Sugaya Dominates Manila!

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Again the Faeries came, but this time, they did not conquer. Sugaya Hironobu was one of two Kithkin players entering this star-studded top 8 amid a swarm of the Fae, and despite being severely outnumbered, he lined them up and knocked them down. And the crowds, oh the crowds. They were the most enthusiastic I think I’ve I have ever seen at a Magic event. From chanting the name of the semifinalist and local favorite, Luis Magisa, to the heartfelt cheers during the award ceremony, this was an event we’ll all remember for a long time to come.

And looking ahead to the new standard format once Shards of Alara hits the scene, it looks like Faeries will be leading the way, which will probably surprise nobody, but by the looks of things, the Kithkin may well give them a good run for their money. Then again, who knows what Shards will bring? Keep it locked here at Magicthegathering.com and I’m sure we’ll all know soon enough.




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Magisa, Luis Antonio   Luis Magisa, 2-1        
8 Lim, Wai Keat Ken   Shouta Yasooka, 2-0
       
4 Yasooka, Shouta   Shouta Yasooka, 2-1   Hironobu Sugaya, 2-1
5 Levy, Raphael    
       
2 Kaneko, Masami   Shingou Kurihara, 2-1
7 Kurihara, Shingou   Hironobu Sugaya, 2-1
       
3 Ootsuka, Koutarou   Hironobu Sugaya, 2-1
6 Sugaya, Hironobu    

EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Hironobu Sugaya $4,000
 2.  Shouta Yasooka $3,000
 3.  Luis Magisa $2,000
 4.  Shingou Kurihara $2,000
 5.  Masami Kaneko $1,500
 6.  Koutarou Ootsuka $1,500
 7.  Raphael Levy $1,500
 8.  Wai Keat Ken Lim $1,500
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Sunday, August 31: 9.10 a.m. – Round 9 Ken Lim vs Makihito Mihara
    by Noel Neo

  • Going into day 2, only 3 players remain undefeated. They are the two players facing off here, alongside Ralf Santos.

    Ken of Malaysia is clearly the underdog in this round, with Makihito being the 2006 World Champion, while he flew to Manila without any byes and only picked them up at the grinders on Friday.

    Game 1

    The game was a close damage race that hinged on a Mistbind Clique tussle, but one in which Ken eventually edged away due to the card advantage he started the game with (Makihito mulliganed down to 6 cards), alongside some very powerful top decks.

    The jostling for board supremacy started with Makihito’s Scion of Oona meeting Broken Ambitions, but Makihito was determined to set the pace of the game and drew first blood by attacking with Mutavault.

    A Thoughtseize from Makihito revealed Nameless Inversion, Cryptic Command, Mistbind Clique, Broken Ambitions and two lands, and he took the creature kill before proceeding to have his land beat at Ken.

    However, Ken was quite the ‘miser’ and dropped Bitterblossom the very next turn, eliciting a wry smile from Makihito. Ken had now cast Makihito as the beatdown deck in this mirror match, posing the question if Makihito could deal him enough damage before the card advantage generated by Bitterblossom won the game.

    The Mistbind Clique Ken played the following turn threatened to end the game for Makihito, but Makihito had an answer in Broken Ambitions. Ken wasn’t too frustrated about the counter though, as the clash revealed a second Mistbind Clique at the top of this deck. Amazingly, the subsequent turn repeated this sequence of events exactly. That’s three Mistbind Cliques in a row!

    Mistbind Clique finally resolved, but Makihito was able to float mana into draw, turn Mutavault into a creature, and play a Mistbind Clique of his own. But when Ken swung, Makihito blocked a token and played right into the Nameless Inversion Ken had drawn.

    Makihito still had outs however, and took Mistbind Clique with Sower of Temptation. This was where Ken’s Cryptic Command came in useful, as he returned the Clique to his hand and drew a card.

    Makihito’s attempt to get back into the game with Bitterblossom failed as Spellstutter Sprite came into play, but Ken’s own Bitterblossom was ticking down his life and he had to catch up by swinging with everything he had to tie the life totals at 5.

    The replayed Mistbind Clique met a mirror from Makihito, but that was sufficient for Ken to bring Makihito within range of lethal damage in two turns with Broken Ambitions on the ready for any shenanigans his opponent could attempt.

    Game 2

    Makihito took the lead in the damage race again, by laying Mutavault on turn 1 and attacking on turn 2. However, he soon spluttered out as he stalled on lands and Ken played the game breaking Bitterblossom. Makihito lost even more ground as a Spellstutter Sprite was allowed into play, only to be Peppersmoke‘d at the end of turn.

    Ken’s Vendillion Clique revealed Sower of Temptation, Peppersmoke, Thoughtseize, and twin Jace Beleren and Bitterblossom, from which he chose Sower of Temptation. This showed that Makihito’s problem was not so much mana screw as colour screw, but the swamp he drew off Vendillion Clique came too late as his last hope was fizzled by Spellstutter Sprite.

    Ken wins 2-0 and remains undefeated.

    In the post-mortem, Ken mentions that the only reason he came was to accompany a friend who had 3 byes. He attributes his performance to having four copies of Peppersmoke mainboard, which he says is really good in this aggro format and at worst cycles itself. Well, perhaps that... but having his luck certainly helps too.



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 10:13a.m. – Round 10: Terry Soh vs Ogie Jaro
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

  • It gets to the point where, if you have a card with your face on it, you don’t need an introduction. So it is with Terry Soh, who has not only a Pro Player card, but a Magic card as well, Rakdos Augermage. Ogie Jaro is a successful Magic player in his own right too, having represented the Philippines at the 2006 World Champs in Paris.

    When Soh’s first play was a Vivid Creek, my heart jumped for joy, he wasn’t playing Faeries! A common misconception is that to do well in this format, you need to be playing either Faeries, or Kithkin, as Jaro seemed to be, when he started the game with back to back to Goldmeadow Stalwarts. Soh’s five color control deck, usually described at Quick ‘n’ Toast, defended early with a Kitchen Finks as Jaro poured more and more men onto the board. A Broken Ambitions from Soh stopped Jaro’s attempt to Unmake the Finks, and it looked like he was making very little headway on Soh’s position. A Firespout cleared the board, and a second Kitchen Finks came into play.

    Jaro wasn’t out yet though, as his land base now featured a pair of Mutavaults, while a Spectral Procession filled out the rest of his board. When he attacked again with his three flying spirits, a Cloudthresher came down and threatened to wipe them out. With the ‘Thresher’s come into play ability on the stack, he Mirrorweaved it, making his three attackers 7/7 monstrosities. Suddenly Soh had lost what had seemed to be a game he couldn’t lose.

    Jaro attacks for 3... Soh taps out for the Cloudthresher... Mirrorweave baby, yeah!

    After a Mulligan in Game 2, Jaro then stumbled on his land drops and found his Figure of Destiny eaten by a surprise Plumeveil. Meanwhile, Soh was tearing ahead on the card count, evoking and then getting back a Mulldrifter with a Makeshift Mannequin, and keeping his life total up with a Kitchen Finks. Jaro removed the Plumeveil with an Unmake, but Soh then just cleared the board with an Austere Command, electing to destroy all small men and artifacts, so he would keep his Mulldrifter. The Kitchen Finks did what they do best of course, and persisted, bumping Soh life total up another notch.

    Jaro played another Spectral Procession, and then ran them into the Mulldrifter, enabling his Windbrisk Heights, which gave him an Archon of Justice. Soh had the Broken Ambitions though, ensuring it wouldn’t be an issue. Feeling safe, Soh attacked back with his Finks and ‘Drifter, and followed that up with additional copies of each. Jaro gummed up his board with a Cloudgoat Ranger. Soh attacked back, but this time with only the newest Finks. On Jaro’s turn, the Cloudgoat then took to the air, and traded with the two Mulldrifters. Now getting low on life, Jaro was forced to block one of the incoming Finks with a Goldmeadow Stalwart. Down to only one creature with several tokens left on Jaro’s side of the table, Soh reset the board again, this time with a Hallowed Burial. Another Cloudgoat Ranger met a Broken Ambitions, while Jaro got in for two with a Mutavault. He then played a paltry Burrenton Forge-Tender while Soh made yet another Mulldrifter and his third Kitchen Finks. Unable to overcome Soh’s mountain of cards, Jaro picked up his cards for Game 3.

    Soh had a turn three Firespout to trip up Jaro’s early assault, and refilled his hand with an evoked Mulldrifter. Jaro just played out more guys, threatening to finish the game quickly. An evoked Shriekmaw took out a Burrenton Forge-Tender, and the remaining Knight of Meadowgrain duo were nerfed by a Runed Halo. A Spectral Procession met another Firespout, and a third ‘Spout cleared out what was left of Jaro’s gas. Soh played a Kitchen Finks and an Oona, Queen of the Fae. Jaro replied in kind with back to back Archon of Justice. Oona coughed up some chump blockers, because Soh certainly didn’t want those Archons going to the graveyard any time soon, while Jaro continued to drop the big guns with a Cloudgoat Ranger.

    Soh thought about his next play, before deciding to Primal Command Jaro’s Windbrisk Heights to the top of his library, and tutored up a Mulldrifter. With his remaining mana, he Oona’d for two, milling the Heights and an Unmake, to which Jaro threw up his hands in exasperation. A Runed Halo came down on the Archons and the Faerie tokens traded with the Cloudgoat Ranger. More Faeries traded with the Soldier tokens, and it looked like a stand off would develop, if not for the fact that Oona was now attacking Jaro’s library directly, milling him for up to 8 cards a turn. Jaro finally found an Unmake for the Legend, but he was left with only two cards in his library. Time was called in Soh’s turn, and he counted the turns, before nodding with a smile. Jaro was going to lose to being unable to draw a card in the very last of the extra turns. Jaro attacked with his Archons anyway, and tried to Mirrorweave them to get around the Runed Halo, but Soh showed him a Cryptic Command.

    Terry Soh defeats Ogie Jaro 2-1



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 11:55a.m. – Round 11: Found! ...and then lost again
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

  • Yesterday, in the Photo Essay, I mentioned the number of things people were misplacing that were ending up on the stage alongside my laptop, be they dice, decks or other miscellaneous items of interest. While we were out for dinner last night, one of the judges received a text message from a player. Apparently he’d seen his small, blue dice container in the coverage and wanted to know if he could get it back! However, when he came up to collect them today, he somehow managed to leave his deck box behind on one of the PTQ tables. Thankfully, after a few moments of panic, it was still there waiting for him on where he’d left it.

    Mark Arriola needs to more careful with his belongings


     
  • Saturday, August 30: 11.24 a.m. – Round 11 Shingou Kurihara vs Tsuyoshi Ikeda
    by Noel Neo

  • Tsuyoshi Ikeda
    Tsuyoshi recently made the top 8 at Grand Prix Kobe with this very deck, while Shingou has been making a name for himself on the Asia ex Japan circuit, with his 1st runner up finishes at Grand Prix Singapore and Grand Prix Bangkok in 2007. Old friends, the two players chatted happily as they waited for the round to start.

    Tsuyoshi won the die roll and had to mulligan his first hand. As he was shuffling up however, he heard a very welcome announcement, “players, please stop what you are doing and check the board for your re-pairings”.

    Though a judge popped by to say that they were still paired against each other, it meant that they had to shuffle up again and draw back up to 7 cards. This was when the players burst out laughing. In between guffaws, Tsuyoshi explained that they had also met in a feature match at Grand Prix Kobe, where they were also re-paired against one another.

    Game 1

    The game started slowly, a bad sign for Tsuyoshi who is playing the aggressive Elemental Red deck against Shingou’s Faeries. The first play was Smokebraider on turn 4, after which Mutavault swung into Shingou.

    Shingou quickly capitalised on his opponent being tapped out to play Scion of Oona end of turn, followed by another on his turn, making all his faeries untargetable.

    Shingou Kurihara
    Though Tsuyoshi had a strong turn in which he played Vexing Shusher and made Mutavault a creature before casting Rage Forger and swinging into Shingou, it wasn’t quite enough as Shingou’s Sower of Temptations hit play and stole Vexing Shusher. This caused Tsuyoshi to think long and hard as Sower of Temptations was a titanic 4/4, which none of his creatures could take down.

    Eventually, he settled on Intimidator Initiate, targeting Shingou with Flame Javelin and choosing Vexing Shusher to gain the inability to block, before swinging in for all he was worth. However, Shingou was able to very coolly block Rage Forger, untap, remove Intimidator Initiate with Nameless Inversion, make Mutavault a creature, and swing back for a fatal 15 points of damage.

    Game 2

    Tsuyoshi stumbled on his opening, only managing Flamekin Harbinger before stalling on 1 land even after (or perhaps because of) mulliganing twice. Shingou had a much better start with Bitterblossom on turn 2 and Peppersmoke for the Harbinger.

    When Mistbind Clique followed, Tsuyoshi had just found his second land and knew it was all over.

    Shingou wins 2-0.



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 12:26p.m. – Round 12: Elliot Que vs Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • I had to struggle through a huge crowd of players just to make it to the feature match area. “I have many fans” Elliot Que informed me with smile. Although between you and me, I suspect many of them were pretty keen to see Shuuhei Nakamura play, too.

    Que had a Nameless Inversion for Nakamura’s Stonybrook Banneret, and a Broken Ambitions for his Chameleon Colossus. However, Nakamura’s Sygg, River Guide and Mutavault were swinging in, unscathed. When Que went for a Scion of Oona at the end of turn, Nakamura had a Nameless Inversion of his own. Stuck on four land, Que could only groan and pass the turn back. When he tried for another Scion, Nakamura this time countered it with a Cryptic Command. A Vendilion Clique came down during Nakamura’s draw step, and it looked like Que had finally scored a hit, sending a Chameleon Colossus to the bottom of Nakamura’s deck. Unfortunately for Que, he didn’t have a way of stopping Sygg from continuing to wander over with the Mutavault. A Sower of Temptation came down on the Clique, and Que scooped up his cards.

    Shuuhei Nakamura finally has the elbowroom needed to really give his deck a good shuffle

    As the players were sideboarding for Game 2, the pairings went up for the next round in the PTQ, and the crowds around the feature match area thinning out significantly, lettings us finally breath first-hand air again.

    Que mulliganed to six, and furrowed his brow over his next hand before finally keeping it. His second draw step revealed the second land he needed to play his Bitterblossom, while Nakamura replied with a Silvergill Adept. Que’s third draw step didn’t bring him a third land however, but he did have the Spellstutter Sprite to stop Nakamura’s Stonybrook Banneret. The Adept was held back by the growing Faerie army, while they in turn began to swing in through the air. Nakamura cleared the way with a Firespout for Green, but before the Adept could finally get through, Que dropped it with a Nameless Inversion. Que was still stuck on two land, and flying in the face of a Potential Broken Ambitions, Nakamura tapped out for a Chameleon Colossus. Que didn’t have the Ambitions, and could only hiss through his teeth.

    Elliot Que proves that Faeries doesn’t always win
    Finally he found his third land, and took a look at Nakamura’s hand with a Vendilion Clique. “Nice hand you’ve got there!” was all he could say, before sending away another Chameleon Colossus, leaving a pair of Cloudthreshers, A Sygg, River Guide, a Nameless Inversion and a Cryptic Command. The Colossus came over for 4, and when Que tried for another Vendilion Clique, Nakamura this time expended his Command to stop it. Que finally found the fourth land he needed to drop a Mistbind Clique during Nakamura’s upkeep. He waited for Que to champion a Faerie token, before throwing a pair of Nameless Inversions at it. The Colossus then swung through to take the match.

    Shuuhei Nakamura defeats Elliot Que 2-0



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 12:26p.m. – Round 13: Deck Tech with Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • Four weeks ago at Grand Prix Kobe, we approached loveable rogue Shuuhei Nakamura for a quick word about his interesting Merfolk deck. Unlike the purely Blue/White Merfolk decks that had been rattling around Standard for the last few months, Nakamura and his chums had gone to town on his mana base, adding Black for Bitterblossom, Nameless Inversion and Peppersmoke. When quizzed about this, Nakamura revealed that the deck had actually started out Black and White, and the Blue had been added later. The key interaction being around Bitterblossom and Mirror Entity. Sadly, he didn’t do as well as he had hoped, and finished a disappointing 56th.

    Fast forward to the following week, and Kenny Castor finished fourth at Grand Prix Denver with a similar deck, this one instead running Chameleon Colossus over Bitterblossom, perhaps drawing inspiration from the Blue/Green Merfolk designs proffered by Paulo Vitor Damo de Rosa back when Eventide was released.

    Shuuhei Nakamura shows us his take on Kenny Castor’s version of his Merfolk deck

    When Nakamura saw this list, he knew immediately that it was an improvement on his Merfolk build, and assembled it for use here in Manila this weekend. While the maindeck remains largely untouched, Nakamura adjusted the sideboard to suit his tastes.

    “Colossus is so good versus everything!” he told me, but went on to say that he was never happy with how the more controlling Quick ‘n’ Toast builds play out. However, given more time to test the deck, Nakamura admitted he would have made several changes. Apparently the Reejereys, Sage’s Dousings and Crib Swaps were very underwhelming for him, and he’s found that he sideboards in the Jaces, Firespouts and Recumbent Blisses more often than not.

    With two rounds to go, Nakamura is only two wins off adding another Top 8 to his name. Can he take the Merfolk all the way this time? Stay tuned and we shall see!



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 1.32 p.m. – Round 13 Terry Soh vs Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Noel Neo

  • The two veteran Pros wasted little time on niceties and briskly got into the thick of things.

    Shuuhei hesitated before keeping his opening hand, the reason for which was soon revealed as he stalled on one land. Perhaps he felt he had a decent chance of drawing into a land as Terry had opted to play.

    The game rapidly deteriorated for Shuuhei as a Runed Halo (naming Chameleon Colossus), then twin Kitchen Finks hit play for Terry, as Shuuhei struggled to find his second land.

    When Shuuhei finally found his land and played Silvergill Adept, the merfolk merely fed Shriekmaw. The Adept’s companion was a little too late as Terry had long reached critical mass.

    Game 2

    This game revealed that the matchup is all about the card drawing. By virtue of mainboard alone, Shuuhei has the upperhand. Throw in the sideboard of Jace Beleren against Terry’s Oona’s Blessing, then you have all the makings of inevitability.

    Nonetheless, the inevitability was long in the making as Terry’s turn 2 Thoughtseize took Merrow Reejerey from amongst Oona, Queen of the Fae, Cloudthresher, Sage’s Dousing, Merrow Reejerey, Mirror Entity and land.

    A quick scuffle for early damage ensued as Shuuhei negated the Plumeveil standing in the way of Mirror Entity with Recumbent Bliss. However, Terry’s Cryptic Command, which netted him a card, elicited a wince from Shuuhei.

    Terry replayed Plumeveil into Sage’s Dousing when Shuuhei next attacked, signalling the possibility of wanting to resolve a more important spell on his turn. But he merely passed and returned the defender with Makeshift Mannequin during combat. Shuuhei allowed combat to go against him, choosing to spend the turn playing Stonybrook Banneret and Jace Beleren instead.

    Shuuhei defended his Planeswalker from the threatening Kitchen Finks with Crib Swap, while a pair of his Bannerets met with Firespout. However, with the obscene amount of cards he was drawing, Shuuhei was able to recover very quickly with a pair of Silvergill Adepts.

    The game soon settled into a predictable pattern with Shuuhei drawing two cards then having both players draw a card, and repeating the whole sequence again. The monotony was broken with Shuuhei playing Merrow Reejerey, to which Terry responded with his own card drawing spell – Oona’s Grace.

    This was when the tempo begun to pick up with Kitchen Finks for Terry and Stonybrook Banneret allowing Shuuhei to target Plumeveil and break the hold of Makeshift Mannequin. Fortunately Terry had a second Makeshift Mannequin, which allowed Kitchen Finks and Plumeveil to take down the attacking Adepts, before Shuuhei used Chameleon Colossus to break the hold of Makeshift Mannequin a second time.

    Terry tried to stay in the game with Hallowed Burial, but Shuuhei just dropped another Chameleon Colossus. Terry’s last play of the game was a Thoughtseize, just to check out Shuuhei’s hand, before he conceded.

    Game 3

    This game was relatively quick as Shuuhei had Jace Beleren in play by turn 3, with Silvergill Adept to defend the Planeswalker from Kitchen Finks. More defenders in the form of Stonybrook Banneret and a second Adept followed, but Terry posed a different question in the form of Archon of Justice.

    Shuuhei had the perfect answer for that too, with Crib Swipe and a very threatening Chameleon Colossus.

    Terry’s Thoughtseize revealed a hand full of goodness: Reflecting Pool, Oona, Queen of the Fae, Stonybrook Banneret, Cloudthresher, Jace Beleren and Cryptic Command, from which Terry chose to take the Command.

    Hallowed Burial cleared the board, but Shuuhei continued to take huge chucks out of Terry’s life total with an end of turn Cloudthresher. Terry trend warily around Sage’s Dousing by invoking Shriekmaw, and rightfully so, as his following Kitchen Finks was countered by said spell.

    In spite of having his attack blunted, Shuuhei continued to race against the clock with his Banneret and Mutavault.

    Terry then cast a flurry of answers with Makeshift Mannequin for Shriekmaw taking out Stonybrook Banneret, then Hallowed Burial removing Oona, Queen of the Fae, and Runed Halo guarding against Mutavault.

    Shuuhei’s next threat was Mirror Entity, which he brought into play with Sage’s Dousing countering Cryptic Command. However when he attacked and activated for the lethal 6 points, a second Cryptic Command bounced it back to his hand and Terry had Hallowed Burial when he replayed it.

    The end game came when Shuuhei casted Merrow Reejerey and Stonybrook Banneret, with Cryptic Command and Sage’s Dousing in support. Unable to stop the merfolk, Terry could only watch as a shot at the top 8 slipped away from him.

    Shuuhei Nakamura wins 2-1.



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 12:26p.m. – Round 14: Shingou Kurihara vs Chikara Nakajima
    by Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

  • Chikara Nakajima looking to the Chameleon Club for support
    Nobody likes being in this position, friends needing to win out for the top 8 and being paired against each other. Both players are no stranger to the top 8 stage either, but to make matters worse, while Shingou Kurihara is in with a win, Chikara Nakajima could end up in ninth or tenth place if he wins. Nakajima gave some thought to conceding to his friend, but between them they decided it was worth playing out, as Nakajima’s chances weren’t bad enough to write them off outright.

    They wished each other “good luck!” with a laugh before looking at their opening hands. Kurihara wasted no time in throwing his back for a better six, before leading with an Island. Was he fishing for the turn two Bitterblossom draw? If he was, he didn’t hit it, only having a Mutavault on turn two. Nakajima went for a Thoughtseize off of a Vivid Grove, but Kurihara had a Spellstutter Sprite. His next turn, he had the Thoughtseize for Nakajima, who was stuck on two lands, choosing to take the Nameless Inversion over two Doran, the Siege Tower, two Chameleon Colossus, a Scarblade Elite and a Profane Command. When Nakajima failed to find a third land before Kurihara started dropping back to back Mistbind Cliques, they were very quickly on to Game 2.

    Shingou Kurihara flies into yet another Grand Prix Top 8
    This time Nakajima threw away his opening seven, and before looking at his next six, donned his peppermint green “Chameleon Club” shirt for good luck. He didn’t have a Thoughtseize in his first few turns, but Kurihara didn’t have a turn two Bitterblossom either, and could only end of turn a Spellstutter Sprite when Nakajima played a third turn Doran. Things improved suddenly for Kurihara, who had found a Sunken Ruins to allow him to play a Thoughtseize, taking a Cloudthresher and leaving Nakajima with another three land, and then powering out the infamous Bitterblossom. Then came down a Sower of Temptation, taking Nakajima’s topdecked Scarblade Elite. The Elite chump blocking the Doran, while the Faeries started gathering in the Red Zone.

    Nakajima found and played a Stillmoon Cavalier, and was pleasantly surprised when Kurihara allowed it to resolve, instead choosing to flash in a Scion of Oona at the end of turn. Nakajima was facing a fair amount of damage in the air, especially when his Doran was powering down his Cavalier. During his next upkeep, a Consign to Dream “time walked” Nakajima by throwing his Doran on top of his library. The Faeries swung in again, the Cavalier having to chump block the 3/3 Sower. Content to sit on his mana with a Faerie Token defending the base from Doran, Kurihara calmly passed the turn back. Nakajima drew his card, gave it some thought and steamrolled over that Faerie Token, before packing up his cards with a chuckle.

    Shingou Kurihara defeats Chikara Nakajima 2-0



     
  • Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Kaneko Masami
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Koutarou Ootsuka
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Shouta Yasooka
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Raphael Levy
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Hironobu Sugaya
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Shingou Kurihara
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8

    Ken Lim
    Grand Prix Manila 2008 - Top 8



     
  • Top 8 Profiles
    by Event Coverage Staff

  • Name: Luis Antonio Magisa

    Age: 26

    Home town: Las Piñas City, Philippines

    Occupation: Anti-Malware Engineer

    Best Magic accomplishment: Top 8 Magic Gold Rush 2007

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: Graduation

    What deck did you play? Kithkin

    Why? Fast to win and long break time (fast to lose, too)


    Name: Masami Kaneko

    Age: 23

    Home town: Japan

    Occupation: Neo-meet!

    Best Magic accomplishment: Kurouto Cup Champion!

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: I won Shingou Kurihara

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? No Faerie, no deck!


    Name: Koutarou Ootsuka

    Age: 25

    Home town: Japan

    Occupation: Bell Counter

    Best Magic accomplishment: Big Cup Champion

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: (left blank)

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? No Faerie, no deck.


    Name: Shouta Yasooka

    Age: 24

    Home town: Kobuchi, Japan

    Occupation: NEET

    Best Magic accomplishment: Kurouto Cup Champion

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: Nothing

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? This is (the) best deck.


    Name: Raphael Levy

    Age: 26

    Home town: Toulouse, France

    Occupation: Yes!

    Best Magic accomplishment: Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: Made it to Manila after 3 days on a white sand beach in Bohol

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? I wanted to play Faeries, I asked around GP Copenhagen and Sebastian Thaler gave me his decklist, claiming it’s the best deck in the format... So BIG THANKS to Sebastian! And special thoughts and kisses for Emilie and Marzena, Kik, Greg and Elric. Tous NAC! =)


    Name: Hironobu Sugaya

    Age: 29

    Home town: Chiba, Japan

    Occupation: Engineer

    Best Magic accomplishment: Y’s draft 3-0 (only once)

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: None

    What deck did you play? Kithkin

    Why? I want to use original tokens.


    Name: Shingou Kurihara

    Age: 25

    Home town: Kuma-House (Japan?)

    Occupation: Level 8 Magic Player

    Best Magic accomplishment: I Won Kaneko Masami

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: I Won Kaneko Masami

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? Kumatty said “Faerie is best”


    Name: Ken Lim

    Age: 25

    Home town: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    Occupation: IT Network Engineer

    Best Magic accomplishment: 5th place, National Champs (I would have thought flying over to Manila with no byes, winning a Trial, going undefeated on day one and then making the top 8 of the Grand Prix would have been worth a mention, myself – blisterguy)

    Best non-Magic accomplishment: (left blank)

    What deck did you play? Faeries

    Why? I think it is the best deck.




     
  • Saturday, August 30: 3.45 p.m. – Quarterfinals: Shouta Yasooka vs Raphael Levy
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

  • Both players wished each other “good luck!” with a hearty hand shake, none of this weak-wrist’d wet-fish hand shaking here, these guys are manly men. Neither Raphael Levy nor Shouta Yasooka are strangers to the top 8 stage of the Grand Prix circuit, or even the Pro Tour for that matter. Unfortunately for us, both Levy and Yasooka, and most of the players in the top 8 for that matter, are playing Faeries. This could get a little confusing to follow, so bare with me.

    Levy won the roll and elected to play first. Neither player played a Bitterblossom on their second turn. It seemed that Levy had wanted to leave his mana open to threaten a Broken Ambitions instead, however Yasooka declined to take the bait, and passed the turn back. Safe from Yasooka’s Ambitions, Levy dropped his Bitterblossom into play on his third turn. With Levy’s shields now down, Yasooka naturally matched it with one of his own.

    Both players then settled into a routine of “make a Faerie, play a land, go” for a few turns, before starting to trade Peppersmokes in an effort to gain tempo, and fighting over them with Spellstutter Sprites. You’d think they’d had the exact same draw, if not for the fact that Levy had failed to play any land after his fourth, allowing Yasooka to win the Peppersmoke-off with a Broken Ambitions.

    Faerie Tokens tentatively took to the Red Zone, with both players pondering the ramifications of taking any more damage than they already were from their Bitterblossoms. Yasooka was the first to use unreasonable force, attempting a Scion of Oona to effectively counter a Nameless Inversion. Levy considered his play, before letting the Scion resolve. He untapped and played another Nameless Inversion, this time on the Scion, who threatened to blow the game open if unanswered. Yasooka went for a Broken Ambitions, but was trumped by the same from Levy. Yasooka untapped, Peppersmoked Levy’s blocker, and player a backup Scion. Levy could only raise his eyebrows and pick up his cards for Game 2.

    Shouta Yasooka calmly riding his Mistbind Clique to victory

    Levy began Game 2 by swinging with a Mutavault as soon as he could. On his third turn, he probed with a Thoughtseize, seeing Jace Beleren, Scion of Oona, Cryptic Command, Broken Ambitions and two land. He began arranging the four non-land cards into piles, before finally selecting Jace. Whether he had the Bitterblossom or not, he decided not to walk it into the Ambitions and instead attacked again with the Mutavault.

    On his fifth turn, after Levy had left off with the attacking, Yasooka went for a Thoughtseize. Levy tapped all but one land in response to play a Mistbind Clique. Yasooka allowed the Clique to resolve, but when Levy went to animate the Mutavault, he Cryptic Commanded it back to Levy’s hand, forcing him to sacrifice his Clique. The Thoughtseize revealed the remaining two cards in Levy’s hands to be Swamps. Seeing the coast was now clear, Yasooka then played a Mistbind Clique of his own, echoing Levy’s decision to Champion a Mutavault.

    With his excess of land, Levy’s Stillmoon Cavalier off the top looked good, but Yasooka still had that Broken Ambitions and wasted no time playing it for four, tapping Levy out but failing to actually counter the Cavalier. Yasooka swung back with his Clique and another Mutavault, thumbing the Bitterblossom in his hand, but deciding to pass the turn back with four mana open instead, perhaps considering himself low enough on life already. After much deliberation, Levy animated his Mutavault and attacked in for another 2, dropping Yasooka even lower and leaving the Cavalier open to defend against the Clique.

    Yasooka attacked back with a pair of Mutavaults and the Clique, pushing Levy into a corner. He moved his Cavalier around in front of Yasooka’s attackers, mulling over his options, deciding to take down a Mutavault with the some First Strike action from the Cavalier. Yasooka thought about it for a moment, before going in for the kill with a Nameless Inversion on his Clique. Levy Punished him with a Peppersmoke, untapped and evening up the match at one apiece with a Scion of Oona to capitalize on the early damage from his Mutavault.

    Yasooka led with a pair of Islands in Game 3, after Levy mulliganed to six. Levy again settled into attacking early and often with his Mutavault, which allowed Yasooka to get a Jace Beleren into play and upping it’s loyalty count, giving both players a card and keeping it out of range of the Mutavault. Levy then went for a Thoughtseize, seeing two Broken Ambitions, two Nameless Inversions and a Peppersmoke, eventually deciding on the one of the Inversions. He then dropped a Bitterblossom, but could only cry “blargh!” when Yasooka untapped and matched it with one of his own. Levy shifted uneasily in his chair, before playing his fourth land and saying “nice draw” with a grin. He attacked with his Mutavault, and passed the turn back, electing to Nameless Inversion Yasooka’s Spellstutter Sprite when he ended without play. Yasooka had the Scion to stop it, of course, which elicited more groaning from Levy.

    Levy went for a Mistbind Clique during Yasooka’s upkeep, trying to make the most of a what appeared to be a bad situation. Yasooka calmly brushed it aside with a Broken Ambitions, causing both players to chuckle. Jace was certainly feeding Yasooka the goods in the game. After Levy spent some time deliberating whether to clash another Bitterblossom away or not (he kept it), Yasooka sent his Spellstutter Sprite and a Faerie Token over to wrestle with him, who wasted no time in pointing a Peppersmoke at Yasooka’s Scion. Yasooka countered it with another Broken Ambitions, and Levy chumped with his two Faeries.

    Levy untapped, and tried to steal the Scion with a Sower of Temptation. Figuring if he couldn’t have it, nobody could, Yasooka knocked out his Scion with a Peppersmoke. Levy played the second ‘Blossom and passed it back. With Levy tapped out, Yasooka played the last card in his hand, a Mind Spring for five. Realizing he wasn’t going to win the battle of attrition, Levy animated both of his Mutavaults and went for the throat, getting in some extra damage by dropping a Scion of Oona after no blockers were declared.

    Raphael Levy attacking with his trusty Mutavaults

    However, it was not to be.Yasooka played a Mistbind Clique during Levy’s next upkeep. Levy floated seven mana, drew his card and activated his Mutavault seven times. Yasooka flashed him the Cryptic Command that would tap down his blockers, and Levy could only grimace and pick up his cards.

    Shouta Yasooka defeats Raphael Levy 2-1



     
  • Saturday, August 30: 3.45 p.m. – Quarterfinals Ken Lim vs Luis Antonio Magisa
    by Noel Neo

  • Ken and Luis are both underdogs in the top 8.

    As highlighted in the swiss round feature matches, Ken came to Manila without a single bye, yet won the very first grinder he participated in and went on to finish day 1 undefeated.

    Similarly, Luis came to this event without a significant top 8 under his belt, yet finished the swiss rounds at the top of chart. Magisa means ‘alone’ in Tagalog, an apt name for the sole Filipino in the top 8.

    Game 1

    Ken led with Ponder and Bitterblossom, against Luis’s Figure of Destiny and Wizened Cenn. Without an answer to a grown Figure of Destiny in hand, Ken blocked Figure of Destiny with a faerie token, then chose to Broken Ambition Goldmeadow Stalwart for a single point, which Luis happily paid, before killing Figure of Destiny with Peppersmoke.

    The game was decided when during Luis’s next attack, Ken played Mistbind Clique and removed a token. Luis simply floated mana and when the faerie blocked, played Mirrorweave targeting Wizened Cenn, saving both his creatures whilst simultaneously leaving Ken with none.

    Ken was able to counter a subsequent Knight of Meadowgold, but one slipped through, and the band of Kithkin worked in hand with Ken’s own enchantment to whittle his life total. Though Ken was able to gain some card and tempo advantage by playing Spellstutter Sprite in response to Wizened Cenn, he was too far back in the damage race. Drawing nothing but lands for the remainder of the game did nothing to help his cause.

    Game 2

    Luis had another strong start, with Goldmeadow Stalwart and Wizened Cenn.

    However, Ken had the early Bitterblossom, was able to gain some early tempo advantage by countering the second Wizened Cenn with Spellstutter Sprite on turn 3, and started to edge away when he had Mistbind Clique at Luis’s fourth upkeep.

    Though Luis still swung in with everything, bringing Ken down to 7 life, Ken proceeded to steal Wizened Cenn with Sower of Temptations and begin the beatdown.

    Luis attempted to stall for time with back-to-back Spectral Processions, hoping that Ken would die to his own Bitterblossom, but when a second Sower of Temptations hit play, it was all over.

    Game 3

    Luis had to get really lucky to win this last game, and lucky he was.

    With Goldmeadow Stalwart in play, Ken’s turn 1 Thoughtseize revealed Goldmeadow Stalwart, Wilt-Leaf Liege, Unmake, Wizened Cenn, Spectral Procession and no lands!

    Ken took a gamble and chose Goldmeadow Stalwart. Unfortunately, Luis proved to be really good with his deck, drawing lands in consecutive turns.

    By the time Ken could play a vanilla Spellstutter Sprite, he was facing a horde of spirits and two Kithkin. Though Ken struggled valiantly, ripping Unmake out of Luis’s hands with Thoughtseize and stalling for time with Cryptic Command, the outcome of the battle had long since been decided.

    Luis wins 2-1 and progresses to the semi-finals.



     
  • Semi-Finals: Shingou Kurihara vs Hironobu Sugaya
    by Ray "blisterguy" Walkinshaw

  • While they began the top 8 out numbered by the Fae six to two, both Kithkin decks have advanced to the semi finals, evening the score to two on two. Championing the cause for the Small White Men on the table closest to the power outlet (hey, we gotta choose our matches somehow, right?) is Sugaya Hironobu, looking to knock down Grand Prix Top 8 veteran, Shingou Kurihara.

    However, Hironobu lost the roll, and was then for forced to mulligan his first hand, losing his first play to a Broken Ambitions. His Spectral Procession resolved though, and he began the fight from twenty to zero by swinging in for 3. Kurihara flashed out a Spellstutter Sprite at the end of Hironobu’s turn, and took one of the Spirit Tokens with a Sower of Temptation. Hironobu exploded, dropping a Thistledown Liege at the end of Kurihara’s turn, before untapping and slamming down an Ajani Goldmane, powering up his rapidly growing army. Looking to stabilize quickly, Kurihara tapped out for Oona, Queen of the Fae. Hironobu dropped another Thistledown Liege, and wound Ajani down even further, forcing Kurihara to chump with his stolen Token and the Spellstutter Sprite.

    Shingou Kurihara staving off the beats with his Sower of Temptation

    Hironobu started moving his men about the board, trying to figure out how many blockers Kurihara could spin out with his Oona and what that might do to his army. He played a Wizened Cenn, which resolved. He animated his Mutavault and spread a third round of +1/+1 counters over his board, before Kurihara tapped them all down with a Cryptic Command. Kurihara attacked back with Oona, the Sower and the Mutavault, sending them all directly at Hironobu, and then threw down another Command to tap Hironobu’s attackers a second time. Hironobu used this window to Unmake Oona, and when Kurihara’s draw step didn’t deliver him any answers to Hironobu’s oversized attack force, he scooped up his cards.

    Kurihara led Game 2 with a Thoughtseize, denying Hironobu a two-drop by taking a Knight of Meadowgrain. Another Knight came down, followed by a Moonglove Extract, which Hironobu no doubt sided in to deal with Kurihara’s Stillmoon Cavaliers. Meanwhile, Kurihara was swinging back with a Spellstutter Sprite, before tapping Hironobu down with a Mistbind Clique.

    Sugaya Hironobu gets his lands tapped by Mistbind Clique

    Kurihara then passed the turn back, and Hironobu merely played a Goldmeadow Stalwart, revealing a Thistledown Liege. Kurihara dropped a Scion of Oona at the end of his turn, untapped and played a Sower of Temptation. Suddenly, the board was looking very one sided in his favor. Hironobu played his Liege at the end of turn, untapped and played a Wizened Cenn, and the Liege and Stalwart swung into the Red Zone. Kurihara chumped the Stalwart with his newly acquired Knight of Meadowgrain, before swinging back with his team. The Moonglove Extract took down the Scion, taking some of the sting out of the attack, but dropping Hironobu quite low anyway. Kurihara then played another Sower, taking the Cenn, and played a Stillmoon Cavalier. When Hironobu tried to swing back to play an Unmake from under his Windbrisk Heights, Kurihara had the Spellstutter Sprite to stop it, taking the match to the third game.

    While they sideboard, allow me to shift into present tense for a moment. We’re on the top floor of this mall, and over the last 10 minutes it’s become increasingly apparently that it’s raining outside. Raining hard. Just as Kurihara delivers that killing blow, thunder rumbles overhead and most of the lights in the room go out. Now if that’s not intimidating, I don’t know what is.

    If Hironobu was intimidated, he sure didn’t show it. Other than missing his second turn drop, he came out the gates with a Spectral Procession, to which Kurihara had nothing. He then powered out a Thistledown Liege from under his Windbrisk Heights, to which Kurihara had nothing. He followed it up with a Stillmoon Cavalier, and again Kurihara had nothing. He could only shake his head and scoop up his cards with a smile.

    Sugaya Hironobu defeats Shingou Kurihara 2-1



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 5.35 p.m. – Semi-Finals Luis Antonio Magisa vs Shouta Yasooka
    by Noel Neo

  • Shouta Yasooka
    Shouta had already won the first game when I walked over after sending out the quarterfinal game. At 9 life, he was on the wrong side of twin Stillmoon Cavaliers after stalling at 3 lands. However, a renewed sense of vigour seemed to suffuse him when he drew his fourth land and recovered by casting Soul Snuffers.

    Luis continued to press his early advantage with a third Stillmoon Cavalier, but when he attacked and tapped out to pump, Shouta simply Cryptic Command’d it back to his hand and continued to pull away with Bitterblossom.

    Luis tried to get back in the game with Spectral Procession and recasting Stillmoon Cavalier, but back-to-back Mistbind Cliques meant that he had little recourse but to pump his Cavalier and swing into the waiting faerie tokens.

    Meanwhile, the flight of faeries took large chunks out of Luis’s life total and a second Soul Snuffers that wiped Luis’s board sealed the game.

    Shouta wins 2-0 and progresses to the Finals.



     
  • Sunday, August 31: 6.15 p.m. – Finals Shouta Yasooka vs Sugaya Hironobu
    by Noel Neo

  • Shouta Yasooka
    With more than half the top 8 being Japanese, it is not surprising that it would come to this – a pure Japanese finals between two of the most popular archetypes in the format. Regardless of the outcome, this day would go down in history as the first all Japanese Grand Prix Manila finals.

    Despite Shouta being on the play, it was Hironobu who started strong with Knight of Meadowgrain, followed by Wizened Cenn. However, his early advantage was eroded when an attempted Figure of Destiny was countered by Spellstutter Sprite and twin Peppersmokes destroyed Wizened Cenn.

    Hironobu wasn’t too happy with the game progressing with Knight of Meadowgrain being the sole attacker, but thought for a long while before playing Cloudgoat Ranger. Shouta allowed it, then Peppersmoke‘d a token and played Scion of Oona, before another saw play on his turn.

    With all faeries now untargetable, Hironobu attempted to turn the tide by attacking with all his creatures and surprising his opponent with Thistledown Liege. However, Shouta had Spellstutter Sprite on the ready, and it was Hironobu who lost half his army in the failed gambit.

    With the ball firmly in his court, Souta started to go for the kill. A Mistbind Clique coupled with Nameless Inversion on Cloudgoat Ranger neutered any resistance and a second one sealed the game.

    Game 2

    The first skirmish of the game occurred with Mutavault blocking an early Goldmeadow Stalwart with Peppersmoke to shrink the Kithkin. Hironobu let the Stalwart go and continued to put the pressure on Shouta with Spectral Procession.

    The balance swung back and forth as Cryptic Command countered Cloudgoat Ranger and Unmake retrieved a token converted by Sower of Temptations. Nonetheless, Shouta was continuing to take damage from the Spectral tokens and sucked in an audibly loud breathe when he allowed Ajani Goldmane to resolve.

    Turning Mutavault into a creature, Hironobu had his Planeswalker give his creatures a boost. However, Shouta had Mistbind Clique to effectiveness shut Hironobu out of combat for the turn.

    The respite was only momentary however, as Hironobu gave his creatures another boost and attacked the following turn. Hironobu reinforced his blocked token with Rustic Clachan, but its effect was negated by Scion of Oona and Shouta had Spellstutter Sprite for Unmake.

    With the board relatively more gummed up, a lone Mutavault tried to take down Ajani, a notion which was quickly quashed by a spirit token trading with the land. But Hironobu still had gas in his hand, gas in the form of Goldmeadow Stalwart and Figure of Destiny that quickly got pumped by Ajani.

    Out of steam, Shouta could only watch as Figure of Destiny grew again at the end of his turn and all of Hironobu’s creatures went into the red zone after Ajani sacrificed his last token to give them a leg up. At the end of combat, Shouta’s board was cleared of creatures while Hironobu only lost a land. Shouta didn’t need to wait for the next turn to know the game was over.

    Game 3

    Shouta got off to a bad start having to throw back his initial seven, but his second hand was much better, giving him a Bitterblossom with which to contend with Goldmeadow Stalwart and Figure of Destiny.

    Both players then started to wait for the other to make a mistake, a period which Hironobu utilised to grow Figure of Destiny to a sizable 4/4. Finally, Shouta broke and traded Mutavault for Goldmeadow Stalwart, going down to three lands. When Hironobu proceeded to play Ajani Goldmane, Shouta was forced to play Spellstutter Sprite at the end of turn to attrite to Planewalker’s loyalty tokens.

    With a last token remaining on Ajani, Hironobu turned Mutavault into a creature and expanded the last of the Planswalker. The stalemate of Shouta relying on Faerie tokens to chump block Hironobu’s attackers continued for a while, but Shouta eventually found Nameless Inversion for Mutavault.

    In the interim however, Shouta had also found two Knight of Meadowgrains and now played them. A fourth land for Shouta saw Sower of Temptations stealing Figure of Destiny, but Hironobu was quick to regain control of the game with Unmake.

    Now facing three creatures with just a token and a sprite, Shouta was in dire straits, a situation he tried to get out of with a second Sower of Temptation. With the betraying Figure of Destiny still tapped, Shouta’s two 1/1s had to chump block the attacking Knights. However, Shouta’s next play of Soulsnuffers was a very effective counter to the Cloudgoat Ranger Hironobu had played.

    With Figure of Destiny untapped, it seemed as though Shouta had the board gummed up and Hironobu had run out of steam. However Shouta had only 3 life left and Bitterblossom was ticking down for him. In contrast, Hironobu was at a very healthy 27 life.

    Shouta then started to use Sower of Temptation to chip away at Hironobu’s life total, but both players knew that Shouta would not have enough damage to win the game before he lost to Bitterblossom, and that the real question was whether he could find either Mindbind Clique or Cryptic Command in time.

    Both players continued to go through the motions of the game, with Shouta especially intense on each of his two remaining draws. Finally, with just one life left, Shouta swung with everything and passed the turn.

    A gleam of triumph appeared in Hironobu’s eyes, but he wasn’t sure... not yet. Hironobu just played Spectral Procession and passed the turn back to Shouta... and the hall exploded into cheers as he ruefully conceded the game.

    Hironobu is the Grand Prix Manila 2008 Champion!!

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