gpkan11

LSV Vapor Snags a Trophy in Kansas City

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Luis Scott-Vargas capped an amazing week by defeating Yuuya Watanabe in the finals of Grand Prix Kansas City. His victory comes on the heels of a Top 8 at Pro Tour Nagoya last weekend and a win in the Magic Online Community Cup during the week at Wizards of the Coast headquarters in Renton, Washington. It is the fourth Grand Prix trophy for Scott-Vargas' crowded mantle and -- combined with his Top 8 in Nagoya -- thrusts him right into the Player of the Year race at the halfway mark of the season.

Yuuya Watanabe, the Player of the Year in 2009, had expected to be playing in side drafts on Sunday when he came out of the bye rounds with two quick losses -- he didn't even win a game. Then, with his back against the wall, he started to win and did not stop until he ran afoul of LSV in the finals. All told he won 12 straight matches before his finals exit. Watanabe crossed into 200 lifetime Pro Point territory this weekend in a very short time on the Pro Tour.

Veterans Tim Aten and Willy Edel showed everyone they still had their chops despite no longer playing at every single event with their Top 8 performances while four players -- Zach Jesse, Gregory Jolin, Samuel Friedman, and Matt Costa -- made their debuts on the Sunday stage.

It has been a grueling several weeks for many pros as they have traversed the globe from Prague to Providence to Singapore to Nagoya and back to Kansas City -- with a brief stop in Seattle for a certain Grand Prix champion -- and everyone will enjoy a well-deserved break as we segue into Nationals season and prepare for the release of Magic 2012.

Note: Players are matched randomly for the Top 8. Seeds do not reflect final Swiss places.


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Luis Scott-Vargas   Luis Scott-Vargas, 2-0        
8 Zach Jesse   Luis Scott-Vargas, 2-0
       
4 Samuel Friedman   Samuel Friedman, 2-1   Luis Scott-Vargas, 2-1
5 Gregory Jolin    
       
2 Tim Aten   Tim Aten, 2-1
7 Matthew Costa   Yuuya Watanabe, 2-0
       
3 Yuuya Watanabe   Yuuya Watanabe, 2-1
6 Willy Edel    


Follow live streaming video coverage of Grand Prix Kansas City at ggslive.com with Rashad Miller and Ray Punzalan.

EVENT COVERAGE TWITTER

INFORMATION
 1.  Luis Scott-Vargas $3,500
 2.  Yuuya Watanabe $2,300
 3.  Tim Aten $1,500
 4.  Sam Friedman $1,500
 5.  Zach Jesse $1,000
 6.  Gregory Jolin $1,000
 7.  Matthew Costa $1,000
 8.  Willy Edel $1,000
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  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Yuuya Watanabe

    Name: Yuuya Watanabe
    Hometown: Kanagawa Japan
    Age: 22
    Occupation: Pro Player

    Day One Record: 4-2 (with 3 byes)
    Day Two Record: 6-0

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: GP: 11 PT: 1
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    Massacre Wurm

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    Not green and play Metalcraft or blue fliers.

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    Sealed only once and drafted many, many times.

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Burnt Ends!

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    All the time play!!

    Zach Jesse

    Name: Zach Jesse
    Hometown: Chicagoan
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Trivia Host/Fried Chicken Pusher

    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 5-0-1

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: This would be the first.
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Victory's Herald & Jor Kadeen, the Prevailer. My deck was nothing spectacular but it got the job done.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    My draft decks were both infect. I was very surprised to have 3-0'd the first because my only "removal" was Sieze the Intitiative and Withstand Death. I just kept playing dudes.

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    Less than most I imagine. Usually 16 since I tend to try and be a bit more aggressive.

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    Plenty online.

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Both, I had a huge plate of meat last night.

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Depends/depends

    Tim Aten

    Name: Tim Aten
    Hometown: Vermillion, Ohio
    Age: Literally 29
    Occupation: Editor

    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 4-0-2

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s:
    3 now since 2HG seriously doesn't count.
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    They were all about the same really. I didn't play any rares. Flameborn Hellion did a lot of the heavy lifting.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    In the first one, I first picked Elesh Norn and got Chancellor of the Spires 5th, 7th, and 8th -- I only played 2 Chancellors. In general I try to play the color of whatever bomb I open, then see what color is is getting passed and play that too.
    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    Most of the week and a half before the GP was spent drafting/sealeding/birding with the rest of the Glub Club in Karen O's palace.

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Ribs obviously. Why eat the part that's overcooked when you can not, instead?

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Draw in Sealed, play in Draft. (I don't know where else to put this but HI MEHRAN LATIF!)

    Samuel Friedman

    Name: Samuel Friedman
    Hometown: Florence, TX
    Age: 24
    Occupation: Teacher/coach

    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 4-1-1

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: 1st
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    PRAETOR'S GRASP!!! Gets better as the opponent's deck gets more ridiculous. Also had a Skithiryx and Tezzeret. I learned that Tezz and his army of 3/3's do in fact beat an Elesh Norn.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    Forced RW Metalcraft in the 1st draft after 1st picking Jor Kadeen. Tried to stay open int he second draft and ended up in blue-green after noticing that green was criminally underdrafted. Tough to decide between a 10th pick Phyrexcian Hydra and Fangren Marauder.

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17 is the starting point but generally 16 in aggro and 18 if you get the terrible control deck with no mana fixing.

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    10ish

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Fajitas!

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Depends on the matchup of course.

    Matt Costa

    Name: Matt Costa
    Hometown: Eastham, MA
    Age: 18
    Occupation: Student

    Day One Record: 8-0-1
    Day Two Record: 4-2

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: 1/0
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    Myr Battlesphere, Act of Aggression, Mortarpod, Viridian Corrupter

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    Normally B/U/G in some combination but MonoRed to 3-0 my second pod.

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17/18

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    5 Sealed and 30 drafts or so

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Burnt ends

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Drew 95% of the time

    Gregory Jolin

    Name: Gregory Jolin
    Hometown: Hooksett, NH
    Age: 26
    Occupation: Student

    Day One Record: 9-0
    Day Two Record: 3-1-2

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: 0
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    Skithiryx because it kills people dead and Mutagenic Growth because it protects Skithiryx.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    Just follow the packs. Slow control decks are preferred but I had a nearly mono red aggressive deck in the first draft.
    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17-18

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    6 Sealed and 12 drafts

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Ribs

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Drew about 80% of the time in Draft, 100% in Sealed.

    Luis Scott-Vargas

    Name: Luis Scott-Vargas
    Hometown: Oakland, CA
    Age: 28
    Occupation: Editor, Channelfireball.com

    Day One Record: 8-1
    Day Two Record: 4-2

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: 4 PT 7 GP
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why?
    Oxidda Scrapmelter and Viridian Corrupter because they kill ridiculous bombs and Moltensteel Dragon and Contagion Engine because they ARE ridiculous bombs.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    Stay open as long as possible, then move in on white infect. Also, get passed Tezzeret.

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    17 (almost never more or less)

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    2 Sealed and probably 20 drafts

    Ribs or Burnt Ends?
    Ribs from Oklahoma Joe's barely beating out burnt ends from Arthur Bryant's

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Draw/draw mostly, sometimes play in draft

    Willy Edel

    Name: Willy Edel
    Hometown: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Age: 32
    Occupation: Store owner

    Day One Record: 7-2
    Day Two Record: 5-0-1

    Number of Grand Prix/Pro Tour Top 8s: 2/3
    What were the best cards in your Sealed pool, and why? 
    Batterskull, I don't think I really need to explain why.

    What strategies did you use in your Drafts, and why? 
    W/X super aggressive decks

    How many lands do you (generally) want to play in your Draft decks?
    16-17

    How many practice Sealeds/Drafts did you do for this event?
    50/20

    Play or draw in Sealed/Draft?
    Draw/Play


     

  • Top 8 Draft: Drafting with Yuuya Watanabe

    by Steve Sadin

  • Yuuya Watanabe started off his Top 8 draft with a Dismember, a Porcelain Legionnaire, and a Pristine Talisman. Watanabe made his first non-artifact, non-Phyrexian mana pick of the Draft when he took a Blighted Agent fourth.

    Watanabe had just 3-0ed his previous draft pod with Blue-Black Infect to lock up his Top 8 berth, so he was certainly open to drafting Blue Infect should the opportunity present itself to him.

    From there he took a Sickleslicer, and a sixth pick Reaper of Sheoldred – suggesting that Infect could very well be open.

    Despite getting passed multiple good infect creatures late, there were no more on-color infectors in store for Watanabe, and he instead rounded out his pack with Vault Skirge, Kiln Walker, Lost Leonin, Maul Splicer and a Dementia Bats.

    Watanabe ended his New Phyrexia pack with six colorless (or Phyrexian mana) cards, so he would be able to go in any direction during his Mirrodin Besieged pack. Watanabe knew that if he opened or got passed a bomb and/or some solid removal that he would be able to take it and build his deck around it.

    Watanabe started off his Mirrodin Besieged pack with a Hero of Oxid Ridge that he took over Burn the Impure and Copper Carapace. Next up he took a Go for the Throat out of a pack that also contained Spread the Sickness.

    Blisterstick Shaman, and Virulent Wound insured that Watanabe would be able to deal with opposing Porcelain Legionnaires and Embersmiths. A fifth pick Phyrexian Rager made a nice addition to Watanabe's Black-Red deck.

    Watanabe was visibly happy when he got an eight pick Lumengrid Gargoyle, as that would give him a very real way to win, and seemed almost as pleased when he got a tenth pick Ogre Resister.

    At this point Watanabe had a very reasonable Black-Red deck, but it was clear that his deck needed some more power (or a lot more removal) for it to be where he wanted it.

    A Carnifex Demon followed by a second pick Skinrender certainly made Watanabe's deck a lot stronger, but the rest of his pack really didn't have anything that good for Watanabe's Red-Black deck.

    Trigon of Rage, Blade-Tribe Berserkers, Flesh Allergy, Moriok Reaver, and Saberclaw Golem would all be playable cards for Watanabe, but none of them are particularly special.

    In the end, Watanabe wound up with a solid Red-Black deck that contained more filler than he would reasonably want to see in his deck.

    Will Watanabe be able to ride his solid removal, Carnifex Demon, Skinredner, and Hero of Oxid Ridge to victory? Or will he suffer from clunky draws and get overrun by an aggressive start from Willy Edel's Red-White beatdown deck?

    Stay tuned to find out!


     

  • Top 8 Draft: Drafting with Willy Edel

    by Ben Swartz

  • Willy Edel started off his Top 8 draft with an Artillerize out of a relatively weak pack. He followed that up with a second pick Blinding Souleater over a Grim Affliction showing that he had a preference of pairing red with white in this draft format. He added another Artillerize and an Immolating Souleater to his deck before having a tough pick four: Forced Worship or Invader Parasite. He decided to go with the Forced Worship passing the 3/2 to his left. Edel then rounded out his New Phyrexia pack with a pair of Gut Shots, looking for more aggressive red and white cards out of his Mirrodin Besieged pack.

    Edel opened his Mirrodin Besieged pack and searched for anything that would go into his deck. The only playable red or white card was a Banishment Decree. Assuming it would come back to him 9th pick, Edel decided to take the off color rare, Cryptoplasm, in the off chance that he might switch into blue. Edel got passed another weak pack with Flayer Husk being the only card that would be good in his deck. He was relieved to get passed third and sixth pick Leonin Skyhunters and a fourth pick Skinwing, passing up on a Divine Offering along the way. Edel managed to pick up a Divine Offering before ending Mirrodin Besieged on a Crush and a Banishment Decree. Looking into the final pack of the draft, Edel had a solid Red White deck hoping to profit from the many white fliers in Scars of Mirrodin.

    Edel was greeted by just that in his Scars of Mirrodin pack: a Kemba's Skyguard. However, he opted to take Cerebral Erruption over it. Edel got passed another Kemba's Skyguard pick two before taking a Clone Shell over nothing and an Origin Spellbomb. Edel decided to counter draft a Volition Reins over a Saberclaw Golem fifth pick. From there Edel finished out his Scars of Mirrodin pack with a Darksteel Sentinel and a Glint Hawk Idol giving him an aggressive Red-White deck that he hoped would be fast enough to defeat his first round opponent, Yuuya Watanabe.


     

  • Top 8 Deck Lists

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Luis Scott-Vargas
    Grand Prix Kansas City 2011 Top 8



    Gregory Jolin
    Grand Prix Kansas City 2011 Top 8






     

  • Quarterfinals: Yuuya Watanabe vs. Willy Edel

    by Brian David-Marshall

  • This was the most evenly matched of all the quarterfinals in terms of experience on the so-called Sunday Stage. Edel has played on Sunday in two Pro Tours -- one more than Yuuya -- reaching the finals both times. Watanabe has the edge on Player of the Year titles and with his Top 8 here this weekend is assured of crossing into the 200 lifetime Pro Points club. Edel, has a way to go to catch up in that department and a win in this event would close the gap just a hair. It is also safe to say that you could hardly find two players in the room who had traveled from further away on each side of the match-up; Yuuya from Japan and Willy Edel from Brazil.

    Game 1

    Edel led things off on the play with a turn two Leonin Skyhunter, he had been drafting aggressive white decks all day long and this one was no exception. Watanabe wasted no time Going for the Throat of the flier on his second turn. Edel frowned at this turn of events and played his third land and prepared to cycle an Orgin Spellbomb at the end of Watanabe's turn.

    Willy Edel

    Watanabe had a little deck velocity of his own and played Phyrexian Rager and they both drew a card in his third turn. Skinwing joined the fray for Edel but he did not block the Rager as Watanabe drew blood and added Bloodshot Trainee to his team. Edel's deck was not looking exactly "aggresive" as he played Loxodon Partisan which Watanabe whittled down to a managable size with Skinrender.

    Edel attacked in the air and played Forced Worship on the 'render. Yuuya just dialed up the heat and attacked with both his eligible creatures. Edel chumped with the Myr token and the score was 15 to 12 in Watanabe's favor. He played Moriok Reaver and Porcelain Legionnaire -- going to 13 -- but Edel had Gut Shot for the Legionnaire.

    Edel could not reasonably attack and it was a good thing that he did not since Hero of Oxid Ridge sprung into the red zone -- ultimately trading with a germ token -- but Edel took 10 from unblocked creatures. He was at 2 and scooped on the next turn.

    Game 2

    Flayed Husk for Edel attacked for one and was followed up with Skyhunter but Watanabe had the Go for the Throat again. Edel followed up with Glint Hawk Idol while Watanabe played Phyrexian Rager -- dropping him to 17. Edel played Brass Squire and swung in for 2 more with his Idol.

    Sickleslicer for Watanabe could only look skyward as the Idol continued to chip away. Watanabe's Kuldotha Ringleader submitted to Forced Worship and he fell to 11but a Lumengrid Gargoyle stemmed the bleeding. Edel could not attack and when Watanabe played Trigon of Rage he attacked with everyone. Edel shrugged and took 8 and Yuuya reinforced with Ogre Register. Edel's Artillerize did 5 at end of the turn and a second volley finished the job after the Idol flew over 2.

    Yuuya Watanabe

    Game 3

    Legionnaire led off for Watanabe while Edel had one of his Skyhunters. Watanabe played a turn three Kiln Walker that was promptly killed with Divine Offering but he smashed into the red zone for a brutally fast 8 points on turn 4 with Hero of Oxid Ridge. Edel had to sit back even though his Brass Squire he just played was not allowed to block thanks to the Hero. Edel traded the Skyhunter for the Hero but he was down to 8 as Watanabe played Ogre Register.

    Skinwing came down for Edel which could have made for some interesting interactions with Brass Squire if Watanabe did not have the Dismember, paying four life, to kill it. He had enough mana left over to play Trigon of Rage and attack Edel down to 2. He conceded a turn later.

    Final result: Yuuya Watanabe advanced to the semifinals over Willy Edel 2 games to 1.


     

  • Quarterfinals Roundup

    by Steve Sadin

  • Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Zach Jesse

    Luis Scott-Vargas defeated Zach Jesse in two quick games. In Game 1 Jesse played three pieces of equipment, but no creatures – and in the second game Jesse's only creature was a Glistener Elf. Once Luis Scott-Vargas was able to deal with the Glistener Elf (which was backed by a bunch of giant growth effects) he was able to ride his Scrapdiver Serpent to victory.

    Zach Jesse and Luis Scott-Vargas

    Tim Aten vs. Matt Costa

    Tim Aten defeated Matt Costa in a three game set. After falling in the first game, Aten put the pressure on hard to start Game 2. Costa managed to "stabilize" at 2 life, but was unable to stop Aten's Elspeth Tirel.

    In the third game Costa went to the air with a Moltensteel Dragon, paying the full four life to be able to cast it. A Banishment Decree forced Costa to pay another four life to recast his dragon, which allowed Aten to burn him out with a Kuldotha Flamefiend and a Concussive Bolt.

    Tim Aten and Matt Costa

    Greg Jolin vs. Sam Friedman

    It looked like Greg Jolin was mere moments away from the Semifinals when his board consisted of a Hexplate Golem, a Flameborn Viron and a Tangle Angler equipped with a Grafted Exoskeleton that he had stolen with a Corrupted Conscience to Sam Friedman's six lands. However, this was not to be.

    Friedman lived through Jolin's attack by flashing in a Darksteel Sentinel, he then killed off Jolin's postcombat Silver Myr with a Blisterstick Shaman and moved his Grafted Exoskeleton onto his Darksteel Sentinel. The stolen Tangle Angler died as a result of Grafted Exoskeleton becoming unattached from it, and Friedman was able to swing in for lethal poison damage with his Darksteel Sentinel – moving onto the semifinals in dramatic fashion.

    Sam Friedman and Greg Jolin


     

  • Semifinals: Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Sam Friedman

    by Ben Swartz

  • Fresh off of his Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Nagoya last weekend, Luis Scott-Vargas clawed his way to the semifinals of Grand Prix Kansas City.

    His opponent, Sam Friedman, a breakout player from this event, drafted a Red Green Dinosaur deck, which faced off against LSV's Blue-Black deck.

    Game 1

    Both players kept their opening hands with Scott-Vargas making the first play of the game: Flayer Husk. Scott-Vargas followed that up with a Perilous Myr, while Friedman fetched up a third land with his Mycosynth Wellspring. Friedman played a Sword of Feast and Famine announcing that, "this card is unimpressive without creatures."

    Friedman's creature, Rot Wolf, got countered by Scott-Vargas's Stoic Rebuttal, which allowed Scott-Vargas to continue bringing the beats before using Despise to counter Friedman's Pith Driller.

    Friedman drew and played Carapace Forger stopping Scott-Vargas's beats momentarily, while both players were stuck on three lands.

    Friedman attempted to equip and attack with his Carapace Forger, but LSV quickly Vapor Snagged it. Scott-Vargas's two 1/1s had dealt ten damage by this point, but Scott-Vargas had a bigger game in mind: Sangromancer. Still stuck on three lands, Friedman had no play and LSV continued to add 3/3 fliers to the board, this time in Sky-Eel School. With no answers to the fliers Friedman quickly conceded.

    Luis Scott-Vargas 1 – Sam Friedman 0

    Friedman bemoaned about the tempo advantage that was afforded to LSV by the Vapor Snag—without it he felt that he could have won the game.

    Game 2

    Friedman chose to draw first for the second game and both players kept their opening hands. Scott-Vargas got a peek at Friedman's hand with a turn two Despise revealing that Friedman had no red cards to play with, just Rot Wolf, Maul Splicer, and Carapace Forger. Scott-Vargas took the Carapace Forger and followed his Despise up with a turn three Moriok Replica.

    The previously seen Rot Wolf from Friedman matched the Replica, and Friedman's fourth turn Thundering Tanadon got bounced by Scott-Vargas's Vapor Snag at end of turn – knocking Friedman down to eleven. Friedman recast the Thundering Tanadon falling to nine in the process, but LSV quickly Vapor Snagged it and attacked again, dropping Friedman to three.

    Friedman's draw step didn't yield anything useful and Scott-Vargas was headed to the Finals!

    Final Result:
    Louis Scott-Vargas 2 – Sam Friedman 0


     

  • Semifinals: Tim Aten vs. Yuuya Watanabe

    by Steve Sadin

  • "This is probably the best Moriok Reaver, Bloodshot Trainee, Kuldotha Ringleader deck I've ever seen," said Tim Aten. "But I guess it works for you."

    Game 1

    Tim Aten spent his first few turns casting an Auriok Edgewright, a Kemba's Skyguard, and a Mire sire while Yuuya Watanabe kicked things off with a Vault Skirge, a Pristine Talisman, a Kuldotha Ringleader and a Bloodshot Trainee.

    On his sixth turn Watanabe attacked in with his Kuldotha Ringleader and then cast a postcombat Ogre Resister.

    Aten used a Banishment Decree to keep his opponent's Kuldotha Ringleader off the board for a moment, but conceded when he failed to draw anything useful.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1 – Tim Aten 0

    Game 2

    Watanabe's turn two Porcelain Legionnaire got offed by Aten's Gremlin Mine, but the Japanese pro had a Moriok Reaver to replace it. Aten cast a Darksteel Myr, hoping to shut down his opponent's 3/2 – but Watanabe showed that he wasn't going to let Aten stop him that easily when he summoned a Hero of Oxid Ridge and attacked in for 8.

    At this point the crowd, composed largely of Aten's friends and teammates, started laughing hysterically.

    "Well, at least my 'friends' think this is funny..." quipped the affable Aten.

    Tim Aten

    Aten used a Red Sun's Zenith to take out the Hero of Oxid Ridge, but a Virulent Wound on Aten's Darksteel Myr allowed Watanabe to continue his attack. After combat Watanabe added a seemingly innocuous Bloodshot Trainee to his team.

    Aten let out an audible sigh before casting a Kuldotha Flamefiend without any artifacts to sacrifice. Trigon of Rage boosted Watanabe's Bloodshot Trainee to a 5/3, allowing him to shotgun Aten's Kuldotha Flamefiend.

    Aten needed to do something big, and he needed to do it quickly if he was going to get back into the game – and Elspeth Tirel seemed like it just might do the trick.

    Yuuya Watanabe

    Watanabe attacked, taking down a couple of Elspeth Tirel generated soldier tokens, and then cast a Saberclaw Golem. Aten had another big turn when he cast a Myr Sire, an Auriok Edgewright and a Divine Offering to take out Watanabe's Trigon of Rage.

    Watanabe attacked in with his team, and a well timed Go for the Throat left Aten with a myr token as his only creature. However, Aten was able to rebuild his board in the blink of an eye with an Elspeth Tirel activation, and a Kemba's Skyguard.

    Elspeth comes to Aten's rescue, but for how long?

    Watanabe continued gnawing away at Aten's resources, and a couple of big attacks and a Blisterstick Shaman later and Aten was forced to spend the final two counters on his Elspeth Tirel to generate three soldiers.

    Soon after Aten had used up his Planeswalker, Watanabe found a Sickleslicer which made his Bloodshot Trainee a 4/5. While Aten was able to play on for a few more turns, he never drew anything to deal with the fully powered goblin warrior.

    Final result Yuuya Watanabe 2 – Tim Aten 0


     

  • Finals: Luis Scott-Vargas vs. Yuuya Watanabe

    by Brian David-Marshall

  • Many people would be impressed with someone simply being awake at this point if they were in Luis Scott-Vargas' very well-traveled shoes. He was in Japan last weekend -- oh, by the way he made the Top 8 -- went to Seattle to play in the Magic Online Community Cup -- oh, by the way he led the Community to a Darksteel Relic-free future -- and now with barely a day to recover is in the Finals of Grand Prix Kansas City.

    Yuuya Watanabe knows a thing or two about traveling and winning himself. During his Player of the Year tear in 2009 he rattled off a string of finishes that would be make up a career worthy of envy for most Magic players in something like 2 months. If he could win this match he would tie LSV with three Grand Prix wins for his career. Prior to the match, LSV predicted that Watanabe would get there easily.

    Game 1

    This was a blistering game that started out with a Despise from LSV snagging the potentially backbreaking Hero of Oxid Ridge and a flurry of tempo from a pair of Vapor Snags putting Yuuya in a one game hole before anyone could even blink.

    Game 2

    Yuuya Watanabe led off the action with a turn two -- full price -- Vault Skirge while LSV made a Gold Myr. Watanabe stung it with Blisterstick shaman and nibbled for one damage in the air. Luis played Plague Myr but missed his third land drop. He took three from Watanabe who fortified his team with Bloodshot Trainee.

    Yuuya Watanabe

    Scott-Vargas found his third land and was able to play Dross Ripper leaving Watanabe to just attack for one in the air. He dug for a card with Phyrexian Rager. Scott-Vargas tapped mana to cast his Sangromancer so that he had Vapor Snag mana showing. Watanabe tested the waters with Go for the Throat on the black flier and Luis did have the Snag. Yuuya considered an alpha strike but ultimately just sent the flier over to ping for one and added the hard working but unspectacular Moriok Reaver to the ground stall.

    Luis replayed his Sangromancer and passed the turn. Watanabe played Kuldotha Ringleader and then things got interesting. Luis played Perilous Myr and braced for impact. Watanabe played Trigon of Rage and used it to pump his Trainee and attempted to kill the Sangromancer. Luis played Apostle's Blessing and gave it protection from red -- kind a pain in the toughness since the Ringleader was obligated to attack. Luis put his flier and the Perilous Myr in the way of the attacker and killed the Ringleader and the Moriok Reaver. He shot back up to 17 life when all was said and done and felt comfortable enough to attack with his flier and the Dross Ripper with a freshly played Neurok Replica on hand in case of an emergency.

    The score was 16 to 18 in favor of Yuuya when he played Reaper of Sheolred. LSV continued attacking in the air. When Watanabe attempted to use Bloodshot Trainee and Trigon at the end of the turn LSV had Grim Affliction to waste the Trigon activation.

    Yuuya sat back on his flier and passed the turn. He tried to trade the Skirge and a Trigon counter for the Sangromancer but LSV bounced it with the Neurok Replica. He added a Wing Splicer to the board.

    Skirge made a reappearance and LSV restocked his hand with Tezzeret's Gambit. Eventually the Sangromancer did trade with the Trigon'd Vault Skirge but LSV continued to fly in with his token. Yuuya got as low as seven before he played Carnifex Demon and took the game over. Luis had no answer and was dead in a couple of quick uneventful turns.

    Game 3

    Luis led off with Perilous Myr while Watanabe played Porcelain Legionnaire. Scott-Vargas followed up with Neurok Replica and attacked with both a turn later -- Watanabe's hand was devoid of action -- and they traded two drops . Luis paid four mana and drew two cards with Tezzeret's Gambit. Watanabe played a fourth land and just passed the turn.

    Luis Scott-Vargas

    Things were looking good for the PT Berlin Champion as he had some sideboard action in store for Watanabe. He played his Sangromancer and plugged in for one damage. Watanabe's second play of the game was a Saberclaw Golem. Luis was content to attack for three in the air and play Gold Myr.

    Blisterstick Shaman sat on the Gold Myr and Watanabe drew his first blood of the game attacking with the Golem. Yuuya fell to 5 on the next attack thanks to Twisted Image on the Replica for a surprising 3 additional points of damage. LSV had sided in the Twisted Image as a countermeasure to the Trigon of Rage.

    Yuuya shrugged and played Carnifex Demon but LSV had three blue untapped and it did not seem like the Japanese player expected it to resolve. LSV showed him the Stoic Rebuttal and Yuuya nodded. He played his seventh land and considered whether or not he should attack with either of his creatures. He decided to send in the Golem and leave Blisterstick back to block. LSV went to 12 and he showed Watanabe the Vapor Snag and attacked for the last four points of damage.

    Final result: Luis Scott-Vargas is your Grand Prix Kansas City Champion -- the fourth time he has hoisted a Grand Prix trophy in his amazing Magic career.


     

  • Five Cards That Mattered in KC

    by Brian David-Marshall and Steve Sadin


  • Vapor Snag

    If you blinked for a minute you would have missed Luis Scott-Vargas' blazingly fast win in game one of the finals. You need only look at the two copies of Vapor Snag in his graveyard to understand what transpired as the Pro Tour Berlin champion was able to keep the gas pedal pressed all the way down while clearing the path and sneaking in some extra life loss along the way. In the second game Vapor Snag was used defensively to protect the throat of his Sangromancer from an inconvenient removal spell. In game three it provided the clear path for the killing blow with his opponent at five, four points of attackers, and one nervous looking chump blocker that was bounced to Yuuya Watanabe's hand.



    Pith Driller

    When New Phyrexia hit stores a couple of weeks ago, Pith Driller was just another card. Sure you would play it in your draft deck, but it wasn’t the kind of thing that you would go out of your way to take. Now it’s regarded as one of the top commons in the set.



    Soul Conduit

    Don't go drafting this card highly or anything but it was a lesson in card evaluation during the first draft when Owen Turtenwald went 2-1 with a blue-black deck that he was not happy to have drafted. He did have Life's Finale but the rest of the deck could be described as awkward at best. Realizing that he was going to be taking a beating from his opponents early he decided to play the Treasure Mage-able Soul Conduit as a way to regain lost ground. The card won him multiple games -- some by virtue of it being a card players had no experience against -- and he got people to reevaluating a card that most pros had relegated to the stone-cold unplayable pile in their draft experience. Do not be surprised if you see someone trying to get the Trespassing Souleater/Soul Conduit combo on in an 8-4 draft sometime in the near future.



    Blighted Agent

    While many players have intentionally chosen to shy away from blue, white, and red infect creatures, other players have chosen to embrace them. And with great success, I might add. Yuuya Watanabe needed to 3-0 his second draft pod in order to make it to the Top 8. He was able to pull off this feat while piloting a Blue-Black Infect deck full of proliferate, and equipment. In some games, Watanabe would get in a couple of early hits with his Blighted Agent, and then grind his opponent out with Throne of Geth activations – in other games, Watanabe simply made his Blighted Agent into a unblockable three power infector which he would use to make short work of his hapless opponent.

    Twisted Image

    Twisted Image

    Twisted Image is the kind of card that players typically use to marginal effect in Limited. When it does end up in a player’s deck, it usually gets cycled in search of an extra land or used to punch through an extra couple of damage in an already aggressive deck. But in the hands of a skilled player it can do so much more.

    In the second game of the finals, Yuuya Watanabe was able to dominate play thanks to his combination of Bloodshot Trainee and Trigon of Rage. Before he began the final game of the tournament, Luis Scott-Vargas looked through his sideboard for a way to mitigate the effectiveness of his opponent’s power-enhancing artifacts, and he found Twisted Image.

    While Scott-Vargas didn’t end up getting the favorable interaction against Trigon of Rage that he was looking for when he boarded in his Twisted Image, he was still able to use it to great effect – sneaking in an extra three points of damage with his Neurok Replica – a play that caused the normally stoic Watanabe to let out an audible squeak.

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