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Champs Fall, Rookies Rise in Japan!

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日本語の取材へ

Next year's Nationals are coming to Kanagawa! Masaya Kitayama, a 22-year old student and former finalist in the High School Championships, took the title of National Champion with his black-green discard deck. His opponent was also a 22-year old Kanagawan student. Ren Ishikawa was playing MoriKatsu Storm, a variant on the Aussie Storm deck, designed by last year's winner Katsuhiro Mori. Ren had dispatched a pair of Solar Flare decks to reach the finals but he could not deal with the increasingly popular GoyfRack deck.

Joining them in New York City as members of the National team were Takahashi Akiyama, a beautician from Chiba playing Solar Flare, and Makato Nagashima, a 'salaryman' from Yamanashi playing Project X. While this team is not well known they proved their mettle by defeating a trio of players with impressive Pro Tour resumes that included two different Pro Tour finalists and one winner.

Congratulations to Masaya Kitayama, the 2007 Japanese National Champion!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Shuu Komuro   Makoto Nagashima, 3-2        
8 Makoto Nagashima   Masaya Kitayama, 3-1
       
4 Yuuta Takahashi   Masaya Kitayama, 3-0   Masaya Kitayama, 3-1
5 Masaya Kitayama    
       
2 Ren Ishikawa   Ren Ishikawa, 3-2
7 Kazuya Mitamura   Ren Ishikawa, 3-0
       
3 Naoki Nakada   Takashi Akiyama, 3-1
6 Takashi Akiyama    


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION

  • Blog - 3:55 p.m. - Finals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Masaya Kitayama
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 2:43 p.m. - Semifinals: Masaya Kitayama vs. Makoto Nagashima
    by Eli Kaplan
  • Blog - 1:56 p.m. - Semifinals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Takashi Akiyama
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 1:22 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Takashi Akiyama vs. Naoki Nakada
    by Eli Kaplan
  • Blog - 1:18 p.m. - Statement Regarding the Quarterfinals Ruling
    by Yoshiya Shindo
  • Blog - 1:07 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Shu Komuro v. Makoto Nagashima
    by Eli Kaplan
  • Blog - 11:59 a.m. - Quarterfinals: Yuuta Takahashi vs. Masaya Kitayama
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 11:36 a.m. - Quarterfinals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Kazuya Mitamura
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 10:43 a.m. - Archetype Breakdown and Decks of Note
    by Staff
  • Blog - 10:02 a.m. - Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Staff
  • Blog - 8:34 p.m.: Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
    by Staff



  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Draft Reports, Feature Match Coverage, The Magic Cafe, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall and Eli Kaplan



  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Grinders Decklists, Feature Match Coverage, Some Sick Magic Art, and More!
    by Brian David-Marshall and Eli Kaplan
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff
 1.  Masaya Kitayama $3,000
 2.  Ren Ishikawa $2,000
 3.  Takashi Akiyama $1,200
 4.  Makoto Nagashima $1,000
 5.  Shuu Komuro $750
 6.  Naoki Nakada $750
 7.  Yuuta Takahashi $750
 8.  Kazuya Mitamura $750
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BLOG


 
  • Saturday, Sept 1: 8:34 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks
    by Staff


  • Komuro Shu
    Blink / 2007 Japanese Nationals Top 8



    Nakada Naoki
    Goyf Rack / 2007 Japanese Nationals Top 8


    Takahashi Yuuta
    Pickles / 2007 Japanese Nationals Top 8


    Kitayama Masaya
    Goyf Rack / 2007 Japanese Nationals Top 8

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    Golgari Rot Farm
    Llanowar Wastes
    Overgrown Tomb
    Swamp
    Treetop Village
    Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

    22 lands

    Augur of Skulls
    Dark Confidant
    Tarmogoyf

    12 creatures

    Call of the Herd
    Cry of Contrition
    Damnation
    Smallpox
    Stupor
    Terror
    The Rack

    26 other spells

    Sideboard
    Damnation
    Darkblast
    Extirpate
    Putrefy
    Riftsweeper
    Tombstalker

    15 sideboard cards








     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 10:02 a.m. - Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Staff


  • Yuuta Takahashi

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 21-year-old university student in Tokyo.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    I've played in most Pro Tours since LA 2006. I got lucky at San Diego and managed to get second place.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Pro Players' Club.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 5-1-1 in Standard and 5-2 in the draft. In the first draft, I went 4-0 with a white-blue deck that had good tempo and card advantage. I used a black-green deck in the second draft that wasn't so good.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    A blue-black Pickles deck I designed myself. It's the same deck I've been playing since GP Kyoto.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    I playtested with friends and people at Ikebukuro Ogre.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    I had three different games where I managed to pull out a win at 1 life.

    Shuu Komuro

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 25-year-old Pro Player living in Tokyo.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    PT Nagoya Champion, GP Yokohama Champion.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Pro Players' Club.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 3-0, 4-0, 2-1, 1-0-3.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    I'm playing a white-blue-green "Blink" deck, based on what took 6th place at South African Nationals.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    I drafted online four times and played Standard for an hour or so. Kurihara and his friends helped me build the deck, and Kentarou Nonaka gave me the sideboard.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    In one game, I played a Torchling, tapping out to do so. My opponent played Psionic Blast to kill it, but luckily I had a Simian Spirit Guide in my hand I was able to burn to deflect the Blast, and I went on to win the game.

    Kazuya Mitamura

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm 27, and a student living in Chiba.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    I have two PT Top 8s.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Pro Players' Club.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 2-1, 3-1 (white-black deck), 2-1 (white-black), and 3-0-1.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    A Solar Flare deck of my own.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    I practiced with my friends in Chiba at the shop G-Remix.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    I'm sure I'll always remember how Komuro dominated the tournamernt.

    Masaya Kitayama

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm from Kanagawa, and I'm 22.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    Winning the High School Championship.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Pro Players' Club.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    3-0, 4-0 (white-black, splash of red), 2-1 (black-red), 1-2-1.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    GB GoyfRack

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    By playing MagicOnline and with Asahara and his group.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    Komuro's run.

    Makoto Nagashima

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a "salaryman" from Yamanashi. I'm 22.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    I played in PT Venice and PT Yokohama.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    DCI rating.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 5-1-1 in Standard and 5-2 in Limited.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    I'm playing a Project X deck given my by Yoon Su Han.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    I played drafts online, and I worked on strategy over the phone with Yoon.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    "Bob" (Dark Confidant) failed me. (I drew too many lands and lost.)

    Takashi Akiyama

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm 21, and I live in Chiba, where I work as a beautician.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    GP Yokohama Top 8.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Chiba Regionals.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 4-0 in the first draft, 2-1 in the second. I used to a black-red deck both times, with Smallpox.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    A Solar Flare deck of my own.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    Playing with friends at G-remix.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    I was so lucky in Limited.

    Ren Ishikawa

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 22-year-old- student from Kanagawa.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    GP Yokohama Top 8, GP Kyoto Top 8, Finalist at the Lord of Magic tournament in Chiba.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    Pro Players' Club.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 2-1 and 4-0 on Day One, and 2-1 and 2-0-2 on Day Two.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    A Storm deck by Katsuhiro Mori.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    Playing with friends.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    Komuro ID'ed with me to get me in.

    Naoki Nakada

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 17-year-old student, living in Nagoya.

    What have been some of your significant Magic achievements before now?
    Winning Toukai Regionals.

    How did you qualify for Nationals this weekend?
    See above.

    What were your results this weekend? What colors did you play in the draft?
    I went 2-2 in Draft 1 with a red-green deck, and 3-0 in the second with a blue-red deck. In Standard, I went 3-0 and 2-0-2.

    What deck did you play in the Standard portion of the tournament?
    A GoyfRack I made myself.

    How did you prepare for Nationals?
    I played at local shops.

    Any special memories from this year's Nationals?
    It was my first time to play this deck, and it worked really well for me.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 10:43 a.m. - Archetype Breakdown and Decks of Note
    by Staff


  • Working with Keitia Mori doing the Japanese coverage by my side has made covering Japanese events possible over the years. He had his crack staff of reporters assemble an English language breakdown of the decks played in this tournament along with some of the notable players who played them.

    Deck Type Number of Players Notable Players
    Gruul Aggro 29 Tomoharu Saito / Tsuyoshi Fujita / Osamu Fujita / Yuuta Hirosawa
    Angel Fire 18 Shuhei Nakamura / Yuuya Watanabe
    GoyfRack 15 Masaya Kitayama / Naoki Nakada / Ryoma Shiozu / Koji Nose / Shohei Yamamoto
    Dredge 15 Jun'ya Takahashi / Yoshitaka Nakano / Ryo Ogura / Takuya Osawa
    Project X 14 Makoto Nagashima / Jun'ya Iyanaga / Makihito Mihara / Suhan Yun
    Others 13  
    GUW Blink 10 Shuu Komuro / Ryuichi Arita
    Solar Flare 10 Takashi Akiyama / Kazuya Mitamura / Minsu Kim
    UB Pickles 7 Yuuta Takahashi / Motokiyo Azuma
    UR Morikatsu Storm 7 Kenji Tsumura / Masahiko Morita / Tsuyoshi Ikeda / Ren Ishikawa
    Rakdos Aggro 6  
    Selesnya Aggro 5  
    Boros Aggro 5  
    UWR Blink 4 Hidenori Katayama
    GWR Aggro 4  
    UB Control 3  
    Mono Green Aggro 3 Genki Taru
    Mono Red Storm 2 Itaru Ishida
    Mono Black Aggro 2 Reiji Ando
    UWB Life-Gain 2 Kazuya Hirabayashi / Akihiro Takakuwa
    UW Life-Gain 2  
    Simic Chord of Calling 2 Naoki Shimizu
    GRW Aggro Loam 2 Akira Asahara / Ken'ichi Fujita
    UWB Finkel Go 1 Tomohiro Kaji
    GUB Yaso-Control 1 Shouta Yasooka

    Here are some of the lists that we have discussed in the coverage that failed to make it into the Top 8 - and a couple we didn't mention as well!

    Ishida Itaru
    2007 Japanese Nationals / Standard deck



    Fujita Tsuyoshi
    2007 Japanese Nationals / Standard deck


    Ando Reiji
    2007 Japanese Nationals / Standard deck

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    Spawning Pool
    19  Swamp

    23 lands

    Dark Confidant
    Garza's Assassin
    Graveborn Muse
    Nantuko Husk
    Nether Traitor
    Plagued Rusalka
    Stromgald Crusader
    Thoughtpicker Witch

    29 creatures

    Bad Moon
    Distress

    8 other spells

    Sideboard
    Damnation
    Extirpate
    Pithing Needle
    Quagnoth
    Slaughter Pact

    15 sideboard cards






    Saito Tomoharu
    2007 Japanese Nationals / Standard deck




     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 11:36 a.m. - Quarterfinals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Kazuya Mitamura
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Mitamura

    Kazuya Mitamura appears to be poised on the brink of greatness. He already has two Pro Tour Top 8s to his credit - including a recent finals finish at PT Yokohama - and if he could weather a Morikatsu Storm he would be representing Japan at Worlds. Fittingly Mitamura was relying on the sun for victory over Storm with Solar Flare as his weapon of choice.

    Ren Ishikawa, on the other hand was relying on a fallen star. The deck he was playing was designed by last year's National Champion Katsuhiro Mori, currently suspended from the game for accumulated warnings. Despite the suspension, Morikatsu remains one of the most revered Magic players in this country. It had looked like Mori was going to quit the game for awhile but while you can keep the game away from the boy it is very hard to keep the boy out of the game.

    Katsu noticed the AussieStorm deck played by Kuan Tian at Australian Nationals and it sparked his creative juices. He began working on the deck online, perfecting the mana base, massaging the sideboard so that it could have a game against the popular Gruul decks with Martyr of Ash, and generally refining the deck in 8-man queues and PEs on MTGO. Katsu's deck designs were instrumental in the ascent of Kenji Tsumura during his Player of the Year run and Kenji - ever the loyal friend - dearly hoped that he could have piloted the deck to the Top 8 of this year's Nationals in Mori's stead as did Masahiko Morita but both players fell short of their goal.

    The only player to successfully navigate the Swiss rounds with MoriKatsu Storm was Ren Ishikawa. Ishikawa has had some success as a professional game player here in Japan with some other games but was still waiting for his breakout performance with the forefather of all card games. While preparing for this event he noticed Mori playing the deck online and asked last year's Champion for the list and, of course some advice.

    Japanese coverage reporter Keitia Mori contacted the former Champion yesterday evening to assess the match-up of the storm deck vs. Solar Flare. Katsu felt that in the hands of a skilled player - at least as good as the two-time PT Top 8 competitor Mitamura - that his creation was actually advantaged against Solar Flare. If he was playing the deck, or Kenji, or Morita then he would pick his deck but the skill level of Ishikawa has yet to be determined. Perhaps we would have a better idea of what Ren Ishikawa was made of after a five game set.

    Game 1

    Neither player did anything on the early turns. Ishikawa considered Remand for Mitamura's third turn Compulsive Research but ultimately preferred to put a counter on his storage land instead.

    A turn later he was Castigated and revealed a hand of Perilous Research, Remand, two copies of Repeal, Rite of Flame and a Steam Vents. Another Castigate a turn later saw Swath added to the mix and Mitamura stripped the Remand. With nothing appearing eminent from Ishikawa's side of the table Mitamura tapped out for Skeletal Vampire. Ren Repealed a token with the obvious sacrifice in response.

    The Vampire started to bang away at Ishikawa's life total while he rebuilt his hand and continued to accumulate counters his two storage lands. Aeon Chronicler was suspended for one and came into play, beating Ishikawa down to eight. He added a Court Hussar. Ishikawa was dead on board next turn and he had to go for it. His draws had been pretty solid including the essential Grapeshot but he wasn't sure if he could get there or not…but what other options were there?

    He removed all the counters from his two storage lands. He attempted Rite of Flame but it was Remanded - he only had two red mana sources in play - and tried to figure out the right way to play it. He let it resolve and attempted it again. Mitamura tapped out for another Remand AND had Pact of Negation as a back up. Ishikawa still had some life in him though. He played Claws of Gix and Repealed it hoping for a red source. He found one but did not have the luxury of waiting around for Lotus Bloom to resolve and he scooped - he didn't even wait until Mitamura's upkeep to see if he would remember to pay.

    Game 2

    Ishikawa led off the action with Hatching Plans. He almost passed the turn without playing Claws of Gix but memories of Castigate urged him to do otherwise. Mitamura slowly built up his resources playing lands into Signets. Ishikawa had another Hatching Plans and suspended Lotus Bloom. Mitamura saw dark clouds massing on the horizon and clucked his tongue. He tapped out to suspend Chronicler while the Lotus Bloom was still a turn away.

    Ishikawa had all the key ingredients to make it rain; just not enough mana to take advantage of his tapped out opponent. He had to wait and suspended another Lotus and deployed another Hatching Plans. He Remanded Aeon Chronicler and hoped the Yokohama finalist would tap out again or at least commit some spells and mana to defending it. Mitamura stroked his chin and decided to play Court Hussar instead and pass the turn with three mana open.

    Ishikawa got his Lotus Bloom but chose not to attempt any shenanigans. He was holding Teferi and obviously planned to see what kind of tussle they could get into over that. Mitamura played Compulsive Research and then tapped two for a Signet. That was the window Ishikawa wanted and before the Signet resolved he flashed out the legend. Mitamura had Mortify for the legend but did not have any untapped mana to fight over anything. Was he holding Pact of Negation?

    Ishikawa offered up Pyromancer's Swath to find out and the answer was no. From there it went Claws, Claws, Repeal, Claws, play a land and fire off two Grapeshots for a whopping total of 39 damage. Luckilly for Mitamura the damage doesn't care over between games.

    Game 3

    Ishikawa led off with Lotus Bloom while Mitamura had an on-schedule Signet. His Court Hussar was Remanded and as a result he missed a land drop. Ishikawa suspended another Lotus Bloom. Court Hussar resolved a turn later and Mitamura found his land. Ishikawa got his Lotus Bloom to stick but could not make a move on his turn - he was holding three Pyromancer's Swath and Rite of Flame and had nothing to do with them. Mitamura dug for land with Compulsive Research and pitched a pair of Damnation. Ishikawa had actually sided out his entire suite of Empty the Warrens but Mitamura had no way of knowing which direction Ishikawa would go after boarding.

    Lotus Bloom came in and the deck delivered Grapeshot just in time. Ishikawa led off with Rite of Flame and parlayed it into Swath which was countered by Pact of Negation. Mitamura could not do anything about the next two copies of the red enchantment and this time he took 35.

    Game 4

    Ishikawa did not have a Lotus Bloom opening this game and found the wall pressing into his back rather quickly as Mitamura suspended Aeon Chronicler on turn four off of a Signet and another a turn later.

    Ishikawa tried to make something happen in that window with Rite of Flame into Pyromancer's Swath but Mitamura had Pact. Ishikawa could have Remanded his own Swath but he would not have enough mana to pull off the combo. He chose to let the Pact resolve and Remanded the second Chronicler. A well-timed Castigate from Mitamura pulled the Grapeshot and the game was over within two swings of the blue Maro.

    Game 5

    Both players reached for their sideboards. If Mitamura had tipped to the fact that the Empty the Warrens were in his sideboard, he wanted to keep him honest and at least make him think they were coming back in, although they were not. Was Mitamura taking his Damnations out or performing a similar dance of in and out with the same cards?

    I say that when you play seven Signets you will almost always have one on turn two and Mitamura showed no reason for me to dispute my own theory. Ishikawa tried to slow the game down a bit with Remand for Compulsive Research and untapped to play Hatching Plans and Claws of Gix. Mitamura decided to commit a body to the board while digging for cards and cast Court Hussar instead of Compulsive Research.

    The two players settled into draw-go mode as they both tried to craft their end games. Mitamura had his Angel of Despair ultimately Remanded and Ishikawa went three cards deeper at the end of the turn. He also cleared a land by sacrificing Flagstones for a Sacred Foundry.

    Ishikawa seemed to think that maybe this could be a winning turn and sacrificed another Flagstones to Perilous Research. He had the window it just didn't appear that he had the critical mass of spells in hand unless he could bait out a fight over Pyromancer's Swath but if Mitamura had no action, or chose not to fight over it, Ishikawa could only get him mostly dead - he would have loved some carry over damage from either of his two wins this game - and then have to discard his hand at the end of every turn. Ishikawa decided that he was in no hurry and could refine his hand with Hatching Plans - conveniently nestled under his Claws of Gix for easy access.

    Mitamura used the Compulsive Research from all those turns ago and added a Signet to his board. When Ishikawa tapped out to put a third counter on his storage land at the end of the turn, Mitamura considered using his Ghost Quarter on it and finally went ahead and did it. The drawback was that Ishikawa got an untapped Island and used it to activate his Claws and draw three cards.

    Hatching Plans beget Hatching Plans and Ishikawa suspended Lotus Bloom and played a freshly drawn copy of the blue enchantment. Mitamura decided that was worth a Pact of Negation and remembered to pay for it. Ishikawa was content to play the waiting game; he was under no pressure from Mitamura. Despite being attacked for a handful of turns by the Hussar he was still close to 20 from his card drawing via Claws of Gix.

    Ishikawa Remanded Angel of Despair for the second time in the game and untapped to play his own Court Hussar. Ishikawa had a Lotus due to arrive on the following turn and he took his time deciding between another Hussar and Repeal ultimately choosing the better storm enabler. He suspended another Lotus and passed the turn with the two Hussars looking at each other awkwardly across the red zone.

    Castigate may have been too little too late for Mitamura who saw a hand containing two Swaths, two Grapeshot, Claws of Gix, Repeal, and Pact of Negation. He held his head in his hands and attempted to puzzle his way out of impending disaster. Then suddenly he saw it. He sat up straight and confidently sent the Pact out of the game and steeled himself for a fight.

    Lotus Bloom hit the table but Ishikawa decided that if Mitamura was up for a fight he would rather spend some more time in the gym. He just played a land and said, 'go' - at least that is what I assume he said. Signets from Mitamura were the only plays on each of the next two turns. He was holding five cards. Ishikawa peered at them intently trying to will his vision past the purple sleeves - he knew one card was the Angel but what were the remaining cards in his hand?

    Ishikawa

    Perilous Research ate a redundant Claws at the end of Mitamura's turn as he looked for a way to defend on of his two Swaths in his one big turn - whenever that would eventually be. For now he just toyed with his mana before suspending a Lotus and passing the turn.

    Finally the Angel came down and zeroed in on a Lotus. Ishikawa sacrificed the Lotus to his Claws of Gix and proceeded to Repeal his own Court Hussar, which yielded Teferi. Ishikawa attempted to flash out the legend. It was returned to his hand with Remand but it had done its job. Mitamura only had four mana left when the dust settled.

    Claws. Swath…Swath…Swath…Grapeshot. Mitamura slowly shook his head and began to pack up his cards. He displayed a hand that contained only two copies of Mortify and one of those damned Damnations.

    Final result: Ren Ishikawa won the match in five games and advanced to the semifinal round with a spot on the Japanese National team tucked away in one pocket and reigning Champion Katsuhiro Mori's deck in the other.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 11:59 a.m. - Quarterfinals: Yuuta Takahashi vs. Masaya Kitayama
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Takahashi

    Yuuta Takahashi is a Tokyo player who was hoping that next year's Nationals would be once again played in this hall and not in Kanigawa - the hometown of his opponent who stood in the way of the Pro Tour San Diego finalist being able to advance to the semifinals. Takahashi was playing blue-black Pickles while his opponent, Masaya Kitayama, was playing a green-black GoyfRack deck.

    Game 1

    Yuuta mulliganed three times and kept a land with a lone Desert. When he failed to draw lands for two turns he just scooped in the face of Dark Confidant giving Kitayama a turn two kill.

    Game 2

    Takahashi could just not get any traction in the game as Kitayama's discard spells left him his red zone barren, his hand empty, and -- with the help of Smallpox -- land starved while trying to unsuccessfully fend of a herd of elephants.

    Kitayama

    Game 3

    Takahashi was under the gun from the start and found himself facing down an army of Cry of Contrition-haunted Tarmogoyfs with the same stunted resources that had haunted him every game. He managed to play a face up Brine Elemental, presumably to copy it the following turn, but Kitayama had Putrefy and a berth on the Japanese National team.

    Final result: Masaya Kitayama repelled the Tokyo player in three fast games and took the first step toward bringing next year's National Championship to the Kanigawa Prefecture.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 1:07 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Shu Komuro v. Makoto Nagashima
    by Eli Kaplan


  • Komuro

    Japan's second Pro Tour winner Shu Komuro looked around at the microphone and camera trained on the table's Red Zone playmat. "I get to lose here", he joked. "This match is going to end 0-3."

    He wasn't just kidding around. After consulting with spectators Shuhei Nakamura and Yuuya Watanabe, they placed Komuro's chances at 20 percent. Komuro's Blink deck was packed with bounce and time management tricks like Remand, but the combo of Makoto Nagashima's Project X deck used cheap creatures in conjunction with mana acceleration to get endless 1/1 spirit token generation or lifegain combos fast. Nagashima's trump card was Chord of Calling, Ravnica's instant speed creature tutor. With up to four games played with sideboards, Komuro's Wrath of Gods had to work around an instant-speed Ghost Council of Orzhova.

    Komuro already had his name on New York City's invitation list. Nagashima needed to win to get his name onto that piece of paper.

    Game 1

    Nagashima's aggressive approach with life and mana coupled with a helping of bad luck cost him the first game. He won the die roll and used a Horizon Canopy to play Birds of Paradise. He followed with Dark Confidant on the next turn. Komuro suspended two Riftwing Cloudskates and used the threat of Treetop Villages to keep Nagashima from putting any pressure on. But Nagashima simply couldn't wean himself from the Dark Confidant's extra draws, and a second Horizon Canopy pinged away. Komuro milked two Momentary Blinks, bouncing Nagashima's Orzhov Basilica again and again. In a fit of aggravation, two unlucky 'Bob' triggers knocked him from an ostensibly safe 11 to 3, and Remanding a Loxodon Hierarch gave Shu just enough edge to take home the win.

    Shu Komuro 1-0 Makoto Nagashima

    Shu boarded out most of his underpowered creatures for hard hitters. Akroma, Angel of Fury, Wrath of God, and Loxodon Warhammer dramatically increased his deck's power quotient while decreasing its operational efficiency. Nagashima went for his Slaughter Pacts, Extirpate, Auger of Skulls, and Teneb, the Harvester. Orzhov Pontiff and a few combo pieces hit the bench.

    Game 2

    Nagashima took the field first with an explosive opening. Two Birds of Paradise and Dark Confidant occupied his side of the table at the end of his second turn. Komuro took a small stab at the acceleration game, playing Edge of Autumn on his second turn to fetch Plains. Nagashima's early investment paid off; Dark Confidant and a third turn Loxodon Hierarch knocked Shu down to 12. Shu was drawing Treetop Villages aplenty, but didn't have enough green to double block the big dumb elephant. The mana flood quickly pulled Komuro under.

    Both players received warnings from the judge for slow play during this game.

    Game 3

    Komuro took advantage of a slow Nagashima opening. Nagashima made two copies of Wall of Roots in the early game, but had nothing to use the mana on. Slaughter Pact sat in the younger player's hand, but Nagashima had the fear of Momentary Blink weighing down on his mind like a ton of bricks. The Cloudskate came in and kept hitting Nagashima until he was at six. Nagashima tried to jump back in with Chord of Calling, but it met Remand two times.

    When Komuro suspended an Aeon Chronicler for two, Nagashima finally relented and aimed the Slaughter Pact at the 6/6 when it hit the table. Komuro wasn't willing to save it with Blink, suspecting an Extirpate. He saved the Momentary Blink for flipping over Red Akroma. The Akroma attacked three times for the win.

    Nagashima was shocked, "Man, I can't believe how badly that game went!" Yes, his draws were poor but he wasn't aware of how true his words were. When Nagashima blocked Akroma with Birds of Paradise, Komuro failed to notice that Akroma's red incarnation had trample. He assigned all the damage to the Bird. Komuro could have shaved a turn off the kill if he had assigned damage properly. From his reactions, Nagashima seemed oblivious as well. This mistake would prove to be costly in the future.

    Shu Komuro 2-1 Makoto Nagashima

    Game 4

    When Komuro shuffled and presented his deck, the Japanese coverage reporter/and Level 2 judge immediately jumped in to point out that Komuro's sideboard had 16 cards in it. Komuro was aghast. The judges quickly conferred and decided that with such a significant title on the line and since neither player had drawn cards yet, Komuro would not receive a game loss and have an opportunity to correct his error.

    True to form, Nagashima started building his mana base with Treetop Village, Llanowar Wastes, and Wall of Roots. Komuro went down to 18, playing an untapped Breeding Pool. Nagashima made yet another Wall of Roots and Augur of Skulls. Komuro's Remand kept his hand safe just a little while longer. Edge of Autumn fetched Komuro's fifth land, a Plains.

    When Saffi Eriksdottir showed up for Nagashima, Komuro took the initiative back with Wrath of God. The first decision Nagashima made was sounding a Chord of Calling for four, but Mystic Snake shut that down. The next decision was Saffi's Choice; Nagashima had to choose between saving a Wall of Roots for mana or hitting Komuro's hand with Auger of Skulls. He went down the trail of spite.

    Komuro had four cards in hand after this exchange, so Nagashima kept the Auger around. Nagashima ripped Saffi off the top. If he could keep both on the table until next upkeep, Komuro's entire hand would be decimated. Komuro came up with a morphed Akroma, Angel of Fury and had a Momentary Blink ready to in the graveyard. But Nagashima ripped a Slaughter Pact off the top to axe the timeshifted Angel.

    Komuro's deck stopped producing spells. Nagashima drew Teysa and Ghost Council of Orzhova to finish Komuro off.

    Shu Komuro 2-2 Makoto Nagashima

    Game 5

    Nagashima

    Komuro's opening hand of Wrath of God, Remand, Momentary Blink, Akroma, Flagstones, Treetop Village, and Island was just what the doctor ordered. He burned through two Remands persistently keeping Nagashima's Saffi off the table. But Nagashima's continual work paid off, playing Birds of Paradise, Saffi, and Dark Confidant in one turn. Wrath of God left Bob Maher as the only creature standing, but Nagashima dropped two more pieces of the Project X combo onto the table, Teysa and Saffi. Komuro was under the gun and decided to go on the attack. He played Akroma face down.

    With his opponent on the ropes, Shu's composure broke. His head wasn't in the match anymore. He cycled Edge of Autumn sacrificing Flagstones, fetching a Hallowed Fountain. He placed a freshly drawn Edge of Autumn in his graveyard, sacrificing his Hallowed Fountain. But Komuro's brain wasn't in the right area code. His picked up his library, as if he was going to search for Plains, and started shuffling his library. Hallowed Fountain doesn't replace itself like Flagstones of Trokair, though. Komuro didn't realize his mistake and literally banged his head against the playmat when the judges walked away to confer. Since the game play error was in an entirely different catagory of mistake and because the event was in the Top 8, the judges assigned Komuro a second warning and told the players to continue.

    Komuro connected with Akroma two times, knocking Nagashima down to 11 who made some of it back with Loxodon Hierarch. Komuro attacked again, knocking Nagashima down to 5 while Komuro was at 8. The Hierarch struck back and Nagashima played Birds of Paradise to put it in the path of the furious angel. The Angel went out of the Red Zone with Nagashima still drawing breath. Then the situation got sticky. Some spectators in the crowed were loudly chattering about the rules error. Some got vocal and started pointing out that Akroma, Angel of Fury had trample.

    Please don't try this at home. After the combat ended, both players attempted to rewind the game on the basis of comments from the crowd. Neither of them consulted with a judge. Both players received a Game Rule Error - Game Rule Violation warning for attempting to back up game play without consulting a judge. Since Komuro had already received two previous warnings in the match, his warning got upgraded to a game loss.

    Final result: Makoto Nagashima defeated Shu Komuro in five rather eventful games that will surely be the topic of much discussion on the judge message boards to advance to the semifinals.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 1:18 p.m. - Statement Regarding the Quarterfinals Ruling
    by Yoshiya Shindo (DCI Level 3 Judge)


  • In Game 5 of his Quarterfinal match with Makoto Nagashima, Shuu Komuro received a game loss penalty. I would like to take this opportunity to explain how this came about.

    During the match, Komuro had already received two warnings for play-related offenses, and had been advised that any other warnings might be upgraded as a result.

    Toward the end of the fifth game, with Nagashima at 4 life, Komuro attacked with Akroma, Angel of Fury. Nagashima blocked with Birds of Paradise.

    It is important at this juncture to mention something that occurred during Game 3 of the same match. Komuro had Akroma out in this game as well, and through his playing had made it clear that he did not realize the creature had trample. (A floor judge had verified this.)

    Returning to the fifth game, after the block Nagashima placed the Birds in his graveyard, and removed the Bitter Harvest that was there. Komuro confirmed this, then passed the turn.

    At this point, believing game and match to be over, a number of spectators began clapping, while others shouted out "Trample!". Upon realizing that Akroma has trample, Nagashima conceded and began scooping up his cards, followed by Komuro.

    The problem here is that Komuro did not declare that any trample damage would be assigned to Nagashima and continued the game. Afterward, both players arbitrarily rewound the game to the point where damage would have been assigned and changed the game state. This behavior is illegal. When either or both players realized there was a problem with the game state, they should have called for a judge immediately and ask for adjudication. (Note: Current DCI policy for premier events no longer calls for each match in the finals to have a table judge present.) Instead, Komuro and Nagashima-even if unwittingly-created a situation where the result of the game was artificially decided.

    As a result, both Komuro and Nagashima were issued warnings for "Game Rule Error-Game Rule Violation". However, since Komuro had already received multiple warnings during the match, I determined that it was appropriate to upgrade his warning to a game loss.

    There are two lessons to be taken from this. One is that players should always ask for assistance from a judge if they become aware of a problem during a game, no matter how insignificant it may seem. We judges are here to help players, not punish them. Second, spectators should refrain from making any comments or reactions about a game until it is complete, as doing so may affect the outcome of the game. No matter how insignificant the comment, it will change how the game is played, which could lead to another problem (penalties for receiving outside assistance).



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 1:22 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Takashi Akiyama vs. Naoki Nakada
    by Eli Kaplan


  • Akiyama

    Nagoya resident Naoki Nakada's Rack/Goyf deck needed to break through Takashi Akiyama's well-helmed Solar Flare strategy. If Akiyama could get enough land to stabilize the board and suspend Aeon Chroniclers, he'd take the games. Otherwise, 3/3 Call of the Herd tokens and massive Tarmagoyfs coupled with discard would eat his face.

    I'm waiting for medical technology to advance to the point where humans can have functioning eyes in the back of their heads. When that happens, covering two simultaneous matches of Magic will be a breeze. Japanese Magic personality extraordinaire Koichiro Maki was an invaluable asset in writing this report.

    Game 1

    Nakada picked up the first game on the back of many, many draws from Dark Confidant and lucky Stupors hitting Akiyama's blockers in the grip before they could get involved.

    Naoki Nakada 1-0 Takashi Akiyama

    Game 2

    Nakada's discard failed to strike gold in Game 2, and Court Hussars helped Akiyama recoup his position. Skeletal Vampire and his Bat minions took the table over. Call of the Herd and Tarmagoyf couldn't quite penetrate the wall of Bats. Grim Harvest helped Akiyama reform his depleted hand. When Damnation cleared the board, Nakada was left with a Treetop Village, but Faith's Fetters gave Akiyama the buffer he needed to win the game.

    Naoki Nakada 1-1 Takashi Akiyama

    Game 3

    Nakada

    The third game was the tale of Nakada's Loxodon Warhammer. He kept trading one iron-packing Tarmagoyf or Call token at a time for mass removal like Damnation. Treetop Village jumped into the mix, connecting with Warhammer in hand once. Akiyama removed the Village from the equasion with Ghost Quarter.

    But the storied artifact's clanging fell silent. Nakada's deck refused to hand him any more creatures. Akiyama was able to ramp up suspended Aeon Chroniclers for large numbers and weather the hits. Aeon Chronicler delivered the game for Akiyama.

    Takashi Akiyama 2-1 Naoki Nakada

    Game 4

    The fourth game went very quickly as early Damnations followed by Aeon Chroniclers waxed Akiyama's resources and kept ruining Nakada's chances. Nakada's discard didn't show up. Every time he found a Tarmagoyf in the late game, an Angels of Despair would remove it. 5/5 flyers usually end games quickly if they hit the table, and this game was no exception.

    Final result: Takashi Akiyama defeated Naoki Nakada 3-1 to qualify for the 2007 Japanese National Team and advance to the semifinals.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 1:56 p.m. - Semifinals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Takashi Akiyama
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Akiyama

    The Japanese National team was settled but there was still a matter of a Championship to be decided. All the players with Pro Tour Top 8s on their resume had been sent to the rail which is where Takashi Akiyama could be seen conferring with Kazuya Mitamura. The Pro Tour Yokohama finalist had lost a similar match-up to Ren Ishikawa in the quarterfinals and the beautician from Chiba - not a player description I ever expected to type in a Feature Match -- was hoping for some insight on how to play and sideboard.

    Judging from the previous round I would say that the Storm deck designer's - Katsuhiro Mori - assessment of the match-up was correct. Solar Flare, which is what Mitamura and now Akiyama were playing, seemed to be at a disadvantage that only got worse the longer the game dragged on. The Storm deck had more card drawing and more mana to protect the Pyromancer's Swath on the critical turn than the Solar Flare deck had ways to disrupt it. Perhaps Mitamura had some hindsight that would be helpful in reversing the result from the quarters.

    Game 1

    Akiyama led off with a Signet while turn two saw Lotus Bloom and Hatching Plans from Ishikawa. The Solar Flare player ramped up considerably with another Signet and dug with Court Hussar. Ishikawa played Claws of Gix to enact the Plans in search of lands, which he found in Shivan Reef.

    Akiyama had a handful of cards that were virtually dead in this match-up, including a pair of Condemn. He suspended Chronicler and played Ghost Quarter while Perilous Research at the end of turn eating Flagstones for Ishikawa. The storm player suspended a Lotus on his turn and waited to Remand the impending Chronicler. Loxodon Warhammer was also bounced while still on the stack. That was okay with Akiyama who got in for one and Castigated.

    Maybe it wasn't okay after all as he gazed upon a hand of three Grapeshots, two Empty the Warrens, and two Repeals. He took a copy of Repeal and both players started doing math.

    Lotus Bloom resolved and Ishikawa began taking notes on how many spells were going to be played. He decided to slow play it and just make four goblins. He could have Repealed his Claws and replayed it, Grapeshot the Court Hussar and Akiyama, and then made ten tokens and still had some gas left in the tank down the line but he seemed confidant in his play expecting to trade the tokens for a Warhammered Hussar on the following turn.

    Akiyama, who was holding a handful of Condemns, defied expectations and instead suspended the Chronicler. Ishikawa untapped to play Rite of Flame, Repeal his Claws, Claws, another Claws, Grapeshot, Grapeshot, Grapeshot and Akiyama went to 2. He did not have mana for either of the Condemns that suddenly became relevant when the four goblins swarmed past his Court Hussar.

    Game 2

    It turned out that Mitamura had discussed sideboarding strategy in between the quarters and semis. He revealed that Ishikawa had sided out all of his Empty the Warrens but expected him to mix it up knowing that the two Solar Flare players would compare notes. Despite dying with dead wraths in his hand in the quarters Mitamura advocated leaving at least one Wrath in after sideboarding. It turned out Mitamura was correct as Ishikawa brought an Empty back into his deck at the last minute.

    Akiyama mulliganed into a five mana source hand. Both players had their traditional turn two plays; a Signet from the Solar Flare player and Hatching Plans from Ishikawa. Ishikawa chose not to play Claws of Gix to accompany it. That fact was revealed when Akiyama drew into Castigate and saw Swath, Repeal, Perilous Research, Remand, and a land. He took the Remand.

    Akiyama improved the quality of his hand with Compulsive Research but not as much as Ishikawa did for his own hand by drawing five cards with Perilous Research. He played another Hatching Plans and passed the turn. Akiyama's Research had yielded more card drawing and he played Court Hussar and Compulsive Research. Ishikawa thinned his deck by eating Flagstones with his Claws at the end of the turn and played his own Court Hussar - one of Morikatsu's sideboard touches for the control mirror.

    Akiyama kept digging with another Compulsive Research and it looked like Ishikawa might be willing to fight over it. Ultimately he Remanded it and considered whether or not he wanted another round after it was replayed. He did not and Akiyama drew three cards but not the land he was after. He had kept a Remand and pushed two lands off of his last Court Hussar and seemed to be regretting that decision.

    Ishikawa hatched the Plans that had been sitting on the table and decided the time was right with Akiyama tapped out. Rite of Flame, Repeal, Claws, Pyromancer's Swath…Akiyama had the Pact of Negation but Ishikawa had another Pyromancer's Swath. They went on to Game 3 as soon as Akiyama saw the accompanying Grapeshot.

    Game 3

    Akiyama mucked his opening hand for the second time in the last two games but drew into Castigate on turn two. He looked at Swath, two Grapeshot, Claws of Gix, and Lotus Bloom - he took the Swath. Court Hussar found him a Remand on turn three and suddenly his mulligan was behind him.

    Ishikawa had suspended the Lotus and a turn later played Claws of Gix and Hatching Plans. A second Flagstones of Trokair thinned two lands from of his deck. Ishikawa restocked his hand only to have Akiyama attempt loot it again. He saw Repeal, two Rites, two Grapeshot, and a land - he took the Repeal. Akiyama Repealed Lotus Bloom when it came in on the next turn - which seems dangerous when your opponent is holding a fistful of Grapeshot - but Ishikawa simply played Hatching Plans, resuspended, and passed.

    Ishikawa

    Skeletal Vampire came down from the sky. Ishikawa cracked the plans at the end of the turn and suspended two more Loti on his own turn. Akiyama swung in for six and added a Court Hussar to his offense and a Remand to his defense. He swung for seven on the next turn.

    Ishikawa adjusted the dice on his storage lands. When the time came to go off he would have plenty of mana. One Lotus had just resolved and two more were scheduled for the following turn. Everything hinged on that turn as he had to sacrifice his Claws of Gix to stay at one after Akiyama's next attack. Akiyama tried to stem the mana available by using Ghost Quarter on the higher die value of the two storage lands - eating four counters - and the two players braced for a counterwar.

    The remaining storage land was enough to pay for and sacrifice to Perilous Research. There was a flurry of spellcasting -- two Rites of Flame, Claws of Gix, Hatching Plans, sacrificing the Plans to Claws, and another Claws. Pyromancer's Swath was Remanded twice but Ishikawa had more than enough mana to make his way through a full playset of the Ravnica uncommon. It stuck the third time and Akiyama had no answer for fourteen spells worth of Grapeshot.

    Final result: Ren Ishikawa was advancing to the finals of Japanese Nationals with last year's Champion's deck in a three game rout.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 2:43 p.m. - Semifinals: Masaya Kitayama vs. Makoto Nagashima
    by Eli Kaplan


  • Kitayama

    Both players have locked up an invitation to play in New York City later this year, both players have the opportunity to stand up for their nation -- that matter is resolved. Now they were pitted against each other for the time-tested golden apples of prize money and bigger trophies.

    Kitayama's Goyf/Rack deck was a paragon of brutal efficiency and card advantage. One black mana for Cry of Contrition? That turns into two discards. Tarmagoyf's efficiency is well documented. Stupor is as good as two discards for three mana gets. Call of the Herd? Two Elephants for one card.

    The question would be whether or not he could handle Makoto Nagashima's Project X. Saffi Eriksdottir, Crypt Champion, and either Essence Warden or Teysa, Orzhov Scion produce nigh infinite tokens and gain similarly large amounts of life. Dark Confidant's card drawing and Chord of Calling's instant tutoring makes assembling the combo that much easier. And if the combo didn't work out, Project X has a Plan B, summoning a 4/4 Loxodon Hierarchs here, a Ghost Council of Orzhova there -- efficient beatdown is never a bad backup plan.

    Game 1

    Nagashima won the die roll and elected to play first. Teysa, Orzhov Scion was his first play, but the sinister advocate fell prey to Smallpox. Nagashima found another land and played a second Teysa. Kitayama was no stranger to pain, and added Dark Confidant to his side.

    Nagashima stopped playing creatures on the board, relying on Teysa to keep him safe. But he was playing possum. When Augur of Skulls and a second Dark Confidant came down for Kitayama, that was enough for Nagashima. Orzhov Pontiff showed up and gave the thumbs down to Kitayama's board.

    But Standard's most efficient creature, Tarmagoyf, showed up for Kitayama -- twin Tarmagoyfs, in fact - and The Rack for good measure. Nagashima tried to clean the board up with an end of turn Chord of Calling finding Magus of the Disk. Terror made the Disk read error.

    Masaya Kitayama 1-0 Makoto Nagashima

    Game 2

    Nagashima went first and played Treetop Village. Kitayama had one of his own. Taking a point of damage from his second land, Horizon Canopy, Nagashima brought out Saffi Eriksdottir. Kitayama let out a Cry of Contrition haunting the Legendary Human Rogue.

    Nagashima played his third land, another Horizon Canopy. Ouch. Kitayama found a second Cry of Contrition haunting Saffi, then Terrored the ever-fleeing lass. I'm sure there's a good horror movie analogy out there somewhere, but I can't find it, so I'll settle for mentioning that forcing your opponent to discard four cards by turn three is scary stuff.

    Dark Confidant could have put Nagashima back in the game, but Putrefy immediately shut it down. Kitayama followed with two copies of The Rack. Kitayama sealed the game with Stupor.

    Masaya Kitayama 2-0 Makoto Nagashima

    Game 3

    Nagashima's Project X rapidly kicked into gear this game. Turn one Bird of Paradise, turn two Bird of Paradise, and Saffi Eriksdottir is exactly the early game his deck needs. Nagashima took a slight detour on turn four for a Loxodon Hierarch, but got back on track with an Essence Warden and Crypt Champion on the next two turns. Kitayama never saw any of his disruption.
    When Nagashima's life started shooting for the heavens, Kitayama packed it in.

    Masaya Kitayama 2-1 Makoto Nagashima

    Game 4

    Nagashima

    Kitayama started off the hand attack with an Auger of Skulls. Nagashima's lands kept coming into play tapped and he was perpetually one step behind. The first Auger forced Crypt Champion and Ghost Council of Orzhova to hit the bin. Nagashima made a Loxodon Hierarch, but it fell prey to Terror. A second Auger and Stupor stripped Nagashima down to one card, and Kitayama added insult to injury with two Racks.

    With one card in hand, five lands including a Treetop Village, and ten life against Kitayama's six lands (two Treetop Villages) and two Racks, Nagashima took a desperate gamble. He played Chord of Calling for two, fetching out Dark Confidant. It didn't matter. Kitayama's Darkblast killed the 2/1. Death soon followed.

    Final result: Masaya Kitayama defeated Makoto Nagashima 3-1 to advance to the finals.



     
  • Sunday, Sept 2: 3:55 p.m. - Finals: Ren Ishikawa vs. Masaya Kitayama
    by Brian David-Marshall


  • Ishikawa

    Next year's National Championship will most likely be held in Kanagawa as both players in the finals hailed from the nearby prefecture. 22-year old student Ren Ishikawa was one match away from winning Japanese Nationals with a deck designed by reigning champion Katsuhiro Mori. His last two matches had been against Solar Flare decks, a match he turns out to be a pretty big favorite. For the finals he would be facing off against a different animal altogether.

    Masaya Kitayama is also 22 and from nearby Kanagawa. He won the High School Championship several years back and was looking to notch another win with his GoyfRack deck.

    Game 1

    Ishikawa shipped back his opening hand while Kitayama roleplayed out his first few turns should he keep his initial seven, which he decided to do. Hatching Plans was the turn two play from Ishikawa which was met with Dark Confidant across the table. Ishikawa aimed Grapeshot at the Invitational card, which was replaced by Tarmogoyf.

    Ishikawa drew five cards but was suddenly looking down the barrel of a 4/5 Tarmogoyf. He suspended two Loti and added Claws of Gix to the Board. Kitayama asked him to discard one of the remaining cards with Cry of Contrition and attacked for seven, with a Treeptop Village joining the fray.

    Ishikawa restocked with Hatching Plans but it looked like he was going to have to win before his suspends resolved. He Repealed his Claws and replayed it, and two Rites of Flame forged ten goblins. Kitayama wasn't sure if he was prepared to send a pair of 4/5s to potentially be eaten by goblins and instead attacked Ishikawa's hand with a Stupor in the hopes of hitting a land or artifact. He did manage to hit a Lotus but still declined to enter the red zone fearing the counter attack - Ishikawa was down to two cards.

    The pair of Lotus Blooms arrived. Ishikawa Repealed the haunted Tarmogoyf and measured his attack. He felt it came up short and declined to make a move. Kitayama sent one of his Villages into battle and took down three goblins on its way out. It also maxed out his Tarmogoyfs at 6/7, which came barreling into the red zone alongside a Treetop Village. Ishikawa's goblins devoured the Village and two more were run over by Tarmogoyfs. It was only a temporary measure and Ishikawa scooped up his cards a turn later.

    Game 2

    Sideboarding:

    Kitayama: + 4 Extirpate, +1 Damnation, +2 Putrefy, +2 Riftsweeper 
    -1 Call, - 4 terror, - 4 Smallpox

    Ishikawa: + 2 Logic Knot, +1 Pact of Negation, +1 Empty the Warrens, +2 Shapeshifters - 2 Remand, - 3 Swath, -1 Lotus Bloom

    Kitayama held onto The Rack until turn two and returned Overgrown Tomb with a Rot Farm. His turn three Augur of Skulls was Remanded. Ishikawa transmuted for Lotus Bloom and suspended it.

    Kitayama

    Kitayama replayed the Augur with the mana to regenerate and looked rather alarmed when Ishikawa played a morph. He sacrificed the Augur and Putrefied the face down Shapeshifter. After Ishikawa drew for the turn, Kitayama attempted to Extirpate Remands only to learn that there was only one more left in the deck after sideboarding. On the brighter side he also learned how his opponent sideboarded. He saw a hand with Hatching Plans, Rite, Claws, and Grapeshot. Ishikawa played the enchantment and the Claws and passed the turn without enacting his Plans.

    Dark Confidant arrived for Kitayama. Ishikawa thinned his deck of land, shredding his Flagstones through his Claws, and drew three cards to stay above the Rack. Kitayama had another Extirpate loaded and ready. He took the Hatching Plans - there was another in Ishikawa's hand, who began to talk to himself as one of the crucial card drawing components of his deck was removed from the game. He used his Grapeshot on the Dark Confidant and threw a few pseudo-Shots at Kitayama for good measure.

    Kitayama played a fresh Dark Confidant with a 4/5 Tarmogoyf by his side. Kitayama could have sworn it was a 5/6 but he was reminded that all the Hatching Plans had been removed from the game. Vesuvan Shapeshifter copied Dark Confidant before it was killed with Grapeshot.

    Kitayama wasn't willing to let the storm deck get it's Bob on and cleared the board with Damnation. He played two separate Call of the Herd only to have one of his tokens Repealed -- but there were two more where that one came from and Ishikawa was soon down two games to none.

    Game 3

    Ishikawa opted to swap out the suite of counter Magic he had brought in for Game 2 and returned the Swaths. He led off the third game with Hatching Plans while his opponent had Augur of Skulls and a Cry of Contrition to haunt it a turn later. Ishikawa drew five in response and discarded Repeal.

    With the Augur threatening to strip three cards from his hand on Kitayama's upkeep, Ishikawa just played Hatching Plans and passed the turn with two mana open. I think we all knew what was coming and he got to look at five fresh cards before deciding what three to discard - Perilous Research, Empty the Warrens and a land.

    Kitayama hoped to draw some more disruption with Dark Confidant but Ishikawa had more than enough gas in hand to combo him out on his next turn.

    Game 4

    Two Lotus Bloom came out on turn one for the storm player while Dark Confidant drew a Grapehsot on turn two. Kitayama was hurting for a land. He played Tarmogoyf but did not have any mana left for the Extirpate in hand to clear the Grapeshots.

    He attacked with his Goyf, played Treetop Village, laid The Rack and passed the turn. Ishikawa paused during his draw step to see if there was an Extirpate coming but Kitayama wanted to see where this turn was going.

    Lotus, Lotus. Claws, Repeal, Claws, Hatching Plans, Rites, Empty the Warrens for sixteen tokens. Kitayama Extirpated the Grapeshots - he saw only Tolaria West in hand -- at the end of the turn and had a little more than one turn to draw a land for the Damnation he was holding. He found the land but Ishikawa cracked his Lotus and used the mana to break his Hatching Plans. He hit the Remand and was able to attack for fifteen.

    Ishikawa grinned as he transmuted for Pact and hoped that Kitayama would not realize he could not pay the upkeep cost of it and possibly just scoop. That did not happen and Kitayama cleared the board.

    Hatching Plans draw three cards and Perilous Research drew another two while Kitayama was attacking with a pair of Villages. When Kitayama showed the storm player another Extirpate we had a champion.

    Final result: In a four game set, Masaya Kitayama became the 2007 Japanese National Champion over Ren Ishikawa. Joining the two of them at Worlds on the team are Takashi Akiyama and Makato Nagashima.


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