One of the big stories today has been the surge of the old guard. Leading that charge has been the Godfather of Japanese Magic Ken'ichi Fujita and Japanese Sideboard honcho Kouichirou Maki--or the "Twentieth Century Boys" as the younger players refer to them. The found themselves sitting down at Table One along with Japanese National Team member Osamu Fujita. Only two other players at the the top table had any pro points coming into this event. Tomohide Sasakawa and and Kazuki Katou did not have the same degree of success but they had managed to pick up some Pro Points along the way.
That was more than the three rookies who rounded out the pod. Satoshi Harada was a well regarded local PTQ player coming into this tournament. He was in an excellent position to push through to the Top 8 with only one more win needed at 10-0-1 and resting atop the standings. Likewise Tetsuya Kitano but with a 9-1-1 record he could not afford more than one more loss. Shuzo Iwano was undefeated coming into today's play but he could not manage more than a single win in his previous draft pod despite his broken Molder Slug draft.
Those are the two stories that have been evolving this weekend--the old guard and the new breed. But before the new breed and even before there was an old guard there was Ken'ichi Fujita. Fujita began playing Magic with the release of The Dark--years before the first Japanese language editons of Magic were released.
He has been fighting to stay alive with a pair of losses. His next defeat would probably bump him out of contention. He would need to draft a 2-0-1 deck. Ken'ichi is one of the most respected figures on the Japanese tournament scene the idea of someone refusing him the draw is unthinkable.
As he sat down for the draft he was sceduled to open fifth with Shuuzou Iwano opening.
Shuzo shrugged and took a Spikeshot Goblin, while Maki happily picked up a Leonin Skyhunter. The third pick was a Quicksilver Elemental. Osamu took a Pewter Golem. Ken'ichi tried to signal that he wanted blue with the pick of a Lumengrid Sentinel over much better black and green cards. The Quicksilver Elemental meant that there was a blue drafter two to his left but he seemed willing to share.
Maki opened an Arrest in the second pack and was looking to draft the same deck he did so well with the previous draft. Ken'ichi tried to stay the course with blue and took a Wizard Replica forgoing Goblin War Wagon and Banshee's Blade to do so.
He took an AEther Spellbomb and a Myr Enforcer before it was his turn to open a pack. His pack offered him an Icy Manipulator and not much else besides a Terror which went to Harada. Black was not an option for him with players on either side of him in that color. Harada's pack gave him a Sword of Kaldra it also brought forth Ken'ichi's stare of death. When Sasagawa took a Neurok Spy second the look that Ken'ichi gave him was enough to turn you blood to ice.
If Sasagawa's blood was freezing he did not show it and he calmly took a Goblin Replica passing a Molder Slug to Katou. When the pack winded its way around to Ken'ichi he took what was left--a lowly Frogmite. Along the way blue was getting picked up by Shuzo, Kitano and Sasagawa and it was not clear if he would be able to hold onto the color with only a Lumengrid Sentinel, AEther Spellbomb, and Wizard Replica to stake his claim.
When the packs swung around he took a Cobalt Golem fourth pick and a Spikeshot Goblin as his third--not only sticking to his blue guns but trying to muscle in on red as well. He took a Regress as his second pick and was happy to find a Duplicant awaiting him for the second pack that he go tot open.
His draft went along in similar fashion with no breakout cards or good equipment until he opened his final pack. It contained a Bonesplitter and a Myr Enforcer but he had to take the Oblivion Stone despite feeliong the understandable lure of the equipment.
When asked after the draft to give his deck a thumbs up or a thumbs down he instead chose to lay his head down on the feature match playmat whewre he was registering his deck. "Just looking at the cards--laying them out like this--it looks like a good deck. If you look at it in relation to the other decks that are likely to be built at the table it is not so strong."
Ken'ichi's Spikeshot Goblin was essentially a Prodigal Sorcerer with only the potential of a Leonin Scimitar to pump it up. "Everyone else at the table has mad equipment--there were three Vulshok Battlegears! Once I opened the Duplicant I resigned my self to getting as many AEther Spellbombs and Regresses as I could." He had three of the former and two of the latter.
Overall he felt the draft was pretty smooth except for Sasagawa going into blue and making seemingly random card choices. We were nice but the person two to my left was so random, I thought I was signaling blue but that guy started taking random blue cards--what?"
He ended up with an old school control deck featuring an Icy Manipulator, Oblivion Stone understudying for Disk, and a Nekrataal (Duplicant) with plenty of bounce. He needed to go 2-0-1 in order to have a good chance at Top 8.
The Twentieth Century Boys' Decks:
Grand Prix Shizuoka 03 Day 2 Draft 2
Grand Prix Shizuoka 03 Day 2 Draft 2