Round 4: Shota Yasooka (Affinity) vs. Matej Zatlkaj (Death’s Shadow Aggro)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 5, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Quite a few Pro Tour Top 8 appearances were down in the feature match area for Round 4 of Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. Between Matej Zatlkaj's two Top 8s—at Pro Tour Berlin in 2008 and Pro Tour Dragon's Maze in 2013—and Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka's pair that included a win at Pro Tour Charleston in 2006, there was no shortage of expertise as the players vied for the chance to move to 4–0.

And with both players familiar with each other and that combined success, pregame talk was relaxed and plentiful, despite the stakes. At least it was from Zatlkaj's side, as usual.

"Any time Shota starts 3-0 in a tournament, you don't want to play him," he half-joked as they shuffled up for the first game. "This is going to be good!"

The Decks

Zatlkaj was having fun playing against Yasooka, but he admitted to his friendly rival that he was disappointed by his deck choice for the weekend: Affinity. The ubiquitous deck is both consistent and powerful, and it's not surprise that many players in the room decided to bring it to battle—though it was a little surprising that master innovator Yasooka was one of them.

For his part, Zatlkaj brought the deck that many of his teammates on Team EUreka also chose to wield: Death's Shadow Aggro. The deck looked a lot like a traditional Zoo deck, with Wild Nacatl and Monastery Swiftspear among its aggressive bent. But Zatlkaj's deck took that to the maximum, with Gitaxian Probe and Mutagenic Growth to lower his own life total in order to make Death's Shadow in a giant, 1-mana attacker. Rounding out the deck was the terror of Standard: the "combo" of Temur Battle Rage and Become Immense.


The two tenured Magic players were more than familiar with each other at this point, and for Matej Zatlkaj in particular, an early pairing against Hall of Famer Shota Yasooka was not what he wanted to see.

The Games

With two aggressive decks matching up, there was every chance the games would end in the blink of an eye, and the first tilt didn't disappoint. In a demonstration of explosiveness, Zatlkaj led with Monastery Swiftspear. The monk typically attacks for just 1 damage on the first turn, but when Zatlkaj followed it up with Gitaxian Probe and a pair of Mishra's Bauble, it was suddenly much larger.

All Yasooka could muster in response was a Vault Skirge, and he ended his first turn of the game with just 14 life. Death's Shadow followed for Zatlkaj, and it looked like he might run away with the game. Instead Yasooka fought back with an Ornithopter and a pair of Arcbound Ravager.


Tempted by the power of a more active strategy, Yasooka moved away from blue-based control for this event.

The thopter ate one attack before giving its energy to the Ravager. He was low on life, but Yasooka had found a way back into the game.

That is, until Zatlkaj deployed Mutagenic Growth plus Temur Battle Rage on his Death's Shadow, knocking himself to 4 life but making the now-trampling Death's Shadow more than enough to seal the first game.

The first game showed just how explosive-but-still-resilient Zatlkaj's deck could be, while the second provided Yasooka to do the same. A first-turn Arcbound Ravager—helped in part by Welding Jar—gave him a quick clock. That same Welding Jar protected the Ravager from a Lightning Bolt, and combined with the damage his mana base dealt to his own life total, Zatlkaj scooped his cards up quickly.

That sent things into a decider, and this time neither player had an overwhelming start. Zatlkaj had a first-turn Wild Nacatl, while Yasooka had a Vault Skirge to respond. With Cranial Plating at the ready in Yasooka's hand, the Skirge represented a solid path to victory. However, that path was quickly undone by Pyroclasm, which cleared the Skirge and allowed Wild Nacatl its own path, to the red zone.


Zatlkaj and EUreka settled into a much more aggressive strategy for this tournament.

With no creature to attach his second-turn Cranial Plating to, Yasooka was up against the wall, and a timely Stony Silence from the top for Zatlkaj made things even more dire, considering Yasooka had a pair of now-useless Darksteel Citadel. Still, thanks to the damage Zatlkaj had dealt himself, Yasooka's Galvanic Blast sent him down to 4 life. That meant the hall of famer had a draw step to find another copy to steal the game.

But that draw step came up empty, and Become Immense from Zatlkaj ensured that Yasooka wouldn't get another, sending the hall of famer's life total to 0 and Zatlkaj to the ranks of the 4–0.

Death’s Shadow Aggro – Matej Zatlkaj

Affinity – Shota Yasooka

Latest Event Coverage Articles

August 12, 2019

Grand Prix Minneapolis 2019 Final Standings by, Wizards of the Coast

Rank Player Points Prize Money 1 Plocher, Justin [US] 38 $7,000 2 Corzo, Jonathan [US] 37 $3,500 3 Overturf, Ryan [US] 37 $1,750 4 Barbagela...

Learn More

August 6, 2019

Grand Prix Chiba 2019 Final Standings by, Wizards of the Coast

Rank Player Points Prize Money 1 Nakamichi, Daisuke [JP] 42 $7,000 2 Suzuki, Kazushige [JP] 39 $3,500 3 Zimmermann, Raoul [XE] 40 $1,750 4 I...

Learn More

Articles

Articles

Event Coverage Archive

Consult the archives for more articles!

See All

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