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World Champion Leads the Way!

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日本語の取材へ

Katsuhiro Mori is the 2006 Japanese National Champion!

Mori had hoped for a scenario where he and his good friend, Pro Tour Charleston winner Tomoharu Saito, could have made the team together. They tried to jockey for position in the closing rounds of the Swiss but their maneuver backfired and they squared off in the quarterfinals ensuring that one of them would be frustrated in their attempt. When Mori defeated Saito, his friend made the former Rookie of the Year promise to win the tournament. Mori did not disappoint him.

Mori was piloting Structure and Force, a three-color control deck that abused Sensei's Divining Top in conjunction with both Dark Confidant and Counterbalance, that was designed by Saito's Charleston teammate Tomohiro Kaji. After besting Saito's beloved Sea Stompy in the quarters he went on to dispatch Ishimaru Ken's BUG Aggro in the quarters. After Ishimaru fell to Hidenori's Rakdos deck in the third place playoff, Mori took down another Sea Stompy deck -- this one piloted by Shouhei Yamamoto.

The Japanese National Team for 2006 World Championships will be Katsuhiro Mori, Shouhei Yamamoto, and Hidenori Katayama with Ishimaru as the alternate and qualified for Worlds.


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Takahiro Suzuki   Shouhei Yamamoto, 3-2        
8 Shouhei Yamamoto   Shouhei Yamamoto, 3-2
       
4 Shingou Kurihara   Hidenori Katayama, 3-0   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-0
5 Hidenori Katayama    
       
2 Katsuhiro Mori   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-1-1
7 Tomoharu Saitou   Katsuhiro Mori, 3-1
       
3 Naoki Shimizu   Ken Ishimaru, 3-1
6 Ken Ishimaru    

3rd Place Playoff  
Hidenori Katayama Hidenori Katayama, 3-1
Ken Ishimaru


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION

  • Blog - 5:18 p.m. - Finals: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Shouhei Yamamoto
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 4:01 p.m. - Third Place Playoff: Katayama Hidenori vs. Ishimaru Ken
    by Andrew Stokinger
  • Blog - 3:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Ishimaru Ken
    by Andrew Stokinger
  • Blog - 3:12 p.m. - Semifinals: Katayama Hidenori vs. Shohei Yamamoto
    by Andrew Stokinger
  • Blog - 12:04 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Tomoharu Saito (Sea Stompy) vs. Katsuhiro Mori (Counterbalance Control)
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Feature - The Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Decklists - The Top 8 Decks
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Day 2 Blog Archive - Tons of Decklists, Drafting with the Pros, Feature Match Mania, Photo Essays, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Round 8: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff



  • Round 4: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Blog Archive - Feature Matches, Grinders Decklists, Yaso Control, Drafting with Kenji Tsumura, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Katsuhiro Mori $3,000
 2.  Shouhei Yamamoto $2,000
 3.  Hidenori Katayama $1,200
 4.  Ken Ishimaru $1,000
 5.  Takahiro Suzuki $750
 6.  Naoki Shimizu $750
 7.  Shingou Kurihara $750
 8.  Tomoharu Saitou $750
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BLOG

 
  • Sunday, Aug 27: 12:04 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Tomoharu Saito (Sea Stompy) vs. Katsuhiro Mori (Counterbalance Control)


  • Katsuhiro Mori back when he was the 2001 Rookie of the Year

    There was a small tear in my objective journalistic eye when I saw this match-up for the Quarterfinals. This was a match-up of two of the best players in the elimination rounds. Katsuhiro Mori is a former Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Japanese player to earn an international title. While everyone knows that Tsuyoshi Fujita was the first Japanese to reach the Top 8 it was almost Mori who achieved that honor when he finished ninth at Worlds 2001. Fujita would go on to reach the finals of Pro Tour Tokyo during the following season and Mori would go on to become the World Champion several seasons later. The deck he was playing this weekend was a black-white-control deck that had a card drawing/control suite of Counterbalance, Dark Confidant, and Sensei's Divining Top.

    His opponent was his long time friend Tomoharu Saito going all the way back to the days of Saito's win at the Finals in 1999 with his Stompy deck. Before his win at Charleston, with Kajiharu80, Saito was best known as the creator of Sea Stompy (ever since that long ago Finals win, Saito has named all his decks with green in them "[something]Stompy"), which he debuted at Pro Tour Hawaii. He almost played a different deck this weekend - Erayo Ninjas - but could not resist one more chance with his beloved Ninjas; especially with Ohran Viper to add to the mix.

    Saito and Mori shared a room for this weekend and had made a vow that they would both reach the National team. In the final round of the Swiss, Saito conceded to his opponent because he thought it would not only help Mori's tiebreakers but also allow them to dodge each other at the start of the elimination rounds. Even if they had met in the semis, the third/fourth playoff would allow them to both make the team. While they were not happy about playing each other they looked around at the considerably less experienced players surrounding them and made a follow-up vow; whichever one of them won this match would become the 2006 Japan National Champion.

    Game 1

    Tomoharu Saito bluffed at mana problems after leading off with Llanowar Elf. He offered up Kird Ape on turn two and Mori countered with Remove Soul - a card I never thought I would see in a high level event but which has proved to be quite formidable this weekend. Saito actually had the second land and was able to play Jitte unopposed. Mori absorbed a Jitte'd Elf with his Dark Confidant. Saito resolved his next Ape and that one went all the way - six, six, six - with the artifact in hand.

    Game 2

    Saito was bluffing at mana issues this game. He mulliganed a one land hand and kept a Shivan Reef/Kird Ape/Ninja draw but never found the second land to turn it on. With al the time in the world, Mori found Dark Confidant and Jitte and Saito scooped.

    Game 3

    After another mulligan for Saito he smiled at he looked at his next six - it was almost the same six-card hand as last game. This time he sent it back and went to five. Just like that he was down to four cards. He gave Mori thumbs up and a big smile when he decided to keep. He was down to two cards when he played Forest and Bird. He did not have the Ninja for turn two though and passed the turn sheepishly. When he passed third turn he looked at Mori and asked, "Gasp?"

    Mori killed the Bird and untapped to play a Divining Top. Saito had nothing but lands and could do nothing but sulk. Dark Confidant came down to get max value out of the Top. Saito hopefully offered up a Bird looking for a Remove Soul but Mori had no play. He untapped to summon Court Hussar.

    Saito sent in his Birds of Paradise and swapped it out for a Ninja of the Deep Hours. His attempt at a Jitte was Spell Snared. Mori had a Jitte all his own. "Nice card," frowned Saito. "Concede."

    Game 4

    "This deck is my girlfriend and my girlfriend does not like me right now," laughed Saito as he mulliganed yet another hand. He obviously did not want to keep the next hand but could not bring himself to ship it back without a long internal debate. Finally he sighed, slapped himself in the face - perhaps a little harder than usual - and went to five.

    Kird Ape on turn three was met with Remove Soul. He had no play on the subsequent. He began slapping on the top of deck - domestic abuse? - as he drew each card. He was able to Mana Leak a Dark Confidant, which tapped Mori out so he could play Meloku the Clouded Mirror.

    Tomoharu Saito

    Mori attacked with Bob and Saito chose not to block. Mori had plenty of mana but only one tenuous source of white and he had to burn a Tendo Ice Bridge in order to have his Court Hussar stick around (meanwhile Saito was fishing around for pigs to use as flying tokens) Mori wrapped up the turn with a Top.

    Saito attacked with Meloku, made a token, and replayed land. "Rumbling Slum?" Mori peeked at his top three and had to allow it to resolve. It seemed surprising when Mori took a pain from Underground River to play a second Dark Confidant but it became clear when he tapped his two remaining black sources to Last Gasp and really-I-mean-it-this-time Last Gasp Meloku. Saito made a second token.

    The freshly cast Bob stepped in front of the hemi-powered Elemental. Saito erected another Slum: "Maybe I win this one?"

    Mori had Meloku but Saito had Jitte and the battle of broken legends was on: "No Spell Snare?" The score was 13 to 8 in Saito's favor. He tried to figure out the optimal wielder of the artifact and began walking through Mori's potential plays. In the end he simply put it on one of his Slums and sent them both in. Mori made a token - returning his long ago expended Tendo to no doubt cast Condemn next turn. He put Bob and the token in the way of each monster.

    Mori just fiddled with the top of his deck on his turn and replayed his Tendo. He fell to six on Saito's upkeep and braced for impact. Saito seemed excited to actually be playing lands and spells this game and smiled, "This is a nice game." After careful consideration he once again attacked with only the Slums. Mori had the Condemn but with only his Tendo for white, Remand was like a hard counter. Mori made a token - hoping for better luck with the Condemn next turn - and pushed it and the Court Hussar into oncoming traffic. Mori considered countering a Bird of Paradise with Remove Soul but realized there were bigger things he was frightened of than mana. Saito made a big note on his scorecard to remind himself for next turn: "CONDEMN".

    Mori agonized over his Top decisions at the end of turn. He had plenty of options and was even close to being able to steal the game with Meloku and Orzhov Pontiff. Mana was an issue in that regard so he stole Birds of Paradise with Threads of Disloyalty and passed the turn. Saito removed four counters to kill the legend at end of turn and Mori considered how to respond. Now he would not be able to use his Tendo for white on Saito's turn and reset it. He made one token and contemplated making additional…he made a second. Finally he realized what he had to do and quickly scooped up all his untapped land except for the Tendo and made four total tokens. "I may be losing this one."

    Saito thought for a while before moving the Jitte to one of his two illusion tokens. He kept his Rumbling Slums back this turn - Mori was at four and they would finish the World Champion in two turns. Mori Condemned one token and decided to let the other one through. "NINJA!" announced Saito as he cut the number of turns Mori had remaining in half.

    "What happens if this game ends in a draw?" Mori asked the table judge.

    "We go onto the next game."

    Mori used the Birds to cast the Pontiff and attacked for eight with the illusions and they were both at two at the end of turn. The Rumbling Slums put them both on zero and the game was a draw. Despite having eight white sources in the deck, Mori never found a second source that would have allowed him to win. With another Condemn lurking on top of his deck, he could have attacked, put damage on the stack, and then Condemned one of his own attackers to survive Saito's upkeep. Heck, he could have even just attacked with Bird and he would have survived since Saito would have to stack his Slums and the one point from the first one to resolve would have killed him. Instead the game was a draw.

    Both players needed a break - possibly even a nap after that game - and everyone agreed to reconvene in 15 minutes for Game 5 - and potentially game six.

    Game 5

    Saito kept his hand this game and had the dreaded turn one Bird - at least in this deck anyway. He bluffed the ninja but was just tapping his Bird to play Kid Ape. Mori had led off with Top. Kird Ape got in for two. He played Stomping Ground tapped and then tapped a Forest to play Llanowar Elf. Saito suddenly thought better of it and switched his tapped Forest for a tapped Bird. Mori was playing with no take-backs and corrected the position of his two mana sources. Naturally he Last Gasped the Bird EOT and left Saito without countermana for his Court Hussar.

    Saito had Rumbling Slum and it was met with no resistance. Threads of Disloyalty stole Llanowar Elf. Mori then flipped his Top for land and played Godless Shrine tapped. When he thought better of it and went to pay two life, Saito would not allow it. He was able to get in for five with his Slum but once Mori had mana available he was content to let the clock tick and not walk into any tricks.

    If he was going to play the waiting game, Mori was happy to not be under any pressure. He unearthed a Counterbalance with his Top, which meant that if he ever found any kind of answer to the board it would be unlikely Saito could stop him. Saito read and reread the Counterbalance and thought about how to respond. He chose to Remand it - Mori only had three blue sources. He flipped his Top and played a fourth but sat back on the Counterbalance.

    Katsuhiro Mori

    After a couple of unexciting games to start the match these last two had been rife with tension. It felt as if everyone in the room was bearing down on the feature match area, pressing against the rail to gain a better vantage to watch these two champions battle to advance to the semifinals.

    The score was 16 to 7 in Saito's favor by the time his main phase rolled around. Could he survive seven turns with only the Rumbling of his Slum as an offense? He decided that it was unlikely and tapped all his lands to play Meloku. He tapped a Bird to make a token, reset a land, and played Llanowar Elf. Mori played his own Meloku and Saito made a second token. He attacked with the two of them after adjusting life totals for the Slum. Mori Condemned one of them.

    The Counterbalance finally resolved. Saito attacked with a Bird and a token, which concluded with Mori Condemning a Ninja. Mori found himself at 3 but his Top finally offered a glimmer of hope. He transmuted Muddle the Mixture for Jitte and equipped it to his Hussar but he chose not to attack.

    Saito dropped him to 1 life with an attack from the token but that soon changed when the Court Hussar was blocked with Rumbling Slum. Mori smoked the flier and went to three life. He played Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. Saito half-heartedly tried a Mana Leak but Mori was able to reveal Remand on the top of deck and counter it for free. He moved the Jitte to the stolen Llanowar Elf. Saito had no play. The Jitte had tipped the balance of the game. Suddenly with Top and Counterbalance protecting him from the unexpected he was able to manipulate the game to his favor. Meloku was lurking three cards down and agreed to make an appearance for a measly four mana. Llanowar Elf picked up another two counters for the Jitte by banging its head against the Slum. That was enough for Saito and he offered his hand in congratulation to Katsuhiro Mori and reminded him that he now had to follow through on his promise to win the Championship.


     
  • Sunday, Aug 27: 3:12 p.m. - Semifinals: Katayama Hidenori vs. Shohei Yamamoto


  • Game 1

    Shohei Yamamoto

    Ken led off with Stomping Ground and Kird Ape, which couldn't be Shocked at 2/3. The Bird of Paradise Yamamoto played on turn 2 was promptly Shocked, and the Kird Ape soon died to a Char. That seemed to be the right play at the time… until Yamamoto dropped a Rumbling Slum on turn 4. All Hidenori could come up with was a Dark Confidant. Yamamoto didn't let up. He attacked then played Iwamori. Luckily, Hidenori flipped over a land off Dark Confidant, and then played a Shard Phoenix. But it wasn't enough. One more spell was all it took for Hidenori to concede to the Onslaught of creatures.

    Game 2

    Yamamoto's first turn Seal Fire was good enough to kill the Kird Ape this game since Yamamoto didn't have a real forest, just one of the Karplusan variety. Yamamoto was not able to hit a third land but played, in order, Llanowar Elf, Llanowar Elf, and Bird of Paradise, only to have them all die to burn spells. Hidenori sent a Char to Yamamoto's life total, since he was taking a lot of damage from Karplusan Forest and Shivan Reef. He had to use two more the following two turns to take out a pair of Trygon Predators. Yamamoto finally hit his fourth land and played the Rumbling Slum that he had been waiting on. Hidenori played Rakdos Guildmage. He had a Cruel Edict in hand, but no black mana to play it. Yamamoto added a Giant Solifuge to the board and attacked with the pair. Hidenori's blocked the Rumbling Slum since he had a Pyroclasm in hand, and he couldn't afford the 7 damage. He cast the Pyroclasm the following turn, but still didn't draw the black he needed for the Cruel Edict. He played his last red card, a Seal of Fire, but still didn't have anything else to kill the Rumbling Slum. Yamamoto added a Ninja of the Deep Hours to play, almost as an afterthought, but the Rumbling Slum took it home the next turn.

    Game 3

    Hidenori Katayama

    Hidenori finally drew some real fire this game, starting off with a Martyr of Ashes, and a hand full of red cards. Yamamoto's first play was Llanowar elf off basic forest. Hidenori thought a while about it, and decided to use Demonfire on the elf, even though he had many other choice of burn to kill it (Pyroclasm and Seal of Fire). Yamamoto followed up his first turn with a Karplusan Forest and a 2/3 Kird Ape. Hidenori missed his third land drop, didn't attack, and just let the Kird Ape hit him, hoping for more creatures to destroy with the Martyr of Ashes. Yamamoto decided not to play into it, instead playing Umezawa's Jitte and a third land over another creature. That still wasn't enough for Hidenori to decide to Volcanic Hammer it. Instead he waited until it was equipped and attacking before he sacrificed the Martyr of Ashes to kill it. Hidenori finally drew a third land, a Sulfurous Springs at that, and played Dark Confidant and a Seal of Fire. Yamamoto who now had 5 lands, played a Rumbling Slum. Hidenori had the Cruel Edict this time, and the mana to play it. His fourth land, which he flipped off the Dark Confidant, allowed him to play both that Cruel Edict and another Dark Confidant. Yamamoto wasn't done dropping bombs yet, with an Iwamori and a Bird of Paradise to back it up from Cruel Edicts. The Iwamori was killed with Seal of Fire and Volcanic Hammer, which allowed the two Dark Confidants to attack. Hidenori played a Seal of Fire he drew off a Dark Confidant before passing the turn. Yamamoto drew and played another land and decided he might as well equip the Umezawa's Jitte he played to his Bird of Paradise. Hidenori was all business though, with more land and burn spells from his two Dark Confidants. The Bird of Paradise blocked one of them but that still didn't give the Jitte any counters, or any way for Yamamoto to come back. One more draw step and that was it for Yamamoto.

    Yamamoto 2 - Hidenori 1

    Both players took a good look at what they had sideboarded at this point, with Yamamoto making some changes this time. He apparently needed to lose before he was willing to admit he was playing against a burn deck and should swap out some of his lower powered cards. He ended up only taking out one Bird of Paradise at that time.

    Yamamoto started off Game 3 by taking a mulligan for the following hand:
    Cruel edict x2, Snow-covered Mountain x3, Char, and Demonfire.

    His six card hand apparently wasn't any better and was scooped up too fast for anyone to see. His five cards, Snow-covered Mountain x3, Dark Confidant, and Pyroclasm didn't seem like too much of an improvement on the first hand, especially in the face of a first turn 2/3 Kird Ape from Yamamoto.

    He following it up with a Trygon Predator, but Hidenori had drawn some action spells. His options for turn three included a Dark Confidant and a Char, but he didn't seem to want to play the Blood Crypt he just drew untapped if he didn't have to, since he did have a Mountain. He did play the Blood Crypt untapped however, but then passed the turn, and cast Char during the attack step on the Trygon predator. It was replaced after the attack with another Trygon Predator; however Yamamoto missed his fourth land drop. Hidenori drew Char, which returned him to the exact same position as the previous turn. He continued to trust in his first decision, but passing the turn after playing a fourth land, then casting Char turning the attack step before blockers. Yamamoto lost his Trygon Predator again, but he had a Ninja of the Deep Hours to ninjistu with the Kird Ape, and added a Bird of Paradise instead of replaying the Kird Ape. This let Hidenori finally make the plays he wanted. He cast Pyroclasm, clearing Yamamoto's board, and played a Dark Confidant.

    Ken finally drew land number four, and put a Giant Solifuge on the board and attacked. Hidenori had to take the four, but then killed it with one of the two cruel edicts in his hand. At 4 life, Hidenori was lucky to reveal a land off Dark Confidant the first time, but not the second. Yamamoto played Rumbling Slum and the Kird Ape from before. Hidenori revealed another Dark Confidant with his Dark Confidant, putting him to 2 life. Hidenori couldn't afford to play the Dark Confidant he just revealed, and the Genju of the Spires he drew would have been enough if Yamamoto had decided to attack. But at 16 life he had no reason to rush, so he played another Rumbling Slum and a Llanowar Elf, just passed turn and to let Dark Confidant and the Rumbling Slums do his job for him. Hidenori was lucky enough to hit a land with the Dark Confidant, but the Rumbling Slums were still there during Yamamoto's upkeep.

    Yamamoto won 3-1 securing a spot on the National team at Worlds. Katayama Hidenori was off to the third place playoff for his last shot at the same honor.


     
  • Sunday, Aug 27: 3:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Ishimaru Ken


  • Game 1

    Katsuhiro Mori

    Mori a normally very animated player is playing his unconventional new deck of blue, white and black control cards a little more seriously today in the Top 8. Ken was playing a seemingly more unconventional black and green deck, based around getting a powerful three casting creature into play on turn two, with Birds of Paradise and Llanowar Elves.

    Ken and his Orhan Viper equipped with a Jitte were too much for a Mori once they were already in play. Mori couldn't seem to draw a condemn, and while Meloku was able to make some blockers for a few turns, ultimately four counters from the Jitte killed Meloku, then a Giant Solifuge from Ken got some damage in. Mori used a Top and a Court Hussar to try to find something, but to no avail. Mori lost Game 1, but he still had his shoes on, so it wasn't over yet.

    Game 2

    The shoes came off.

    Mori lead off turn 2 with a Dark Confidant, but Ken was able to Putrefy it since he played a Bird of Paradise on the first turn. Mori smacked himself for some reason, and then cast Threads of Disloyalty on the Birds, leaving Ken with only two Forests. Ken had a third land, Umezawa's Jitte, and a Llanowar Elf. Mori also had his own Jitte to destroy Ken's, and a Court Hussar. Mori cast a Dark Confidant and attacked with the Hussar. Ken was able to get Hypnotic Specter out the following turn with a newly played Overgrown Tomb. The Dark Confidant attacked into the Llanowar Elf, and then Mori dropped Meloku and made a token with it. Ken had the Demonfire for the Meloku, but Mori still had one more mana and made a second token, such that Hypnotic Specter couldn't attack. Mori attacked in an almost reckless manner with the two tokens he just made, but for a good reason. After Hypnotic Specter blocked one of them, a little ninjitsu made the other become an Ink-Eyes Servant of Oni. After that Ken only drew land, and quickly conceded Game 2.

    Game 3

    Ken Ishimaru

    Mori never seems to be winning unless he's sitting on his feet. After a drink, brought by a friend, and a few more smacks to his own face Mori was ready for Game 3. This game was Ken's turn for a turn two Dark Confidant, even after having to mulligan. Mori had the answer two turns later when he cast Threads of Disloyalty on it. Ken missed his third land drop though, and his Llanowar elves were held off by a Remand, then killed by and Orhzov Pontiff. Ken only had an Umezawa's Jitte with no creatures the following turn. Mori was able to get down a Meloku a turn before Ken reached his third land drop for a Hypnotic Specter. He avoided blocking Mori's Dark Confidant to be able to equip/attack with a creature with Umezawa's Jitte, but Mori played a Miren the Moaning Well. When ken attacked, Mori made a token, blocked, and sacrificed to the Well before damage so that Umezawa's Jitte didn't get any counters. One more draw step and Ken conceded.

    Game 4

    Mori had to step away from the match for a second after this game before he was ready for Game 4, while Ken seemed calm and professional, even after losing two straight. Ken was able to use a Bird of Paradise to vault himself to a turn three Giant Solifuge. When he attacked, Mori blocked with the turn two Dark Confidant. Mori played another Dark Confidant, but Ken played another Giant Solifuge that also needed blocking. Mori had all the answers: Umezawa's Jitte of his own to destroy Ken's that came down on turn two, Spell Snare to counter Ken's second Umezawa's Jitte, and Condemn for the Dark Confidant that Ken played. As if Mori was going to run out of answers, he cast his third Dark Confidant, and this one didn't get to block. It was targeted with Demonfire, and then sacrificed to the Miren the Moaning Well.

    Mori yelled as he pealed Meloku off the top, and even though it was destroyed with Putrefy immediately, he still hot to make one token with it. That token was ninja'ed into an Ink-Eyes Servant of Oni the following turn, getting Mori his opponent's Giant Solifuge. Ken continued to draw nothing but Birds and Llanowar Elves, while the Ink-eyes and Giant Solifuge went to town. The Giant Solifuge died to a Llanowar Elf and Ink-eyes was chump blocked for a few turns. Ken was able to get out a Hypnotic Specter and an Indrik Stomphowler, but he soon ran out of fodder to block the Ink-eyes and eventually had to chump block with both the Stomphowler and then the Hypnotic Specter. Still drawing nothing, Ken tried to Punishment away the Giant Solifuge Mori took from him, but Mori had a Remand to end it right there.

    Mori won the match 3 - 1 and was assured a spot on the National Team. He advanced to the finals while Ishimaru Ken had to slug it out in the third place playoff for the same honor.


     
  • Sunday, Aug 27: 4:01 p.m. - Third Place Playoff: Katayama Hidenori vs. Ishimaru Ken


  • Ken Ishimaru

    Ken played a turn one Genju of the Cedars, then let it get Charred on turn three instead of playing more creatures -- what a horrible play!

    Why would he do that?

    Oh, it wasn't him. The judges were messing around after the deck check waiting for the match to start at 15:00. They tried playing the mock match in English, with questions like "How many hands?" for "How many card do you have in hand?"

    Once Katayama and Ishimaru showed up the judges got out of the way and the real action began. Even though these two players aren't playing for the National title, they have proven themselves with a high caliber of play this weekend. Each has brought a new unique strategy to the Standard format. While they are both qualified to go to Paris and play in Worlds, only one of them can make the National Team.

    Game 1

    A turn two Dark Confidant from Hidenori was matched by a turn two Orham Viper off Birds of Paradise. Hidenori killed it with Volcanic Hammer, and had his Confidant killed in turn by a Putrefy. While Ken added only Llanowar Elf after casting the Putrefy, Hidenori played a Rakados Guildmage and a Dark Confidant. Ken luckily had an Umezawa's Jitte off the top. He equipped it to his elf, and attacked, using a Jitte counter to kill the Confidant. Hidenori had to use a Demonfire to kill the Elf, but there was still one counter left on the Jitte, so the Birds of Paradise was a threat. Instead, Ken played a Giant Solifuge and attacked with it, then equipped the Bird of Paradise for next turn.

    Hidenori had played a fourth land, but not a fifth, so he just passed back the turn without attacking with his Guildmage. Ken played another Giant Solifuge and attacked. Hidenori was able to make a token with the Rakados Guildmage and tried to block, Ken killed it before blockers with the Jitte. Hidenori still blocked one of the Giant Solifuges with his Rakados Guildmage, then played a Dark Confidant on his turn.

    Hidenori Katayama

    Ken attacked his Giant Solifuge into the confidant before playing two Hypnotic Specters. That wasn't a problem for Hid, who Shocked and Charred the two away. Ken attacked with the bird of paradise as well, bluffing a ninja, but Hidenori didn't bite. Ken played a Confidant on his next turn and equipped it while Hidenori starting sending burn spells at his life total. A shock killed the confidant before anything could put counters on the Jitte. But all that burning and attacking had left Hidenori and very little life. Ken drew a Demonfire and only had to cast it for two to end Game 1.

    Game 2

    Hidenori's turn two Dark Confidant didn't look like much compared to first turn Bird, second turn Umezawa's Jitte and Llanowar Elves. However, a Shock killed the Elf, so Ken, with no third land, played his second Birds and equipped it with the Jitte. Hidenori attacked, but Ken played a Giant Solifuge and attacked back. Hidenori attacked again then cast Pyroclasm clearing the board. Now Hidenori has a board full of land and a Seal of Fire, while Ken had to wait two turns until he drew a third land for his Orham Viper. Hidenori played his 8th land, one of which was a Quicksand, which he used to keep the viper from doing damaged. He didn't kill it with the Seal of Fire though. He had just enough to Demonfire and seal of Fire Ken to death the instead.

    Game 3

    Hidenori killed Ken's first turn Elf with a shock and played Genju of the Spires. Ken tried Hypnotic Specter on Turn three, but that received a Shock treatment as well. The Giant Solifuge on turn 4 was able to get in however, before it died to a Cruel Edict. Ken then played a Genju of his own, Genju of the Cedars, and attacked. Hidenori attacked with his Genju and passed the turn. Ken took some time after this to do some math. He played a land, attacked with his Genju, and then Played Birds of Paradise instead of his Specter. The Birds received Shock number three, and Hidenori attacked again with his Genju of the Spires. Ken then played the Hypnotic Specter and held back to block, but it wasn't enough. Hidenori played Char at the end of Ken's turn and flashed the Demonfire in his hand that would be for lethal damage.

    Game 4

    Hidenori began by having to mulligan his opening hand. Ken played a turn 1 Genju of the Cedars on Snow-Covered Forest. Ken's Dark Confidant was shocked, then answered, with Hidenori's Dark Confidant. Ken tried a Hypnotic Specter on turn three, but Hidenori had a Demonfire for it before attacking with the Confidant. Ken didn't have a fourth land, so he attacked with his Genju of the Cedars. The next turn around he held back from attacking to stop the Confidant. Hidenori played his fifth land and a Shard Phoenix. Ken still had no fourth land, and held back again, but didn't choose to block when Hidenori pressed in - attacking with both creatures. Hidenori pressed his advantage even harder with a Shock and Volcanic Hammer directed at Ken, and then finished him off the following turn with a attack and a Seal of Fire.

    Hidenori won the playoff 3 - 1 and earned a spot on the 2006 Japanese National team that would be looking to repeat at the World Championships in Paris at the end of the year.


     
  • Sunday, Aug 27: 5:18 p.m. - Finals: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Shouhei Yamamoto


  • Katsuhiro Mori's poker face

    Are you familiar with the story of Jeff vs. Goliath?

    How about George vs. Goliath?

    Bob vs. Goliath?

    The reason you have not heard of those stories before is because Jeff, George, and Bob are just three of the hundreds upon hundreds of guys that Goliath slew before David got lucky on some given Sunday. Katsuhiro Mori was clearly a confident Goliath in this match while the relatively inexperienced Yamamoto was here to determine if he was David or just another Jeff, George, or Bob.

    To make the challenge all the more daunting, Goliath had help on this one. Mori is easily one of the better deck designers in the whole world. His decks vied with Itaru Ishida's for the attentions of Kenji Tsumura en route to Kenji winning the Player of the Year and it was iteration of GhaziGlare that carried him all the way to the World Championship title last season. Yet, he was playing Structure and Force, a deck designed by Tomohiro Kaji (who finished 16th at this tournament). Basically it wasn't just David-hopeful vs. Goliath… It was David-hopeful vs. Goliath and Goliath's pal who might be even bigger than Goliath.

    Ah, well -- any given Sunday and all that… onto the action!

    Game 1

    Yamamoto sent back his first eighteen cards but at least he was on the draw. Mori wanted to put a little more distance between their hand sizes and had Top/Dark Confidant going. Yamamato was trying to close that gap with Ninja of the Deep Hours but Mori played a second Bob to block the Ninja. Llanowar Elves made a reappearance and when Mori sent the Invitationalist into the red zone, Yamamoto blocked, leaving him only two lands. Mori was happy to be the one doing the land destruction.

    Shouhei Yamamoto

    Counterbalance hit the board and Mori had established control - something pretty easy to do when your opponent triple mulligans and gets stuck on two land. Mekoku came down for the mop-up detail while Yamamoto gamely played on. Mori did not need to waste any cards on any of Yamamoto's attempts since he has Top going and was floating a variety of two and three casting cost cards which he revealed with Counterbalance.

    Game 2

    Counterbalance had done its job. Now it was off to the sideboard in favor of board control cards like Orzhov Pontiff. While Yamamoto was taking mulligans number four and five of the match, Mori had to make his own decisions. He had no black sources in hand and multiple cards that required it. He kept it and Shizo Death's Storehouse showed up on turn two to power out Dark Confidant. Trygon Predator was the first play for Yamamoto. He untapped and added Giant Solifuge. Mori had no blocks for the hasty creature. He killed the Trygon Predator that had hung back with Last Gasp and untapped to Pontiff away the Solifuge. Yamamoto followed up with Llanowar Elf and Jitte.

    Yamamoto tapped out for Meloku on the next turn only to have it Remanded. Grand Arbiter Augustin IV hit play for Mori. Llanowar Elf picked up the Jitte but elected not to attack. Jitte cleared Yamamoto's Jitte and Bob traded with the Elf in combat. Mori transmuted Muddle the Mixture for Remand and passed.

    Bird for Yamamoto allowed him to try a Kird Ape but that only drew Mori a card. Mori showed him the Threads of Disloyalty he was going to draw and Yamamoto moved onto Game 3 - hoping to start one of these games with his hand a full strength.

    Game 3

    Yamamoto decided he liked this set of seven and he kept it. Mori was not so happy about his one-lander but kept it based on having a Top - he always keeps one land hands if he is holding Top. Yamamoto led off with a full size Kird Ape and had Jitte on turn two. Mori was holding Spell Snare but had been forced to open on Top. He flipped the Top for his second land. Yamamoto had Stone Rain to send him back to one mana.

    Kird Ape picked up the Jitte and attacked but that one mana was good enough to Condemn it. Mori replayed his Top. Yamamoto had another monster but Mori had the mana necessary to Condemn the Rumbling Slum. Yamamoto offered up a Predator and Mori used his Top to draw Remand - and in turn draw his Top.

    Mori was still only working on three lands and tapped out to play Dark Confidant and the Top. Yamamoto took advantage of the opportunity to play two Predators. Mori reluctantly decided to Top on upkeep. He revealed land with Dark Confidant and hoisted his Top onto his deck and played his fourth land.

    The World Champion

    Yamamoto made his move. He tapped out to summon Giant Solifuge, equip a Predator, and attack with the team. Mori quickly shoved Drak Confidant in the path of the Solifuge, Gasped one Predator and Condemned the other. Yamamoto was down to one card with four lands, Bird, and Jitte in play.

    Yamamoto played another Rumbling Slum after Mori had summoned Court Hussar. Mori played a Jitte and invoked the Legend rule. The score was 25 to 8 in Yamamoto's favor with the Slum bearing down on him. He transmuted Muddle the Mixture to find another copy of everyone's favorite artifact and passed the turn pants down. Stone Rain hit Godless Shrine leaving Mori with only four mana. He played the Jitte and Top hoping for the best. The Slum dropped him to 6 on Yamamoto's upkeep but the Sea Stompy player had no attack.

    Mori found a white source in Adarkar Wastes and went three cards into his deck with Court Hussar. He fell to 4 on Yamamoto's turn from the wear and tear of the Slum. Slum number two was countered with a Legends edition Remove Soul (available at fine singles vendors everywhere).

    Mori equipped one of his Hussars and it went toward the red zone - Yamamoto blocked and the Slum was felled with Last Gasp. Grand Arbiter Augustin joined the fray and it seemed like Yamamoto was out of gas. He attempted Umezawa's Jitte but Mori was ready with Spell Snare. Meanwhile, the counters on the Hussar continued to amass. One more Remove Soul later and Japan had its 2006 National Champion

    Katsuhiro Mori - the reigning World Champion - won the finals of the 2006 Japanese National Championships in a fast three game set. He will lead the National team of him, Shouhei Yamamoto, and Hidenori Katayama at the 2006 World Championships in Paris. In addition to defending his Worlds title the team will also defend their title in the Team Competition.

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