Round 6 Feature Match - Koichiro Maki (Japan) Vs Masayaki Higashino (Japan)
by Yaro Starak
Koichiro Maki, one of Japan's first professional players, has a history of top performances ranging from APAC Top 8s to Magic Invitational participation. Masayaki Higashino, Koichiro's opponent in the round 6 Feature match, also has a long list of top performances, including a Japanese National title and a Grand Prix Championship.
An early Vine Trellis for Koichiro gave him a mana advantage that lead to Shock Troops and Spur Grappler. Masayaki had produced a nice defence in the form of a Flowstone Wall, which was quickly turned useless when Koichiro played Waterfront Bouncer. The tables then turned again as Masayaki placed an Arrest on the Bouncer. In a final twist to the story, Koichiro played a Seal of Removal, returned his Bouncer and recast it.
The next few turns see Masayaki take some damage and continue to cast his Flowstone Wall each turn as it is bounced back to his hand. He manages to play a Nightwind Glider while Koichiro casts another power card, a Stinging Barrier. Then, arguably the strongest card in Mercadian Masques sealed comes to play for Masayaki, a Blinding Angel. At this point the comments back and forth between the players are flowing, Masayaki and Koichiro both complaining about the power in each other's decks.
The Waterfront Bouncer is now forced to take care of the Blinding Angel each turn so that Koichiro doesn't get locked down unable to attack. It stays fairly even for a few turns and a large crowd starts to build around the table. Koichiro hits his seventh mana, which enables him to play a Laccolith Titan, bringing all kinds of comments from the crowd as well as his opponent.
The Titan slowly takes down most of Masayaki's creatures. A last ditched attempt with an Arms Dealer proves fruitless and Masayaki scoops a turn later.
Game Result:Koichiro Wins
Masayaki opens up with a Plague Witch which proves to be a key card in the second game. Koichiro drops a Waterfront Bouncer, which he loses to the Witch. The next few turns feature a Vine Trellis for Koichiro and an Arms Dealer for Masayaki. For about two seconds it looked like Koichiro could have the second game when he played a Living Terrain, but it was quickly Disenchanted at the end of his turn. An Ancient Hydra hit the table for Koichiro but was taken care of by the Plague Witch.
Time was running short when the game-winning card turned up for Masayaki, his Blinding Angel. The Angel hit the table and ten turns later Koichiro was Scooping as time ran out.
Game Result: Masayaki Wins
Match Result: Players tied at 1-1