After 15 fun-filled and nerve-wracking rounds, the 2005 Invitational was down to its final two. Terry Soh, representing the R&D pick, took his 12-3 record against Resident Genius Tsuyoshi Fujita at 11-4 in a best two-out-of-three formats.
The combatants were in fine form.
Soh had chosen the Akroma avatar for the extra life as much as anything else. He had some powerful late-game cards and plenty of removal, which he hoped the extra life would buy him the time to utilize. Fujita was playing with the Flametongue avatar. His deck was not especially powerful but he was hoping he could abuse soulshift to get maximum use out of the 'Tongue's fickle flame.
Fujita cleared the board in Game 1 thanks to Flametongue taking out Ryusei, the Falling Star but the Japanese player was at a pretty low life total. Terry Soh's Waking Nightmare killed Fujita's hand and a spliced Soulless Revival targeting his dragon killed Fujita's chances. When the dragon hit play again he was bestowed with vigilance and trample. Terry's Wicked Akuba also hit play and was granted flying. Tsuyoshi's Kitsune Riftwalker could only look up as they flew over for the final points of damage.
The two players found themselves staring each down across cyberspace as neither of them would commit any permanents to the board. Psychic Spear from Fujita was the first play – he took the offending Soulless Revival from last game. With his hand revealed, it was time for Terry to start playing guys and he led off with Scourge of Numai.
Tsuyoshi Fujita went down early due to bad luck with his Flametongue avatar.
It took Tsuyoshi three creatures to take down the 4/4 but he finally fell to four when Child of Thorns hit play. Terry's next play was Honden of Seeing Winds and Fujita had the Kami of Ancient Law but Terry came back over the top with Hisoka's Defiance to counter the Kami.
Terry found Ryusei again and Tsuyoshi tried his darndest to kill it. Three creatures added up to four damage from the Flametongue. He was able to soulshift back his Kami and take out the Honden, though. Eventually, with the dragon equipped with a Ronin Warclub, the game came down to whether or not Fujita could 'Tongue the dragon for six. He tried valiantly with a combination of topdecks and soulshifts but Fujita kept whiffing at crucial points. It looked like he had one more turn to fight but a well-timed Yamabushi's Storm allowed Terry to trample over for the final points he needed.
Tsuyoshi Fujita felt his only chance of winning this matchup was to pray for Terry to get mana-screwed. Fujita was playing Vial Goblins but did not have Siege-Gang Commander to overwhelm Terry Soh should his Eternal Slide deck get going. After sideboard, it did not get much better for the Japanese player with Silver Knights and Sphere of Law coming in. There was no Vortex, Naturalize, or Flashfires for Terry to fear from Fujita's board. Terry played Eternal Slide to a Top 8 finish at the last World Championships but lost to goblins when they sided in Vortex against him. He did not think history would repeat itself this weekend.
Terry Soh was on the brink of victory in Game 3 of Extended.
Fujita got off to a reasonably fast start – by no means the blazing kind of opening his deck is capable of – but his Ringleader and Piledriver traded with a pair of Solemn Simulacrums. Two Ringleaders had stocked Fujita's hand but when he committed those cards to the board Wrath of God wiped it clear and Terry added a Lightning Rift to his board. Fujita restocked only to have his Ringleader card advantage evened out by Wrath of God No. 2.
Warchief, Warchief, Sharpshooter on the next turn looked like Fujita was going to steal the game, but Terry had Renewed Faith and was able to kill a Warchief and stay out of range of the Sharpshooter. Fujita ended up coming one point shy of being able to finish off the Malaysian player.
If you blinked, you missed this game. Tsuyoshi had two Vials in play on turn two and was able to send what seemed like 30-plus points of power in Terry's direction on turn four. Terry never played a non-land card.
Terry looked to be in command of this game with Silver Knight, Lightning Rift, and Astral Slide all in play on turn five. Fujita just pressed on and tried to overwhelm the knight with a barrage of creatures. Terry was holding Sphere of Law and had to decide whether he wanted to play the enchantment or kill Ringleader and remove Sharpshooter from the game with Krosan Tusker and his other enchantments. He chose the latter. Fujita played a Fledgling Dragon and passed the turn.
Terry topdecked Wrath of God and killed the thresholded dragon, but Fujita had a trick up his sleeve and Aether Vialed another one into play at the end of the turn. That stole the match out from under Soh with nine points of firebreathing dragon, forcing the duo into a third and deciding format.
It was hard to know who had the advantage here. Fujita had made short work of Tooth and Nail during the tournament with his rareless Rat deck. The Resident Genius was not terribly comfortable with his deck choice because since he had not playtested it much. On the other hand, Terry had tested the living tar out of all the formats and all of his decks. He felt very comfortable with Tooth and Nail and liked his sideboard in this matchup. Of course, he felt confident in the previous last format as well.
Terry assembled his Tron (as they call it in Japan) by turn four and attempted Sundering Titan but it was Annuled. Mindslaver was similarly dealt with but an Oblivion Stone got through. Terry popped the Stone to take out a couple of Rats and Aether Vial. He was able to regrow his Sundering Titan and play it a couple of turns later but Fujita flipped a Sensei's Divining Top into Mana Leak.
Terry had flipped his Top on the previous turn and Fujita nabbed it by Vialing out a Ravenous Rat during Terry's draw step. Despite the cool plays he did not have a Shard or Vedalken Mastermind to lock Terry out of the game. Terry finally got to draw and Tooth and Nail for Kiki-Jiki and Sundering Titan spelled game for Fujita.
Terry Soh, coming soon to a Magic card near you.
Sideboarding was something of a guessing game for the two players. Terry had a board full of fatties and Fujita had a board full of removal. Terry opted for the fattie plan while Fujita's Nekrataals stayed home.
Fujita caught Troll Ascetic with Ravenous Rats but it was fetched with Eternal Witness. Iwamori of the Open Fist came down with no fear against a deck that was sans rares, and once he was joined by regenerating Trolls there was nothing Fujita could do but chump block and eventually shake the hand of the 2005 Magic Invitational Champion Terry Soh.