Sunday, July 23: 11:41 a.m. - Drafting with the Stars
Can Kenji Tsumura make it a hat-trick?
After winning the Player of the year award in 2005 a humbled Kenji Tsumura vowed to improve his Limited game. His title was earned almost entirely on the shoulders of his Constructed performances. With the exception of a Team Limited Sunday appearance all of Kenji's best finishes were in Constructed events.
Since then he has been true to his word. After a stunning 40-card win at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur he went back to back with a win in Europe at GP Toulouse. He is looking to make it three in a row on three different continents (although I guess technically Kuala Lumpur is just near a continent).
I settled in behind Kenji to see his drafting strategy. He winced and urged me to follow someone else's draft like Paul Rietzl's who was also at the table. Kenji pointed at the seating chart to show me what he had written there: "Paul Rietzl = Master; Kenji Tsumura = Bad". We'll see about that.
I had considered covering Antonino's draft at table one but the Champion warned me off. This was going to be his prerelease event. "Cover me next draft. I will have infi more experience by then."
Yeah, nice try, Kenji
Kenji flipped through his cards and demonstrated a preference for white and green by isolating Squall Drifter, Karlpusan Strider, and Allosaurus Rider near the front of a pack that also contained Grim Harvest (you should be taking this card higher than you currently are dear readers), Mouth of Ronom, and another card that I assure of high qulity but has been forever lost to my shoddy penmanship. Kenji took the tapper and followed up with Surging Sentinels and a second tapper - sandwiching Phyrexian Ironfoot - within the next few picks. He moved into green with a couple of middle pick Aurochs and Boreal Centaurs bat was more than ready to switch out of green should something urgent pop up in the second pack.
What shocked me about the draft was how late Krovikan Mists were floating around the table. I think there were something like 6 in the first pack and they ended up dispersed among the drafters but not accumulating in any density. Blue seemed criminally underdrafted in the pack with Krovikan Whispers ending up in someone's pile with a pick numbering in the teens - not just double digits but actually ending in "teen". I was also startled by how low the table seemed to value Grim Harvest which went around the table in a leisurely pace. This is a card that is going to become progressively harder to draft late as the format matures as it is one of the only forms of real card advantage in the set but today it was almost a last pick. But I digress…
Kenji put his forehead against the table after opening his rightbound pack. It had a Rimescale Dragon. It also had Ronom Hulk…and a Rimescale Dragon. There were some Aurochs that would have some synergy with his green white deck…and a Rimescale Dragon. It was obvious he was going to color switch but Kenji was trying to fight it until the judges made him commit. He took the dragon and smiled sheepishly. At this point he had no snow-covered lands to activate it. He would also need snow mana for his Gelid Shackles and pair of Ironfeet. Kenji third picked Snow-Covered Plains, got another tapper and then began supporting red by filling out his curve with an assortment of snowgres. He ended up with only two Snow-Covered Plains at the end of the pack.
There were few decisions for Kenji to make in this pack as he took every Surging Sentinel he saw which ended up being a hair under the statistical norm of 4.2 copies of any common per 8-person draft. (If that stat is true, how come there are always something like 8 Krovikan Mists in every draft?) The only question about Kenji's draft was whether or not he should have been taking off-color snow lands to turn on his Dragon and Ironfeet. He had one shot at a Tresserhorn Sinks but took Ronom Unicorn over it.
Again blue was just ending up in people's draft piles as opposed to being actively drafted. Kenji saw Krovikan Whispers go by him twice in packs one and in three, Vexing Sphinx went 13th, and this is with the guy to Kenji's right drafting something like six Mists.
Kenji explained after the draft - looking over his scant three snow lands in his pool - that he does not like to splash for snow effects. He pointed to his dragon and pointed out that even if can't activate it, it is still a 5/5 flier. "I first picked this one draft - no snow lands."
GP St. Louis Draft 1 Deck
Sunday, July 23: 12:16 p.m. - Sam's Big Lie
If you took blood samples from either Sam Gomersall or Paul Rietzl at the start of round one, the liquid might actually be flammable. There appear to be no clear transitions from morning to evening for the hard-partying duo and they were showing the effects of the longer than 24 hour day.
Or were they?
Craig Krempels suspected that the whole head on the table, arms over the head, groaning in pain was actually the result of a terrible sadness - at least in Sam's case anyway. He felt that Sam was only pretending to be suffering the after effects of adult beverages to mask that sadness. The source of the suspected sadness?
"He is just depressed that he can't draft any Skeletal Vampires today!" explained the one time U.S. Champion.
Sunday, July 23: 12:33 p.m. - Stay on Target
Heezy don't need no steeenkeeen white!
After the first draft players huddled together in their respective playgroups to compare notes, colors, and stories of bravery and courage. None were braver than Honolulu Champion Mark Herberholz.
"I busted Sunscour in packs two and three. I didn't take a white card in pack one - so I shipped 'em both," said Heezy proudly.
Gabe Walls laughed at the prospect of playing in that pod. "So now you have to play around Wrath for the next three rounds? What are you going to do if your opponent doesn't even play a Plains but just busts out a Wrath with two white cards?"
"Obviously I will just [soil] my pants."
Sunday, July 23: 12:54 p.m. - Round 9: Kenji Tsumura vs. Paul Rietzl
The first round of day two found "best player in the world" Kenji Tsumura playing against the ever vocal, long time Pro Tour regular Paul Rietzl. Paul's first exclamation of the match was a simple "MASTER!" to Kenji. All the quotes were of course Rietzl's. Kenji pretty much just shrugged and played spells.
Kenji showed off his skills by rolling a 19 to go first.
"Is this for real??!!"
Kenji opted to play.
"I wish you good luck, but I hope you get manascrewed."
Both players kept their opening hand. Paul was very happy to see Kenji's white deck playing nothing on turn two. He opened up the beats with two Martyr of Spores on his side.
Kenji made up for lost time by playing Surging Sentinels and then adding another one thanks to ripple on his turn three. Paul failed to play anything on his turn three. Turn four for Kenji was two more Surging Sentinels. The board was looking very bad for Paul. Four 2/1 first strikers against his two 1/1s. Paul also missed his fourth land drop.
"I hope I ever have a 3 toughness creature."
Paul's last hope was a Surging Flame. If he could just ripple up some removal to counteract Kenji's start he would be in good shape.
"I have to get lucky here."
He didn't. His only plays left were hurling complaints at Kenji.
"Hurry up, kill me!"
"This is the only way you can ever win."
Kenji played out two more creatures and Paul scooped his overwhelmed board position.
Sideboarding banter involved plans by Paul to get Kenji drunk. Paul was very upset to hear the no alcohol DCI policy at tournaments. He flashed a 1/3 spider.
"I just sided this card in against no fliers!"
"It's the only way I can win!"
Paul mulliganed his first 6 land/ 1 Bull Aurochs draw, showing the hand to Kenji and everyone.
"All I have to do is play a Simian Brawler and he just can't win ever, right?"
Paul started his game off with a Boreal Druid and followed up with the turn three 3/3 that Kenji allegedly can't beat. Kenji played a turn three Sentinel again, but this time missed on the Ripple to put any more into play.
Paul, deciding his 3/3 might possibly not be big enough played a Surging Might on his 3/3. Kenji replied on his next turn with two Squall Drifters to keep the 5/5 beast tapped down.
The board continued to develop in Kenji's favor. With a Jotan Owl Keeper and another Surging Sentinel Paul, obviously mana flooded, failed to play any more cards besides a red Martyr of Ashes. Once again he was forced to concede to Kenji's white army.
After the match all Paul had to tell me how good his deck was and fanned it out for me. It did look very impressive and he should do well in his next two rounds. He did concede that Kenji's deck was indeed quite excellent. Kenji's many ripples included a Rimescale Dragon among many other solid cards and an impressive creature curve.
Sunday, July 23: 1:37 p.m. - Round 10: Shota Yasooka vs. Rich Hoaen
This round had an interesting announcement from the judging staff. They decided with the high rules level of this tournament that Cumulative Upkeep would not follow the trends of intent that many of the DCI's rulings have been supporting lately. If players draw a card without paying upkeep, it would result in the permanent going away. This seemed to be well received by many of the pros who usually don't disagree with more skill testing in the game.
This round saw limited expert Rich Hoaen playing against the fine player from Japan who knocked me out of the Grand Prix yesterday, Shota Yasooka. Both players were a bit on the quiet side, intent on the game at hand.
Shota won the die roll and decided to play. The game got off to a slow start. Rich had the first creature of the game with a turn 3 Ohran Viper which quickly got killed by Shota's Krovikian Rot. Rich just followed it up with a second viper on the next turn! Shota continued to not play creatures and Rich added Ursine Fylgja, Ronom Unicorn and finally an Adarkar Valkyrie. Three bomb rares proved too much for Shota who seemed to play nothing but swamps, possibly color screwed.
Game 2 got off to a swifter start with both players getting bears down on turn two. Shota put Plains into play revealing he definitely was color screwed in the first game.
Rich added a Jotun Owl Keeper to his side while Shota developed his side with a Boreal Griffin, Snow Musher, and Squall Drifter. Rich added a Rimewind Taskmage to his side to match Shota's tapper.
This time it was Shota who played Adarkar Valkyrie. Rich seemed unimpressed. He played his own on the next turn directly into the graveyard, but then discovered that while quite good, the Valkyrie isn't actually legendary. So now both players would get to have their bomb angels.
In case you're wondering who gets the creature if both players target the same creature with Valkyrie, don't worry. It also stumped both players and table judge Andrew Veen. It actually doesn't matter what order the creature is targeted and gets triggered later in the turn based on who is active player. Long story short, the inactive player gains control of the creature.
The board position continued to complicate. Now both players had a tapper, a Valkyrie, multiple bears and evasion creatures. Shota seemed to have the better position with a few extra evasion creatures. Rich added a Diamond Faerie to his side. Shota's next turn broke the game open with a Deathmark on Rich's Valkyrie, gaining control of a second angel. In addition, Rich was only on 4 life after another hit from the Snow Musher.
Rich started his next turn off with an attack with all his creatures except for his tapper. After Shota spent some time figuring out blocking, he just conceded.
The third game started with 25 minutes still on the clock. Both players played very quickly and this match was no exception.
Rich started out with a Boreal Centaur, Survivor of the Unseen and Squall Drifter by turn 4. Shota had a Squall Drifter and a Kjeldoran Outrider. Rich got a couple free cards out of the Survivor and then let it go. He played Gelid Shackles locking up Shota's tapper and added another Centaur to the team.
Rich kept the pressure on with his Centaurs while Shota just sat, took beats and laid land. His only play for two turns was to remove Rich's tapper with Krovikian Rot. Then he hit his turn six and dropped his Adarkar Valkyrie.
Rich played another Shackles to control the Valkyrie, but he lacked the mana to keep it from attacking. He added a Juniper Order Ranger to his side, but it quickly got a Deathmark from Shota.
He followed up with his own Valkyrie in an attempt to stop the beats. Shota sent in an Ursine Fylgja, Squall Drifter, Kjeldoran Outrider and his Valkyrie. Rich set up his blocks which ended up leaving him with no team after Shota played a devastating Kjeldoran War Cry. Rich, left with no board and no way to recover, conceded the match.
At the end of the match, Shota revealed he actually had two Valkyries in his deck.
Shota Yasooka defeated Rich Hoaen 2-1
Sunday, July 23: 2:22 p.m. - Perfect Scores: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists
Three players had sterling 8-0 records at the end of play on Saturday. Nathan Baum, Dalton King, and Samuel Stoddard all accomplished that feat and none of them had an easy time of it along the way. The toughest road, by far, was hoed by Nathan Baum. Nathan was an amateur player with zero byes coming into the tournament. By the end of day one, the scalps of Sam Gomersall, Craig Krempels, and Gabe Walls were all hanging from his belt. It was a pretty impressive day of Pro hunting especially when you notice his maindeck Cyclopean Snare - a card most Pros eschew.
Day One Sealed Deck - 8-0 - Grand Prix St. Louis
Day One Sealed Deck - 8-0 - Grand Prix St. Louis
Day One Sealed Deck - 8-0 - Grand Prix St. Louis
Sunday, July 23: 2:55 p.m. - Round 11: Neil Reeves vs. Ichiro Shimura
Neil Reeves had some tough matchups
Neil Reeves could only shake his head in disbelief as he sat down for his feature match this round. This was the third straight name player he had to face. His day so far had seen him play John Fiorillo and Mark Herberholz before he rematched against Japanese National team member Ichiro Shimura (actually not really a rematch since Neil played Oiso in the team finals of Worlds but you get the general idea - Ichiro was on the team that defeated Neil's U.S. team - and I am sure they have played each other in the past. Sorry, digressing again.)
Neil was complaining about his Day Two gauntlet when one of the spectators attempted to commiserate: "So you are 0-2 in your pod?"
Neil gave him a look he usually reserves for Limited players with 43 card decks: "Nah…I am 2-0. With my first five picks in the board," he added with a wink.
Coverage guy Brian Kowal could only shake his head and mutter, "Must be…" As was pointed out in the Malmo coverage this is short for "Must be nice…" but I will have to inform Kowal that the cool kids on the continent have shortened it to a simple shake of the head and a mere, "Must…"
Back to the mach at hand… Neil: "Couldn't I just play a nutlow once?"
Neil opened on Martyr of Spores which got to beat in for a couple of turns with no plays on either side of the table.
"You are more than welcome to," grinned Neil who had mounted no other offense than his Martyr. He cast a guilty sidelong glance to the growing throng of spectators, "Awkward."
Since Neil's deck wasn't actually cooperating either he decided to go for Plan B: "Discard…discard…discard," he chanted after Ichiro drew for his turn. "One time for Tommy."
"Yes!" Another theatrical glance to the crowd and Neil 'caught' himself. "I meant…that's fine."
Neil's deck kicked in at five mana with Juniper Order Ranger. Ichiro was still without a play. Neil's next turn saw him offer up the Ursine Fylgja, "Coca-Cola Bears?"
Eventually Neil was able to swing with everyone and finish his opponent - who finally managed to get Phyrexian Ironfoot into play - with a pair of War Cry.
"Nice job you really showed him," drifted in from the throng accompanied by a slow sarcastic clap.
"We're doing it…we are doing it," cackled Neil as he sided in Dark Depths. "Seems like fun."
The tables turned on Neil in the second game as he seemed to stumble early despite a couple of two drops. The problem was that Ichiro had a turn three Ironfoot and a turn four Simian Brawler.
The Ironfoot got in and then stayed tapped for awhile as the Brawler did his thing. Neil pushed both an Outrider and Boreal Centaur - no snow mana in sight - in the way of the Mongrel/Hill Giant hybrid but Ichiro had Chill to the Bone to wipe out the team.
Ronom Hulk landed with a thud a turn later. When Neil's Surging Sentinels whiffed he had no outs and, even worse than that, he revealed Sun scour that could have been a nasty surprise for Game 3.
"Boy those were two pretty eventful games."
"It seems like I am a favorite match-up. It's all about the boom-booms and I have me some boom-booms," Neil replayed the events from the last game in his head and briefly reconsidered. "Chill to the Bone is pretty bad for me so we'll see."
Boreal Centaur for Ichirou was answered by no play from Neil who looked at his hand and muttered, "I'm drawing dead to a Chill huh?
Gutless Ghoul was the Japanese player's turn three move over an Ironfoot - perhaps he was thinking about the Wrath he had seen last game. Neil summoned an Outrider with two plains up for its trunk but Ichiro had Rime Transfusion for the Centaur. He just sent in the 4/3. "That's no good for my team," Neil frowned as he took five.
Neil sent in the Outrider for two and summoned his Coca-Cola bears. He had no snow creatures though and Ichiro was able to make his Centaur unblockable. He reinforced with Ironfoot.
Hibernation's End was Neil's play. If he could live long enough, he would be able to 'survival' up a sequence of drops for the next few turns. Ichirou thought about his attack. Eventually he just sent in the unblockable Centaur. He did some counting and tried to figure out if he was playing another guy or playing around Wrath. He decided to play Zombie Musher.
Neil paid his upkeep for the tutorchantment and found a snowy Boreal Druid, "C'mon deck!" He played Surging Sentinels and flipped past his Sunscour again with no luck on the ripple.
Ichiro started moving around his potential attackers. He was trying to see if he could get in with more than just the Centaur. He tried to clear the Druid away with Feast of Flesh but Neil had the War Cry to save it. He just sent in the Centaur and Neil did not block it. He fell to one.
Neil dug up a Boreal Centaur with his enchantment and played an Outrider.
"You are at one?" asked Ichiro, looking at two snow creatures on the other side of the table. He decided not to attack and played the black jump knight. Neil had no fliers - and even if he found one it would likely be white.
"That was a good draw. How am I going to win this game?"
The answer was that he could not. Neil went through the different ways he could have played the game most of which seemed to involve mulliganing his opening hand. He explained why he kept it.
"I almost didn't keep that last hand but it seems like his deck can't ever beat Coca-Cola bear."
Sunday, July 23: 3:28 p.m. - Draft Coverage: De Rosa Sounds Off
Antonino De Rosa has been a limited powerhouse in the last year. He top 8ed his first Pro Tour in Prague and then went on a couple weeks later to win GP Toronto. Both of those events were Ravnica- Guildpact- Dissension limited, but it appears he can hold his own in the triple Coldsnap format as well. He was 9-2 on the weekend and went 2-1 in his last pod. He would need a repeat 2-1 performance in order to make top 8. He found himself seated at table one of the second draft with the highest ranked players in the tournament.
Antonino opened a pack with four notable cards. Ronom Hulk, Gelid Shackles, Ohran Yeti, Greater Stone Spirit were the best four cards in the pack. He decided fairly quickly on the 5/6 cumulative upkeep creature with protection from half of the format. His second pick gave him a choice between two solid green cards, Into the North, and Sound the Call. There wasn't much else in the pack to make him consider his second color yet. He chose the more optimistic pick of Sound the Call. Pick three was between Surging Might, Chill to the Bone and Simian Brawler and he chose the creature enchantment. His draft strategy was definitely going towards trying to get degenerate through multiples of the same card. His next pick was a second Ronom Hulk. Picks 5 and 6 were two more Sound the Calls and it appeared that his strategy was working out well for him. He followed up with a Rimehorn Aurochs and finally took his first red card 8th pick when all the pack really had for him was Ohran Yeti. He picked up two more when they both tabled. This shocked me because I thought it was one of the better picks in Antonino's first two packs. This ended his relative picks for the most part in pack one.
Ant's second pack wasn't real exciting. His only in color choices were a third Ronom Hulk and a Bull Aurochs. He chose the Bull Aurochs which seemed to mean he was worried about his curve. He got his fourth Sound the Call second pick. The next pack got him an early snow covered mountain without much of note in the pack. Pick four saw his fifth Sound the Call. Pick six saw his second Surging Might, followed by the excellent Boreal Centaur and Sound the Call number six! The rest of the pack didn't get him a lot of relevant cards besides maybe a late Freyalise's Radiance and a Dark Depths that I think only Neil Reeves actually has the guts to side in.
His first pick third pack was between Boreal Druid and Surging Flame. Also of note in the pack was an Adarkar Valkyrie that definitely was nowhere close to his colors. Ant chose the druid with six three drops probably very fresh in his mind in need of acceleration. His next pick was between another two drop Bull Aurochs and Arctic Nishoba. He chose the giant smasher. His next picks filled out his deck pretty well. He took a second Boreal Centaur, a Surging Flame, Magnetic Core and a second snow covered land. His later picks were fairly weak. They consisted of two Goblin Rimerunners and two Marty of Spores. Ant seemed upset at the end of pack three. He was obviously hoping to pick up a few more Sound the Calls.
The lack of good picks in pack three seemed in part due to Chris Fennel directly to Antonino's right who was deep in Green/White. The last pack hooked Chris up big time with two Resize, an Adarkar Valkyrie and a ninth pick Juniper Order Ranger.
The end result was a very well curved beatdown deck that seemed a little light on removal and tricks. Ant was hoping it would have just enough to get him through to the Top 8.
GP St. Louis - Draft 2 Deck
Sunday, July 23: 3:53 p.m. - Multiplicity
There are definitely two types of decks in the Coldnap format. As I was walking between the aisles during deck construction you find players who have decks with good cards but not a lot of duplicates. Shuhei Nakamura's deck from the second draft falls into that category. He continually took what he felt were the best cards for his deck but did not end up getting any one common in a noteworthy quantity.
GP St. Louis - Draft 2 Deck
On the other hand you see decks like the one Neil Reeves drafted. He opened Thrumming Stone and made his draft choices around having multiples of cards over the quality of the cards. He ended up with six copies of Ronom Unicorn, three Surging Sentinels, and three Boreal Griffins. He even had four copies of my underdog card of the weekend - Grim Harvest. He only played three of those though.
What he did not have in mass quantities was the one common he could have probably cornered the market on had there been more than two in the draft. There had been talk all weekend about drafting Idiot Life, a black-white deck archetype that revolves around Martyr of Sands and Grim Harvest. The deck gains obscene amounts of life and eventually wins with fliers or, failing that, decking. Some versions run 42 cards or play Jotun Giant.
Neil was planning on winning by fliers but was a little upset to only see two Matyrs in the entire draft. I guess that is the statistical downside to players getting six and seven copies of some commons when there should only be four on average in any draft. The deck runs pretty smoothly - or so they say - with four copies of the white one drop.
GP St. Louis - Draft 2 Deck
Or you can take the multiplicity theme to an extreme. Just take a gander at Larry Wayman's deck for Draft Two.
Sunday, July 23: 6:06 p.m. - Coming Down the Stretch
It has been in interesting weekend to say the least. DCI Reporter - the software that tournament organizers use to run their events - has been getting a beta test of its latest upgrade. Overall it has been pretty smooth but for this last round it was stubborn about producing pairings which only served to heighten the tension all the players on the bubble were already feeling.
Kyle Sanchez, left, vs. Vipul Kothari
Here is how the standings looked at the end of round thirteen:
Alex Kim and Zac Hill draw into the Top 8
Almost all of the players with 34 or 33 points were able to draw their way in except for Pierre Mondon, who was paired down against Antonino DeRosa, and Shuhei Nakamura, who was playing against Vipul Kothari. Brian Fox got paired down against Chris Fennell. It appeared that at least one of the nine 30 point players would make it into the Top 8 due to the vagaries of the final round pairings within each pod.
After Antonino lost Game 1 to Pierre, he was again offered the intentional draw, which would assure DeRosa a Pro Point and some money, and he took it.
Turn five Juniper Order made Fennell's Kjeldoran Gargoyles into Exalted Angels and Brian Fox fell to Fennell. Now Fennell had to hope the tiebreakers fell his way.
Take that, Josh Bennett!
Things were much simpler in the Josh Bennett Memorial Feature Match where Jeremy Kunkel was sitting across from Mark Ioli in a clear case of win and in. I call it the Josh Bennett Memorial because he is probably going to keel over from a heart attack when he reads that Kunkel won this match and was heading for his first Grand Prix Top 8 (and earned an invite to Kobe to boot!)
The last match still playing - predictably with one of the participants racing against a plane ride - was between Vipul and Shuhei. It came down to Game 3 but Vipul could find no way to get rid of his lone snow land while Romom Serpent bashed him repeatedly. Not only was Shuhei going to the Top 8, he was going to be the Top seed.
Sunday, July 23: 6:21 p.m. - Round 13: Shuhei Nakamura vs. Cedric Phillips
Its all Japanese feature matches day here at MTG.com. Last round Cedric told me he would probably need to beat Shuhei to make top 8. I mentioned that sounded like a feature match and that the Japanese were 3-0 on feature matches today.
"Looks like someone's going to have to break the streak!"
Cedric's deck was a powerful blue/white snow deck. He had five Rimewind Taskmages, eight snow covered lands, three Gelid Shackles, and a splashed Rimescale Dragon.
So of course we had to feature him. His opponent wasn't just any Japanese player, he happens to be one of the best, repeat PT top 8er Shuhei Nakamura.
Flashback number two to Shuhei Nakamura showing BDM his deck before round 13 began. He was obviously disappointed. His deck lacked any of the kindle and ripple effects of many successful Coldsnap drafts and was three colors. His deck appeared to me to be a collection of very solid cards. Of course he had just finished winning his last round.
Onto the match. I was expecting some showmanship from the usually boisterous Cedric Phillips, but as soon as he sat down, he was all business. Shuhei was equally intense with maybe a hint of nervousness. He spent a lot of time studying his opponent for reads. Cedric won the roll and went first.
The first game saw Cedric's turn two Taskmage facing off against Shuhei's Goblin Furrier. Cedric added a Frost Raptor followed by a Boreal Griffin to his team. Shuhei removed the Taskmage with Chill to the Bone before it got active off Cedric's growing amounts of snow permanents.
Shuhei got a Disciple on the board to help stem the beats, but he had to sack it soon to remove the Kjeldoran Gargoyle that showed up the next turn. This was more or less the end of Shuhei's defenses and he soon had to scoop to Cedric's creatures.
Both players mulliganed their opening hands. Cedric got down two Taskmages against Shuhei's Survivor of the Unseen. Cedric lacked the mana to the Taskmages do anything. Both players didn't play anything for several turns. Cedric had a reactive hand and Shuhei was using the time to draw extra cards with his Survivor. Finally the Cumulative Upkeep got too high and he let it go to play a Ronom Serpent which Cedric immediately Gelid Shackled.
Shuhei untapped and played a Thermopod, sacking his Serpent to give it haste and remove Cedric's snowy shackles from the board. This kept Cedric off the four snow permanents he needed to get his Taskmages online. Ced untapped and tapped out for a Boreal Griffin. Shuhei added two more creatures to his side adding a lot of pressure to Cedric's board. He also knocked Cedric down to 12. Now Cedric was in a delicate race. He attacked Shuhei down to 12 and played a second griffin. He also would only need one more snow permanent to turn on his Taskmages. Shuhei would have none of Cedric getting back into the game. He untapped and played Stalking Yeti to take out one of the Taskmages and attacked with everything. Cedric thought a while this time and eventually let it all through so that he could race.
Cedric was now at six. He attacked with both his griffins to even the life totals and played Gelid Shackles on the yeti. Shuhei sacked the yeti to his Thermopod and killed Cedric's only blocker with a Chill to the Bone. It looked like Cedric was dead on the board now. Shuhei swung with everybody and Cedric played his trump of Vanish into Memory in the hopes of staying alive. Unfortunately Shuhei held a Surging Flames and his attack with the remaining creature was just enough to knock Cedric down to two.
Game 3 Cedric mulliganed his opening hand again. He ended up keeping a one land hand rather than go down to five. Unfortunately he missed his turn two land drop. Shuhei had no early game pressure on him though. Cedric hit his land the next turn, but still apparently frustrated missed playing his Rimewind Taskmage. Shuhei was putting no pressure on him at this point, passing on each of his first three turns.
Cedric Phillips straight reppin' Sea-Town #34
Turn four found a third land for Cedric, and he played a Frost Raptor instead. The boards started to develop now over the next three turns. Shuhei removed the Raptor with a Surging Flames and played a Gutless Ghoul while Cedric added the Taskmage and a Squall Drifter to his side. Shuhei had a surprise rare for him though with a Garza Zol, Plague Queen. Luckily Cedric was able to tap it. He also had Gelid Shackles for the queen and the ghoul.
The next few turns turned into a deteriorating board position, since the Shackles didn't actually stop anything from attacking without spending mana. Cedric was stuck tapping most of his mana each turn to control Shuhei's team while Shuhei added a Stromgald Crusader to the squad.
This set up a Rune Snag that Cedric could, but actually couldn't afford to pay for on an important second Frost Raptor. Shuhei followed up a few turns later with two Ronom Serpents and his own Taskmage. Cedric had one more Gelid Shackles for one of the Serpents and actually had the board fairly locked up except for the fact it was costing him all his mana each turn and Shuhei had a turned off Taskmage that only needed one more snow permanent to break things open. Like a true champion, Shuhei drew the snow covered land the next turn that not only turned on his Taskmage but also gave him the fourth black source to make his jump knight lethal. Shuhei tapped down Cedric's tapper and attacked through the highly convoluted board for the win.
Shuhei Nakamura defeated Cedric Phillips 2-1