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Grand Prix Yokohama
Day 2 Coverage

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  • Round 10 Feature Match - Yuki Yotsumoto vs. Ken'ichirou Oomori
    by Blake Rasmussen
  • Coming into the first round of Day 2 at Grand Prix Yokohama, just six players fought their way to undefeated records, by and large playing known decks that do known things. Jund, Affinity, Blue-White Restoration Angel and Melira Pod all escaped unscathed in the hands of six talented magicians, including Ken'ichirou Oomori, who was sitting in the feature match area this round with Jund.

    Across from him, though, sat the only undefeated player with a tie on his record, Yuki Yotsumoto, who was playing an interesting Naya Pod deck that could play the attacking game with Noble Hierarchs, Kitchen Finks, Restoration Angel and the like, but also had a combo finish with Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker plus Village Bell-Ringer or the aforementioned Angel.

    The deck was very well positioned, able to play offense, defense and combo in a Naya shell, a color combination most players are not accustomed to having to fight through a combo finish. It had clearly caught many players by surprise on Day 1.

    But this was Day 2, and Oomori was an accomplished local player who has tasted some professional success and was armed with a deck that made a habit of spoiling the fun for rogue decks.

    Game 1

    Yotsumoto was satisfied with his seven to start, but Oomori quickly threw back two unplayable hands. He was eventually forced to settle for a five card hand that had only two Treetop Villages for mana, but also held Tarmogoyf and Dark Confidant, the latter of which he managed to play on his second turn thanks to a Blackcleave Cliffs.

    Yotsumoto moved quickly to make him pay for his mulligan, casting a second turn Kitchen Finks and getting even more help when the Dark Confidant revealed Bloodbraid Elf. Yotsumoto even had a Restoration Angel to keep the beats coming as well as a Qasali Pridemage.

    Now drawing two a turn thanks to Dark Confidant, Oomori was looking for a way to catch up since he was already down to seven life and behind on board. A 0/1 Tarmogoyf looked pretty weak against Yotsumoto's menagerie.

    Ken'ichirou Oomori had plenty to puzzle over in Round 10.

    However, when Yotsumoto attacked, a Terminate destroyed the Angel, allowing the now 2/3 Tarmogoyf to block the incoming Qasali Pridemage.

    Still, Omori fell to four on the attack, and then one life when he revealed Maelstrom Pulse. Things looked even worse when Yotsumoto used an Eternal Witness to bring back Restoration Angel.

    Kitchen Finks jumped Oomori back up to three life, but Yotsumoto made that just two with a Noble Hierarch making Birds of Paradise a viable attacker.

    A land off the top kept Oomori alive, if just barely, but he still had to find a solution for Restoration Angel. His only nonland cards were Bloodbraid Elf, Lightning Bolt and Maelstrom Pulse, none of which could hit the flash-speed 3/4 flier.

    The Angel swung in, but Oomori Lightning Bolted his own Kitchen Finks to fall to one life once again, but when Yotsumoto played Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker to go with his Restoration Angel, Oomori packed up his cards.

    Yotsumoto 1 – Oomori 0

    Game 2

    This time it was Yotsumoto's turn to mulligan, though he had no Dark Confidant in his deck to undo any lost card advantage.

    Thoughtseize from Oomori deepened the mulligan and revealed a hand of Cunning Sparkmage, Eternal Witness, Fulminator Mage and lands. Oomori binned the Eternal Witness and followed up with a Kitchen Finks the next turn.

    The Fulminator Mage destroyed an Overgrown Tomb, keeping Oomori off Bloodbraid Elf mana. A second Fulminator then kept him off black mana entirely.

    With no black mana in hand, Oomori floated black mana to put two counters on his Kitchen Finks with Jund Charm. He might not be able to cast many spells, but that 5/4 Kitchen Finks was a major source of damage. Yotsumoto was already down to 11 life.

    From there it was just a matter of clearing the way with a Lightning Bolt on Yotsumoto's only blocker, and a Treetop combined with the Kitchen Finks to end the game in just two turns.

    Yotsumoto 1 – Oomori 1

    Game 3

    Both players kicked off Game 3 with their key one-mana spells, Noble Hierarch for Yotsumoto and Thoughtseize for Oomori.

    The Thoughtseize revealed Wall of Roots, Kitchen Finks, Birthing Pod and Sigarda, Host of Herons, as well as a land.

    The Sigarda would be virtually impossible for Oomori to remove, but he had a second Thoughtseize in hand and time to use it. Instead he chose the Birthing Pod, letting Yotsumoto resolve a Kitchen Finks to put the pressure on. Between Thoughtseize, fetch lands and shock lands, Oomori was at 13 without any help from Yotsumoto. An attack from an exalted Kitchen Finks put him to 9.

    Now way behind on board, Oomori attempted to catch up with a Dark Confidant, but a revealed Jund Charm made things pretty bad for the Jund player, now down to six life.

    Thoughtseize made that four, revealing the nigh unbeatable Sigarda and the pretty darn unbeatable Restoration Angel. Thoughtseize binned the smaller angel and Lightning Bolt took out Noble Hierarch in hopes of keeping Yotsumoto off of Sigarda mana.

    Yuki Yotsumoto has been running roughshod over the field this weekend with an interesting take on Naya Pod.

    The play worked for a turn as Yotsumoto simply played Eternal Witness and passed without attacking, keeping Oomori under his own Dark Confidant clock.

    Oomori revealed a land to stay alive, but Yotsumoto found the mana he needed to cast Sigarda on his turn. Oomori had had the opportunity to play Jund Charm, which would have kept Yotsumoto off five mana and stunted his attack while killing Dark Confidant, but instead chose not to.

    Staring at a board he could not overcome, Oomori conceded for the first time on the weekend while Yotsumoto's Naya Pod list moved to 9-0-1 on the weekend.

    Yotsumoto 2 – Oomori 1




     

    Sunday, 11:19 a.m. - Day 1 Metagame Breakdown

    by Blake Rasmussen


    After finally managing to wade through 1,523 deck lists, categorizing some pretty bizarre decks, and writing "Snapcaster Mage" and "Tarmogoyf" a million times, we have assembled a full metagame breakdown of all the decks registered for Day 1.

    There aren't many surprises at the top of the list. Nearly 12 percent of the field opted to run with Jund this weekend, making it the most played deck during the tournament.

    Close on its heels, though, were UW Restoration Angel decks. The typical lists had cores of Restoration Angel, Snapcaster Mage, Geist of Saint Traft and Vendilion Clique, while typically dipping into counterspells, Kitchen Finks, various Swords and tons of specialty lands. The deck is a bit of a Magic Online darling that has translated into the real world.

    Rounding out the decks that hit triple digits are Affinity and Splinter Twin, followed by G/r Tron, Melira Pod and various Red burn decks – some of the Mono Red variety with others dipping into Black for Dark Confidant and Bump in the Night.

    After that, things get a bit less exact.

    Some 65 Snapcaster players dipped into red for Lightning Bolt and Lightning Helix, while 40 players dropped blue entirely and just played Boros. Just over 50 intrepid players piloted the tricky Storm deck on the weekend, while 24 tried their hand at the "combo" of cheating Emrakul, the Aeons Torn and Griselbrand into play (a number much lower than I would have guessed coming in, given the Gerry Thompson stamp of approval).

    The "Other Snapcaster" decks is a pretty loose category reserved for decks playing the powerful Wizard, but not quite fitting into RUG, Esper, UWR or UW categories. As you can see, even when not playing stock lists, Taigo Chan's Invitational card still brings players in.

    Mono White Martyr decks were seen clogging the draw bracket, but some did make Day 2, and one Martyr deck did Top 8 Grand Prix Turin, so it's a deck to keep an eye on.

    Living End, once the darling of the new format, only found 13 players, while Luis-Scott Vargas' favorite UW Tron – as well as cousins UR Tron and UB Tron – barely put up single digits.

    A bit later in the day we'll look at the Day 2 metagame, what did well, what did not so well, and what it means for the format.

    Day 1 Grand Prix Yokohama metagame breakdown # Played
    Jund 182
    UW Restoration Angel 157
    Affinity 137
    Splinter Twin 104
    G/r Tron 99
    Melira Pod 93
    Red Burn 83
    WUR Snapcaster 65
    Storm 54
    Boros Aggro 40
    WB Tokens 28
    Griselbrand/Emrakul 24
    Other Snapcaster decks 21
    Naya 21
    Mono White Martyr 21
    Elves 20
    Esper Snapcaster 19
    Bant 19
    BR Aggro 15
    WG Aggro 13
    Living End 13
    RUG 10
    Faeries 9
    GR Aggro 9
    WW Aggro 9
    Hivemind 8
    Four/Five color control 8
    Doran 8
    Infect 8
    Merfolk 7
    Reanimator 7
    UR Tron 6
    Zombies 6
    Vampires 6
    Allies 5
    Through the Breach/Summoning Trap 5
    GB Aggro 5
    Smallpox 5
    Loam 4
    UW Tron 4
    Ascension 3
    UB Tron 1
    Enduring Ideal 1
    Deathcloud 1
    Other 160



     

    Sunday, 11:21 a.m. - Day 1 9-0 Decklists

    by Blake Rasmussen


    Sakamoto, Sakito
    Grandprix Yokohama 2012 Day 1, 9-0 (modern)

    Oomori, Ken'ichirou
    Grandprix Yokohama 2012 Day 1, 9-0 (modern)




     

    Round 11 Feature Match - Sakamoto Sakito vs. Sui Xin

    by Chapman Sim


    Both players have been having an excellent weekend and remain as the only two players with pristine records. One player would walk away from this match as the lone undefeated player and once step closer to the Top 8. Sakamoto Sakito resides in Osaka and has a somewhat gentle demeanor and a deceptively crafty brain. His inclusion of deck Blood Moon in his maindeck is possibly what sets him apart from the other Affinity lists. Sui is no slouch himself, and is determined to make yet another Grand Prix Top 8, after his finals appearance earlier this year at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur.

    Game 1

    Sui won the die roll and led with Seachrome Coast and Island, only to face his opponent's Signal Pest and Memnite. When Sakito attacked with both, Sui flashes out Spellstutter Sprite to block Signal Pest for seemingly great value. It was all but a decoy actually, as Sakito dropped Darksteel Citadel and Mox Opal to resolve his maindeck Blood Moon on turn two. I could almost hear the "trollolol" and "gotcha" in Sakito's head.

    After the enchantment, Sakito drops a trio of backbreaking permanents, namely Etched Champion and two Steel Overseers. Having no access to white mana, Sui could only murmur "game two" under his breath.

    Sakamoto Sakito 1 – Sui Xin 0

    You can't play this game if you only have red mana.

    Game 2

    Sakito amasses a fast army of Memnite, Vault Skirge and Steel Overseer within the first two turns. Sui's first move of the game was flashing out Spellstutter Sprite to chump block, before using Path to Exile on it as a Rampant Growth. That was not without reason though, as Sui used Wrath of God to wipe clean the opposing board.

    Sakito rebuilt (pun intended) with Signal Pest, Arcbound Ravager and Steel Overseer. Sui peered over at the battlefield and eventually decided to mount a swift counterattack, resolving Geist of Saint Traft.

    After confirmation from both parties (and doing that math in my head), it was determined that an all out attack would bring Sui down to one life, not enough to finish him off.

    Sui attacked with his Geist of Saint Traft for the second time, reducing Sakito to 8 life, then passed the turn with five lands untapped. Sakito sensed the Cryptic Command from miles away, but there was nothing he could do about it. He took another hit from the Geist of Saint Traft and conceded when Sui Xin showed him Snapcaster Mage, which would flashback Cryptic Command for the win.

    Sakito contemplates his next move.

    Sakamoto Sakito 1 – Sui Xin 1

    Game 3

    Playing first, Sakito used his Mountain to cast Springleaf Drum, Mox Opal and Signal Pest. His subsequent plays of Cranial Plating and double Etched Champion ran into Sui's suite of countermagic (Annul & Mana Leaks), ensuring that Sakito's offense would comprise of just Memnite, Vault Skirge and Signal Pest.

    Sui draws his fourth land (his second Mutavault) and passes the turn, possibly representing a double block or Restoration Angel. Sakito peeled Cranial Plating and tried to break the stalemate, but Sui neutralized that with Spellstutter Sprite (and a Mutavault activation). Restoration Angel tried to block on the next turn, but Sakito's last card was Galvanic Blast.

    The attack from Ornithopter, Signal Pest and Memnite reduced Sui to 13 but that was no match for Sui's army which he amassed during the next two turns. Moorland Haunt got to work, while both manlands crashed into the red zone and it seemed that the game was sliding away from the Japanese player. A second Restoration Angel from Sui was the final nail in the coffin.

    Sakamoto Sakito 1 – Sui Xin 2

    The last undefeated player in the tournament. Congratulations Sui Xin!




     

    Sunday, 12:28 p.m. - Deck Tech: Blue White Sprites

    by Chapman Sim


    Of the six players who went undefeated yesterday, only one was from foreign land and he is none other than Sui Xin who heralds from Mainland China. He came in second at Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur earlier this year (defeated only by Yuuya Watanabe in the finals), earning him enough Pro Points to champion the Chinese Team for the upcoming World Magic Cup.

    He has a slightly intimidating facade (possibly owing to the speed at which he plays), Sui is a jolly guy all around and definitely very well-respected within the Chinese Magic Community. Motivated by his recent successes, he decided to travel to Japan in search for greater glory. His endeavor seems to be paying off, seeing how he has rattled off eleven consecutive wins to emerge atop the standings.

    Sui Xin who as of Round 11 remains the only undefeated player in the tournament.

    The list he is running looks slightly different from many of the stocklists available online (barring Tooru Inoue's winning GPT list) and he seems to be the only person at the top tables running Spellstutter Sprites at all, renouncing the myth that you needed Kitchen Finks or Venser, Shaper Savant or even the fourth Restoration Angel in your maindeck.

    It is one thing to have your fist of cards ripped apart with format staples like Thoughtseize, Duress and Inquisition of Kozilek, but to face hand-disruption from a blue deck is another story. Restoration Angel when used in conjunction with Vendilion Clique thwarts many opponents of their plans and works beautifully in Sui Xin's deck along his suite of countermagic. Counting Spellstutter Sprites, he is running a total of fifteen counterspells, possibly more than any other competitor today.


    "I'm terribly afraid of many of the one mana costed spells in the format. Spellstutter Sprite is amazing, its like a Mental Misstep with a body", Sui Xin exclaimed excitedly, and it was not hard to see why after some number-crunching on my part.

    Of the twenty winning trial decklists on Friday, their maindecks contained a total of nearly three hundred one mana costed spells which the sprite could stutter. That works out to be 15 cards, or 25% of everyone's maindeck.

    The deceptively powerful faerie hits roughly 24 cards against Mono Red Burn, Boros and Affinity, around 20 cards against Storm Combo and Splinter Twin. Against Jund, Spellstutter Sprite only snares ten spells, but those are a mix of Thoughtseize and Inquisition of Kozilek (and Lightning Bolt), which are pretty important cards if you wanted to keep your cards to yourself. The deck which contained the fewest counterable candidates was Living End, which is amusing because that is the only spell you need to stop to beat that strategy!

    When questioned about his mix of countermagic, he explained to me earnestly that there was no real good way to play around his countermagic, given his configuration.

    With Spellstutter Sprites, people who try to play around it will try to resolve spells costing two mana, eventually running into Spell Snare. If opponents played too fast, they risk being wrecked by Spell Pierce or Mana Leak. If opponents chose to play slower to go around Mana Leak, Cryptic Command and Remand would step in.

    Sui Xin explains his counterspell strategy

    Why not a fourth Mutavault and the fourth Restoration Angel? Sui explained that he had decided to play with Moorland Haunt (without further compromising the mana base), which is powerful in a different way, since he was running more creatures than other blue white decks. Sui also dislikes drawing multiple angels, on the pretext that its slow and weighty.


    "The Blue White deck has one of the best sideboards in the format. It's also one of the many reasons I didn't want to play Jund. It has clunky cards both in the maindeck and sideboard. I like this board very much, it's great against almost all the viable strategies in Modern."

    While his choices might be slightly unorthodox, his seven five cards has certainly served him well so far. We wish him all the best as he attempts to win his next two matches to secure a spot in the Top 8. Good luck!




     

    Round 12 Feature Match - Ryouma Tanaka vs. Satoshi Yamaguchi

    by Blake Rasmussen


    Twelve rounds in and there was just one player left undefeated, but a number of hungry players lapping at the heels of rising Chinese star Xin Sui. Two of those players, Ryouma Tanaka and Satoshi Yamaguchi, came into the day with a loss but had taken down their first two rounds to move into the mix vying for the Top 8.

    Tanaka was sporting a straight, no frills Splinter Twin deck while Yamaguchi – who was recently seen at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, was wielding the most popular deck on the weekend, Jund.

    Game 1

    Yamaguchi's Jund deck started Game 1 with the deadly Dark Confidant, flipping a Terminate on the first opportunity. Terminate would be excellent disruption if he could keep the appropriate mana up to kill any creature targeted by Splinter Twin or Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. He followed up with a Kitchen Finks and Olivia Voldaren, attacking the whole time.

    Meanwhile, Tanaka was content to shuffle through his deck with Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions, looking to assemble his combo while not dying to Yamaguchi's mounting offense. Missing a land drop on turn four didn't help much, though.

    An attack with all three creatures left Tanaka on just five life facing down a known Terminate. He tried Deceiver Exarch anyway, but when it was predictably Terminated, the players moved on to Game 2.

    Tanaka 0 – Yamaguchi 1

    Game 2

    Tanaka liked his opening hand, keeping a seven card grip that was heavy on Magus of the Moon and the mana to cast it. If he could resolve it and keep Yamaguchi off Lightning Bolts and basic lands, the game could go very, very quickly.

    That was a pretty big if, but Tanaka was up to the task

    Yamaguchi mulliganed to start, and then took four damage to take a peek with Thoughtseize off an Overgrown Tomb.

    The discard spell revealed two Magus of the Moon, Deceiver Exarch and Splinter Twin, the virtual nuts if Tanaka ever hit three mana with his hand intact. Of course, Jund wasn't particularly giving in that department.

    Yamaguchi binned the Deceiver Exarch and now had the knowledge that he had to play around Magus of the Moon.

    Ryouma Tanaka fought back in Game 2 to even the match, thanks to Magus of the Moon.

    Sleight of Hand and Serum Visions restocked Tanaka's hand before passing the turn.

    Yamaguchi played another nonbasic land and tapped out to Tarmogoyf, either representing Lightning Bolt or Swamp and Terminate. Or, with a 2/3 Tarmogoyf on the board, maybe he just didn't care.

    Either way, Tanaka passed the turn in order to Vendilion Clique Yamaguchi in his draw step, revealing both Lightning Bolt and Terminate, but nary a Swamp to be seen. The Clique tucked the Bolt, opening the door for Magus of the Moon.

    Terminate killed the Vendilion Clique, but the path was now wide open for Magus of the Moon, which resolved, shutting down anything but red spells from the Jund player.

    A Deceiver Exarch then hopped into play, ready to combo off. Yamaguchi tried to keep Tanaka off a second red source with Molten Rain, but when the Splinter Twin player revealed another red land from his hand, Yamaguchi was quick to concede.

    Tanaka 1 – Yamaguchi 1

    Game 3

    Yamaguchi started out as he had in the first game, landing Dark Confidant to kick start his card advantage machine. Tanaka would have a difficult time fighting through Bob.

    The Confidant revealed Inquisition of Kozilek, but Yamaguchi simply played a second Dark Confidant and passed, missing his third land.

    Tanaka had no such mana issues, but passed back again after laying yet another Island.

    Two Dark Confidant triggers, two lands, and suddenly Yamaguchi had no more mana issues. The two wizards attacked and Tanaka tried to ambush them with a Deceiver Exarch, but Lightning Bolt plus Darkblast removed the blocker. The post-combat Inquisition of Kozilek was Spell Pierced, and once again Tanaka passed with no play.

    Two more triggers, this time revealing Terminate and Thoughtseize. Tanaka looked to be in rough shape.

    Vendilion Clique showed just how bad it was. Yamaguchi was holding two Liliana of the Veil, another Dark Confidant, Tarmogoyf, Ancient Grudge, Terminate and Thoughtseize, plus a land. Tarmogoyf got the boot.

    Ancient Grudge looked curious against the Blue Red combo deck, but a quick glance at Tanaka's hand showed why. He was holding Sword of War and Peace. Did Yamaguchi have a scout on Tanaka's sideboard plan? Or was the Grudge there for Spellskite?

    Either way, Thoughtseize revealed Tanaka's plans, as well as two Dispels and a Kiki-Jiki. Yamaguchi took one of the Dispels to try and clear out some counter magic.

    Jund has served Satoshi Yamaguchi well this weekend, taking him all the way to 11-1.

    On Yamaguchi's attack (yes, this is still the same turn), Vendilion Clique jumped in front of one Dark Confidant, but that left Tanaka with little action. His sword, about his only play, was quickly dispatched by Ancient Grudge.

    Meanwhile, Dark Confidant kept attacking and eating away at both players life totals, Tanaka at 7 and Yamaguchi at 11. Liliana then showed up to eat away at both players hands. Yet, through all of it, Yamaguchi was getting the better end of the deal.

    A few turns of that and an impending Liliana ultimate, and Yamaguchi eventually wore Tanaka down all the way.

    Yamaguchi 2 – Tanaka 1




     

    Sunday, 1:09 p.m.
    An Interview with Japanese National Team Captain Yuuya Watanabe

    by Blake Rasmussen


    Yuuya Watanabe has been a steady fixture on the front of magicthegathering.com lately, outright winning a whopping four Grands Prix and placing second in another since the start of 2011. At 8-3-1, he won't be winning Grand Prix Yokohama, but we sat down (with a translator) with the all-universe pro to talk about his success, his goals for the year and just who he wants to fill the last slot on the Japanese World Cup Magic team.

    Champion Yuuya Watanabe

    Why do you think you have had so much success at Grands Prix lately?
    I'm a lucky man. My opponents have had really strong Grand Prix decks, but I've been fortunate to bring the strongest decks.

    What are your goals for this year?
    My goals are pretty much to win everything. Win the Pro Tour, win the Magic World Cup and post the best standing in Pro Points.

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Birthing Pod

    What do you think of Modern?
    It's fun, but there are so many decks that it makes it hard to prepare.

    The Japanese team for the World Magic Cup is nearly set. What do you think of the team so far ?
    I'm a bit worried because the competition will be fierce, but we'll try our best. The American team is very strong.

    There's still one slot left to fill for the Japanese team. If you could pick any player to complete the team, who would you pick?
    Shouta Yasooka




     

    Sunday, 1:56 p.m. - Day 2 Metagame Breakdown

    by Chapman Sim


    It wasn't easy looking through an intimidating stack of Japanese decklists, but fortunately I'm Chinese and there are many similarities between both languages.

    These Iron Men are possibly more intimidating than Tony Stark.

    Reduced from a field of 1523, only 179 have survived to compete in the second day and Affinity was by far the most represented deck. It boasted the highest conversion rate among the top five archetypes, which is surprising due to the popularity of Ancient Grudge in more than half the field's sideboards.

    Of the 137 who decided to cast spells using Darksteel Citadel and Glimmervoid yesterday, 25 managed to make Day 2. Attacking with Memnite, Signal Pest and Arcbound Ravager, assisted by Cranial Plating and Steel Overseer seems to be right choice, since nearly 20% of players survived the cut.

    So much value, so little life and time.

    Despite being universally dubbed the "safe choice", Jund showed disappointing numbers in comparison. Of the 182 yesterday, only 16 remain in Day Two. Many players have agreed that the deck overflows with goodness and packs cards with great value. Unfortunately, you don't always have that much time to cast all your cards given how fast the format is. Off the top of my head, Mono Red Burn and Boros seem to be horrible matchups.

    Self-explanatory.

    Ditto.

    Splinter Twin and Naya Pod decks have also posted similar results, and each form around 8% of the field. Both decks have an infinite combo of their own, in the form of either Splinter Twin / Deceiver Exarch, or Restoration Angel / Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker. Despite this similarity, both decks are vastly different at their respective approaches. The Splinter Twin uses card selection and countermagic to defend their combo, whilst Naya Pod has an alternative beatdown plan which can be abusive alongside its namesake artifact, Birthing Pod.

    The Modern Trinity

    Blue White Restoration Angel based decks are also putting up decent numbers, possibly owing to the fact that the deck is home to some of the most important creatures of the format. It is not fair when you reset the abilities on already very powerful cards like Kitchen Finks and Venser, Shaper Savant.

    There are also various interesting rogue decks hovering around including a myriad of Delver-based decks in various color combinations as well as truly unorthodox choices like Black Green Poison, Summoning Trap and Mono Green Aggro. There are also sightings of a nasty Red White Haterator, featuring maindeck Suppression Field and Blood Moon! What an exciting format this is!

    Deck Archetype Players %
    Affinity 25 13.97%
    Jund 16 8.94%
    Splinter Twin 15 8.38%
    Naya Pod 14 7.82%
    Blue White 14 7.82%
    Red Green Tron 11 6.15%
    Melira Pod 11 6.15%
    Mono Red 7 3.91%
    Boros 5 2.79%
    RUG Delver 5 2.79%
    Blue White (splash Red) 5 2.79%
    BW Tokens 4 2.23%
    Hive Mind 3 1.68%
    UWR Delver 3 1.68%
    Storm 3 1.68%
    Blue Black Tron 2 1.12%
    Mono Red (splash Black) 2 1.12%
    Mono Blue Faeries 2 1.12%
    Gifts Twin 2 1.12%
    Living End 2 1.12%
    Martyr 2 1.12%
    Others 26 14.53%
    Total 179 100.00%



     

    Sunday, 2:24 p.m. - Top Tables after Round 13

    by Chapman Sim


    It's been a long day and only three more rounds remain before the final eight spots are confirmed. Here is a short update on what are the top decks that were spotting lurking at the Top Six tables. Naya Pod and Merlia Pod has claimed 5 of the 12 spots so expect to see a couple of the namesake artifact in the Top 8 later on. Stayed tuned for more updates. Be right back!


    Naya Pod 4
    Jund 2
    Blue White Restoration Angel 2
    Affinity 1
    WB Tokens 1
    Melira Pod 1
    Mono Red Burn 1



     

    Round 13 Feature Match - Naoki Shimizu vs. Mamoru Hiramatsu

    by Chapman Sim


    Naoki Shimizu is at 10-2 record and can't afford any losses if he wanted to add another Grand Prix Top 8 to his resumé. Shimizu's most prolific achievements include a 3rd place finish at Pro Tour Austin (the same one Brian Kibler took home the grand prize), as well as a quarterfinals appearance at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored earlier in the year. His opponent Mamoru Hiramatsu was at a similar score and can't afford to lose either. After a quick deck check, both players were ready to go.

    Hiramatsu and Shimizu shake hands

    Game 1

    Shimizu mulliganed but still managed to assemble his tron set by turn three, owing to Ancient Stirrings and Expedition Map. Hiramatsu tried to secure a win before things got out of hand with double Vault Skirge and Cranial Plating, but Shimizu cleared that away with a timely Pyroclasm. When Hiramatsu rebuilt with only Signal Pest, it was clear that he was out of gas.

    After racing through his deck with an assortment of five Chromatic Stars and Chromatic Spheres, Shimizu finally felt comfortable enough to drop Karn Liberated (exiling Inkmoth Nexus) and search up Eye of Ugin with a second Expedition Map. With upwards of fifteen mana, winning with Emrakul, the Aeons Torn was effortless.

    Naoki Shimizu 1 – Mamoru Hiramatsu 0

    Naoki Shimizu

    Game 2

    It's typical for Affinity but I was still a little taken back to see Sakamoto empty his hand of double Inkmoth Nexus, Arcbound Ravager, Memnite, Ornithopter and Welding Jar by turn two. Cranial Plating ensued, reducing Shimizu to 14.

    Mamoru Hiramatsu

    Despite the Affinity player's explosive opening, Shimizu was in no danger of losing. Once again, he managed to complete his Urzatron set on turn three, resolving Batterskull and Wurmcoil Engine one after another. Ancient Grudge (smashing Cranial Plating) ensured that it was impossible for Sakamoto to outrace two lifelinking monsters, or inflict enough poison counters via abnormally huge Inkmoth Nexi.

    Naoki Shimizu 2 – Mamoru Hiramatsu 0

    Most would agree that seven mana on turn three is pretty unfair.



     

    Round 14 Feature Match - Jyun'ichi Miyajima vs. Youichi Nagami

    by Blake Rasmussen


    We were now entering the final rounds of the tournament, where every match could mean the difference between Top 8 and Top 32, between having your name etched in Magic's history or being a footnote in the Pro Points ledger.

    Sitting at the top of the heap, hailing all the way from Table 1 were Jyun'ichi Miyajima and Youichi Nagami, two local players making good this weekend.

    Miyajima was sporting a rogue-ish BW Tokens deck, bucking the Jund/UW/Affinity/Pod/Tron field this weekend right to the top of the standings. His opponent, Nagami, who was pleasant and bubbly right from the presentation of sideboards, was playing a Melira Pod deck that touched on Red for Bonfire of the Damned.

    Game 1

    Nagami led off with a mulligan and found himself facing down Raise the Alarm and a Tidehollows Sculler pretty quickly.

    The Sculler revealed Nagami to be playing Birthing Pod with the Melira combo, and the namesake Pod was tucked under the 2/2.

    Falling behind fast, Nagami tried to establish a defense with Kitchen Finks, but Path to Exile ended those plans, and an Honor of the Pure followed by Intangible Virtue ratcheted up the pressure considerably.

    Not shown: the small white creatures mercilessly wrecking Youichi Nagami's life total.

    Nagami tried to defend himself with Restoration Angel, but Zealous Persecution pumped Miyajima's team and sent the angel to an early, if short-lived, death. Nagami simply regrew it with Eternal Witness before adding a Viscera Seer to the board.

    Another Tidehollow Sculler left the Restoration Angel in place, just taking Chord of Calling. When nothing else was forthcoming off the top of Nagami's deck, he quickly conceded.

    Miyajima 1 – Nagami 0

    Game 2

    Wall of Roots put Nagami on the board first, but Tidehollow Sculler revealed a very saucy hand. Restoration Angel, Chord of Calling and Nature's Claim were just the tip of the iceberg. Bonfire of the Damned revealed the reason for the splashed Red mana sitting in play, and the Miracle was also Miyajima's choice with the little artifact creature.

    With Bonfire gone, at least for now, Miyajima felt safe casting Spectral Procession, even though it was up against a Restoration Angel. He also used Windbrisk Heights to tuck away another token generator, but nothing too spicy.

    What was exciting was the Harmonic Sliver Nagami tutored up with Chord of Calling at the end of Miyajima's turn. The little Sliver destroyed Tidehollow Sculler, returning Bonfire of the Damned to Nagami's hand and letting him cast it for two. Miyajima used that time to Path to Exile one of his own tokens, ramping up to five mana.

    What did five mana buy him?

    Cloudgoat Ranger. King of the token decks and serious pain for opposing creature decks everywhere...

    ...except those that have Orzhov Pontiff. The little priest wrecked the Cloudgoat's minions and led Miyajima to trade it with the Restoration Angel.

    Another Tidehollow Sculler left Miyajima with a nearly impossible choice – Birthing Pod or Nature's Claim. If he took the Claim, it left the Pod, a very dangerous card. But if he took the Pod, Nature's Claim would just get it back. In the end, he took the Nature's Claim.

    Jyun'ichi Miyajima was bucking the popular archetypes this weekend with BW tokens, cutting his way through a field of Jund, Pod, Affinity and UW decks.

    Murderous Redcap attempted to, well, Murder the Sculler, but Zealous Persecution kept it alive and cleared the board again. Path to Exile on the Redcap completed the comeback, and, suddenly, Nagami's board was empty.

    Down to just a few outs, Nagami clapped two times before drawing and passing the turn.

    Miyajima wasn't done, however. Hero of Bladehold, which had been patiently sitting in Miyajima's hand for some time, made its presence known, and a Tidehollow Sculler forced Nagami to flash in Restoration Angel.

    Once again, Nagami clapped his hands as he went to draw a card. He flipped it up, glanced at it quickly, and bowed out.

    Jyun'ichi Miyajima is now 13-1 and in strong position for the Top 8

    Miyajima 2 – Nagami 0




     

    Sunday 5:05 p.m.
    An Interview with Chinese Taipei National Team Captain Kuo Tzu Ching

    by Chapman Sim


    Brian David Marshall has once called Kuo Tzu Ching "the most accomplished Magic player you have never heard of with 151 lifetime Pro Points". The fact is, he has been playing Magic for over ten years, and has around twenty Pro Tour appearances under his belt.

    He has eight Grand Prix Top 8s and is currently tied at 30th place on the list of all-time Grand Prix Top 8s (and 1st within the APAC region outside of Japan). Back at home, he has eight Nationals Top 8s, including three Champion titles.

    Aside from Masahiko Morita, he is possibly the one player on earth who has had that much success on the Grand Prix circuit but unable to break the Top 8 of a Pro Tour. Kuo's closest finish was 10th place at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored earlier this spring.

    Kuo Tzu Ching, possibly of the finest in Asia

    "It was truly a miracle. I started the tournament 1-4 and then I went on to win 11 straight matches in a row. That performance gave me enough Pro Points to reach Platinum and it I can't describe how happy I am."

    In addition to reaching the "mecca" level, Kuo also earned the right to captain his National Team (Chinese Taipei) for the World Magic Cup. In the process, he also upset Jeremy Neeman to clinch the precious spot in the 16-man Players Championships 2012, where the Player of the Year will be determined.

    What expectations do you have for the Magic World Cup for your team?
    When I was attending worlds last year, Team Chinese Taipei made Top 4 in the team portion. I hope to improve upon that result! We need to wait for our last WMCQ before the team is finalized.

    Who would you like your last teammate to be?
    Huang Hao-shan, of course! He is a great player and close friend of mine.

    What are your goals for this year?
    Hoping to make a Pro Tour Top 8 really soon, and stay on the Platinum Level at the very least.

    What deck are you running today?
    UW Restoration Angel

    Kuo secretly professes to be mildly disappointed at his 12th place finish today, but he would like to add that this event has been rather special for him. He is notorious for being terrible at the Featured Match tables, and for good reason. "To my recollection, I have never won any featured match at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour. Today, I finally won at a Featured Match and it's a great feeling!"

    I personally think a playset of foil Cursebreak would make a suitable commemorative gift for this momentous occasion.




     

    Sunday 5:40 p.m. - Guest Artists

    by Chapman Sim


    Crowds waiting for the artists

    No Grand Prix is complete without visiting artists who fly halfway around the globe for the sake of their avid fans. Eric Deschamps and Peter Mohrbacher are here this weekend, autographing cards and producing sketches for their most dedicated supporters all weekend. The long queues formed three two hours before either of them could arrive, a testament to both artists' popularity.

    Eric Deschamps

    Eric has been illustrating for Magic: The Gathering for a while now, and has even produced a couple of piece for the highly hilarious Unhinged expansion. Garruk Relentless, Olivia Voldaren and Tamiyo, the Moon Sage have been popular all weekend as are both the Planeswalkers which he had specially commissioned for the Venser vs. Koth Duel Decks.

    You can almost feel the exuding magic!

    Those prints have been flying off the shelves since yesterday, and stock is running dangerously low. The duo of Crusaders (Mirran and Phyrexian) from Mirrodin Besieged are also fan favorites, as are tournament staples like Celestial Colonnade, Hero of Oxid Ridge and Plated Geopede.

    Peter Mohrbacher

    Peter Mohrbacher is relatively new to illustrating Magic cards and his first piece was in fact Animar, Soul of Elements, a hugely popular Commander General. He has also been flooded with requests to signature Drogskol Captains, Gavony Townships and Ghost Quarter, possibly owing to the fact that they are commonly played in various Standard decks.

    His most recent and possibly most awesome piece has found its way into Avacyn Restored. I don't believe the photograph I took does the print any justice, but I wanted the world to catch a glimpse of the full-length art for Tibalt, the Fiend-Blooded. Breathtaking indeed!

    Don't you wish you were here to purchase one?




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