Thursday, Mar 6: 10:22 a.m. UK time - Play the Game See the World!
By Tim Willoughby
I am writing the first leg of the coverage for GP Shizuoka from Heathrow Airport in England. There are those that have suggested that I am crazy for flying for a total of 24 hours to cover a Grand Prix, but the more I think about it the more I have come to the conclusion that given the opportunity, I would have been crazy not to. The one Standard Grand Prix before Pro Tour Hollywood? Located in the country that is not just a hotbed of innovation in constructed formats, but also one of my favourite places on the planet? I was always going to be a lock to be at this event when the opportunity arose. Next week I'll be in Vienna looking at Extended. In between I'll be back in England playing for my local shop in the first of a 'Grudge Match' style series, where the valiant heroes from Eclectic Games try to show those filthy curs at They Walk Among Us how to play Magic. I guess this must be what it feels like to be a Pro.
I have now flown all over the world on event coverage enough that I received a free upgrade to Club class on my 12 hour flight to Tokyo. Before I started all this the furthest I'd been out of England was France. I can't help but feel that I owe Magic a lot.
Fortunately I'm in a great position to pay it forward, and for the next couple of weekends you will be the beneficiaries. Stay tuned for the gameplay highlights from me, along with decklists, decklists, decklists, as I travel around the world of constructed here on Magicthegathering.com.
As things stand before our big event we have a fairly limited selection of events from which to glean ideas on standout decks. Will Reveillark be the dominant creature in the format, and if so will he (she? It?) be championing the cause of the long dormant blue/white control deck, or more of a combo kill? Do the elves and their Obsidian Battle-Axe powered onslaught have what it takes to power through the control decks in the format? More importantly than all of this, what will Tsuyoshi Fujita be playing? I find myself going into event one of my double header full of questions. Hopefully in the days that follow, answers will present themselves.
Friday, Mar 7: 1:23 p.m. - Biting the Bullet
By Tim Willoughby
The Michelin star system is designed to mark out culinary excellence in restaurants. For a long time I thought it was a binary system; either a restaurant had one or it didn't. This isn't quite the case, as it is strictly possible for restaurants to earn two or even three stars if they are particularly special. To put things in perspective, there are three restaurants in the UK that have a trio of stars. Somewhat confusingly, two are in the same small town near where I live. One is owned and run by a chef who has made a name for himself as 'The Mad Genius of Food'. His restaurant serves bacon and egg ice cream, which is apparently amazing. He is the guy that created a $10,000 'perfect' gin and tonic, which involved distilling the gin specially, and perfectly recreating lime in liquid form. The head chef at the other, Michel Roux, was top of the list of people that put together the menu for my in flight meal.
It turns out that flying club class is pretty good. Sipping champagne while everyone else embarked, I had more space than there is in one of those cubicle hotels in Tokyo, including a flat bed. The movie selection included all the hits from this years Oscars, along with a back catalogue of great films that included the entire Godfather trilogy ֠with enough time to watch all three given the length of the flight.
If your traditional tournament report begins with the travel, then I can only really rhapsodise about how well it all went, in stark contrast to various other events I've worked. Right now I'm traveling at disconcerting ground speeds on the Shinkansen bullet train, whose nose-cone looks like that of Apollo 11, all the better for zipping along at speeds normally reserved for the first big drop on a roller coaster. I'm listening to Bump of Chicken, Kenji Tsumura's favourite band, who as it turns out are pretty good. It could be the jet-lag talking, but I have a good feeling about GP Shizuoka.
Saturday, Mar 8: 9:22 a.m. - Turning Japanese
By Tim Willoughby
While most of the players here in Shizuoka are relatively local, we do have one pro who has traveled slightly further for the event. Olivier Ruel made the big flight, and is staying with Masashiro Kuroda for the weekend to battle against Japan's best. When I asked him what he'd be doing for his three byes, he pulled out a book on how to write Japanese; following all his great experiences on the Pro Tour over here, he is now doing a degree in Japanese, and would be hard at work trying to get practice in between rounds. After having had a fairly easy semester studying English, a language in which he is already fluent, Oli is now working on something a little harder.
"Japanese is really tough, because even once you know all the words, you can't necessarily make them into a sentence" quipped Oli, who is already well versed in a few languages, but was looking for a special challenge for his degree.
With a competitive looking faerie deck, Olivier might well have to cram a lot of his study into those first three rounds ֠as someone up there with Alex Shvartsman in terms of GP performance, he's not used to having much time later in tournaments.
Round 3 Feature Match - Fujita Strikes Again
Yoshitaka Nakano vs Naoki Yamaoka
By Tim Willoughby
Here in round 3 of GP Shizuoka we have our first feature match, and it's quite an exciting one. In spite of protestations from Tsuyoshi Fujita that his deck for this tournament is not too special, it still bears the hallmarks of Fujita's trademark innovation. Tsuyoshi, thanks to his Hall of Fame membership, will not be playing for one more round, but his deck is also in the hands of Yoshitaka Nakano who is hot off a top eight finish at Worlds 2007, and looking to follow up in 2008.
His opponent, Naoki Yamaoka, has a deck which he discovered as a Grand Prix trial winning list. Thus far, it has taken him to two victories, but now possibly faces a sterner test.
Nakano led off with a Treetop Village before powering out both Boreal Druid and Heritage Druid on turn two. This met a little reading from Yamaoka, who wasn't too familiar with the only druid in Morningtide barring Gilt-Leaf Archdruid (and those changelings that make all of this trivia so much less fun).
Heritage Druid? Fujita strikes again.
While Yamaoka had a Bitterblossom off Island and Swamp, he looked a little on the back foot as Nakano played both Bramblewood Paragon, and Elvish Champion on turn 3. The Champion is exceptionally powerful against green decks, especially with a relatively low number of basic Forests in this variation on the elf deck. Against Yamaoka, the forestwalk would not be relevant, though the same could not be said for the size bonus that the champion granted.
Prior to the Nakano's next attack step, Namaoka had Pestermite to tap down Bramblewood Paragon. Nakano shrugged, and played a Hunting Triad, which produced three Elf Warrior tokens, each of which would attack as a 3/3, given the help from Bramblewood Paragon and Elvish Champion. Nakano wasn't keen to attack initially, but once the beats started coming, they were savage. Imperious Perfect made those elves colossal, and as if they weren't enough, Nakano had a whopping three copies of Treetop Village with which to back them up. The very first swing was with Elvish Champion, Heritage Druid, Boreal Druid, Bramblewood Paragon, and three Elf Warrior tokens. A Pestermite and two Bitterblossom Faerie tokens blocked, and with help from Scion of Oona, even killed off a could of elves, but Namaoka was taken to 3 nonetheless. He quickly scooped things up for Game 2.
Yoshitaka Nakano 1 - 0 Naoki Yamaoka
While Yamaoka was on the play for Game 2, it was again Nakano who took the initiative, leading off with Boreal Druid, and following up with Heritage Druid and a second Boreal Druid. When he tried for an Elvish Champion as well, he was thwarted by Flash Freeze, but he still had a substantial amount of mana available fore future turns with which to deploy other threats. This new version of elves could definitely be explosive.
Yamaoka tried to proactively deal with these other threats with Verdillon Clique, hitting a Garruk Wildspeaker, who was unsurprisingly replaced by something rather less exciting ֠though the Treetop Village that came would be a threat that could get through any amount of countermagic from Yamaoka.
It was time for Yamaoka to go on the offensive. He played both Pestermite and Oona's Prowler off four lands thanks to a canny untap from Pestermite, to race in the air. Nakano seemed happy to race on the ground, getting in to drop Yamaoka to 8, with a collection of mana druids.
The air race was slowed by a couple of points by a discard from Nakano, to drop Oona's Prowler's power a little, and while the ground was slowed slightly by a Pestermite tapping Treetop Village, Yamaoka still dropped to 2 on Nakano's swings. On 11 himself, Nakano appeared to have it, until a timely Scion of Oona from Yamaoka proved just enough to pump his team for a winning strike back
Yoshitaka Nakano 1 - 1 Naoki Yamaoka
Nakano pensively spun a pen between his fingers as he watched his opponent peform the final shuffles before Game 3. He would be acting first in the decider, and given the explosiveness of his deck, this must surely give him a substantial edge.
That edge was neutered slightly as Nakano had to mulligan a one land hand. It had a Boreal Druid, but was not going to provide him with the sort of start he was looking for, and would have been the riskiest of keeps. After some brisk shuffling, he looked at his six and nodded with approval.
A Treetop Village was Nakano's first play, followed by Mutavault and Bramblewood Paragon the following turn. Three cards, all of which could attack for Nakano. His Llanowar Elves were countered by Spellstutter Sprite on turn three, so Nakano simply played another Mutavault, and swung with his Paragon and Mutavault #1 to get some damage on the board.
Nakano was a little light on green mana sources, but with all his man-lands, he could still do some tricks. He played Heritage Druid, and activated Mutavault to give him the requisite three elves to produce enough mana for another Heritage Druid and Boreal Druid. From nowhere his board was filled.
Yamaoka drew, played a land, and passed for the turn. There was no reason for his faeries to do anything like make Yamaoka busy up his main phase. Nakano tried a Hunting Triad, but it was met with a Flash Freeze from Yamaoka, who followed up with Bitterblossom in his own turn.
Down on cards in hand, Yoshitaka activated his two Treetop Villages and swung, knocking his opponent down to 7. This became 6 thanks to Bitterblossom soon after, and concerned about his life total, Yamaoka played Oona's Prowler and passed without attacks.
There was little reason for Nakano to play spells while his attacking plan was working, and he continued in similar form, forcing a Spellstutter Sprite to come out from Yamaoka just to triple block and trade with one Treetop Village. Bitterblossom continued to bite him, and he dropped to 2. Soon after, Yamaoka extended his hand. While he had counterspells for new threats, he could not stop those lands from coming in and finishing him off.
Yoshitaka Nakano wins 2 - 1
Round 5 Feature Match - Mulling it Over
Naoki Shimizu vs Kenji Tsumura
By Tim Willoughby
Naoki Shimizu poked his head around into the writers area.
"My opponent is Kenji Tsumura – do I get a feature match?"
The response from Japanese coverage guru Keita Mori was straightforward enough.
"Get to the feature match area dummy!"
Naoki Shimizu showed up yesterday to the GP Trials looking for byes and he found three of them, along with a DCI promo Crystalline Sliver for his trouble. His homebrew creation takes some of the best black, green and blue spells in standard right now, and fixes the mana just right to be able to cast them with ease. With such fatties as Chameleon Colossus and Cloudthresher, he doesn't need many of his monsters to stick to finish off his opponents.
Kenji, meanwhile, could be found on Friday lamenting the fact that this was not an Extended Grand Prix. He felt that he had a great deck for extended, but barely a deck at all for Standard, and was hunting around for something good to play. He was reticent about his thoughts on the Reveillark deck that he was playing for the weekend. The deck is definitely powerful, but Kenji seemed uncertain about his chances.
Shimizu won the roll and led with Treetop Village and a Forest, followed by Into the North to fetch the blue/black snow dual land. From out of nowhere his mana was fixed. While Kenji had a Riftwing Cloudskate to suspend, Naoki made sure on his mana with Civic Wayfinder – a creature that Tsumura would be loathe to bounce.
Kenji had a Mind Stone and a second Cloudskate to suspend, while Naoki was the beatdown, hitting with the Wayfinder and Treetop Village before playing Tarmogoyf, unafraid of the two bounce creatures. Kenji cast Wrath of God in the face of such pressure, while Naoki had Mulldrifer – another rough one to bounce. Riftwing Cloudskate traded with the Mulldrifter, only for Kenji to play one of his own, keeping his hand relatively full. Shimizu meanwhile, kept playing awkward to bounce creatures in the face of the Cloudskate assault – a Shriekmaw that offed Mulldrifter.
The life totals were 20 to 15 in Shimizu's favour, but Kenji had a plan to redress this balance. First he swung in unimpeded with his Riftwing Cloudskate, then he played Aven Riftwatcher. Particularly good against burn, the 2/3 flyer is also a solid inclusion thanks to his higher than average toughness, holding off any number of otherwise awkward 2/2 flyers.
Naoki, looking dapper in a suit and tie, calmly cast Into the North, thinning his deck and building his mana base along the way. With the Mouth of Ronom that he fetched, he would be safer from whatever tricks were on the way from Tsumura. Kenji played Body Double, copying Mulldrifter, and was responded to by Shimizu with a Makeshift Mannequin to get back his Mulldrifter. Everyone drew a lot of cards, and generally felt quite pleased with themselves. Kenji was behind slightly on life (11 to 16) but had more damage on the board, along with a large stack of lands with which to cast the cards in his hand. Initially at least, he held back, allowing a Makeshift Mannequin to get back Mulldrifter again, and only playing Venser later, to kill it once it was in play. Nothing Kenji had was stopping the Shriekmaw, who would continue to rumble in for three, getting past Kenji's team thanks to its fear ability.
Naoki Evoked a second Shriekmaw, choosing not to play it so that presumably he could keep Mouth of Ronom mana up. This plan was thwarted though, by a Rune Snag, forcing Shimizu to pay if he wanted to off Venser. Shimizu did so, attacked, and passed the turn. Kenji cast Reveillark. While down on life, he was fast in a position to cause all manner of trouble, with both Reveillark and Body Double on the board.
Naoki tried an end of turn Makeshift Mannequin, only for Kenji to Momentary Blink his Reveillark, getting back Mulldrifter, and Venser, Shaper Savant to bounce Shimizu's spell from the stack. Naoki had to content himself with casting yet another Mulldrifter. It soon blocked and died to Reveillark, while Shimizu dropped to 4 on the swings.
Kenji evoked Riftwing Cloudskate, getting back a pair of Riftwing Cloudskates, and bouncing two Treetop Villages on Shimizu's side of the board. Naoki's response was Makeshift Mannequin for two cards. Naoki's hand was suddenly huge, but he was in trouble on the board. He cashed in another Makeshift Mannequin for two cards, and finding nothing that helped, he went to his sideboard, signaling time for Game 2.
Kenji Tsumura 1 – 0 Naoki Shimizu
Shimizu started game 2 in a hurry, with a Bitterblossom. Into the North got countered, but another Bitterblossom soon followed. Kenji dug for answers with Careful Consideration, while Naoki's army grew bigger every turn. Mwonvuli Acid-Moss both kept Tsumura off his mana, forcing more coloured activations off Adarkar Wastes. With Tsumura tapped out, Shimizu made the most and cast Liliana Vess to force more discard. The life totals were 11 each. Tsumura played Body Double as a Reveillark to make attacking more difficult. With a Mirror Entity in the graveyard also, Tsumura wasn't far from having his combo all ready to go. What stood in the way of this plan though was an army of faerie rogues.
Liliana Vess didn't help either. Her search ability put something good on top, and Shimizu had to feel that he was still in with a shot. Kenji played Venser, Shaper Savant to bounce a permanent though, and then dropped the bomb – he cast Momentary Blink on his Body Double, to set up his whole combo. With Venser around to bounce things with, his Body Double would turn into Mirror Entity. The entity would then activate itself for X sufficient times that all Kenji's creatures would die about enough. Reveillark could then get back Body Double (as Reveillark) and Venser, enough to bounce Shimizu's board.
Naoki was hip to Kenji's jive. All it took was the Momentary Blink to force Shimizu to scoop things up.
Kenji Tsumura wins 2-0!
Friday, Mar 7: 5:23 p.m. - Aleksi
By Tim Willoughby
Kenji meets Aleksi
Right now, Alexi Briclot might be the busiest person at GP Shizuoka. As a Magic artist, he began work in Ravnica block with parts of the guildmage cycle amongst others. I recall interviewing him at GP Malmo, where he said that he had 'something special' coming up in a set that had yet to come out.
Alexi Briclot is not a man to exaggerate.
With the planeswalkers, and the chase rare of the set in Thoughtseize, Lorwyn has skyrocketed Alexi into being one of the artists with the longest queues at any event where he is doing signings. Before he even arrived at his station this morning there was quite a queue, and it only got longer as the day went on. Kenji Tsumura was in the queue for over an hour, while his byes worked their way through, and at the end of it he was rewarded in royal fashion.
Not only did he get a stack of planeswalkers signed by the Frenchman Briclot, but he also had a very special bit of art modification on his foil Garruk Wildspeaker. The eyes have it...
Friday, Mar 7: 7:43 p.m. - Top of the Tribes
By Tim Willoughby
We've had six rounds now, so things are beginning to shake out in terms of what decks are hot and what decks are, ahem, not. I took a quick turn about the room to try to get a feel for where the power in Lorwyn lay, specifically focusing on those 19 players who remained undefeated at this point.
Alas, all eight tribes are not represented within our 19, unless you start counting Mirror Entity as every creature type. While the rules say yes to this, I say no! Mirror Entity will be counted as whatever creature type he hangs around with most. As will Mutavault. Mutavault is like the drums in popular music. If we start saying it's all drum music the world will fall apart, and I'll have to listen to drum solos. Let the madness stop.
Digressions aside, Giants, Merfolk, Kithkin and Treefolk haven't mastered the art of winning six straight here in Japan. Sorry Doran. Stick to extended for now. While there are three black/green decks up there, they are taking a rather more controlling removal + Tarmogoyf route than splashing white for the guy whose big behind comes in and hits for five.
There are 3 red/green decks, ranging from the burn end of the spectrum (well done goblins, Mogg Fanatic representing for you there), to the mana ramp where such threats as Cloudthresher have proven popular (score one for the elementals). There are two dedicated Elf decks, one of which being the hugely explosive version of Elves designed by Tsuyoshi Fujita. While Fujita himself sits at X-2, Yoshitaka Nakano is as yet undefeated with the deck. Faeries also have three pilots undefeated, including Olivier Ruel, whose homework has fallen by the wayside as he gets on with the business of the day... winning. Faeries and Goblins work together in red/black, where Marsh Flitter and Bitterblossom go hand in hand with Siege-Gang Commander and Mogg War Marshal for an explosion of tokens, often backed up with Grave Pact and Greater Gargadon for some vicious removal.
The big winner though at this stage of the day is the blue/white deck which can only really be described as elemental control. While Reveillark provides a combo finish, this is hardly a deck that is racing to combo people out. It can quite happily play Mulldrifter, Reveillark, Riftwing Cloudskate for value and work on card advantage with coming into play abilities and Momentary Blink. The combo is somehow both incidental, and occasionally devastating.
We'll have to see if the blue/white decks hold up, but right now there seem to be quite a few options that have warrant further investigation for Standard. Fortunately, we still have more rounds today, and a whole day tomorrow to see how the format solidifies.
Round 5 Feature Match - The Luck of the French
Olivier Ruel vs Ryuuichi Arita
By Tim Willoughby
Olivier Ruel has been declaring all day that he is very lucky. On being undefeated after seven rounds he said "If I keep being as lucky as I have been so far, then I will win this whole GP. But then karma will probably mean that my plane will crash on the way home."
Olivier lost the roll, but after checking three cards he smiled and declared that he would keep. He even flashed those cards to Arita – Pendelhaven, Underground River and Bitterblossom.
"You aren't playing Meddling Mage are you? Cabal Therapy?"
The first drop of the game was that Bitterblossom from Ruel, while Arita had a Coldsteel Heart to help him make white mana, and soon a Sower of Temptation to take the fresh Pestermite that had come down from Olivier.
Oliver had a Rune Snag for the Reveillark from Arita, and his Bitterblossom kept making Faeries, each of which was represented by a name from previous feature matches. Arita was being beaten down by Kazuya Mitamura and Maiko Nagashima amongst others. Arita used a Pact of Negation to stop a Mistbind Clique from Ruel, played a Careful Consideration and suspended Riftwing Cloudskate before passing. The life totals had Olivier at 11, while Arita was high on 16. He fell to 9 after a Pendelhaven activation and Scion of Oona pumped Olivier's Team.
A Cryptic Command to clear out blockers was enough to finish Game 1.
Olivier Ruel 1 – 0 Ryuuichi Arita
In preparation for the GP, Olivier had done some last minute testing of his deck in the trials on Friday in Shizuoka. There he had come to the conclusion that he was highly favoured against Reveillark decks, because, in his own words "You start the Game 2 turns before they do." With persistent threats like Bitterblossom, along with the distruption of countermagic, this seems like a reasonable assertion, and one that could mean a good metagame call from the Frenchman, who finds himself in a field where Reveillark decks are proving quite popular.
Ruel had the first play of Game 2, a Thoughtseize that took Mulldrifter over both Wrath of God and Body Double from a hand otherwise clogged with lands from Arita. One of those lands was a Mutavault, so Arita's turns weren't a complete waste. Olivier knocked on the top of his deck, fanned the top card with Anan Go's name card (from a previous feature match), looked at it and smiled. He played Bitterblossom and passed. He had a Rune Snag for Body Double when it came along, but was still worried about his draw. He played a Pestermite to keep Arita off Wrath of God mana, but Arita trumped, with a Reveillark, who looked troublesome given Arita's graveyard. It wasn't until a turn later that Arita played Wrath, now getting the benefit of Reveillark, who brought back Body Double and Mulldrifter, with the Body Double conveniently becoming a new Reveillark.
Oli was stuck on three lands, and when he drew Faerie Conclave, it wasn't exactly what he wanted to see. Arita attacked with a Mutavault and his two flyers, countering a Scion of Oona along the way. Body Double (pretending to be Reveillark) got double blocked, killing off two of Olivier's creatures, before dying and bringing back Body Double itself. Arita looked at Kazuya Mitamura in the crowd. They both turned back to Olivier and started laughing.
"Good play! Good play!"
Olivier chuckled also, but was in a bit of trouble on the board. While he had another Scion of Oona, he was short on land to play some of the more powerful spells in his hand, and short on life thanks to Bitterblossom. It wasn't long before he succumbed.
Olivier sighed as he reached for his sideboard again.
Olivier Ruel 1 – 1 Ryuuichi Arita
"Message for Guillaume – play at least 26 lands in your deck... oh, and thanks for the deck."
Olivier carefully looked at his sideboard. Sower of Temptation would have been a good one for the matchup, but he already had enough four mana spells that were good against Reveillark decks. Given that he felt that the best way to lose the matchup was mana issues, he was happy to leave them in the side.
After a mulligan, Olivier had a turn two Bitterblossom, but now turn 3 land. There was a Rune Snag to take out an evoked Mulldrifter, and the following turn he did find land, allowing a Pestermite to keep Arita off blue mana for a turn. The race was on, with Olivier at 12 from Bitterblossom and Mutavault, while Arita was at 15 from faerie beats. A Spellstutter Sprite on Careful Consideration bought a lot of tempo for Oli, who got to beat Arita down to nine before Wrath of God. Oli had a Cryptic Command, but there was a Rune Snag ready, and his board disappeared.
The board still contained Bitterblossom though, and soon it was joined by a second. Olivier dropped to 8 on his turn from his enchantments, but as Arita was on 7, he could probably leverage those creatures for enough to get there. The following turn he was on 6 life, but had 4 Faeries. At the end of turn, Arita played Venser, bouncing Ruel's Faerie Conclave. For Ruel, things looked tight. He would need a little more of that luck if he were to get there, especially after Arita followed up with Reveillark.
For this game, Olivier had drawn more lands than he would have liked, and with each successive draw step he was a little lower on life, and a little more distressed about his position.
At the point that he conceded, Arita showed his hand. With a Momentary Blink in hand, he was pretty safe. It seemed that Olivier's luck had run out.
Ryuuichi Arita wins 2-1
Round 9 Feature Match - Pitching for the Perfect Game
Shintarou Ishimura vs Kenji Tsumura
By Tim Willoughby
Kenji Tsumura: just lucky?
Kenji Tsumura long ago added the word 'lucky' when people describe him as a master, but it reaches a point where you have to think that there is more going on than luck. Thus far at GP Shizuoka, he has yet to drop a game
with the Reveillark
deck supplied to him by Shingo Kurihara. Kurihara himself sits on 6-2 going into the final round, where he will really need to win to ensure a day two appearance. Kenji is going for the day one sweep.
Ishimura won the roll and led with a turn one Birds of Paradise, which set up a turn two Doran, the Siege Tower. At this point all Kenji had done was to suspend Riftwing Cloudskate. A Thoughtseize from Ishimura looked a specatacular follow-up, but it revealed Careful Consideration, Rune Snag, Adarkar Wastes and two copies of Wrath of God. One way or another, Doran would not be staying around. Thoughtseize took the Careful Consideration, and Kenji took six from the attacks, before playing Wrath of God to reset the board.
The good news for Kenji was that his opponent was still stuck on two lands, and his Bitterblossom was first bounced by Riftwing Cloudskate, then countered, keeping Kenji well ahead, after a slightly scary start. A Horizon Canopy allowed Ishimura to play a second copy of Doran, which met an Aven Riftwatcher from Kenji. The innocuous looking flyer had been good in the main deck for him all day, regardless of whether it was against burn or more regular beatdown.
Ishimura played both Llanowar Elves and Bitterblossom before dropping to 9 on attacks. The Horizon Canpoy he was having to tap for mana each turn was really hurting him, and it did not take long before he was looking to his sideboard for Game 2.
Shintarou Ishimura 0 – 1 Kenji Tsumura
Following a mulligan from Ishimura, he had another great start with a turn 3 Doran, the Siege Tower
. Kenji had a suspended Riftwing Cloudskate
, but was short on land, and quickly dropped into single digits as Doran powered in alongside Treetop Village
. The manland got bounced by Riftwing Cloudskate
, and Kenji evoked Mulldrifter
, still digging for his fourth land. In his discard step he got rid of two copies of Wrath of God
– not a great sign.
When Shriekmaw came out for Ishimura, it seemed that Kenji's streak of game wins was over. He would have to win in the decider to keep the more important match win streak going.
Shitarou Ishimura 1 – 1 Kenji Tsumura
For the first time in the match, Kenji was on the play, but again he had a turn two suspended Riftwing Cloudskate. On the draw, Ishimura had a fast Doran the Siege Tower again, but this time it was stopped by Remove Soul. Between Bitterblossom, his turn two play, and a land base of two Murmering Bosk, one Horizon Canopy, Ishimura was dishing out the beats to himself, soon on 15 life before Kenji started attacking. Tsumura got stuck in with Riftwing Cloudskate, and followed up with Reveillark, who was not looking as scary with a largely empty graveyard for the lucky master, but was still a 4/3 flyer.
Mwonvoli Acid-Moss took out Kenji's Nimbus Maze, and found a Forest for Ishimura, who followed up with an evoked Shriekmaw and MIND TWIST to clear out Kenji's hand. When Garruk Wildspeaker followed, things looked tricky for Kenji, though he did have a Teferi's Moat set to green to hold off Garruk. Bitterblossom plus Garruk was a big game though from Ishimura.
The crowd let out a gasp as Crovax, Ascendant Hero came out for Kenji – a powerful answer to the Bitterblossom. Ishimura was not out of the game though with a Wispmare to get rid of Teferi's Moat. It was Kenji though who had the last laugh, as Riftwing Cloudskate bounced a beast token, and left Kenji with enough offence to take the win.
Kenji Tsumura wins 2-1!