Sunday, August 7: 10:17 am - Round 9: Osamu Fujita vs. Tai Chi Huang
When I spoke with Osamu Fujita yesterday about his rogue blue-white creation he sounded wistful. Apparently he had designed the deck to combat Gifts decks and wished he had the confidence to play it for Pro Tour Philadelphia. He is sporting a full compliment of maindeck Hokori's and Honor-Worn Shaku to get around the drawback on his side of the table. The Winter Orb effect gives the Gifts player fits but it is compounded by some well timed Hisoka's Defiance.
He had plenty of favorable control match-ups yesterday on his way to a perfect 8-0 record but warned that his deck had trouble the field's agro builds such as Black Hand and White Weenie. He was not looking forward to his appointment with Tai Chi this morning. The first game looked good for Fujita early as he got out Meloku the Clouded Mirror and equipped it with Konda's Banner, threatening a flying army of 2/2 creatures. Manriki Gusari showed up just in the nick of time and the threat level from Meloku was downgraded from absurd to merely serious.
Osamu tried to 'timewalk' Tai-Chi several times by throwing down Hokori, Dust Drinker to chump block but somehow he was not able to get the upperhand on the Taiwanese player and eventually the White Weenie player overwhelmed the legend deck.
In Game 2 Osamu had a slow draw while Tai Chi came roaring off the blocks with Isamaru and Hand of Honor. The Japanese player's 8.5 Tails was 187'd by a copy on the other side of the table. A pair of Ghostly Prisons and Yosei could not hold off Isamaru wielding a Jitte. Tai Chi went to 9-0 and Osamu sank back into the 8-1 pack hoping to duck the agro match-ups for a few more rounds.
After the match Osamu looked at the other decks along the top table and did not like what he saw and closed his eyes hoping to avoid the hard truth of the top tables, "Black Hand, Black Hand, White Weenie…I want to play Gifts Ungiven."
Huang, Tai Chi
GP Taipei 05 Day 2
GP Taipei 05 Day 2
Sunday, August 7: 11:33 am - Just Red All Over
Aside from having one of the all-time great Magic names - right up their with Jim Bob Sixkiller and Wilco Pinkster - Hard Bitten Jan also had one of the more buzzed about decks in the tournament. He was playing a mono-red burn deck with a smidgen of critters and had quietly compiled an 8-1 record.
His opponent this round was Ai Shimoji. Ai is part of a wave of Japanese Magic girlfriends who do more than just come to the event and root on their beaus. In fact, Ai was playing on Day Two while her boyfriend Ryuchi Arita cheered her on from the sidelines. Ai has been smacking people around all weekend with Black Hand.
In Game 1, Hard Bitten kept a one land hand that featured three Frostlings and a Pithing Needle. He was also holding a pair of burn spells which began to loom larger when Ai crossed off three of her own life to play a Raving Oni-Slave. Hard Bitten began to draw into land and the Hidetsugu's Second Rite lurked in the weeds like a tripwire.
Ai had no idea what was coming. She had the opportunity to take her turn in two directions with four mana available and on 12 life. She could have used Distress to see a hand of Flames of the Blood Hand and the Second Rite. Had she gone down that route she could have taken the Flames and played a second Oni-Slave to effectively negate the Second Rite by going to 9. Instead she tapped out to play the ginormous Razorjaw Oni.
Hard Bitten looked over at the number 12 written under Ai's column on his scoresheet, at the Second Rite he was holding, at the three mana on his board, and finally at the top of his deck pleading for a land. Ai seemed to have no idea what was coming but Ryuchi winced in anticipation hoping her foe would not rip a Mountain.
Hard Bitten attacked for two, laid the land, and handed Ai the Hidetsugu's Second Rite to read.
In Game 2 Ai had a land heavy draw with few threats. A pair of Hearth Kami's made her Jitte useless and Glacial Ray hitched a ride onto a couple of Lava Spikes and a Blind With Anger before Genju of the Spires closed the deal.
I asked Hard Bitten about the deck after the match. He chose to play the deck after seeing it at some Taiwanese PTQs. Expecting a field full of Gifts he decided to make a few modifications - notably the Hidetsugu's Second Rites - and was near the top of the standings with a 9-1 record.
Top of the Standings after Day One
1 - White Weenie: 8-0
2 - U-W Legends: 8-0
3 - U-G Godo: 7-0-1
4 - Gifts: 7-1
5 - Gifts : 7-1
6 - White Weenie: 7-1
7 - Black Hand: 7-1
8 - Black Hand: 7-1
9 - Black Hand: 7-1
10- White Weenie: 7-1
11 - U-G Godo: 7-1
12 - Mono-U Control: 7-1
13 - Gifts: 7-1
14 - Mono-Red: 7-1
Sunday, August 7: 12:07 pm - Seen and Heard Round 11
Oliver Oks was getting beaten down by four Sakura-Tribe Scouts - his own Sakura-Tribe Scouts. Oliver was playing the popular Blue-green Godo deck, which uses the Scout to power out third turn Kodama of the North Tree and Meloku, while his opponent was playing mono-blue and had flipped his Jushi. Jun-Ichirou Bandou was cycling through seven cards a turn and found all of his Threads of Disloyalty - a card he would likely side out for Game 2 - and he had taken all of the Scouts that Oliver could throw at him. After using them to dump three and then four lands a turn into play they finally went on the offensive while their controller countered North Tree after North Tree that showed up late for the party.
Meanwhile in the feature area…Blue-Green Godo was having troubles with Black Hand. The match-up is close to unwinnable Game 1. Nick Wong claimed he would concede Game 1 as soon as the Black Hand player put three creatures into play. Albertus Law did not concede Game 1 but lost it nonetheless. After sideboard the matchup is supposed to be favorable with Threads of Disloyalty and Oboro Envoys controlling the board. He lost Game 2 to Lin Ian-Ting and needed to win out in order to reach the elimination rounds.
If you were expecting an all-Japanese Top 8 then you may be in for a little disappointment as the rest of the APAC region has shown that they are not going to roll over and play dead. The Japanese players continue to do well but much to everyone's surprise the local player base has been putting up an impressive set of results. The top tables seem to alternate between Taiwanese and Japanese players with a random Korean or Singaporean thrown in for diversity. But every time a Taiwanese player steps up onto the feature match stage they seem to step down with another notch in the belts.
Sunday, August 7: 1:37 pm - PTQ Pwning
Nick Wong - PWN or HAX?
"I am dominating the PTQ," beamed Singapore's Nick Wong, who had a less than stellar tournament yesterday. "Maybe 'dominating is too strong a word… How about 'pwning'? I am pwning this PTQ!"
Alright, maybe Nick was being a tad premature. He was only 2-0 at the time but I have to cut him some slack since he was having such a good time. Nick has gone with the roguish vibe that has permeated this event and is playing a mono-blue deck with Kaho, Minamo Historian to tutor out goodies like Time Stop, Twincast, and Minamo's Meddling.
Kaho failed to show up for Game 3 of his round three match-up in the PTQ vs Blue-Green Godo. It was all good though as his Jushi Apprentices and Azami Lady of Scrolls were more than up to the task of generating filthy, filthy card advantage. One Time Stop later and Nick was sitting atop the standings at 3-0. With only 52 players in the PTQ he was one win away from being able to double draw into the Top 8 - his deck is good at drawing.
Sunday, August 7: 2:09 pm - You name the deck
We definitely need a better name for Osamu Fujita's deck than Blue-White Legends. I am open to any suggestions. If Osamu was able to win his next match and go to 11-1 on the day he would be a near lock for the Top 8. He was facing off against his best match-up - Gifts Ungiven. The only problem is that it was in the hands of a formidable opponent.
Gifts has proven to be very beatable this weekend but generally when it is in the hands of a weaker player. In the hands of a solid player the deck remains a challenge. All of the weaker players are off in the PTQ or sightseeing today and Royce Chai is an example of the Gifts players that remain. Royce is one of the more formidable Singaporean players with a handful of GP Top8s and plenty of PT experience. He can regularly makes Day Two of GPs in Japan - which Ron Foster pointed out is no small accomplishment - and usually monies.
Osamu and Royce had a see-saw match that went back and forth but in Game 3 Osamu's deck showed off its true power when he locked Royce down with a Dust Drinker after a Kodama's Reach turn by the Singaporean. Honor-Worn Shaku gave Osamu room to maneuver while Royce's deck was slowly constricted to death.
Sunday, August 7: 3:40 pm - Player's Club Fallout
The Club of No Draws
The Player's Club is very much on the minds of a couple of players as the last round's pairings churned from the printer. Masashiro Kuroda was assured of a Top 32 finish which would bring his 2005 PT Point tally to 18. If he could reach the Top 8 he would pick up the crucial two points he needs to reach Level 3 status. Level 3 would not only qualify him for all of next season's PTs but, much more importantly, it would qualify him for this year's World Championships.
Kuroda has never traveled to the United States for a PT before but his desire to play at Worlds this year is such that, should his Top 8 quest be derailed, he is planning on going to Los Angeles to cash in those final two Pro Points. Tomohiro Kaji was paired up with Kuroda and since he was eliminated from Top 8 contention could conceivably concede to Kuroda and give the Kobe champion fighting shot at Top 8.
Kaji has been very conscious of his Player's Club level and is fighting for every point he can scrape together and chose to play - something that would have not happened before the advent of the Player's Club. Kaji is playing for one point - the difference between a Top 16 and Top 32 finish - and is willing to knock Kuroda from Top 8 contention to get it. To be fair, the Tokyo players have always been of the "I came to play" ilk and have never gotten onto the "I'll help you next time if you help me" bandwagon.
Another player looking for Level 3 status is Oliver Oks. Oliver has 16 points this season and will be playing for Top 16 - and two points. From there he needs an invite to Los Angeles to pass down so he can also cross the 20 point-Level 3 barrier with the two points that come from attending a PT.
Sunday, August 7: 4:01 pm - Kai, Itaru, and now…
Masahiko Morita was the beneficiary of a concession from Osamu Fujita in the final round putting both players through to the elimination rounds. That marks the fourteenth time Morita has made the Top 8 and ties him with Kai Budde and Itaru Ishida for second on the all time list. It will also be the sixth time that Osamu "The Other" Fujita has reached the bracketed portion of a Grand Prix.
Sunday, August 7: 4:17 pm - Oiso, Enlightened Sideboarder
Masashi Oiso needed to win out in his last round against Hard Bitten Jan in order to have a shot at the Top 8. Oiso was playing Gifts Ungiven and after winning Game 1 against the mono-red burn deck showed off a nasty little surprise from his sideboard - Isao, Enlightened Bushi.
The lone bushi was in the sideboard mostly for the Blue-green match-up where its uncounterablity could provide a crucial tempo advantage. ("It is also specifically good against Kodama of the North Tree," added Nick Wong while reading over my shoulder.) Oiso liked the bushido and regeneration ability against the burn player since it could hold the fort against Genju of the Spires.
Oiso won his match - with a little help from Isao - and was now hoping that the tiebreakers would tumble his way so he could make the Top 8 of a Grand Prix for the 7th time.
Sunday, August 7: 4:56 pm - Kaji gets religion
Kaji finds religion!
After taking his match with Masashiro Kuroda to the outer limits of the extra five turns, Tomohiro Kaji finally realized that he would still make the Top 16 -- and get his two precious Pro Points -- if he conceded to Kuroda. Kuroda fought valiantly and, no matter how much math he did, always came up a few points short of killing the tenacious Kaji. Kuroda set up his final turn to splice the heck out of Goryo's Vengeance but Kaji was at thirty when they hit the extra turns.
It seemed to pain him to do it but after examining the standings Kaji slumped and signed the slip. Kuroda did not think he was going to make Top 8 but he squeaked into the final slot.
Update: It seemed to pain him to do it but after examining the standings Kaji slumped and signed the slip. Kuroda did not think he was going to make Top 8 but he squeaked into the final slot. While Kaji may have found religion he also found an unjust God since he ended up falling to 20th in the standings -- losing out on one point in the process.
Sunday, August 7: 5:34 pm - The Judges
Ladies and Gentlemen...the fine, fine judging staff of Grand Prix Taipei!