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3th/4th Playoff Match: Yuusuke Sasaki vs. Yuuki Murakami

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Sasaki and Murakami are longtime friends. Both hail from Sendai, a city a few hours' travel north of Tokyo. They playtested for Nationals together, and now find themselves facing off to determine not only who will represent Japan on the national team in Sydney, but who can claim the title of "Best Player in Sendai".

Game 1

Sasaki took a mulligan, but he recovered well, matching Murakami card for card, with both quickly playing Nightscape Familiar and Psychatog. The creature standoff continued for a few turns, with Murakami making the first move. Using Flametongue Kavu to deal with Sasaki's 'tog, he played a Possessed Aven. As if that weren't enough, he used Fact or Fiction to dig into his deck. Losing tempo and card advantage fast, Sasaki played another Psychatog and tried to put up a fight, but his deck simply wouldn't cooperate. Eventually, he ran out of cards to feed his Psychatog, and conceded.

Sasaki 0 - 1 Murakami

Game 2

Sasaki hoped that by going first he might be able to get a leg up on Murakami. However, he was soon down three cards as Murakami played Duress three turns in a row on him, stripping his hand of Counterspell and two Fact or Fictions. Lucking out by drawing into a Deep Analysis, Sasaki quickly played it, trying to regain parity with Murakami. The Analysis netted him another Deep Analysis, which in turn allowed him to draw another Analysis. Burning through his deck like crazy, he began to take back momentum from Murakami.

Reallizing he was losing card advantage, Murakami began using his own card drawers, but it was too late. A Duress from Sasaki ensured there would be no counters to stop Upheaval, and with no playable cards in hand, Murakami conceded. In less than five minutes, the match was tied.

Results: Sasaki 1 - 1 Murakami

Game 3

This game proceded much more normally--at least, normally for two control-style blue decks, with both players trading turns where they did nothing more than play lands. Looking to get a leg up on Murakami, Sasaki made the first play of the game with a Fact or Fiction, but all he got worth writing home about was a Counterspell. However, Murakami was unable to draw anything but lands. A Duress from Sasaki revealed a hand full of creatures--2 Psychatogs, 2 Possessed Avens, and two Nightscape Familiars. Secure int he knowledge that his opponent had no counters, Sasaki played Upheaval the next turn, eliciting a concession from Murakami.

Results: Sasaki 2 - 1 Murakami

Game 4

Sasaki was visibly nervous as he shuffled for the fourth game. Knowing that a spot ont he national team was now just one game away, he was starting to feel the pressure.

He got off to a quick start, using Duress to get rid of a Counterspell and Fact or Fiction from Murakami's hand, while slowly whittling away at his life with a Nightscape Familiar. Although losing the FoF hurt, Murakami was able to pull some strong cards anyway, filling his hand with counters, and taking control of the board with a Possessed Aven.

However, Sasaki was able to reset the game with an Upheaval after clearing the way with another Duress, and began picking away at Murakami's life total again with the Familiar. Murakami's life total was down to 10 by the time he was able to replay the Aven, but it was stopped with a counter from Sasaki. He tried to play another the next turn, only to have it Repulsed.

A few short turns later, with his life at a dangerously low 2 points, Murakami drew a Psychatog and, desperate to get a blocker and somehow hold onto the game, tapped a stack of lands to put it out. In his rush to play the 'tog, however, he made a serious blunder. When he fanned out the lands he tapped, he realized he had unintentionally tapped Salt Marsh and two Shivan Reefs. Since he tapped his lands before announcing the spell, he was stuck and his life dropped to 1 from the damage from the Reef. Both Sasaki and the crowd could only stare incredulously at this cruel turn of fate.

Although Murakami finally had something to block Sasaki's Familiar, all Sasaki needed was one more land to flash back a Chainer's Edict from his graveyard. He didn't draw the land, but he got something even better--Fact or Fiction. Playing it, he slowly flipped over the top 5 cards of his deck, revealing Chainer's Edict as the fifth card. As soon as Murakami saw it, he extended his hand to Sasaki.

Final Result: Sasaki wins, 3-1

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