Rick Lee is on a tear at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. He was the only player to run the tables yesterday and ended up with a perfect 8-0 record. This is his third Pro Tour. His previous best finish was second place at Grand Prix Manila in 2012.
However, he has a tough task ahead of him if he wants to maintain that perfect record, as standing in his way is the formidable Shota Yasooka.
Yasooka would be a slam dunk for the Hall of Fame if it wasn't for a surprisingly low value in one of his stats. Yasooka only has a solitary Pro Tour Top 8 on his resume, a team win at Pro Tour Charleston back in 2006. I say surprisingly, as all of Yasooka's other achievements are exemplary, including winning Player of the Year back in 2006.
This morning might also be a struggle as Yasooka wasn't too pleased with how his deck turned out, with a couple of the boosters providing slim pickings at best. The matchup pitched his aggressive red-green deck versus Lee's removal heavy blue-black deck.
The remaining 8-0 player, Rick Lee, faces off against one of the 7-0-1 players, Shota Yasooka, in the first round of Day Two.
When you have a weak deck, iffy land draws don't help much either, and this blighted Yasooka's first game.
His third land didn't show up until turn four, which meant his Dragon-Scarred Bear arrived a turn late. Lee was already putting up defences with Updraft Elemental and Lotus Path Djinn. Epic Confrontation took care of the Djinn, but Lee was in the driver's seat as Yasooka was still scrambling for land.
Lee had time to drop the first dragon bomb of the match with Necromaster Dragon. That started flying across and recruiting zombies while taking 4 point bites out of Yasooka's life total. Yasooka could only dash in with a Sprinting Warbrute while waiting for a fifth land to arrive so he could cast it normally.
When the fifth land did show up, the Japanese player summoned Warbringer instead. He already had a Warbrute in hand, and now he could threaten an explosive counterattack on the following turn.
Lee doesn't let up.
By this point, Lee was starting to filter his card selection with the help of a Zephyr Scribe. Yasooka finally found a Forest to cast the Feral Krushok. The beast wasn't around for long, as Reality Shift turned it into a more manageable manifest creature.
Those are nearly always face-down lands anyway, right?
Lee summoned a Rakshasa Gravecaller and exploited the Scribe to upgrade it into two Zombie tokens. Yasooka sent the Warbrute anyway, and traded it for one Zombie token when Lee made the double block with the token and his Gravecaller. When Lee exploited the other zombie token to draw two cards with Vulturous Aven, it looked like the game, and match, was his.
But that face-down manifest creature? It wasn't a land.
Yasooka flipped it over at end of turn to reveal a large Segmented Krotiq. He also revealed what the Island was for in his green-red deck as Taigam's Strike pumped the Krotiq and ensured it couldn't be blocked. The Conifer Strider Yasooka summoned after his attack step would ensure he had a safe target to rebound the Strike onto next turn to take the game and level the match.
In the third game, Yasooka finally hit his curve, with turn two Glade Watcher and then Colossodon Yearling. Lee attempted to slow him down with Defeat on the Yearling. Yasooka replaced the 2/4 with a 3/4 Aerie Bowmasters on his fourth turn. Things got ugly on the following turn as Yasooka dashed in a Warbrute, turning on formidable for the Glade Watcher, as everything came in to smash away half of Lee's life total.
Yasooka's red-green deck chose to cooperate in the third game.
Lee had manifested the top card of his library with Cloudform, and when he passed the next turn with mana open, Yasooka decided to stay back and add to his forces with Dragon-Scarred Bear and Atarka Beastbreaker. He was now threatening a devastating attack on the following turn.
Despite having formidable, Yasooka chose not to pump his Beastbreaker on the next attack, ensuring he did not lose tempo by having Lee kill it in response (who had Reach of Shadows). He let the Beastbreaker trade with the manifested Cloudform and followed up with Conifer Strider. At this point, he had too much pressure, and Lee had no window to claw back into the game.
Lee 1 – Yasooka 2
With that match, the last player with a perfect record at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir finally fell.