gpkob11

Holy Cow! Shouta Back on Top!

  • Print

Thanks to the help of some Faerie-ly industrious little, blue men, Shouta Yasooka can now add Grand Prix Champion next to Pro Tour Champion on his resume! It took him eighteen rounds to do it, but he managed to overcome the other 710 players to take is first Grand Prix title in a dozen tries. He had to run through an impressive gauntlet in the Top 8, first dispatching Shouhei Yamamoto's Faerie deck, followed by Shunsuke Aka's White Weenie deck, and ending with an impressive win over Makihito Mihara's Omen Valakut deck. During the entire Top 8, not a single Game 3 was played, each payer simply dominating his opponent in straight sets.

This weekend saw a continuation of the things we'd come to expect from the Extended format, from the continued popularity of Valakut to the impressive performances of Faeries and UW. We also saw some new animals sneak onto the block, including Shunsuke Aka's Top 8 White Weenie deck and Tsuyoshi Fujita's strong performance with Emeria, the Sky Ruin. All in all, it proved the basic tenets of older formats. While the field is more open, and more decks are viable, there are still a core set that are close to people's hearts.

And speaking of hearts, with all the devastation that Japan has gone through in the past couple of months, it's been great to see the number of people who came out to support Magic here at the Grand Prix. We even had a member of our judge staff from the Sendai area. And just as they've come to support Magic, Magic supported them. Kazuya "Chief" Mitamura announced that he was going to donate all of his winnings from this event to help the relief efforts. This goes beyond just a good weekend of Magic. This was just a good weekend.




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Shinya Satou   Shunsuke Aka, 2-0        
8 Shunsuke Aka   Shouta Yasooka, 2-0
       
4 Shouhei Yamamoto   Shouta Yasooka, 2-0   Shouta Yasooka, 2-0
5 Shouta Yasooka    
       
2 Makihito Mihara   Makihito Mihara, 2-0
7 Martin Juza   Makihito Mihara, 2-0
       
3 Kentaro Ino   Kenichiro Omori, 2-0
6 Kenichiro Omori    

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER
  • by Bill Stark
    Finals:
    Makihito Mihara vs. Yasooka

  • by Nate Price
    Semifinals:
    Shunsuke Aka vs. Shouta Yasooka

  • by Nate Price
    Semifinals:
    Makihito Mihara vs. Ken'Ichiro Omori

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Kentaro Ino vs. Kenichiro Omori

  • by Bill Stark
    Quarterfinals:
    Shouta Yasooka vs. Shouhei Yamamoto

  • by Nate Price
    Quarterfinals:
    Makihito Mihara vs. Martin Juza

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Player Profiles

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Top 8:
    Decklists

  • by Nate Price
    Feature:
    Top 5 Cards of the Weekend

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 2: Complete Coverage
  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Day 1: Complete Coverage

  • by Event Coverage Staff
    Info: Fact Sheet

INFORMATION
  1.   Shouta Yasooka $3,500
  2.   Makihito Mihara $2,300
  3.   Kenichiro Omori $1,500
  4.   Shunsuke Aka $1,500
  5.   Shinya Satou $1,000
  6.   Shouhei Yamamoto $1,000
  7.    Martin Juza $1,000
  8.    Kentaro Ino $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final


15
14
13
12
11
10

15
14
13
12
11
10

15
14
13
12
11
10

9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

 

  • Feature - Top 5 Cards of the Weekend

    by Nate Price
  • It's that time again, kids! Time to break down our top five cards of the weekend EXTENDED IN JAPAN EDITION! There were definitely a few cards that stood out to us this weekend either because of how played they were, or simply because a strong individual performace. Without further ado, onto the cards!

    5.) Plains

    Yes, I put Plains on the list. This has been a good weekend for white mana! UW decks have been tearing it up a weekend, including putting Martin Juza in the top 8. Ken'ichiro Omori made Top 8 with a Naya deck. Even without the complement of other colors, Plains were able to succeed. Just look at Shunsuke Aka. He made Top 8 on the back of a White Weenie deck. Tsuyoshi Fujita finished incredibly well playing a monowhite Emeria, the Sky Ruin deck. There was a decent showing from a couple of players sporting the Tempered Steel deck. For me, the biggest story of all of this was the impressive showing by the mono-white decks in the field. Flying fairly under the radar, or completely under the radar in the case of Aka's White Weenie deck, Plains proved that it was capable of supporting a competitive monocolor deck. Take that Forests and Mountains!


    4.) Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle

    The list continues with another land. This weekend, decks featring Valakut made up 1/7 of the field. That is a massive number. I had predicted that this might be the case before the tournament started base on the fact that it was far and away the most popular deck on the PTQ circuit leading up to the Grand Prix, but I had no idea it would show up so strongly! The thing I like the most about it was the multiple different ways it was used. Ultimately, the kill would come down to Scapeshift more often than not. But one segment of the decks that were played, the considerably minority, took advantage of the next card on my little list…


    3.) Prismatic Omen

    Who would have ever guessed that this little innocuous card would cause the splash that it has? On its own, it's a harmless, nearly unplayable enchantment. Add in a sprinkling of Scapeshift and a heaping dose of Valakut, and you have yourself a killer combo. With this added into the mix, Valakut decks don't have to worry about including a critical mass of Mountains in their deck. With Omen, all your lands are Mountains, including Valakut! This little enchantment was powerful enough to carry Makihito Mihara to a second-place finish this weekend. There is a reason that this version of the deck was the one to make the finals, and it's a harmless two-drop enchantment. Well, it's not exactly harmless…


    2.) Spellstutter Sprite

    To be honest, I could have picked either this or Vendilion Clique to fill this slot. Both are integral cards in the Grand Prix winning Faeries deck. Both cards are also key components of the most successful iteration of the UW deck that has been rampaging through Extended tournaments recently. The sheer versatility of these cards is what makes them so coveted by most blue-based decks. With flash, you can simply wait until the end of your opponent's turn before doing anything. They both do something of value to disrupt your opponent's game plan. They also both provide a clock. They are pretty much the perfect blue creatures. But they aren't number one. Only one card deserves that honor this weekend.


    1.) Stoneforge Mystic

    There simply is no other card this weekend that can take the number one slot. If you play white sources in Extended, you play Stoneforge Mystic. You pay Sword of Feast and Famine. There is no argument. Most people I talked to over the weekend listed it as the best two-drop in the format, better even than Bitterblossom. It provides the white decks the same kind of explosiveness as Scapeshift gives Valakut decks. Sometimes, you just play Mystic on turn two and win. In addition to searching up the important Swords, it allows you to get them into play without leaving them vulnerable to counterspells. Once a Sword of Feast and Famine is in play, every creature you play is a serious threat. Stoneforge Mystic is what makes virtually all of the white-based decks in the format viable. And you have Standard to thank for this little piece of Extended innovation.



     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Mihara, Makihito
    Grand Prix-Kobe 2011 (Extended)


     

  • Top 8 – Player Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Yuya Sato
    Name: Yuya Sato
    Hometown: Tachikawa
    Age: 22
    Occupation: Student
    Main Magic Accomplishments: FNM 3-0

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 3
    Byes: 7-1-1
    Day 2: 5-0-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Famicon #2

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: AKKA Special
    Designer: AKKA (Keiji Aizawa)
    What changes did you make to it? Ask AKKA

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    It was when I was on the bubble. I didn't think I would be able to come back from a double mulligan in the second game.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Legacy. Team America is strong!

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    If you take Magic away from a Magic NEET, he's just a NEET at that point.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I will play in all the Grand Prix in Japan, no matter how many there are.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I feel a little sad that it won't be a big festival anymore.

    Ken'ichiro Oomori
    Name: Ken'ichiro Oomori
    Hometown: Hyogo Prefecture
    Age: 23
    Occupation:
    Main Magic Accomplishments:

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 3
    Day 1: 9-0
    Day 2: 3-1-2

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Amenity Dream Namba

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Naya
    Designer: Tsuyoshi Fujita gave me advice while I was building it
    What changes did you make to it?
    There are zero 3-mana attackers

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    In Round 4, I was thinking to myself "If my opponent plays Cryptic Command here, I'm in big trouble", and sure enough, that was the next spell he cast.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Anything but multiplayer.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have played with a weaker Naya.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    Yes.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I don't really know much about that, so I don't have an opinion.

    Makihito Mihara
    Name: Makihito Mihara
    Hometown: Chiba
    Age: 27
    Occupation: Company employee
    Main Magic Accomplishments: 2006 World Champion, Two Pro Tour Top 8s, Three Grand Prix Top 8s

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 2
    Day 1: 8-1
    Day 2: 4-1-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    LMC

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Next Level Valakut
    Designer: myself
    What changes did you make to it? I increased the number of Mountains in the deck.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    My 8th round match against Affinity. I thought I was going to win with the draws I had, but my opponent hit me hard with hand destruction and I ended up with no cards.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Limited, as it requires little prep time. Ever since I started working full-time, I haven't been able to give Constructed any time.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have played, with the same deck.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I will certainly play in domestic events, as it's a vacation as well. I don't think I'll be able to participate in many overseas events.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I can't really comment as no details have been announced.

    Shota Yasooka
    Name: Shota Yasooka
    Hometown: Tokyo
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Professional Magic player
    Main Magic Accomplishments: 2006 Player of the Year

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes:
    Byes: 8-1
    Day 2: 4-1-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    I don't.

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Faeries
    Designer: myself
    What changes did you make to it? I tried to balance it better against color screw.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    None.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    I like all formats.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have come with the same deck.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I will play in all Japanese events, and will try to go to as many Asian events as I can.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I think it's good.

    Shohei Yamamoto
    Name: Shohei Yamamoto
    Hometown: Around Hiroshima
    Age: 28
    Occupation: Company employee
    Main Magic Accomplishments: Finalist, Japan Nationals

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes:
    Byes: 8-1
    Day 2: 4-1-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Either Challenger in Fukuyama or WIZ in Okayama.

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: UB Faeries
    What changes did you make to it? I put 4 Sword of Feast and Famine in.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    When I got paired against a white beatdown with a splash of blue, my Consume the Meek cards were really strong.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Limited, because there is so much variety and change between blocks, and Commander, because it's fun to play with lots of people for fun.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have played. Originally, I was debating between Esper Mystic or UB Faeries.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    It depends on the dates.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I think it's unfortunate that there will be no more Public Events.

    Martin Juza
    Name: Martin Juza
    Hometown: Plzen, Czech Republic
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Tourist
    Main Magic Accomplishments: Two Pro Tour Top 8s, Seven Grand Prix Top 8s

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 3
    Byes: 8-1
    Day 2: 4-1-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Magic Online

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Wu Faeries
    Designer: Created by Alex West.
    What changes did you make to it? None. I just followed what Alex, Ouen, LSV, Josh Ravitz and Matt Nass told me to play.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    I drank a lot of CALPIS and won many games.
    Best topdeck ever.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    DRAFTO!

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    Last month I would have probably played Ben's Valakut because I didn't even know the Ulu Deck existed.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I'm already attending as many events as I can and I'll definitely continue doing so next year. Hopefully there will be some team GPs!!

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I would prefer if they brought back the players party.

    Kentaro Ino
    Name: Kentaro Ino
    Hometown: Kyoto
    Age: 23
    Occupation: Student
    Main Magic Accomplishments: I made 17th or so in Pro Tour Nagoya 2005.

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 2
    Byes: 7-2
    Day 2: 5-0-1

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Tournament Center Maho Neko

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Omen Valakut
    Designer: myself
    What changes did you make to it? I tried to make it easier to play Pyroclasm.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    Topdecking a Scapeshift at the end of Day 1.

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Block Constructed.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have played with the same deck.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I will play in all domestic events.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I don't know.

    Shunsuke Aka
    Name: Shunsuke Aka
    Hometown: Toyota City (originally from Okinawa)
    Age: 27
    Occupation: Engineer
    Main Magic Accomplishments: Top 16 in Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2009, Top 64 Grand Prix Sendai

    GP Record (incl. byes):
    Byes: 3
    Byes: 9-0
    Day 2: 3-3

    Where do you usually play Magic?
    Nagoya. When I'm in Okinawa, Absolute Zero.

    Tell us about your deck:
    Deck Name: Mono White A and W
    Designer: Kikushi (Yuto Higa)
    What changes did you make to it? There's no Honor of the Pure, and there's no sideboard against Valakut.

    What match this weekend stands out in your memory?
    Round 4 and Round 15 (I finally won my first feature match after four appearances).

    What format do you most like, and why?
    Draft, because you never have the same deck twice.

    Had this Grand Prix not been delayed, would you have played in it? If so, what deck would you have played?
    I would have played with some kind of mono-white deck.

    An announcement has been made that the number of Grand Prix will be doubled next year. Do you plan on playing in more?
    I want to play in as many as I can.

    How do you feel about the Pro Tour becoming a private event?
    I think the Pro Tour should be the biggest event it can be.


     

  • Quarterfinals – Makihito Mihara vs. Martin Juza

    by Nate Price
  • Game 1

    "Are you seriously asking me that," Head Judge James Mackay asked Juza, who was looking up at him with innocence in his eyes. "You?!"

    He had just lain out Makihito Mihara's Omen Valakut deck and discovered it was 64 cards. He wasn't the first person to express disbelief as he counted the cards. I ran into a similar reaction with Shuhei Nakamura during round 5. In a Donovan McNabb-esque moment, Juza had asked whether his opponent had to sideboard back to 64 cards, or if he could simply side down to sixty cards.

    For those who don't know (I'm looking at you, Juza), the answer is that your sideboard has to be the same number of cards that it started out at.

    This has been your rules corner moment for the day, courtesy of Makihito Mihara's 64-card deck.

    Regardless of how many people have found his unorthodox choice amusing, he clearly knows what he's doing. After all, he is playing in the Top 8 of the Grand Prix.

    Juza started the game off quite well. On the draw, he found himself a Stoneforge Mystic on the second turn, setting up a Sword of Feast and Famine to come later. On his turn, Mihara started ripping through his deck. He used a Manamorphose to play an Explore, which let him sift through his deck with a Misty Rainforest, which allowed him to Rampant Growth. I think I got a cramp just typing that. The net result was that he ended his third turn with five lands in play and three cards in hand. All Juza could do was play a Mutavault and pass the turn with all of his mana open.

    Martin Juza

    Mihara drew his card and began to think. When he made his play, he simply added an Island to his side and cast Preordain, washing the cards away. He then passed the turn with five mana available. At the end of his turn, Juza used his Mystic to add the Sword to his side. On his turn, after a great deal of thought, he went to equip the Sword. In response, Mihara used a Manamorphose to make the proper mana to cast Cryptic command, returning the Sword to Juza's hand and drawing a card. Juza just attacked with his Mystic and ended his turn.

    And just like that, the game was over. Mihara played a seventh land and resolved both Prismatic Omen and a Scapeshift, revealing a pair of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacles and a couple of Mountains before Juza started scooping up his cards.

    Makihito Mihara 1 – Martin Juza 0

    Game 2

    Juza managed to start with a similarly good draw for the second game. This time, it would be more relevant since he was on the play, and Mihara's draw was significantly less explosive. All Mihara managed on his own second turn was a Rampant Growth. When he tried to Preordain on the following turn, Juza was ready to stop it with a Spellstutter Sprite. Mihara passed the turn.

    With the path clear, Juza untapped, used his Mystic to put a Sword of Feast and Famine into play, equipped it to his Faerie, and attacked. Mihara took it, discarding an Oracle of Mul Daya. After untapping, Mihara made a Wall of Tanglecord, providing him a colorless blocker for the equipped beater. At the end of Mihara's turn, Juza added another beater to the table, revealing Mihara's hand with a Vendilion Clique. Faced with a second Wall of Tanglecord, Prismatic Omen, and Scapeshift, Juza was not in a place to make an easy decision. After a bit of thought, he decided to wash away the Prismatic Omen, as it's the far scarier card of the combo on its own. Mihara already had a Valakut in play, so every land he drew from that point would be a Lightning Bolt with the Omen in play. Juza then untapped and attacked, dropping Mihara to thirteen.


    Makihito Mihara

    Mihara made a Vexing Shusher on his turn, as well as the second Wall of Tanglecord, effectively gumming things up. Juza moved his Sword over to the Mystic hat had provided it to him and sent his team, poking through for a single point with his Spellstutter Sprite. Mihara managed to swing back for twice that with his Vexing Shusher on the following turn. On Juza's turn, he thought for a moment about activating and attacking with his Celestial Colonnade, but ultimately decided against it. Instead, he moved the Sword back to his Sprite and sent the tem. Mihara only had a single green mana, meaning that the Vendilion Clique hit home, dropping Mihara to seven.

    And again, just like that, the match was over. Mihara untapped his lands and played a Prismatic Omen. When it resolved, he used his Shusher to protect the Scapeshift that followed it, vomiting enough lands into play to kill Juza in one fell swoop.

    Makihito Mihara 2 – Martin Juza 0


     

  • Quarterfinals – Shouta Yasooka vs. Shouhei Yamamoto

    by Bill Stark
  • One of Japan's biggest names, Shouta Yasooka made the Top 8 playing one of Grand Prix Kobe's biggest decks: Faeries. His opponent, Shouhei Yamamoto, lacked the professional pedigree of Yasooka but not the Faeries deck. The two faced a mirror match against one another in the Quarterfinals as both had opted to rely on the blue-black tribe to determine their fate in Kobe.



    Game 1

    Forced to start off on a mulligan, Shouta Yasooka seemed no worse for the wear dropping a Bitterblossom on his second turn. When his opponent drew, skipped a land drop, and discarded on the third turn the game looked like it would be elementary for Yasooka who increased the size of his clock with a Mistbind Clique championing a Faerie token.

    Shouhei managed to come up with a third land but had a lot of ground to cover. He took 8 from an attack out of the Mistbind, a Faerie token, and a Creeping Tar Pit. With one more peek at the top of his library, he opted to concede on the fifth turn, unable to overcome his early mana stumble.

    Shouta Yasooka 1, Shouhei Yamamoto 0

    Shouhei Yamamoto

    Game 2

    Both players had fair land starts in the second game, but Shouta had an unfair play on his second turn: Bitterblossom. His opponent lacked a counter to stop the powerful enchantment, but Shouhei did fire back with a Jace Beleren. He ticked the loyalty up to five in order to have both players draw a card and to protect the planeswalker from potential attacks out of his opponent.

    The two players fought over the Jace's survival, Shouhei working to protect it from attacks by managing its loyalty carefully and using Go for the Throats to stop his opponent's creatures. Shouta tried to clutter the table with Faerie Rogues from his Bitterblossom, occasionally attempting a Mistbind Clique. The former Player of the Year did manage to resolve a Clique, but it was of the Vendilion kind. When Yamamoto attempted to use Go for the Throat on the 3/1, Shouta had Spellstutter Sprite to protect it and continued attempting to pressure the Jace.

    The Bitterblossom managed to finally do the trick, and Yasooka was able to grind his opponent's Jace down to zero loyalty. That put Shouhei back to only lands on the battlefield, but he worked to match his opponent's tribal enchantment by casting his own copy of the 'Blossom. With a lead in life he might be able to squeeze out enough chump blockers to pull it off.

    Shouta Yasooka

    Worried about that possibility, Shouta Yasooka cast his own Jace, this time of the Mind Sculptor variety. His opponent had no choice but to allow the powerful spell to resolve, then began trading for his opponent's Faerie tokens one at a time, sacrificing his own copies to do so. Would the Jace prove to be too much for Shouhei?

    No! He promptly blew it up with his own copy of the Mind Sculptor, ripped from the top of his library like a pro. He had dealt with the powerful card, but he was still under the gun from his opponent's lead in Faerie tokens and Shouta made things worse by beginning to attack with his creature-lands as well, adding Mutavaults to the combat step's red zone.

    The forces staring down at him from across the battlefield were becoming too much for Shouhei Yamamoto. He had to trade his Bitterblossom tokens for his opponent's each turn, but couldn't get ahead in creatures for having cast the enchantment later than Shouta. He worked to trade his Mutavaults for the ones attacking him, but soon his own Bitterblossom was a liability for his life total. With a final attack from Shouta he fell to 9 life, then when he found no help from the top of his library he conceded to his opponent's superior forces.

    Shouta Yasooka 2, Shouhei Yamamoto 0


     

  • Quarterfinals – Kentaro Ino vs. Kenichiro Omori

    by Bill Stark
  • Game 1



    Kentaro Ino and Kenichiro Omori entered the Top 8 of Grand Prix Kobe as significant underdogs. Neither was a name player, unlike some of their far more famous counterparts still playing, but that didn't mean they hadn't had help from some of Japan's best. Kenichiro's Naya deck had, in his words, been "bad" until Hall of Famer Tsuyoshi Fujita had looked it over with him and made some improvements.

    Pro help aside, poor Kenichiro had to kick the match off with not one but two mulligans, a poor start to his Top 8. His opponent gave no indication whether the move would affect his play, sitting quietly and intently watching his opponent shuffle. He was able to stick with that hand, but it was quickly overwhelmed by his opponent's much fuller grip. He tried a Fauna Shaman but had it exiled via Oblivion Ring. A Wall of Omens put his opponent further up in the card count and provided a significant roadblock for Kentaro's Wargate deck, which tried to crawl back in with Qasali Pridemage.

    The 2/2 at least allowed him to threaten his opponent's Oblivion Ring, which he promptly did destroying it and getting his Fauna Shaman back. He used the card to start stocking his graveyard up with Vengevines. The mini Survival of the Fittest looked like it might just pull him out of the hole he was in!

    Kenichiro Omori

    With two Vengevines in his graveyard, Kenichiro opted to go for it. He called up a Bloodbraid Elf and cast it, cascading into Birds of Paradise. That gave him the two creatures he needed to have in one turn to get the 4/3s back, and he sent them to the red zone against his opponent's team, which consisted of only the Wall of Omens. Omori's early stumble had blossomed into something far more profitable, and it looked for the moment like he might actually be able to dig his way out.

    Facing as much as 11 points of damage during his opponent's attack step, Kentaro Ino worked to dig himself out of the mess he was in. He needed to assemble his Prismatic Omen and Scapeshift combo while not dying to his opponent's onslaught. He cast Preordain to help himself out, then used Cryptic Command to fog his opponent's attack for a turn.

    A second Wall of Omens allowed the combo player to buy himself some more time, stalling on the ground and digging deeper into his deck, but he had more than enough lands to kill his opponent if he assembled the combo so it was clear by his lack of action that he was struggling to do so. Across the battlefield Kenichiro's Naya deck had more than undone the damage from the early mulligan, grinding the Fauna Shaman into significant card advantage, fetching up both Vengevines and Bloodbraid Elves to stock his army. When a Bloodbraid cascaded into Qasali Pridemage, he even found himself with a disruption spell on the board the he could use to stop a combo from happening by blowing up Prismatic Omen.

    Kentaro was ready with a second Cryptic Command, however, countering the Pridemage and tapping his opponent's team. When he didn't topdeck the answer on his next turn, however, he did the math and realized he couldn't stop enough damage from his opponent to survive the following attack step and opted to concede. Kenichiro Omori had held on through a terrible set of mulligans to take the game!

    Kenichiro Omori 1, Kentaro Ino 0

    Game 2

    A Burrenton Forge-Tender led the way for Kenichiro in the second game while his opponent used Preordain to set up his draw steps. A Fauna Shaman was the next creature for the Naya player, and he revealed why he had made the seemingly odd decision to sideboard in his Forge-Tender as his opponent attempted to Pyroclasm the Shaman away. The 1/1 Kithkin hopped in to protect the Shaman, allowing Omori to keep his engine on the battlefield.

    Kentaro came up with an engine of his own: Jace, the Mind Sculptor. The planeswalker set to work Brainstorming him into his deck's combo while Omori tried to set up his "combo" of Vengevines in the graveyard and Bloodbraid Elves in the hand. Rather than set up a big turn, however, he contented himself by fetching up one Vengevine and actually casting it, attacking the Jace to death with Fauna Shaman and a replacement Burrenton Forge-Tender and cutting into Ino's life total with the 4/3.

    Kentaro Ino

    The play was sobering enough for Kentaro to run out a Wargate with X set to zero, finding a Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle. Was he planning on going off in a turn? The move left him tapped out but if he had both Prismatic Omen and Scapeshift in his hand he would be able to kill his opponent upon untapping. Of course, before he got to that stage Kenichiro Omori would have the chance to activate Fauna Shaman. That meant he could hunt up a Qasali Pridemage to defend himself from the problem enchantment and prevent the combo. Instead, he just attacked with his Vengevine and Forge-Tender, leaving the Shaman untapped. Was he missing a creature to activate it? No. In fact, the creature in his hand WAS a copy of Qasali Pridemage!

    He watched as his opponent cast Ponder, then began doing some calculations. Kentaro cast Wargate for two fetching up Prismatic Omen but tapped out to do so; he wasn't going off just yet. He passed the turn, and when he did so Omori revealed his plan with the Fauna Shaman: Realm Razer. The powerful creature was going to wipe out his opponent's lands and leave him unable to win!

    Ino shook his head at the play, secure in his fate. When the 4/2 hit he dutifully removed his lands and took one more draw to see if he might have a chance. He didn't, and extended his hand in defeat to his opponent.

    Kenichiro Omori 2, Kentaro Ino 0


     

  • Semifinals – Makihito Mihara vs. Ken'Ichiro Omori

    by Nate Price


  • Surviving through to the second round, Makihito Mihara and Ken'ichiro Omori bring two decks with completely different approaches to this semifinal match. In the previous round, Mihara had comboed Martin Juza out in one flashy turn in both of his games thanks to Prismatic Omen and Scapeshift. On the other side, Omori had to run the old-fashioned "turn my little men sideways" approach with his Naya deck. It was a question of speed, and both decks were lightning fast.

    Makihito Mihara

    Omori got on the board early with a first-turn Noble Hierarach, followed by a Fauna Shaman on the next turn. Mihara began building his mana base with a Rampant Growth, setting himself up for another potentially explosive turn. Omori set his Fauna Shaman to work, pitching a Cunning Sparkmage to fetch a Stoneforge Mystic.

    With five mana now available, Mihara used a Wargate to fetch up a Prismatic Omen. As all good omens do (actually I suppose this is more true for bad ones), that could spell bad news for Omori. Paying the Omen no heed, Omori simply played and equipped his Sword of Feast and Famine, knocking a useless land from Mihara's hand. On Mihara's turn, the Omen was fulfilled. A Wargate for zero fetched up a second Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle, clearing Omari's board. Omari did manage to set himself up a Cunning Sparkmage, which immediatelyp icked up the Sword and started swinging. It was a useless gesture in the end. Mihara drew another land, killing the Sparkmage and dealing three to Omori. The next turn brought a final land and ended the first game.

    Makihito Mihara 1 – Ken'iciro Omori 0

    Ken'Ichiro Omori

    Game 2

    As has happened all weekend, Mihara's deck simply vomits lands onto the table, killing his opponents is a flurry of triggered abilities. The first game of this match took a bit longer to set up and finish, mostly because it didn't involve Scapeshift. The second game was back to more of the old.

    Omori got a fairly good start, setting up a Vengevine chain with his Fauna Shaman. Unfortunately, Vengevines are a tad slower than Scapeshift. Mihara simply spent the first couple of turns expanding his mana. Omori used regrew his pair of Vengevines and smacked Mihara for eight, but Mihara was able to untap, cast Scapeshift, and reveal enough lands to end the match on the spot. While this should go without saying, apparently doing unfair things is less fair than doing fair things.

    Makihito Mihara 2 – Ken'ichiro Omori 0


     

  • Semifinals – Shunsuke Aka vs. Shouta Yasooka

    by Nate Price


  • Game 1

    This semifinal was a match of the standard versus the unorthodox. Shunsuke Aka managed a perfect record on the first day of the Grand Prix piloting a fairly surprising White Weenie deck, featuring powerhouse cards like Windbrisk Heights, Student of Warfare, and Spectral Procession. His opponent this round, who many Japanese players consider to be one of the best Japan has ever produced, is Shouta Yasooka, who is piloting the oft reviled, but overwhelmingly popular and powerful Faeries.

    Aka won the die roll, which was good for is highly aggressive deck. Unfortunately, six lands and a Spectral Procession was bad for his highly aggressive deck, and he was forced to throw it back. His second six was much better, and with a first-turn Student of Warfare, they were off. Rather than level his creature up before attacking, Aka chose to send it in as a 1/1, forcing Yasooka's hand. He simply took the one. After combat, Aka leveled his Student and passed the turn. When Yasooka tried to Disfigure the poor Student at the end of turn, Aka saved it with Brave the Elements. On his turn, Yasooka took a Spectral Procession from Aka's hand before finishing the Student with a second Disfigure.

    Shunsuke Aka

    Aka started to rebuild, resolving a Mirran Crusader and a Knight of the White Orchid, but losing a second Student of Warfare to a Spellstutter Sprite. Yasooka also had a Go For the Throat for the Knight, leaving Aka with just a Crusader. Even that wasn't long for the world. A Cryptic Command sent it packing, clearing the way for Mutavault and the Spellstutter Sprite to attack. When the Crusader tried to join the fray again, Yasooka said no with another Command. The next few turns were more futility as Yasooka countered an attempt at an Elspeth, Knight-Errant while attacking with his army of lands. Aka managed to rid himself of a Creeping Tar Pit with a Path to Exile, but the combination of multiple Mutavaults and the ever-present Spellstutter Sprite did him in.

    Shunsuke Aka 0 – Shouta Yasooka 1

    Game 2

    Aka got on the board quickly again this game, sending his Student of Warfare in for a quick three damage before it died to Go for the Throat. Aka simply replaced it with Mirran Crusader, which swung in to knock Yasooka to thirteen. And then nine. Yasooka simply wasn't doing anything, which I suppose is the MO for most Faeries decks. They usually start to do something, however, and Yasooka's wasn't. He dropped to five. Finally, a Consume the Meek arrived to clear the board at the end of Aka's turn. Smartly, Aka hadn't contributed anything else to the board. That left him a Spectral Procession to refill his side of the board.

    Fortnately for Yasooka, he had reached the point when he could start to answer back. At the end of Aka's turn, he had a second Consume the Meek to once again clear the board. After untapping, he added a Phyrexian Crusader to his team. Aka just kept at it, one threat at a time. This time he made another Student of Warfare and immediately began to level it. Before he could resolve the second level, Yasooka tried to get rid of it with a Disfigure, but Aka had a Brave the Elements to protect it. Afterwards, he added a couple more levels to it, bringing it up to four.

    Shouta Yasooka

    Meanwhile, Yasooka added some more infectious beef of his own (not to be confused with mad cow). A second Phyrexian Crusader joined the fray. The first swung over, dealing the first two poison to Aka. After finally reaching level seven, Aka's Student was tapped with a Cryptic Command. Yasooka's turn saw him cast a main phase Vendilion Clique, revealing a hand of Ranger of Eos and two copies of Brave the Elements. After some thought, Yasooka chose to leave them all there. He then swung his pair of Crusaders in, putting Aka up to six poison.

    Aka was running out of turns. He needed to get through, and fast. He tried to get through by using Brave the Elements on blue to get past the Vendilion Clique, but Yasooka just fired up his Mutavault and blocked. After combat, Aka added a Bonehoard to his team, one of the few creatures in his deck capable of blocking the Crusaders. After some thought, Yasooka attacked with a single Crusader, leaving the other home to block alongside his Vendilion Clique. With eight poison counters stacked against him, Aka drew his card and started to do some math. After about ten seconds of tapping on the table, Aka realized he had no chance of winning and conceded to Yasooka. Once again, Phyrexia won the war.

    Shunsuke Aka 0 – Shouta Yasooka 2


     

  • Finals - Makihito Mihara vs. Yasooka

    by Bill Stark
  • Grand Prix Kobe wound down to the Finals with one of the most prolific matchups in Grand Prix history. On the left side of the table, Makihito Mihara, the world's first Japanese World Champion. On the other? Shouta Yasooka, a former Player of the Year. The accolades simply do not get much better, and the two settled in for a hard fought battle to determine who would be the victor of the event after 709 other players had been eliminated.



    Game 1

    The match got underway with Shouta's Faeries deck earning the right to play first. He used an Inquisition of Kozilek on his first turn to knock out a copy of Rampant Growth from his opponent's hand. That left Mihara with a grip full of three- and four-drops, but he promptly topdecked an Explore to ramp his mana anyway. Yasooka cast a Spellstutter Sprite without countering anything simply to begin attacking, and the 1/1 powered a twin the turn later that allowed the Faeries player to stop a freshly drawn Rampant Growth.

    More handkill from Shouta trimmed his opponent's hand and while a team of double Spellstutter Sprite wasn't exactly intimidating for an offense, Shouta found his Wargate deck's three colored manabase oddly red. He had a single Seaside Citadel amongst his five land drops to provide non-red mana, the other sources being a Mountain and three copies of Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle.

    Yasooka dropped the elbow by casting and equipping Sword of Feast and Famine, doubling his clock and also pressuring Mihara's hand. Makihito topdecked a Rampant Growth to find a second source of green, but Shouta fired back by adding an activated Creeping Tar Pit and Mutavault to his team of attackers. A quick check of the life totals revealed that was just enough to do Mihara in and the two headed to the second game.

    Shouta Yasooka 1, Makihito Mihara 0

    Game 2

    The second game started off as the first had with Shouta Yasooka using a discard spell to rob his opponent of early mana acceleration. This time it was Thoughtseize binning an Explore, but his opponent quickly made up the loss with a Preordain. When Mihara tried a second acceleration spell in the form of Rampant Growth, however, he found that stymied by Mana Leak.

    A Vendilion Clique for Yasooka's Faeries deck gave him a clock, but he opted not to remove any cards from his opponent's hand. That meant Mihara held onto a Wargate, Manamorphose, and Cryptic Command. He used Manamorphose to fix his mana, then cast Cryptic Command targeting his opponent's Clique. That put the 3/1 back into Shouta's hand, meaning he would get another opportunity to cast it. When he did so, however, Makihito revealed a second copy of Cryptic to both counter and draw a card.

    What had begun as a solid start was turning into tough times for Shouta Yasooka. He was stuck on three lands, having missed multiple land drops over the course of a few turns. Without his Clique, he didn't even have an offense meaning his opponent had free reign to do as he pleased. Makihito worked on developing his own manabase, casting Explore and the occasional cantrip. He also came up with a POWERFUL sideboard card against the Faeries deck: Vexing Shusher. The 2/2 could guarantee he could resolve whatever spells he pleased, and because the Shusher itself couldn't be countered he knew it would resolve. The question was whether or not Shouta had kept in any of his creature removal, which was otherwise dead against the Wargate deck.

    The Vexing Shusher entered the battlefield and Shouta managed to resolve a second Vendilion Clique. He once again left his opponent's hand untouched, and began attacking with the 3/1. A fourth land enabled him to cast Mistbind Clique, Time Walking Mihara for a turn and increasing the size of his clock slightly. He used Disfigure to kill the Vexing Shusher, indicating he HAD kept in some of his removal, and cast Bitterblossom to add insult to injury. Was Shouta about to undo his mana stumble and crown himself a Grand Prix champion without losing a game in the Top 8?

    Mihara was certainly hoping not. He cast a Preordain to dig himself out of the suddenly tight spot he found himself in, then tapped out to cast a Wargate. The sorcery was countered by Flashfreeze, however, and he resumed taking hits from the Mistbind Clique. With a final turn to go, he slowly drew the top card of his library. Was it good enough to get him there? No. He carefully considered his options, then funneled two mana into Manamorphose. The cantrip drew him…Scapeshift! He perked up in his chair, clearly hoping the powerful sorcery was enough. He played a Mountain, then tapped four mana to cast it. He flipped it on the table and looked up expectantly at his opponent. Yasooka revealed the final card in his hand, a Cryptic Command. The Faeries player stopped the Scapeshift and secured his victory, ending Mihara's run.

    Shouta Yasooka 2, Makihito Mihara 0

    • Planeswalker Points
    • Facebook Twitter
    • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
    • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
    • Magic Locator