Drop. Hayne added an Ankle Shanker to his team, and a turn later, closed out the match with a Rush of Battle.

While Ichikawa's deck certainly looked powerful, and if given enough room to breathe, could no doubt take a game late and eventually overcome whatever his opponents could offer, Hayne's deck packed exactly the kind of pressure required to put games away quickly and decisively. In the end, it didn't look like Ichikawa stood much of a chance this round.

Hayne 2 – Ichikawa 0