gpyok13

Kitayama Makes Opponents Pay in Yokohama!

  • Print

Victory doesn't come cheap, but often the tools for it do, as Masaya Kitayama proved in resounding fashion. Drafting an utterly elegant Orzhov Aggro deck in the Top 8 here in Yokohama, Kitayama was able to take advantage of a colony of one- and two-mana extort creatures to effectively drain his opponents dry on his way to securing victory this weekend.

These past few weeks have seen a tremendous string of firsts for Magic, from some incredible high profile Top 8s at the Pro Tour to the earth-shattering attendance numbers at Grand Prix Charlotte. Continuing that trend, 2281 players showed up to play Gatecrash Sealed Deck here at Grand Prix Yokohama, making it the second-largest Magic tournament ever held, and the largest in Japanese history. Large fields can be daunting, but none handled the massive scale of this event better than Masaya Kitayama. Previously the Japanese National Champion, Kitayama arrived at his Quarterfinals with a beautiful example of the Aggro Orzhov archetype, but his road was not destined to be easy.

After an intense first game in the Quarterfinals, Kitayama dropped the second due to a poor mana draw before decimating a poor draw from his opponent. In the semifinals, he had yet another nail-biter, losing the first game to Sam Black before winning an incredibly complex second game that Black called a "great game of Magic." Ultimately dispatching Black after a poor mana draw in the final game, Kitayama advanced to the finals, where he once again took the match to a third game. In the end, it was his extort creatures that truly defined his victory, grinding opponents down and lifting him up as the Champion of Grand Prix Yokohama 2013, the second-largest Magic tournament in history!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Tomomi Shiraishi   Masaya Kitayama, 2-1        
8 Masaya Kitayama   Masaya Kitayama, 2-1
       
4 Sam Black   Sam Black, 2-0   Masaya Kitayama, 2-1
5 Yasutaka Hibino    
       
2 Shintarou Ishimura   Makihito Mihara, 2-0
7 Makihito Mihara   Tian Yu Zhao, 2-0
       
3 Tomoya Motomura   Tian Yu Zhao, 2-1
6 Tian Yu Zhao    







What's being said about us...
Join the Conversation

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Masaya Kitayama $3,500
 2.  Tian Yu Zhao $2,300
 3.  Sam Black $1,500
 4.  Makihito Mihara $1,500
 5.  Yasutaka Hibino $1,000
 6.  Shintarou Ishimura $1,000
 7.  Tomomi Shiraishi $1,000
 8.  Tomoya Motomura $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

17
16
15
14
13
12
11
10
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
10
17
16
15
14
13
12
11
10

Black Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
Blue Bracket
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1

 

  • I Still Have a Deck to Build: Itaru Ishida

    by Ben Swartz and Ron Foster

  • Communities are built and fostered by leaders; the Japanese Magic community was built and fostered, in part, by Itaru Ishida. The Japanese Magic community suffered a huge loss in January with the passing of Ishida. In 2001, Ishida won Grand Prix Kobe, holding the title of champion of the largest Japanese Grand Prix for over a decade. Being the first tournament since his passing, many of the Magic players whose lives Ishida touched have gathered here at Grand Prix Yokohama. Along with a memorial near the entrance of the tournament hall, Ishida's friends and family held a memorial service on Friday before the event. Three Japanese hall of famers shared their memories of Ishida.


    Shūhei Nakamura (Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame):

    Someone once said that "life is a series of regrets". It's something so trite I never even think about it. The same goes for "repentance comes too late".

    But now I am facing a situation where there are no words more appropriate.

    How can this be, when just a couple of months ago, we were talking in Taipei? How can this be, when we just bumped into each other on the subway in Asakusa? How can this be, when there are still things I want to say? Things I want to ask?

    Words we hear all the time. But we can't stop ourselves from saying them anyway.

    There are still questions I wanted to ask Itaru Ishida.

    Like everyone else contributing to this memorial, I am someone who was influenced by Itaru Ishida. It's more appropriate to say I followed after him and was influenced by watching how he lived his life.

    Itaru Ishida was an established player during the formative years of Magic in Japan, was the first professional player from Japan, and was a pioneer in showing people how they could live after they were no longer a player.

    On more than one occasion, I have wondered exactly what it means to be a pro player, what I should be doing as a pro player. Whenever I looked back, I always saw him, always saw the trail that he had blazed for us.

    He was also a goalpost for me. I was drawn to team draft, his true specialty, after watching him essentially control his two teammates as well as his three opponents—the entire table—and spent many a day and many an event floundering about hoping to get even just a little bit more like him. Those days made me into the pro player I am today, and I can't imagine there will come a day I will forget that.

    He was also the person to defeat me in my first Grand Prix Top 8, a lifetime ago. It took me over five years to understand what he blurted out that day: "I've been waiting (to win) so long."

    I offer my prayers to Itaru Ishida, the pioneer who I was always chasing after, and was, in the end, never able to catch.


    Tsuyoshi Fujita (Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame)

    I am full of frustration. Full of anger.

    I am raging that someone who loved Magic as much as Itaru is dead.

    His father told me his last words. "I still have a deck to build." 

    Who else would say something like that? With his last thoughts, he was thinking about Magic. With his last breath, he was talking about Magic. How much did you love Magic, Itaru? Just how much did you love it?

    Why did Itaru, who loved Magic that much, have to die?

    Itaru still wanted to play Magic, have fun with Magic. Why did we have to die?

    I'm angry.

    I can't make sense of this.

    When I was first asked to write a tribute, I didn't know what to say.

    I thought maybe I could write about everything that happened from when I first met Itaru until today. I thought about writing of how good he was at Magic, or looking back on all his tournament wins, or maybe talking about the contributions he made to Japanese Magic.

    But people who have been playing Magic for a long time all already know those stories and don't need me to repeat them, and the new kids wouldn't even know who he is—heck, they might not even know me anymore.

    So, in the end, I decided to write what's been on my mind.

    I wanted to tell everyone the testament of Itaru Ishida, Magic player.

    Finally, I have something I want to ask of everyone reading this.

    Play Magic.

    As long as everyone keeps playing Magic, Itaru Ishida will live on forever in history.

    As long as Itaru Ishida is in our memory, he will never truly die, and while we might not be able to see him again he will still be with us.

    If you're reading this, used to play Magic back in the day, and you know who Itaru Ishida is, take this opportunity to get in touch with some old friends and pick up a deck. If you're new to the game, take the time to look up the coverage articles about him and get to know him.

    Please.

    I don't know if this is an appropriate tribute or not, but this is what I have written.

    I will never forget Itaru Ishida.


    Kenji Tsumura (Magic: The Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame)

    Itaru was a deckbuilder of rare talent and his playing skill was respected by players around the world, but the real reason he was loved by so many was his personality and character. Although he was quiet and reserved while playing, away from the table Itaru would crack jokes and strike up a conversation with anyone. He felt like a big brother to all of us, and was good at setting a relaxed mood whenever he was around. Anytime I was in the dumps after losing a match, all I needed to do to get a smile on my face would be to watch Itaru having a good time talking with someone.

    If I had to pick one phrase to describe Itaru as a player, I don't think there would be a better one than "iron man". It wouldn't be unusual to hear words like "arrogant" or "conceited" tossed around to describe someone with Itaru's achievements, but nothing could have been more inimical to him. He was extremely humble and strict with himself, and to me his attitude of always approaching any game with the intent of learning something is the ideal image of a pro player. Now it's nothing special, almost expected, for a Japanese player to win a Pro Tour, but we must not forget we stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. Itaru stands out taller than almost anyone else from his age, partly because he worked so hard to train the next generation. Chikara Nakajima, a member of the "Asahara Alliance" team which has posted numerous accomplishments on the Pro Tour, has said "If it weren't for Itaru, we wouldn't have been able to do what we did." Indeed, I don't think I would have been able to become Player of the Year in 2005 if he hadn't been backing me up. I feel it was an honor to be able to have played Magic with Itaru, who truly was a paragon, and he taught me a lot both on and off the tournament floor. His influence on Magic is huge and goes beyond just his tournament play, as he impacted so many people with his efforts at raising the next generation and with his writing.

    Itaru was someone who never forgot the fun of playing around. His strong predilections coming from this allowed him to make interesting but practical and effective choices, like when he put Corpse Dance in his Psychatog deck as a Cunning Wish target. The Myojin deck he built that I used at Pro Tour Philadelphia is maybe the best example of this—I think anyone would be hard-pressed to find a deck as strong as that which is also that much fun to play. Itaru never lost sight of the true fun of Magic, which is something people can forget about the more they focus on winning.

    It pains my conscience that I never did anything that would come close to repaying Itaru for all he did for me. I can't express how sad I am I when I realize anew that I will never again be able to watch him play a match or see his laughing face. I think the best way to honor his memory is to pass on all he taught us to the third generation of Japanese Magic players.

    Itaru, I will never forget what you showed me, and I will always remember your smile. Thank you, and may you truly rest in peace.




     

  • Top 8 – Players

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Masaya Kitayama

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Kanagawa
    Occupation: Hareruya Shop Assistant


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    2007 Japanese National Champion

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    I only play Magic Online

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    10-1 with 3 byes and a Blue-Black splash White deck

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    1stDraft:
    Dimir 3-0

    2ndDraft:
    Orzhov 1-0-2

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    When I return home I enter the Dimir Network

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Leyline Phantom

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    Since there were so many people, I was able to meet many of them.




    Yasutaka Hibino

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Aichi
    Occupation: Company Employee


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    This is my first performance

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    I prepared with team DDS, and I play at the BIG MAGIC in Yabacho,I started playing Magic Online for this tournament

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    9-2 with 3 byes. Nightveil Specter and Wight of Precinct Six

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    1stDraft:
    Boros 3-0. My deck was so powerful that most matches were over in 10 minutes

    2ndDraft:
    Esper 2-0-1

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    I belong to Azorius and like to draft Esper Colors (Although I dislike deck construction)

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Wight of Precinct Six and Balustrade Spy

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    Making the top eight




    Tian Yu Zhao

    Age: 25
    Hometown: Tokyo
    Occupation:


    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    I play Magic Online

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    9-2 with one bye using Boros splash Green

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    Boros for both drafts:
    5-0-1

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    I’m attached to Orzhov and I love drafting it

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Shadow Slice

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    Top eighting today, on my birthday




    Shintarou Ishimura

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Saitama
    Occupation: Unemployed (NEET)


    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    Mokkun in Saitama prefecture, Koshigaya City

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    9-1-1 with 0 byes using Boros. Fortress Cyclops and Righteous Charge

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    1stDraft:
    Gruul 2-1

    2ndDraft:
    Orzhov splash Red 3-0

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    Orzhov

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Gutter Skulk and Vizkopa Confessor

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    The fact that they served Gyudon inside the event hall




    Tomomi Shiraishi

    Age: 28
    Hometown: Gunma
    Occupation: Doctor


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Japanese Nationals top eight

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    Books in Nakashima and I play Magic Online

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    9-2 with 0 byes using Boros. Shieldd Passage

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    1stDraft:
    Boros 3-0

    2ndDraft:
    Orzhov 2-0-1

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    I align with Selesnya and like to draft Boros

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Burning-Tree Emissary

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    The number of people




    Tomoya Motomura

    Age: 23
    Hometown: Yamaguchi
    Occupation: Civil Servant


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:

    Two time GPT Champion?
    69th place at Grand Prix Nagoy and 8 time PTQ top eight competitor

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online

    Ishin in Yamaguchi?
    and I stream Magic Online often

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    11-0 with 3 byes using Gruul. Act of Treason and Gyre Sage

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    1stDraft:
    Gruul 2-1

    2ndDraft:
    Gruul 1-2

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    Gruul and Gruul

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Act of Treason

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    Going undefeated in sealed and still making top eight with three losses




    Makihito Mihara

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Chiba
    Occupation: company employee


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    Grand Prix Taipei 2013 ChampionWorld Championships 2006 Champion

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    LMC. I sometimes play Limited online.

    What was your sealed record?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    8-2 (3 byes). I played Boros, which I could side into Simic with a splash of red. My best card was Skyknight Legionnaire.

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?
    First draft was Orzhov, 3-0. Second draft was Boros, 2-1.

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    I'm Azorius and I prefer to draft Orzhov.

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash limited?
    Any Simic card.

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?

    Squeeking into the Top 8 on opponent percentages.




    Sam Black

    Age: 30
    Hometown: Madison, WI
    Occupation: Writer for Starcitygames.com


    Previous Magic Accomplishments:
    3rd at PT Philadelphia, 4 GP Top 8s, Team Worlds 2008 win, Won a car

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Do you play Magic Online
    All over the world. Yes I do.

    What was your record in Sealed Deck?
    What colors did you play
    What was the most important card
    10-1, BWr, Grisly Spectacle

    What colors did you play in your draft decks, and what were your records with them?

    BW:
    3-0

    UB:
    2-0-1

    What guild do you belong to?
    What is your favorite guild to draft in Gatecrash
    Orzhov to both.

    What is the most underrated card in Gatecrash Limited?
    Executioner’s Swing

    What was the thing that surprised you the most this weekend?




     

  • Top 8 – Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Hibino, Yasutaka
    Grand Prix Yokohama 2013 Top 8 Draft




     

  • Quarterfinals – Masaya Kitayama vs. Tomomi Shiraichi

    by Nate Price

  • We have arrived! After a grueling eleven rounds of Sealed Deck and three Gatecrash Booster Drafts, we have arrived at the final eight players and the final three rounds. This quarterfinal match featured Masaya Kitayama, a one-time Japanese National Champion against Tomomi Shiraichi, who narrowly missed out on a chance to claim that same title himself. Both players drafted very aggressive, white-based decks. Kitayama's Orzhov is packed with inexpensive creatures and a boatload of extort triggers. Shiraichi, meanwhile, went with the Boros Legion, and his battalion of Skyknight Legionnaires provide a hasty punch to an already speedy deck.

    As both decks were so aggressive, it was no surprise to see Masaya Kitayama begin with a series of inexpensive creatures. His Basilica Screecher allowed him to extort off of his Thrull Parasite, which in turn allowed his Cartel Aristocrats to extort twice. Shiraishi's Boros deck found itself in the unusual predicament of being the slower deck in the race, though he did his best to overcome that. Dutiful Thrull and Skyknight Legionnaire were joined in their battalion by an Ordruun Veteran, giving him a method to race the extortions Kitayama kept aiming his way.


    Tomomi Shiraishi

    Kitayama's deck had an incredible amount of lifegain built into it, and a fifth-turn Zarichi Tiger triggered one extort, keeping him at a lofty 19. By virtue of his many extort triggers and some attacks from the Screecher, Kitayama had knocked Shiraishi down to 12. Shiraishi did the only thing he could do to get above the extort triggers that were slowly draining his life: he added more beef to the board. Ember Beast and a Daring Wojek took him to five creatures in play. Still, with the advantage of more creatures on the board, Kitayama's Aristocrat and Tiger were doing a great job of preventing a good attack from Shiraishi.

    With seemingly perfect creatures for the situation, Kitayama outdid himself, playing an Angelic Skirmisher on the following turn. This gave his creatures lifelink, allowing him to swing for one with his Basilica Screecher. The lifegain continued to add up. A second Basilica Screecher on the following turn extorted for two more, dropping Shiraishi below 10 life.

    With Kitayama at a whopping 20 life, Shiraishi seemed deflated. He listlessly aimed a Boros Charm at Kitayama, dropping him to the laughably safe 16 life. Even that didn't last long, as Kitayama activated his Tiger on end step to go up to 18. A Syndic of Tithes after that pushed him right back up to 20. At this point, the control Kitayama held over the game became simply overwhelming, and Shiraishi scooped up his cards.

    Masaya Kitayama 1 – Tomomi Shiraishi 0

    Kitayama's start in the second game was just as fast as his first. A Basilica Screecher led the way for a pair of Cartel Aristocrats, each triggering extort. Fortunately for Shiraishi, his draw was even faster than the last, and this time he was on the play. A Dutiful Thrull paved the way for not one, not two, but three consecutive Skyknight Legionnaires. That meant twelve damage in three attacks, all in before Kitayama could do anything. When he swung for yet another six on the next turn, the Massive Raid he was holding was exactly the damage he needed to kill Kitayama.

    A nearly perfect draw for Shiraishi, a two-minute loss for Kitayama, and a Game 3 for the both.

    Masaya Kitayama 1 – Tomomi Shiraishi 1


    Masaya Kitayama

    After a near-perfect hand in the previous game of this Quarterfinal match, Shiraishi found a seven-card hand that he disliked waiting for him in the final game. He threw it back, but didn't immediately seem happy with his new six. Keeping, he began with a Foundry Street Denizen, which soon picked up some Madcap Skills. It looked like Shiraishi would be able to put Kitayama intoa quick hole, as Kitayama didn't have a second-turn play, but he turned the tables on Shiraishi with an Executioner's Swing to kill the skillful Goblin.

    From there, things went even further downhill for Shiraishi. Kitayama played creature after creature while Shiraishi flipped land after land from the top of his deck onto the battlefield. After the fourth consecutive one, he began to laugh. After the sixth, which entered the battlefield with a flourish, he laughed, shrugged, and shook Masaya Kitayama's hand.

    Masaya Kitayama 2 – Tomomi Shiraishi 1




     

  • Semifinals – Sam Black vs. Masaya Kitayama

    by Ben Swartz

  • After the draft, I asked Sam Black if his deck was good. "Interesting, but not necessarily good," he responded. Well, he has made it to the Semifinals with his "interesting" deck. Here he faces off against 2007 Japanese National Champion, Masaya Kitayama sporting an Orzhov deck.


    Masaya Kitayama

    Sam started things off with a Truefire Paladin and a Battle Corps. Masaya had a Syndic of Tithes to go along with his Cartel Aristocrat. Sam added a Zairichi Tiger to his board after attacking again with his Truefire Paladin.

    Sam then cast Hold the Gates. Masaya had to pick up the card to read it which elicited a chuckle--perhaps a maniacal laugh--from Sam. Sam then attacked with all three of his creatures dropping Masaya down to 12.

    Masaya, at the end of Sam's turn used Grisly Spectacle to get rid of the Truefire Paladin before untapping and casting a Vizkopa Confessor relieving Sam of the Debtor's Pulpit in his hand.

    Sam then slammed down a Hellraiser Goblin and again attacked with all of his creatures. While figuring out what to block Masaya picked up Sam's Hold the Gates and muttered, "Wow, this thing is troublesome." Masaya double blocked Sam's Battle Corps, but Sam had Shielded Passage to save the human soldier.

    Sam drew and cast a Skyknight Legionnaire and attacked with everyone. He used Battle Corps' Battalion ability to drop Masaya down to five, forcing Masaya to chump block just to stay alive.

    Sam attacked with all his creatures again and, when the dust settled, was left with his Hellraiser Goblin, while Masaya had both his Cartel Aristocrat and Vizkopa Confessor.

    Masaya drew a Basilica Screecher off the top, but Sam had the real haymaker in the form of Rubblehulk. Masaya used a Shielded Passage to save his Cartel Aristocrat from the elemental, but Sam continued to attack with his 7/8.

    Thanks to his Extort creatures, Masaya was able to survive a blow the following turn from the Rubblehulk. Sam didn't seemed fazed, however, casting another seven power creature in the form of Ruination Wurm before drawing Holy Mantle to make his Rubblehulk unblockable.

    Sam Black 1 - 0 Masaya Kitayama


    Sam Black

    After a mulligan from Sam, he started things off again with a Truefire Paladin and then paired it with an Ember Beast. Masaya again had a Cartel Aristocrat, this time paired with a Basilica Screecher and a Court Street Denizen.

    Masaya then cast a second Court Street Denizen, tapping down Sam's Ember Beast before attacking him down to 12. Sam cleared the way for an alpha strike of his own using Pit Fight to destroy one of Masasya's Court Street Denizens, leaving both players at 12 life.

    Sam, on his next turn, forcefully smashed all his creatures into the red zone dropping Masaya to seven before casting a Crowned Ceratok. Masaya used Executioner's Swing to take out Sam's Ember Beast at the end of turn.

    With no change in Masaya's board Sam swung in with his Ceratok. A block and an Aerial Maneuver later, a Rhino had perished.

    Sam attacked again, and when a Cartel Aristocrat found it's way in front of his Truefire Paladin, he gave it first strike. Masaya had a Shielded Passage to save the Aristocrat, and followed it up by attacking Sam, dropping him to 5.

    The two players traded blows for a turn before a second Cartel Aristocrat came down for Masaya and sent the match to a third and final game.

    Sam Black 1 - 1 Masaya Kitayama

    "That was a good game," Sam noted while shuffling up for game three.

    After a Mulligan from both players, Masaya started game three off again with Cartel Aristocrat. Prepared, Sam used a Mugging to get rid of the pesky 2/2 before Masaya could protect it.

    But, that was all that Sam could do; he stalled on two Mountains and was unable to cast another spell as Masaya attacked him with his army of creatures.

    Masaya Kitayama defeats Sam Black 2-1




     

  • Semifinals – Zhao Tian Yu vs. Masaya Kitayama

    by Nate Price

  • With the sun long set beyond the sea near the Yokohama docks, a once bustling hall has settled into relative silence. At the center of it all, two players sat, surrounded by a sea of their own. Zhao Tian Yu and Masaya Kitayama fought long and hard to make it to the finals, and there were an uncountable number of Japanese players surrounding them to witness their match.

    By virtue of his stronger Swiss performance, Kitayama held the right to go first. As he had done all throughout the Top 8, Kitayama began building a chain of extort cretures, a Basilica Guards followed by a Basilica Screecher. Yu dealt with the Screecher using a Dimir Charm before recruiting a Keymaster Rogue to his team, bouncing a Metropolis Sprite.


    Kitayama continued his assault, adding an Undercity Informer and Zarichi Tiger alongside a Thrull Parasite. This tremendous amount of potential life gain was both how he weathered the storm against an aggressive Boros deck in the first round, and held out to turn the tides against Sam Black in the semifinals. Yu tried to counter with a couple of fliers, but Kitayama was prepared. Yu's Balastrade Spy was left to futilely attack, while Kitayama used a Grisly Spectacle to kill a Guardian of the Gateless.

    Each spell Kitayama cast gave him a new way to trigger his extort creatures, turning cards like Beckon Apparition and the Spectacle into four-point life swings. Between the extort triggers and a flying Spirit token, Kitayama reduced Yu to a mere 3. Then, with his back against the wall, Yu gained a life swing of his own. First, he cast Call of the Nightwing and ciphered it onto his Keymaster Rogue. Then, he added a Git of Orzhova to his Balustrade Spy, giving him a much needed source of life. The two creatures attacked, taking Yu to 7 and providing a much needed second blocker.

    Kitayama continued to fight, sending his team at Yu. Yu blocked the Parasite with a Horror token and sacrificing his other to stay alive. On his turn, Yu found a Killing Glare to deal with the Zarichi Tiger, removing one of Kitayama's attackers and removing a major source of his lifegain. With Kitayama down into the low single-digits as well, every point o life was desperately important.


    The two cipher creatures kept swinging, dragging Yu's life total away from zero and providing a free blocker each time. Kitayama drew yet another extort creature, a Syndic of Tithes, and pushed Yu back down. The game was incredibly tense, with Yu being drained and taking a small amount of poke from Kitayama's creatures while dealing large chunks of damage on the counterattack. Kitayama was able to stave off his own defeat through an improbably large amount of extort damage.

    Kitayama 1 – Yu 0

    Both players had creatures for their first turn, but they were not equally positioned in the game. Yu began with a Cloudfin Raptor that remained unevolved for a couple of turns, while Kitayama made a Dutiful Thrull. While Yu might have lamented his lack of creatures to evolve his Raptor, Kitayama had the real cause for concern. After apparently keeping a one-land hand Kitayama drew spell after spell, eventually being forced to discard before finally receiving his second Plains. He immediately played a Syndic of Tithes, but he was already far behind on the board.

    While Kitayama had been struggling with his mana, Yu had replayed his Raptor, along with a Corpse Blockade and a Duskmantle Guildmage. Both creatures evolved his Raptor and Yu was soon swinging for five damage a turn at a defenseless Kitayama. Kitayama only took one hit for five before shaking his head and picking up his cards.

    Kitayama 1 – Yu 1


    After playing such an intense game one, game two was somewhat of a letdown. Kitayama's hand held many of the two-drop extort creatures that

    Kitayama and Yu once again found themselves with first-turn creatures, but the game soon looked poised to take a similar turn to the last one. Kitayama was on the play, making a Thrull Parasite ad a pair of Cartel Aristocrats in the first couple of turns. Yu was stuck on two lands without a play to evolve his Raptor. Kitayama rapidly dropped Yu to the Danger Zone. Yu managed to find a couple of cheap creatures to stave off defeat for a turn or two, but the sheer number of extort triggers Kitayama's deck was capable of were enough to grind out the final few points of damage.

    Kitayama 2 – Yu 1




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Yokohama

    by Nate Price and Ben Swartz



  • 5. Basilica Screecher

    With Extort being the integral mechanic to Orzhov decks, Basilica Screecher acted as an early and important Extort creature to draft decks all day. In multiples, or, when coupled with Syndic of Tithes, it created an nigh-unstoppable endgame. Every spell that the Orzhov player cast not only bled his opponent, but also gained life, allowing the Orzhov player to stay alive much longer than previously able. Not to be overlooked is the fact that the Screecher is both a flier, capable of lending attacking power to both Orzhov an Dimir, but it only costs two mana to cast, allowing for some of the sick extort chains that we witnessed throughout the Top 8.

    In the Top 8, the Screecher's power took center stage. Champion Masaya Kitayama's Orzhov draft deck featured the Screecher heavily, relying on it and Syndic of Tithes to not only provide the bulk of the damage his deck dealt, but also to stave off his own opponent's damage. Without the massive amount of lie gained by the Screecher, Kitayama would not have won the intensely close first games of both the Quarterfinals and Finals.





    4. Assemble the Legion

    In round 17, Makahito Mihara used Assemble the Legion to come back from the brink of death. The ability to produce, as Mihara did, an endless stream of chump blockers before amassing an unbeatable army is unparalleled from any other card in the format. Once it get's a few Muster counters it quickly gets out of hand. Thanks to the lack of ubiquitous enchantment removal in the format, one in draft can quickly spell the end of a game. The fact that it could be found in multiple day one undefeated decklists shows how tremendously powerful this four mana enchantment is.

    While Mihara's match may have been impressive, it alone wouldn't be enough to secure a spot in the top five for Assemble. What truly drives it home are the sheer number of copies of this card spotted on the top tables near the end of Day 1. This was a card that I had the pleasure of previewing during the coverage of Grand Prix Atlantic City, and we were sure that it had a big future in Limited. As the perfect way to give a tremendous endgame to the deck with the best early game, Assemble certainly lived up to its hype here in Yokohama.





    3. Executioner's Swing

    "I've drafted a four Grisly Spectacle deck and a four Executioner's Swing deck, and I'm pretty sure that the four Swing deck was better."

    Semifinalist Sam Black spoke these exact words to me when discussing the removal in his second draft deck of the day. While he admitted that the Spectacle is more powerful, he went on to say that virtually everything that the Spectacle can kill, the Swing can as well, and it costs half as much. This reduced cost is very important in a format as aggressive as Guildpact Booster Draft is, giving players a chance to kill early Boros creatures or at least have an answer while still being able to add to their boards. In addition to making an appearance in numerous top decks in Sealed Deck, the Swing made a splash in the Top 8 as well, allowing Champion Masaya Kitayama to kill a Foundry Street Denizen with Madcap Skills before it could finish him off, escaping the Quarterfinals and paving the road to his eventual victory.





    2. Keymaster Rogue

    A less than beloved card prior to this weekend, Keymaster Rogue was an important card in blue decks throughout the weekend. It could be seen in Simic decks in both draft and sealed, returning creatures to re-trigger Evolve creatures. Further, giving Simic decks an unblockable creature with which to use it's pump spells won many a match. It was similarly powerful in aggressive Dimir decks where it could be seen carrying Shadow Slice and other Cipher cards. For the Mill-centric Dimir decks it played perfectly with Sages Row Denzien, forcing opponents to mill over and over again. In Tian Yu Zhao's top eight deck it carried multiple Cipher cards along with Gift of the Orzhova, gaining card advantage and life all the way to the finals.





    1. Ember Beast

    Ah, there's no lonelier creature than the poor Ember Beast. All that his massive 3/4 frame wants is a friend to tag along with, and he certainly made more than his fair share of friends this weekend. As a massive body that can tag along in a battalion and survive to tell the tale, the Beast was an essential part of the overwhelming number of Boros decks littering the top tables of the Sealed portion of the event.

    Lending to his value in Boros, the Ember Beast provides a body capable of favorably interacting with Pit Fight, something not many Boros creatures can claim. Yuuya Watanabe was one of the handful of players that took advantage of this interaction to add yet more removal to what was easily the most successful Sealed Deck guild of Grand Prix Yokohama.






    • Planeswalker Points
    • Facebook Twitter
    • Gatherer: The Magic Card Database
    • Forums: Connect with the Magic Community
    • Magic Locator