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Grand Prix Yokohama
Day 1 Coverage

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Trial Grinder Winning Decklists

by Event Coverage Staff

Yuning Wen
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Atsushi Kinoshita
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Tatsuya Murakami
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Koudai Kudou
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Yasuki Aida
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Rickard Karlsson
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern

Yuuya Kawano
GP Yokohama Trial Winner (Friday) - Modern




 

Saturday, 1:44 p.m. - Avacyn Restored in Modern

by Blake Rasmussen


The last time we checked in on Modern in a major event was way, way back in Turin, a tournament held mere months ago that, in Magic terms, might as well have been a lifetime ago. Since then new technology brought on by the release of Avacyn Restored has shifted the metagame dramatically, an effect that can be seen in a number of new cards making their presence felt this weekend.

Throw in the fact that the Japanese are renown for innovative deck concepts, and Grand Prix Yokohama has already offered some fertile ground for some newer cards to shine. At least half a dozen cards are making major impacts on the format already.


Restoration Angel 's power is familiar to anyone who has been following Standard, but the card appears to be casting a pretty long shadow over Modern as well. The flashiest of winged white creatures is especially spicy with Kitchen Finks , able to reset Persist while gaining some more life. But it has also been seen blinking Geist of Saint Traft – as it does in Standard – as well as some pretty techy Eternal Witness es I watched one player slay his opponent with during a Grand Prix trial.

There are even some Red-Blue-White Splinter Twin decks that can combine a ton of flash creatures to make combat difficult even before they combo off. Also, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker combos with Restoration Angel to make an unlimited number of hasty 3/4 fliers, adding yet another dimension to an already dangerous deck.

Here was one deck from a recent Magic Online Daily Event that took advantage of that very interaction to go 4-0.


The variety of creatures that get better alongside Restoration Angel is staggering. Vendilion Clique , Spellstutter Sprite , Snapcaster Mage , Kitchen Finks , Eternal Witness , Murderous Redcap , Avalanche Riders , Reveillark and Venser, Shaper Savant all already saw some amount of play and all potentially get even better when there's a Restoration Angel to reset them.

Restoration Angel has primarily seen play so far in UW Delver-esque decks, Meliria Pod lists and a number of rogue deck lists that play Kitchen Finks . It only goes to show that the more enters the battlefield triggers a format has, the more ripe it is for Restoration Angel 's particular brand of power.

In fact, this card has been one of several factors largely responsible for the recent rise in blue-white delver decks over the RUG version Antonino de Rosa used to win Turin. Two players took down GP Trials with fairly stock UW lists, including this one:


I wouldn't be surprised to see several copies of Modern's newest angel in the Top 8 when the weekend is over.


Speaking of blinking creatures, Cloudshift does everything Restoration Angel does minus the body, but also minus the four-mana price tag. Cloudshift has not been adopted as widely as Restoration Angel , but it does have a different kind of synergy with Snapcaster Mage , allowing the Mage itself to function as yet another Angel.


Vexing Devil garnered a lot of controversy when it was first spoiled. Opinions ranged from being awful to very good in the right deck. It appears, after watching absolutely every red deck I saw playing during the trials cast the Avacyn Restored 4/3 alongside Goblin Guide , that the answer is "very good in the right deck."

The red deck plays every spell possible that can deal three damage, including dipping into black to play Bump in the Night . Vexing Devil may only see play in this one type of deck, but it is a powerful, fast deck that will catch many players unprepared this weekend. Here's a sample deck from a Grand Prix trial winning deck.



If you thought Cavern of Souls hosed Mana Leak in Standard, you should take a look at the long list of heavily played cards in Modern that can get blanked by a simple Cavern. Spell Snare , Remand , Cryptic Command and the aforementioned Mana Leak , plus some lesser played cards like Venser, Shaper Savant and Rune Snag .

Holding it back a bit in the format is the variety of creature types that would need to be named, plus the fact that it fights for space with fetchlands, shocklands and the filterlands. I've seen the card in some Jund lists, for example, fighting for space in an already crowded mana base. Plus, in that deck, Elf ( Bloodbraid Elf ), Ouphe ( Kitchen Finks ), Human ( Dark Confidant and Huntmaster of the Fells ) and Lhurgoyf ( Tarmogoyf ) are all viable options.

Similarly, Splinter Twin 's creatures all have different types (Cleric, Horror, Human, Goblin). The blue white decks fare a bit better with a plethora of Wizards – Delver of Secrets , Snapcaster Mage , Vendilion Clique and Spellstutter Sprite – but pack so many instants and utility lands that they're a bit tight on space for lands.


This one is pretty simple. Sometimes you need a creature that can't be sent on a Path to Exile , can't be bound in Vedalken Shackles , and can't be blown away by any number of Jund spells. Primarily seen as a one-of in Birthing Pod Melira decks, it adds an important new dimension that allows the deck to fight through removal and hate. It may not be pretty, but sometimes brute force will get the job done.


Then we come to the 30,000 lb. elephant – er, demon – in the room. Griselbrand , fresh off being banned in Commander (true story), is set to get his revenge in Modern.

Just over a week ago, Gerry Thompson posted a list for Modern that sought to cheat either Griselbrand or Emrakul, the Aeon's Torn into play through Goryo's Vengeance and Through the Breach . Since then, players have taken the concept and run with it all the way to a potentially dangerous combo deck that seeks to simply win once Griselbrand is in play.

It does this through the use of pitch spells – primarily Nourishing Shoal and Fury of the Horde – that allow the deck to gain more life. More life means more cards, and more cards means more pitch spells. A reanimated Griselbrand only needs two Fury of the Horde s to win, and an Emrakulonly needs one. Nourishing Shoal pitching Autochthon Wurm is good for 15 life, which then turns into 14 cards, which likely turns into more life and more cards, ending in a Conflagrate for more than lethal.

If the legendary Demon is going to be broken in Modern, these look like pretty good places to start. The deck didn't look widespread during Grand Prix Trials, but those that did play it looked like they did well.

However, only one Griselbrand list won a Grand Prix trial, and it appeared to favor more disruption over the combo kill. After all, if you can't win with one attack plus seven (or more) cards from ol' hook hands, you probably weren't going to win anyway. This list from Victor Mayor Redondo even has another "draw 7" with Jin-Gitaxias, Core Augur .


Word on the floor is that at least one well-known Japanese pro is playing the Nourishing Shoal version of Griselbrand , meaning I wouldn't be surprised in the least to see one or more copies of the deck at the top of the standings as the weekend goes on. We won't reveal just who that player is yet, but stay tuned all weekend to see what that player and others can do when "Draw 7 cards" comes into play.




 

Saturday, 3:35 p.m. - Modern Innovations

by Chapman Sim


Roaming the tournament floor in search of interesting stories is what I enjoy greatly at every event. In a field of more than 1500 players, we're almost always assured of finding interesting (or even wacky) decks that are worth an honorable mention. For those of you who are brave enough to walk the path less trodden, here are some ideas to get the wheels in your head turning!

Scapeshift/Amulet Combo

Who would have thought that this obscure necklace could find a home in a Modern combo deck? Amulet of Vigor triggers separately for each permanent which enters the battlefield tapped, which means laying Gruul Turf while controlling two amulets results in it being untapped twice, allowing you to float the mana in between triggers. In conjunction with Summer Bloom and Scapeshift , the Ravnica "bouncelands" promise to generate a lot of mana, and most likely more than enough to fuel Past in Flames , Gifts Ungiven and a huge uncounterable Banefire !

Amulet of Vigor allows for some massive mana generation

Modern Merfolk

Disregarding the absence of Force of Will , at least one player was seen utilizing Æther Vial the way it is abused in Legacy. He was able to plop an assortment of Merfolk (including usual suspects like Lord of Atlantis , Coralhelm Commander and Silvergill Adept ) onto the table, while keeping up mana for a light touch of countermagic. Same old same old?

Mass-generation of Merfolk

Equipment Storm

Also sighted was someone taking Storm to a different level! Packing an assortment of free equipment like Bone Saw , Kite Shield , Paradise Mantle and Accorder's Shield , it was not difficult to fire off multiple volleys of Grapeshot . In case you were wondering, the deck uses Vedalken Archmage and Puresteel Paladin as its card-drawing engine and possibly packs Pyromancer's Swath or Empty the Warrens as a kill condition.

Equipments galore

Krark-Clan Ironworks

Blake also shared with me a story of how someone with a Mono Blue Krark-Clan Ironworks deck had reduced his opponent's board to nothing. Using mana reduction cards like Etherium Sculptor , Cloud Key and Semblance Anvil , he was able to reduce the cost of Spine of Ish Sah to just one generic mana, allowing him to demolish opposing permanents with ease. Mr. Grand Architect would be proud!




 

Round 4 Feature Match - Shuuhei Nakamura vs. Yu Hasegawa

by Blake Rasmussen


"I have not played Modern since Worlds," Hall of Famer Shuuhei Nakamura said as he sat down, flipping through his deck before the match. "It's no joke."

Nakamura was on the last leg of a two week trip with Ben Swartz and Martin Juza that brought the trio through Manila to South Korea and Cambodia before landing back in Japan this weekend. Based on everything Juza had told me they saw and did in the past week and a half, it was no wonder they had had little time to test the format that has been shaken up by Avacyn Restored. Undoubtedly, it looked only a little bit like the format Nakamura knew from Worlds.

Nakamura, always a fan of Gifts Ungiven , had brought an interesting Blue-Black Tron deck with him that utilized the power of the four-mana instant and giant spells like Karn Liberated . In fact, Nakamura had played a Gifts Ungiven list to a perfect 6-0 record at Worlds, though that list looked very different.

His opponent, Yu Hasegawa, was playing the blue-white Restoration Angel decks that had become so popular. Hasegawa won the die roll, but lost his opening hand to a mulligan. And a second. He finally settled on five he could live with.

Game 1

Despite his mulligan, Hasegawa was the first to land a major threat, tapping out on turn three to play Geist of Saint Traft while Nakamura found lands with Expedition Map . Vendilion Clique put even more pressure on as Nakamura showed a hand of three Karn Liberated , three Gifts Ungiven and a Thoughtseize . He chose to leave them be.

Three Gifts Ungiven were too many to have in hand Game 1, even for a Gifts Ungiven master like Shuuhei Nakamura.

That gave Hasegawa an opening to play Sword of Feast and Famine , which was enough to convince Nakamura to concede the first game having cast just one spell.

Nakamura 0 – Hasegawa 1

Game 2

Nakamura kept another risky hand in the second game and was quickly punished for it as he missed his second land drop, banking on finding one to let him start playing Dimir Signet s.

He found that second land and, despite his opponent's two open mana, even managed to resolve it. Hasegawa, in an attempt to start pressuring the Hall of Famer, played a naked Snapcaster Mage to start hitting for two.

It also curved right into Aven Mindcensor , a very powerful card against Gifts Ungiven .

Nakamura, meanwhile, built his mana after Thirst for Knowledge found him more signets and more lands. Despite his early mana troubles, he was able to keep things mostly under control by Condescend ing a Restoration Angel . It was yet another flash creature cast for no value, as Hasegawa was looking to get in as much damage as possible as fast as possible.

Thoughtseize helped him out in the damage department, but a hand of Cryptic Command , Mana Leak and two Snapcaster Mage s showed Nakamura just how much trouble he was in, especially now at just 8 life. Nakamura binned the Cryptic Command and noted the rest of the hand.

Hasegawa kept the pressure up, casting another Snapcaster Mage without flashing anything back. Six power against 8 life meant Nakamura was right on the edge.

Smother saved some life, but Nakamura still fell to four on the attack, and post-combat Hasegawa was even threatening a Tectonic Edge ...if Nakamura ever hit a fourth land.

A Thirst for Knowledge didn't help much, turning up no lands to play and only an Expedition Map to potentially pitch. That left Nakamura with just two mana up for the ensuing attack.

Despite a mulligan to 5 in game one and Snapcaster Mage s that might as well have been Ambush Viper s in game two, Yu Hasegawa quickly defeated the Hall of Famer sitting across from him.

The two Snapcaster Mage s crashed in, and Nakamura made what appeared to be a mistake. He attempted a Go for the Throat on one Mage knowing Hasegawa's only card was Snapcaster Mage , tapping out to do so. Hasegawa used the Mage to Mana Leak and Nakamura then cast Slaughter Pact to stay alive. But when he untapped he had to pay for the Pact and didn't have enough to cast the Black Sun's Zenith in his hand.

I asked him after the game why he had sequenced it that way and he admitted it might have been better to lead with the Pact. That way, if it gets countered, he can follow up with the Go for the Throat to stay alive, untap and cast Black Sun's Zenith to wipe the board. As it was, Nakamura failed to find another mana source and couldn't cast the Zenith, succumbing to the beats.

Nakamura 0 – Hasegawa 2




 

Saturday, 4:31 p.m. - See the World, Play the Game

by Blake Rasmussen


By now we've all heard the tagline: "Play the Game, See the World." And the saying is incredibly true, as Magic takes players places they've never been before, pairs them up with friends from around the world they might never otherwise meet, and makes the world just a bit smaller for all of us.

But for some players, it might be more correct to swap that saying around. Players like Martin Juza, Shuuhei Nakamura and Ben Swartz have turned this weekend and last week's Grand Prix Manila into a trip most people could only dream of were it not for the places Magic takes us.

It sounds suspiciously like the start of a joke, but a Czech (Juza), an American (Swartz) and a Japanese player (Nakamura) walked into the Grand Prix this weekend having just attended Grand Prix Manila last weekend. In fact, not only three weeks before that Nakamura and Swartz could be found in Anaheim, California as well.

Magic-wise, the trip has been a mixed bag so far for the trio. Juza was outstanding in Manila, finishing 6th, while Swartz and Nakamura finished outside the top 150. This weekend, all three players have taken early losses. Nakamura even said he hasn't played any Modern since Worlds.

But hearing it from Juza, the travel is just as much the point as the tournaments.

"Any time there are two GPs near each other in two weekends, we want to make the trip," he said, running through this trip's travel plans, which included stops in Seoul, South Korea and Cambodia to see Angkor Wat and some temples. Juza said he even had a small high school reunion in Seoul with a friend who was living there.

Spellslinging here in Yokohama is just one part of Martin Juza's world travels, which are taking him around the globe and back again traveling from Grand Prix to Grand Prix.

Juza said he keeps a list of things to see and do around the world, and one of the items on that list is seeing Mount Fuji. Unfortunately, he said, it doesn't open until July 1, and he couldn't justify staying another week.

Also on Juza's travel wish list is the Taj Mahal, a landmark he had hoped to hit on his way to Grand Prix Shanghai in July. Unfortunately, Juza ran into a small issue while planning the trip: his passport is actually just too full to get another visa stamp necessary to get into India.

World traveler problems.

Still, Juza hopes to hit Grand Prix Ghent in July and others after that. He even lamented the fact that he only had a few days in Japan this time around, once of which he had spent sleeping to catch up from the whirlwind trip so far.




 

Round 5 Feature Match - Tsuyoshi Fujita vs. Yuuya Watanabe

by Chapman Sim


The crowd roared ecstatically as both masters were summoned into the Featured Match area. There is little doubt that Hall-of-Famer Tsuyoshi Fujita remains a force to be reckoned with and continues to command respect as an immovable pillar of the local community. Yuuya Watanabe is, however, quite the unstoppable force, seeing how he had claimed his sixth Grand Prix title just last weekend in Manila.

There are a total of TWENTY EIGHT Grand Prix Top 8s between them (with Watanabe contributing sixteen and Fujita the other dozen), so it is understandable when a huge audience quickly gathered around, hoping to witness a truly epic clash of the titans.

Yuuya Watanabe pretends to be camera-shy, while Tsuyoshi Fujita simply grins.

Game 1

After losing the die roll, Fujita promptly sends back his initial seven and keeps his next six with a frown as he watched Watanabe lead with Breeding Pool and Birds of Paradise . He responded with Verdant Catacombs (fetching Blood Crypt ) and Grim Lavamancer .

Watanabe followed that up with Wall of Roots and Birthing Pod on successive turns, while Fujita continued to be stuck on one land. He tried to disrupt with Thoughtseize but Watanabe wasn't bothered a single bit since he already had all he needed.

When Watanabe proceeded to upgrade his Wall of Roots into Kitchen Finks , Fujita decided he shouldn't be wasting any more time and reached for his sideboard.

Tsuyoshi Fujita 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 1

Fujita tries to come back in game 2

Game 2

The gods were not kind to Fujita as he had to ponder a long time on his opening hand. Once again, it was a one-lander, but he did have Inquisition of Kozilek to take away Kitchen Finks from Watanabe. Fujita's gambit didn't pay off, and he had to pass his second turn, staring at the Dark Confidant in his hand. Failing to draw a second land once again, he could only slow Watanabe with Thoughtseize , causing him to lose Ranger of Eos .

When the second land appeared, it was Treetop Village , forcing him to wince uncontrollably and pass the turn, taking another hit from Melira, Sylvok Outcast and Kitchen Finks . Watanabe's draw wasn't exceptionally speedy but he did peel Birthing Pod off the top of his deck, causing Fujita to scoop before Treetop Village even untapped.

Revealing a hand of double Maelstrom Pulse , Blightning and Bloodbraid Elf , even Watanabe agreed the hand would have had a good chance to beat him if he had drawn just one more land.

Tsuyoshi Fujita 0 – Yuuya Watanabe 2

Watanabe coming off winning GP Manila wins against Fujita



 

Saturday, 6:29 p.m. - Deck Tech: Gifting is better than Receiving

by Chapman Sim


The Japanese have long known to be innovators and are unafraid to experiment with their deckbuilding prowess, even if it involves amalgamating two existing archetypes and playing with a nightmare mana base.

While players have enjoyed success separately with Splinter Twin and Gifts Ungiven (popularized by Luis Scott Vargas at Grand Prix Lincoln), a GPT winner yesterday chose to play with the most powerful elements from both decks. At first glance, it looks like a random assortment of cards thrown together distastefully but upon further inspection, it is truly a work of ingenuity.

The deck sports full sets of Serum Visions and Sleight of Hand just like any Modern combo deck would. In addition, Faithless Looting provides even greater card selection and is awesome even when binned via Gifts Ungiven and mitigates the risk of drawing useless cards (like the second Splinter Twin , Elesh Norn, Grand Cenobite or extra lands).

A couple of Splinter Twin s have also been swapped out in favor of Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker , in order to enable shenanigans which involve Unburial Rites and Reveillark . Rather than Dispel , Spellskite and Spell Pierce (which are used primarily for combo protection), Thoughtseize , Duress and Inquisition of Kozilek were used to proactively disrupt your opponent, effectively slowing them down while setting up the combo of choice.

Gifts Package #1: The "Monster Reanimation" Plan



The beauty of Gifts Ungiven is that you do not necessarily have to search up four cards. Fetching just two allows you to dump two cards you want into the graveyard, allowing you to flashback Unburial Rites on the desired monster of your choice. A one-two punch that promises to paralyze many aggressive decks or combo strategies.

Gifts Package #2a: The "Combo Off" Plan



If you're already holding Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker , this package allows you to retrieve the other half of your infinite combo, since the first three creatures are conveniently named differently, yet all packing similar abilities. Remember you can also evoke Reveillark to complete the puzzle if you have both Kiki-Jiki and either of the three creatures in your graveyard!

Gifts Package #2b: The "Combo Off" Plan



Noxious Revival essentially allows you to reach every card in your deck (at the cost of a draw step) and is incredibly powerful when you need just one other card to win the game. Unburial Rites also revives Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker when necessary.

Gifts Package #3: The "Protection" Plan



If luxury of time permits, this plan allows you to fish out any suspected countermagic or removal your opponent has. Combust is a real headache, as are popular cards like Path to Exile and Negate . Be sure that the coast is clear before going all-in!


The vast card pool of Modern has allowed deckbuilders to showcase their creativity and the possibilities are boundless. Gifts Twinis definitely not easy to pilot and possibly one of the most complicated decks you'll see today. Stay tuned as we bring you more updates as the day unfolds!




 

Round 6 Feature Match - Akira Asahara vs. Yusuke Isayama

by Blake Rasmussen


If anyone is happy to see major tournament Magic back in Yokohama, Akira Asahara might just be the happiest of them. The longtime player and all-star deck designer has had nearly all of his success in Asian Grands Prix, including two Top 8s in Yokohama – a Grand Prix in 2005 where he placed third and Worlds in 2005 where he finished fourth.

Despite his reputation as a rogue deck designer, Asahara had brought a mostly stock Restoration Angel list to game this weekend, though with the added spice of some cards like Sun Titan and Oblivion Ring .

His opponent this round, Yusuke Isayama, doesn't have Ashara's resume, but he had navigated his blue-red Splinter Twin combo deck to 5-0 after just two byes. The resilient combo deck could play through a serious amount of disruption, and Blood Moon out of the sideboard could prove deadly for Asahara's nonbasics-laden deck.

Game 1

Isayama revealed himself to be a combo player early on with a turn 1 Sleight of Hand followed by, well, not much at all. Both players passed back and forth until Isayama played Pestermite at the end of Asahara's fourth turn. Then a Deceiver Exarch added to the small beatdown squad now at Isayama's disposal.

Asahara, poised and seemingly unconcerned, played nothing but lands for his first five turns, even as Isayama tapped low to loot with Desolate Lighthouse .

Finally, a Restoration Angel attempted to jump in front of one of the attackers, but Remand kept it at bay. Isayama followed up with two Spellskite s, but that just let Wrath of God sweep them away.

Here Isayama became contemplative. He had several combo pieces in his hand – Pestermite , Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and two Splinter Twin s – but needed to beat Asahara's untapped mana. He resolved Kiki-Jiki, but a Vendilion Clique forced Isayama to cycle away the Pestermite . Fortunately for him, he drew into running cantrips to find another Deceiver Exarch .

Unfortunately for him, that just meant Restoration Angel on Vendilion Clique took yet another combo piece.

Akira Asahara methodically dispatched every bit of his opponent's combo in the first game.

Still, Asahara managed to get Kiki-Jiki in play, threatening the combo if he ever drew either an Exarchor Pestermite ...

...at least until Oblivion Ring took care of that particular problem. Asahara, it seemed, had all the answers, and Isayama acknowledged as much by scooping up his cards.

Asahara 1 – Isayama 0

Game 2

So there was a second game. I swear it. Sure, Asahara never cast a spell. Sure it took longer to shuffle than it did to play. But there was a game. Let the record show, and all that.


To recap: A turn three Pestermite tapped down Asahara's lone blue source, and Isayama had to giggle a little bit when he drew Splinter Twin but lacked the fourth land with Asahara helpless. Still, Blood Moon shut down Asahara's mana and it only took a few turns to find the fourth land and combo off.

Asahara 1 – Isayama 1

Game 3

After a quick mulligan to six, Asahara had to ponder over his hand a bit. Two lands were fine, but it lacked white mana and contained both Restoration Angel and Sun Titan , virtual blanks for some time. After some thought, he threw it back.

His five card hand wasn't any better, with a single land, Spell Snare and a whopping three Cryptic Commands. As good as the four-mana instant is, three copies of it and not nearly enough land ruined his hand.

His four couldn't have been much better though, as two lands, Spell Snare and Mana Leak gave him a fighting chance.

Yusuke Isayama's confidence with his Splinter Twin combo deck was on display in Round 6 as he came back against Akira Asahara, winning the last two games with relative ease.

Isayama, flush with seven cards, cast Sleight of Hand followed by Deceiver Exarch while Asahara hit all of his land drops up through turn five.

That meant his hand was light on action, making Isayama's Vendilion Clique all the more deadly, forcing Asahra to use his Mana Leak .

But when Blood Moon shut down all of Asahara's colored mana, Isayama knew the way was clear for Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker and the full combo. It wasn't quite as fast as game two, but it was just as brutally efficient.

Asahara 1 – Isayama 2




 

Saturday, 7:43 p.m. - The Proper Care and Sequencing of Lands

by Blake Rasmussen


By now everyone seems to know the story, or some version of it. Conley Woods is playing at Worlds with Zoo in Extended. His opponent, playing a burn deck, mulligans into oblivion with seemingly no chance to win. Then, for three straight turns, Woods plays out some version of the now immortal "Land, crack fetch, take two" until, lo and behold, he finds himself in burn range of an opponent who was likely just as surprised to win as Woods was to lose.

The story, besides its time as an internet meme and running joke, is something of a cautionary tale for anyone playing in formats that combine the Zendikar "fetch lands" – such as Verdant Catacombs and Scalding Tarn – and the Ravnica "shock lands" – such as Hallowed Fountain and Blood Crypt . While the two sets of lands combine to form powerful and flexible mana bases, they do so at a cost, as Woods found out.


So with this weekend's return to Modern and the upcoming Return to Ravnica, we thought it would be a good idea to revisit the ins and outs of managing a painful manabase (note: No, that is not any kind of confirmation, hint or wink and a nod that the Ravnica dual lands are coming back in Return to Ravnica. I am as in the dark as the rest of you and have no inside knowledge whatsoever.)

(Seriously. I have no clue if Ravnica duals are coming back. I've been in the Wizards building all of once, and they mostly blindfolded me and spun me around in circles to disorient me and keep me from seeing anything. I think I saw Mark Rosewater. Maybe.)

Fortunately, a few nights before the Grand Prix, I was visiting a local store in Tokyo that happened to be holding a Modern tournament in advance of the weekend. There I saw players showcasing both the good and the bad ways to fetch and shock themselves in Modern.

First up was a match between Affinity and URW Splinter Twin . The Splinter Twin player had his combo in hand, ready to win on turn four, but without any disruption. His opponent had a fairly typical Affinity draw and was on the play, meaning turn four could possibly be too slow.

Watching the Twinplayer sequence his fetch lands was a study in careful planning. Each turn he debated which land to play and what land to fetch, using his Arid Mesa s and Scalding Tarn s to find three basic lands to minimize his three-color deck's self-inflicted pain. When the penultimate turn came, the Twinplayer was able to cast Deceiver Exarch off two Island s and a Mountain to fall to just four life, untap and use Arid Mesa to find another Mountain and cast Splinter Twin for the win, sitting at just three life.


If he had planned his lands worse, if he had made any misstep along the way or searched up a dual land at any time, the game could have ended very differently.

Meanwhile, sitting nearby was a player playing another blue-white-red deck , this one with Snapcaster Mage s and similar control and tempo elements. His opponent was also on UWR, but a more burn oriented one. The second player saw a line of play where he could burn his opponent out with multiple Lightning Bolt s and Lightning Helix es. Recognizing this, the first player starts using his Spell Snare s on Lightning Helix .

Then came a turn where the control player was only able to leave up Island , Plains , Arid Mesa while holding Snapcaster Mage and Path to Exile . Down to just eight life, he needed to preserve his life total in the face of the burn coming his way. So when yet another Lightning Helix was aimed at his dome, he quickly went to Snapcastera Spell Snare to counter the offending Helix, only to pause when he realized he would need to fetch a blue dual land. Still, he went ahead with it and countered the Helix at the cost of (dramatic pause, turn to camera, take off sunglasses) ... three life.


Now, on its face, this seems absurd. Why pay three life to try and save three life? And it very well may have been (the first player went on to lose the game). However, notice that, one way or the other he was probably going to have to break that Arid Mesa at some point in time. Doing it later means he can search out a basic or a tapped dual land, minimizing the damage. However, the one life is already lost. If he uses it then to Spell Snare the Helix, he's actually saving exactly one life at the cost of using his Snapcaster Mage .

Is that worth it? That all depends on the game state, the rest of your deck and your opponent.

Simple, right?

But it gets even more complicated than that. The player might have been able to save some life by fetching a different land earlier in the game, or playing Arid Mesa earlier and saving his Scalding Tarn to fetch an Island in that position. Or any number of scenarios that might have saved the player two life and, possibly, the game.

And that is why Conley Woods' teammates told him after the game that he should have slowed his deck down by a turn to let his Ravnica dual lands come into play tapped. Every time he fetched up a shock land it was like giving his opponent a free two-damage burn spell, exactly what the burn deck was built to exploit. It's not uncommon to see the best players in the world pass the turn with an untapped fetch land and a Kird Ape in hand if the matchup is going to come down to who can preserve their life total longest.

So while Standard mana bases help you sequence your lands a bit easier – it says it right there on the cards, play Seachrome Coast in the first three lands and Dragonskull Summit after you play a Mountain – Modern mana bases can require a mastery of sequencing that separates the best players in the world from the herd. And with more than 1,500 players at Grand Prix Yokohama this weekend, every single life point will matter.

Or you could play Affinity and skip the whole thing.




 

Round 7 Feature Match - Makihito Mihara vs. Ken Yukuhiro

by Chapman Sim


Makihito Mihara is a not somebody you want to see seated opposite you during any event, except possibly at your birthday party. Not only has he been crowned World Champion back in 2006, he was also part of the National Team which clinched the Teams trophy at Worlds 2011. Only three other people (Kai Budde, Jon Finkel and Julien Nuijten) can say that they've won both the individual and team portion at Worlds and that is a feat in itself.

Ken Yukuhiro has had a spectacular season, having just made the semi-finals of Pro Tour Avacyn Restored a month ago in Barcelona. He happens to be one of the only four Japanese Pros to be at the coveted Platinum level for the next season. Both players are 5-1 and whoever loses this one would be forced to play bubble matches for the rest of the day.

Yukuhiro goes head to head against Makihito Mihara

Game 1

Yukuhiro wasted no time in summoning Goblin Guide to take his opponent down to 18 and followed that up with Plated Geopede , to the surprise of the former World Champion. Mihara's life total trickled away, and he was now at 15 life after a fetchland activation and a second attack from Goblin Guide .

He summoned Spellskite to block but that was not to be, since Yukuhiro decided to send it on the Path to Exile. Yukuhiro dropped yet another fetchland (and cracks it to bring his Plated Geopede up to five power), before barging in for seven more damage to bring Mihara down to just 8 life.

When he tried a second copy of Spellskite, it met the same fate as its previously fallen comrade. The ensuing attack brought Mihara down to just

three life, and it didn't seem like he had time to cast any of the three Gifts Ungiven in his hand.

Makihito Mihara 0 – Ken Yukuhiro 1

Makihito Mihara

Game 2

Mihara opened with Scalding Tarn and Yukuhiro tried persuade him to search up a Ravnica dual. Preferring to go to 19 rather than 17, Mihara declined with a hearty chuckle and opted for a basic Mountain to cast Faithless Looting , discarding Unburial Rites and Deceiver Exarch .

Yukuhiro paid no heed to what was in the graveyard and turned up the heat with Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede . The damage added up quickly, especially when Yukuhiro had already used up two fetchlands alongside the dynamic duo of landfall creatures.

When he added Goblin Guide to an already formidable team, Mihara responded with Deceiver's Exarch, tapping down Plated Geopede , blocking Goblin Guide , eventually taking four damage from Steppe Lynx , falling to just 8. After combat, Yukuhiro's forced Mihara to make a choice of damnations by summoning Vexing Devil . Mihara eventually decided to halve his own life total, in order to send the devil to the gallows.

Now nearly at the end of his line, Mihara proceeded to flashback Faithless Looting to dig for answers, hoping to find a one mana removal spell to stave off the impending lethal assault (Gasp, this is only turn four?) While he was deliberating what to discard, Yukuhiro saved everyone time by revealing a third fetchland from his grip, ensuring that both Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede would grow to monstrous proportions, sealing Mihara's demise.

Makihito Mihara 0 – Ken Yukuhiro 2

Ken Yukuhiro




 

Round 8 Feature Match - Takahiro Yamamoto vs. Satoshi Yamaguchi

by Blake Rasmussen


One of the best things about Grand Prix tournaments is watching relatively unknown players take unknown or underappreciated decks to Day 1 success. They come out of seemingly nowhere with a deck that's often powerful but way off most player's radars.

At 7-0, Takahiro Yamamoto is one such player and his Elves list is one such deck.

It's not that the power of Elves is unknown, it's that the loss of Glimpse of Nature turned it from an insane combo deck into a deck that really don't do much more than make mana and attack. Still, it can make a lot of mana, and it can attack very fast and very hard.

At the other end of the spectrum is fellow 7-0 Satoshi Yamaguchi, a player who has played on the Pro Tour as recently as Pro Tour Avacyn Restored in Barcelona and is playing a fairly stock Jund list, one of the most popular choices this weekend. His plethora of removal and card advantage looked like a bad matchup for Yamamoto, but since both players had managed to get to 7-0 already, it was a safe bet the Elves player had a plan for just such an occasion.

Game 1

After a quick trip to Paris, Yamamoto was first on the board with an Arbor Elf , one of roughly 87 one-mana elves his deck could serve up. He followed up with a Nettle Sentinel and a missed land drop.

Yamaguchi wasted no time Lightning Bolt ing the first Arbor Elf , but that only slowed Yamamoto down a bit. He was soon on the board with three one-mana elves and an Elvish Archdruid , still with only one land.

Meanwhile, Yamaguchi's Jund deck had served up a Dark Confidant , but Jund Charm swept away it and, more importantly, everything else.

A Bloodbraid Elf flipped a Lightning Bolt , clearing away Yamamoto's next elf, and all he could do, still on one land, was reload with a Llanowar Elf.

His elves had carried him to 7-0 and a berth on Day 2, but getting past Jund was another story entirely.

Faced with holding virtually nothing and with almost no board, Yamamoto conceded to a Thoughtseize , looking to keep some information out of his opponent's hands.

Yamaguchi 1 – Yamamoto 0

Game 2

Llanowar Elves started Yamamoto's parade of elves for the second game, but Yamaguchi's Thoughtseize looked to disrupt the green mage's plans.

Thoughtseize revealed Joraga Warcaller , Elvish Archdruid , Batterskull , Ranger of Eos and Path to Exile , and Yamaguchi removed the Ranger of Eos . After that, Yamamoto used his own Path to Exile on a Sylvan Ranger to ramp up, even as Lightning Bolt dealt with Llanowar Elves .

Satoshi Yamaguchi's Jund deck ran over his opponent's elves faster than you can say "Main deck Jund Charm .

His start stunted, the elf mage reloaded with Elvish Archdruid , only to watch it fall to a second Lightning Bolt , and then bested by a Tarmogoyf .

Ezuri, Renegade Leader was Yamamoto's next attempt to gain some traction, but it looked pretty pale in the face of the Jund player's own legend – Olivia Voldaren .

Pretty much the worst thing an elves player can see sitting across from him or her

Yamamoto attempted to make a game of it with a Joraga Warcaller , but a second red source and two pings from Olivia ended any hope for recovery.

Yamaguchi 2 – Yamamoto 0




 

Saturday 10:06 p.m. - Delving into Yokohama's Magical History

by Chapman Sim


Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan and also the illustrious host to a plethora of Premier Events over the years. In contrast to traditionally hectic Tokyo just one hour away, Yokohama is defined by her beautiful skyline, mesmerizing bayside and cooling sea breeze, top factors for the city's inherent charm.

Yokohama's long history began way back in 1999, where the legendary Kai Budde won his first Pro Tour and also became Pro Player of the Year for the very first time. His dominance in the game did not halt as he went on to win six more Pro Tours after that and becoming POY an additional three times over the next few seasons. To say that Yokohama was the cradle responsible for the growth of the "German Juggernaut " would not be an unfair statement.

Kai Budde

Worlds 1999 Top 8

  1. Kai Budde
  2. Mark Le Pine
  3. Raffaele Lo Moro
  4. Matt Linde
  5. Jakub Slemr
  6. Jamie Parke
  7. Gary Wise
  8. Nicolai Herzog

A year later, a total of 282 three-man teams converged to compete using the format of Invasion Block Team Limited. Team www.AlphaBetaUnlimited.com (Chris Benefel, Ryan Fuller and David Williams) triumphed over Team Poor Shark (Morita Masahiko, Masashiro Kuroda and Tomomi Ohtsuka) in the finals, despite a heroic attempt to keep the trophy on home ground.


Grand Prix Yokohama 2000 Top 4

  1. www.AlphaBetaUnlimited.com
    (Chris Benefel, Ryan Fuller, and David Williams)
  2. Poor Shark
    (Masahiko Morita, Masashiro Kuroda, and Tomomi Ohstuka)
  3. Void of Soul
    (Tsuyoshi Douyama, Tadayoshi Komiya, and Takao Higaki)
  4. Fire Beat
    (Tsuyoshi Ikeda, Toshiki Tsukamoto, and Jun Nobushita)

AlphaBetaUnlimited team

Three years later, two Premier events converged to create a truly spectacular weekend. Bob Maher defeated Gabrief Nassif to take home the trophy of the very last Masters Series to be held, while Mattias Jorstedt (who was playing in his third PT Top 8 in four attempts) dispatched Masashi Oiso (Rookie of the Year) in the finals of the Pro Tour. Later that year, Shu Komuro (eventual Pro Tour Nagoya 2005 Champ) was also crowned Grand Prix Yokohama winner.


Pro Tour Yokohama 2003 Top 8

  1. Mattias Jorstedt
  2. Masashi Oiso
  3. Tsuyoshi Ikeda
  4. Jon Finkel
  5. Benjamin Caumes
  6. Jose Barbero
  7. Ben Seck
  8. Richard Hoaen

Grand Prix Yokohama 2003 Top 8

  1. Shu Komuro
  2. Kazuki Kato
  3. Masashiro Kuroda
  4. Yuichi Yamagishi
  5. Masahiko Morita
  6. Shuuhei Nakamura
  7. Kazuyuki Momose
  8. Yusuke Osaka

The following year, Kazuki Katou won his second Rochester Draft title in two years, solidifying him as one of the best when it came to drafting with your boosters revealed. To get there, he had to get past Tomohiro Kaji in the finals (one of the finest players of the time), as well as 705 other competitors.


Grand Prix Yokohama 2004 Top 8

  1. Kazuki Kato
  2. Tomohiro Kaji
  3. Akira Asahara
  4. Kotarou Ootsuka
  5. Masahiko Morita
  6. Rei Hashimoto
  7. Takashi Akiyama
  8. Ren Ishikawa

Fondly remembered (at least by the locals) as the Year of Japan, Worlds 2005 was valiantly defended as we saw both trophy titles (both for Individual & Team) retained on local ground. Katsuhiro Mori emerged as World Champion, while Masashi Oiso, Ichiro Shimura and Takuma Morofuji bested Team USA to become World Team Champion. It was also the year that Kenji Tsumura was named Player of the Year, rounding out the triple crown at Yokohama.


Worlds 2005

Worlds 2005 Top 8

  1. Katsuhiro Mori
  2. Frank Karsten
  3. Tomohiro Kaji
  4. Akira Asahara
  5. Marcio Carvalho
  6. Leong Ding Yuan
  7. Shuuhei Nakamaura
  8. Andre Coimbra

In 2007, Guillaume Wafo-Tapa emerged victorious at the Pro Tour, besting Kazuya Mitamura in the finals. It was a truly star-studded Top 8, since all eight players had an astounding average of three Sunday appearances amongst them. The trophy shot is also one of the most memorable, since it features Yokohama's trademark ferris wheel, the Cosmo Clock 21.


Wafo Tapa

Pro Tour Yokohama 2007 Top 8

  1. Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
  2. Kazuya Mitamura
  3. Mark Herberholz
  4. Tomoharu Saito
  5. Paulo Carvalho
  6. Raphael Levy
  7. Masashi Oiso
  8. Sabastian Thaler

And just three years later, it was Katsuhiro Mori who would hoist the trophy once again, defeating fellow countryman and Pro Tour Kobe Champion Masashiro Kuroda in the finals. Mori's versatile deck included two pairs of combos, in the form of Dark Depths / Vampire Hexmage , as well as Sword of the Meek / Thopter Foundry , allowing him to triumph against a field of 1123.

Grand Prix Yokohama 2010 Top 8

  1. Katsuhiro Mori
  2. Masashiro Kuroda
  3. Min-su Kim
  4. Takashi Ishihara
  5. Kuo Tzu Ching
  6. Yasunori Baba
  7. Atsuo Se
  8. Tomoyuki
Mori

Who will go down in the annals of history as the next Yokohama Champion? Only time will tell!




 

Saturday 10:44 p.m. - Top Tables, undefeated after Round 8

by Blake Rasmussen


For a wide-open, interesting format like Modern, we try to do full metagame breakdowns of the format to give as accurate a picture as we possibly can. And while that analysis is coming, wading through and breaking down the 1,500 plus deck lists in front of us this weekend is a daunting, time consuming task that can make a man go cross-eyed. Kind of like Gifts Ungiven mirrors.

But we like you. We really do. And so, to whet your appetite for the eventual fountain of data the full analysis will throw your way, we took a trip around the top tables during Round 9 to see what decks were dominating the field this weekend at Yokohama.

And to make sure we only got the best of the best, we stuck to our guns and recorded just the archetypes that are 7-0-1 or better at this point, for a total of 12 decks at the top 6 tables.

Affinity 2
Jund 2
Melira Pod 1
Naya Pod 1
Splinter Twin 1
White-Black Tokens 1
Martyr of Sands 1

Without having seen the full metagame data yet, this list looks pretty representative of the field as a whole, despite its small sample size. The top three decks were pretty clearly three of the most played decks on the weekend (though in what order and by how much, we'll see). All of the lists doing well looked fairly stock, although one did have a pretty spicy Piracy Charm hanging around.


Of the one-ofs, the Splinter Twin and Melira Pod lists were pretty stock, and the Token and Martyr decks, while not commonly played, did not appear to have any major twists or turns to them.

The Naya Pod deck, however, was a sight to behold. Secretly a combo deck ala- Splinter Twin , the Naya Pod deck uses either Restoration Angel or Village Bell Ringer to combo with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker , but is able to use cards like Kitchen Finks and Restoration Angel to either provide offense or defense as needed.

What's more, it doesn't look like a combo deck – who combos out in a Red, Green and White deck, after all? In its Round 9 match against the Martyr deck, the Martyr player tapped out facing down just a Kitchen Finks and Birds of with 38 life. What could go wrong?


The Pod player cast an end of turn Chord of Calling for Wall of Roots , untapped and cast Kiki-Jiki, copied Wall of Roots and was able to cast a second Chord of Calling for Village Bell-Ringer , winning on the spot.

Yes, winning, which means we'll have the Naya Pod list when we post Day 1 undefeated decks alongside five others.




 

Round 9 Feature Match - Martin Juza vs. Shouta Yasooka

by Chapman Sim


Game 1

Both players had already taken two losses so far and would need to win this bubble match if they wanted to compete tomorrow. After winning the die roll, Juza led with Serum Visions , then further manipulated his library using Halimar Depths before using Sleight of Hand to filter away the unwanted junk.

Yasooka raised everyone's eyebrows when he proceeded to the discard step, pitching Karn Liberated . Using this window of opportunity, Juza resolved Deceiver's Exarch, tapping his opponent's only land. Fortunately for Yasooka, he drew Darkslick Shores the very next turn and used it to cast Thoughtseize , ripping Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker from his opponent's hand, cheating death temporarily.

When Yasooka tried Thirst for Knowledge, it was stopped with the first of Juza's Dispels. Spell Pierce (countering Talisman of Dominance ) and a second Deceiver's Exarch (used in conjunction) successfully tapped Yasooka out and Juza had a chance to draw Splinter Twin for the win.

Halimar Depths showed him Dispel and Splinter Twin and he could smell the impending win but Gifts Ungiven (granting Yasooka Condescend and Go for the Throat ) prevented that from happening so easily.

Shouta Yasooka

Yasooka drew his sixth land and passed the turn, keeping up " Condescend -mana" to stop any of dangerous spells Juza could possibly have. Seeing that Juza had only one card left in his hand, Yasooka slapped Karn Liberated onto the board on the very next turn, exiling Deceiver's Exarch. It seemed like the game was over. Juza couldn't deny it and promptly reached for his sideboard.

Martin Juza 0 – Shouta Yasooka 1

Game 2

Thoughtseize was able to remove Splinter Twin, but Juza was still armed with Deceiver Exarch and possibly the weekend's most well-represented goblin, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker.

Martin Juza

Thoughtseize resolved and Kiki-Jiki hit the bin, leaving Juza with Serum Visions and Deceiver's Exarch. Yasooka proceeded to tap all his three lands to transmute Tolaria West , tutoring up Slaughter Pact for added safety. Now on the receiving end of two attacking Deceiver's Exarchs, Yasooka was down to just nine life.


Yasooka decided it was time to budge and tried Gifts Ungiven , but Juza was ready with Negate . Now that the countermagic had been baited out, Yasooka untapped, then slammed Mindslaver onto the board. In a bid to force Yasooka to use Slaughter Pact , Juza tapped out for Kiki-Jiki. Unable to activate Mindslaver after paying for the Pact, Yasooka passed the turn, hoping for the best.

Unfortunately for Juza, he had drawn Spellskite on the turn Mindslaver had resolved, which meant that Yasooka could wreck havoc on Juza's life total or even kill him instantly if his life total was even. In a bid to stay alive, Juza cracked a fetchland, going down to 17 life, preventing instant death. However, Yasooka flipped a fetchland of the top of Juza's deck, drawing a gasp from the crowd. Shouta Yasooka advances to Day Two and Martin Juza would have to be content touring Japan tomorrow.

Not a combo!

Martin Juza 0 – Ken Yukuhiro 2




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