Coverage of Japan National Championship

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Naoki Sakaguchi ended Day 1 at the top of the standings, and he held on throughout the second day to end atop there again. At one point during the weekend, the Nagoya native said he was hoping to repeat the powerful Pro Tour-Tokyo performance of Ryan Fuller, who went undefeated through the Swiss at that event. After finally picking up a loss late in the day, Sakaguchi decided to play it safe. He will be joined by some newer names on Monday as Tomomi Shiraishi, Yuuma Shiota, and Taichi Fujimoto will sit alongside Saguchi in an effort to win the title.

Of course, a bigger story might be the seasoned pros who will also be in the hunt for the title on Monday. Ren Ishikawa, Yuuya Watanabe, Shuhei Nakamura, and a resurgent Kenji Tsumura will be waking up early to try to earn the chance to battle in the team competition at Worlds. Shuhei, the reigning Player of the Year, benefits from the extra Pro Points he’ll receive for making the Top 8, while Kenji shook off enough rust to have a solid weekend. And narrowly missing with a heartbreaking 30 Swiss points, but not the tiebreakers to back them up? In the bridemaid’s 9th was defending champion Masashi Oiso, and just behind him in 10th was Pro Tour-Honolulu champion Kazuya Mitamura. No doubt the eight players who made the cut will be sleeping just a bit easier knowing those sharks won’t be competing tomorrow.

So who will take the final spot down? You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out, here on magicthegathering.com!






EVENT COVERAGE

 

  • Sunday, 10:07 a.m. – Drafting With Masashi Oiso
    by Bill Stark
  • During the first day of competition the coverage team watched as Kenji Tsumura was fed by defending National Champion Masashi Oiso. While the two admitted before hand they had worked on their drafting strategies together, they managed to cooperate efficiently enough to both walk away with powerful decks. That left them at X-1 by the close of business Saturday, and drafting at the same pod yet again. It made for a good story, two of Japan’s biggest names going head to head, both representing the home prefecture of Hiroshima which, thanks to Oiso’s win last year, earned the right to play host to the championship this year.

    For the second draft of the weekend, the coverage team swooped in to see what the defending champion would draft. When Oiso was informed his draft would be followed for official event coverage, he took the reporter aside and sheepishly admitted “Yesterday was my first Alara Reborn draft!” If that was true, it looked like it hadn’t effected him much at all. The pod was a spicy one, with Yuuya Watanabe, Shuhei Nakamura, Shingou Kurihara, and undefeated player Naoki Sakaguchi all sitting down to draft. As the pros joked with one another over the event and their international travels together, Shuhei took the coverage reporter aside again and explained “We’ve agreed: if any of us from this pod wins Nationals, we have to take the rest out for dinner!”

    As the first pack of Shards of Alara got under way, Oiso was presented with a tough first pick: Mycoloth, Bant Charm, Jhessian Infiltrator, Viscera Dragon, and Sanctum Gargoyle. After shuffling the contents of the pack back and forth, including flipping them upside down at one point, Oiso took the 4/4 rare. He followed that up with Mosstodon over Sigil Blessing, Bull Cerodon, Court Archers, and Infest, then back-to-back Akrasan Squires. Soon after Druid of the Anima joined his stack alongside two Bant Panoramas and a Naya Panorama. By the end of Shards, Oiso was solidly white-green, leaving open the possibility of going either blue or red to supplement his creature base.

    Conflux yielded some early fruits for Masashi with a Path to Exile hopping into his stack immediately over Paragon of the Amesha, Nacatl Savage, and Valeron Outlander. He then took a Meglonoth second, hinting at a Naya preference, then hinting further with a third-pick Ember Weaver. After that he took two copies of Aven Squire, a Valeron Outlander, and then a Sylvan Bounty over Paragon of the Amesha. Many players couldn’t help but take the 2/2 mini-Dragon over the life gain spell, but with an eye on the possibility of up to two splashes, Oiso had the patience to take the card that would make his draft more stable. The decision looked genius when he was gifted a very late Skyward Eye Prophets. Between the Bounty and the Panoramas in the first pack, it looked like the champ could splash both Meglonoth and the Prophets if he wanted.

    With two thirds of the draft down, it was on to pack three and Alara Reborn. The set has generally been heralded by pros as being powerful, and Oiso’s first pick didn’t disappoint. He was confronted with Enlisted Wurm, Terminate, Slave of Bolas, and Naya Hushblade for his deck. Slave and Terminate were very powerful spells, but would require splashing a color his manabase wasn’t prepared to support after Shards and Conflux. After agonizing over the decision, Masashi took the Wurm.

    The second pick was also a good one featuring Maelstrom Pulse, Lorescale Coatl, Naya Husblade, Flurry of Wings, and Giant Ambush Beetle. It was the Beetle that made the stack, followed by a Naya Hushblade over Colossal Might. Wildfield Borderpost would help support Oiso’s manabase in third, and then a Vithian Renegades came fourth. With Esper’s popularity, the 3/2 was a powerful body/removal spell combo that Oiso would no doubt make good use out of either on the splash or sideboarded.

    Leonin Armorguard was picked over Valley Rannet, then Sigiled Captain over Naya Sojourners, Colossal Might, and Sigiled Behemoth. From there Oiso rounded out his stack with late picks that were unlikely to make his deck, including Stun Sniper and Violent Outburst. His last playable looked to be a Firewild Borderpost that would help him splash some of his red spells.

    Overall Masashi looked to be in good shape. He had been forced to fight his neighbor to the left, Shuhei Nakamura, over white cards, but fortunately Nakamura was drafting Esper while Oiso was in white-green. Could the defending champ continue his hot streak, improving on his 6-1 record? It was all up to the games now!

     

  • Feature Match Round 8: Shingou Kurihara VS Masashi Oiso
    by Bill Stark
  • One of the biggest stories on the weekend through the eighth round of play had been the powerful Day 1 performances of Hiroshima prefecture’s biggest stars: Masashi Oiso and Kenji Tsumura. Oiso, the defending champion, was the reason the National Tournament was being held in Fukuyama, Hiroshima. In Japan, the host city for each National event rotates amongst the prefectures (similar to states, territories, or provinces) based on where the champion from the previous year hailed from. Since Masashi lives in Hiroshima prefecture, he had the honor of defending his title on his home turf! Of course, one person intent on seeing that not happen was Shingou Kurihara. The Pro Tour Top 8er was looking to make good against a very solid opponent while being a fine player himself.

    Kurihara won the die roll, opting to keep his hand while watching Masashi take a mulligan. Oiso had drafted a very aggressive white-green deck, and it showed as he cast the first creature of the game in the form of an Aven Squire on the second turn. Shingou was content to landcycle Absorb Vis, finding himself a second Forest to go with the Swamp and the first Forest he already had on the table. Instead of playing the land, however, he plopped a Mountain onto the battlefield and Blightninged Masashi, punishing the player’s resources after being down a card already from the mulligan.

    Oiso worked on casting threats, dropping Ember Weaver to go alongside his Squire. Shingou decided to get on the board himself, casting Madrush Cyclops and hasting into the red zone to tie the game at 14-all. Vithian Renegades from Oiso whiffed on hitting any artifacts, but pumped his Ember Weaver and revealed he was playing a red splash to supplement his white and green cards.

    Kurihara revealed he was going to race, casting a Viscera Dragger and sending both the 3/3 and his Cyclops into the combat step. Oiso traded his 3/2 Renegades for the Dragger, then on his turn attacked his opponent with Ember Weaver. Post-combat, he carefully considered his options. He had just one card in hand, and opted to cast it: Mycoloth, sacrificing his Ember Weaver to give it two +1/+1 counters. If Shingou had a removal spell, Oiso was all but dead.

    Masashi Oiso is in good position to defend his title.

    Kurihara untapped, then cast Enlisted Wurm revealing...Blightning. Masashi put his arms up in mock celebration, falling to 5 life from the sorcery and an attack, but relieved he neither had to discard nor had lost his Mycoloth to a cascaded removal spell. He was just an upkeep away from establishing control of the battlefield. When he was able to successfully untap, generating two Saproling tokens, things started to look very bad for Shingou Kurihara. It got worse as Oiso plopped a 5/3 Mosstodon onto the board to further strengthen his numbers. He attacked Shingou to 11, then passed.

    Kurihara unearthed Viscera Dragger, and sent the 3/3 and his Madrush Cyclops into the red zone. Oiso wasted no time putting his Mosstodon in front of the Cyclops and an Aven Squire and two Saprolings in front of the Dragger. This let him maneuver around Colossal Might, which could possibly kill him if he wasn’t careful, and after Oiso had made the correct blocks, Shingou conceded the game.

    Masashi Oiso 1, Shingou Kurihara 0

    Putrid Leech was the first creature for Shingou Kurihara, and it came just in time as Masashi Oiso had come out of the gates with an Akrasan Squire, followed by an Aven Squire. The diminutive 1/1s represented a significant clock, and Shingou needed to do everything he could to keep up. He cycled Absorb Vis to find a Mountain, while Oiso cast Ember Weaver to bolster his team.

    Putrid Leech rumbled into the red zone, attacking for just 2 after no blocks were declared. Post-combat Kurihara had a Nacatl Savage, leaving both black and red mana up. Oiso smelled a trick, but had no choice but to attack with his Aven Squire. Sure enough, Shingou revealed Terminate to kill the flyer, and Oiso ended his turn after cycling Savage Hunger and casting Firewild and Wildfield Borderposts.

    Still working on stabilizing, Shingou cast Blister Beetle to kill Masashi’s Akrasan Squire, following the play up with Kathari Bomber. It was now Oiso’s turn to work on stabilizing as he was falling behind on the battlefield. He summoned forth a Mosstodon to help, but Shingou trumped with a pre-combat Algae Gharial, quickly sending in his entire team to fight. Masashi killed Nacatl Savage and Kathari Bomber while keeping both of his creatures alive, but pumped the Gharial to 3/3 and fell to 3 life.

    Gift of the Gargantuan was Oiso’s move to try to dig himself out of the hole, and he sucked in his breath as he looked at the fresh new cards. Could he have whiffed on finding either a land or a creature? The answer turned out to be no as he revealed Meglonoth and a Forest, passing the turn back to Shingou who threatened to significantly impact his opponent’s board presence with an attack. Before attacking, however, Shingou had to verify with his opponent what Meglonoth did. After getting a satisfactory solution, he unearthed Kathari Bomber, and sent his entire team sideways. Masashi nodded, and solemnly scooped up his cards.

    Masashi Oiso 1, Shingou Kurihara 1

    The third game started with the aggressive Oiso on the play, and he came out of the gates with a first turn Akrasan Squire. The 1/1 rumbled into the red zone to drop Shingou to 18 life on the second turn, but Kurihara cast a creature of his own in Nacatl Savage after that. Masashi, meanwhile, was forced to fix his manabase cycling Sylvan Bounty instead of casting a two-drop. Still, as he untapped for the third turn, he had a Plains, Forest, and Mountain, each of his mana types.

    Looking to return to Top 8 action Shingou Kurihara throws down.
    The defending champ considered his options a great deal before using his third turn to cast a Firewild Borderpost. Missing back-to-back creatures was not a good thing, but if it meant Oiso could deploy his fatter threats sooner, his gamble might just work. Shingou attacked with the Nacatl Savage, and it traded with Akrasan Squire. At five mana a turn early, Oiso cast Mosstodon which Kurihara answered with Putrid Leech, then Algae Gharial. Despite having access to six mana, Oiso had not cast anything on his sixth turn.

    Kurihara certainly wasn’t going to let up, dropping a Jund Battlemage after landcycling his Absorb Vis. Masashi cast an end-of-his-opponent’s-turn Violent Outburst to pick up a free Druid of the Anima, then untapped for Valeron Outlander. The small creatures were little match as Shingou tapped out himself to cast Valley Rannet. The situation was looking increasingly dire for Masashi Oiso, but the stalwart pro trudged onwards, casting Aven Squire and attacking with Valeron Outlander, which became a 3/3 thanks to exalted.

    Shingou had three blockers for the bear in the form of Valley Rannet, Jund Battlemage, and Algae Gharial. Unfortunately for him, trading any of them for the Outlander was mostly a bonus for Oiso. Shingou wasn’t backing down, however, sending his Rannet in front of the 3/3 intruder, and when both creatures died pumping his Gharial twice.

    With the turn back, Kurihara rumbled his Putrid Leech across the table, but Oiso fired right back with a second Aven Squire, allowing his first to get in for 3. A Blightning from Shingou was undone by a Gift of the Gargantuan from Masashi, and the game was starting to look like it could be a real battle. Kurihara began accruing Saproling tokens on the table thanks to his Jund Battlemage, but Oiso got in on that game with a Mycoloth, sacrificing Druid of the Anima.

    The little Aven Squire that could kept attacking, getting +2/+2 each time, and soon the score was 13-9 in Oiso’s favor. What a difference a few turns made! After starting out behind, Masashi had crafted a board position that forced Shingou Kurihara to play catch up. Still, Shingou isn’t a Pro Tour Top 8er for no good reason. He attacked with his Putrid Leech, which traded with two Saproling tokens from Oiso. That pumped Algae Gharial to 7/7, and post-combat Shingou cast Terminate targeting Mycoloth. The series of plays helped Kurihara considerably, but still left him needing a solution to Oiso’s flyers. When Shingou tried to make a Saproling at the end of Oiso’s turn using Jund Battlemage, Masashi responded with Path to Exile on the 2/2.

    Algae Gharial attacked, putting Oiso to 5, and when Masashi attacked back with Mosstodon, Shingou sprang into action. Dark Temper killed an Aven Squire, leaving the Mosstodon as a 6/4 instead of a 7/5. Kurihara blocked with five Saprolings, making his Gharial super lethal should it connect. The large gator wannabe forced Oiso to trade his last Squire for it, and when Shingou followed combat with a Rhox Brute, it looked very bad for Masashi Oiso. He drew for the turn, found no miracle, and conceded.

    Shingou Kurihara 2, Masashi Oiso 1

     

  • Blog – 12:01 p.m. - Metagame Breakdown
    by Bill Stark and Tomohiro Kaji
  • The big news in Constructed headed in to this weekend was definitely how much Magic 2010 would impact the world of Standard. After four rounds of Constructed play Saturday, with four more to go yet on Sunday, here are the conclusions Japan’s greatest minds came to.

    UB Faeries: 26
    Mono White Kithikin: 20
    GW Affinity Elves!: 20
    5C Cruel/Cascade Control: 15
    5C Cruel Control: 13
    5C Doran: 11
    RGB Jund Aggro: 7
    WX Tokens: 7
    Mono White Tokens: 6
    RB Blightning: 6
    4C Cascade Aggro: 3
    Mono White Weenie: 3
    WUB Esper Lark: 3
    UR Swan: 2
    RB Burn: 2
    RBU Counter Demigod: 2
    RW Burn: 1
    Naya Aggro: 1
    WUB Aggro: 1
    RGB Angry Behemoth: 1
    Cascade/Bloomtender: 1
    Turbo Fog: 1
    RB Goblin: 1
    UW Counter Tokens: 1
    UGW Bant Aggro: 1
    GB Elves: 1
    RGB Big Burn: 1
    Total: 157

    So, what were the top archetypes? As expected, Kithkin was one of the most popular choices with 20 players running the tiny white tribe, but Blue-Black Faeries actually took the top spot with 26 players championing the insectoid hordes. Another popular deck choice was Green-White Turbo Elves, featuring Heritage Druid, Nettle Sentinel, and Elvish Archdruid. That deck was championed by Kenji Tsumura and a host of other big name pros, and has been seeing increasing levels of success on Magic Online recently.

    Rounding out the top five were Cruel Control variants of the four and five color varieties. Many are supporting Lightning Bolt as an efficient form of spot removal, and the primary differences between the two versions are the amount of cascade spells they’re willing to run. Of course, with over 20 archetypes, the format is alive and healthy with plenty of room for creative deck builders to succeed. So, which deck will claim the title of 2009 Japanese National Champion? Tune in throughout the rest of today and Monday to find out.

     

  • Round 9 Feature Match: Naoki Sakaguchi VS Shuhei Nakamura
    by Bill Stark
  • Naoki Sakaguchi was the only player to escape the first day of Swiss competition without a single loss and had managed to do so on the back of solid performances in both Standard and Limited. He’d need that combination of fortune and skill to continue through Round 9 as he sat down to his first feature match. After all, he was up against reigning Player of the Year Shuhei Nakamura.

    Sakaguchi started the game on a mulligan, but answered Nakamura’s Lorescale Coatl with a Fire-Field Ogre. Shuhei answered back with Vedalken Outlander, which could indefinitely block the 4/2 first striker, but Sakaguchi just trumped again with Drag Down to take out the artifactian 2/2. Waveskimmer Aven from Shuhei allowed him to attack his 4/4 Lorescale into Naoki’s face for 5, putting the scores at 16-15 in his favor.

    Shuhei Nakamura is not a face you want to see in the feature match arena.
    That didn’t last long as Naoki tapped out for Deny Reality, targeting Lorescale Coatl. The sorcery netted him a free Sewn-Eye Drake, and he rumbled his 4/2 first striker into the red zone to re-take the lead, 15-12. Shuhei cast a second protection bear to guard against the Ogre, this time a Valeron Outlander, and also recast his Coatl. Naoki could only manage a Grixis Sojourners to parry, and with just one card left in his hand to Shuhei’s near half dozen, it wasn’t looking good for the young player from Nagoya. A Dauntless Escort from Shuhei didn’t help.

    Trying to dig out of the increasingly large hole he was in, Naoki cast and cracked a Courier’s Capsule. That netted him a second Sewn-Eye Drake, but he needed to remove his opponent’s Waveskimmer Aven if he wanted to get through. When Nakamura untapped and cast Tower Gargoyle, things got even worse for Sakaguchi. He could only answer back with Kathari Bomber and Hissing Iguanar, emptying his hand of cards in doing so.

    Pale Recluse from Shuhei made attacks in the air look laughable, and Naoki Sakaguchi seemed all but out of the first game of their match. Nakamura resolved a Covenant of Minds to get further ahead in card advantage, then began sending in a single creature each turn. After chumping for back-to-back-to-back turns, Sakaguchi ran out of flyers and the players were on to the second game.

    Shuhei Nakamura 1, Naoki Sakaguchi 0

    Kathari Bomber was the first threat to hit the battlefield, doing so on the third turn for Naoki Sakaguchi. Shuhei Nakamura was not to be outdone, playing a Lorescale Coatl in an effort to keep up. When his opponent cast Sewn-Eye Drake and attacked with both of his creatures, however, Nakamura fell to 15. He then passed the turn without casting a spell.

    When Sakaguchi attacked with the Drake, Shuhei revealed why, using Resounding Silence to exile the 3/1. With the turn back, Nakamura was quick to cast Dauntless Escort and Esper Stormblade to stay in the game. Trying to get ahead, his opponent cast Corpse Connoisseur, finding a Fire-Field Ogre and putting it in his bin. Alongside the Kathari Bomber still lurking there, it looked like all zones were going to be abused in a Naoki Sakaguchi attempt to stay alive in the match.

    Aven Trailblazer hit for Shuhei, who was on the defensive thanks to Naoki’s 3/3 Connoisseur, which was larger than all of Shuhei’s threats. It wasn’t the Zombie, however that was a problem as Naoki ripped Cruel Ultimatum! The sorcery quickly flopped onto the table, and Shuhei eyed it in mild shock. Surveying the life totals and his board situation, he decided to scoop rather than try to play out the worsening situation.

    Shuhei Nakamura 1, Naoki Sakaguchi 1

    It was Shuhei Nakamura’s turn to mulligan in the match, going to six for the final game of the round. He came out of the gates early, however, with a Vedalken Outlander followed by an Aven Trailblazer. Unfortunately for Nakamura, he had only a single basic land type on the battlefield, Plains, meaning his flyer was just a 2/1. Naoki’s first action was Obelisk of Grixis, and he used Deny Reality to bounce his opponent’s Trailblazer. That netted him a free Fire-Field Ogre, followed by Sewn-Eye Drake hard cast the following turn. Shuhei was short on both land and action.

    The only undefeated player in the room: Naoki Sakaguchi.
    Things took a huge turn for the worse on Nakamura’s side of the battlefield as Naoki accrued just the right mana, thanks to a second Obelisk of Grixis, to cast Cruel Ultimatum two turns early. It was a huge boon in resources, and it felt like Shuhei was playing to delay the inevitable. A second Sewn-Eye Drake hit for Naoki, but Nakamura tried to stabilize with Tower Gargoyle. Sakaguchi was ready casting a bevy of spells over the next few turns. Grixis Sojourners and Goblin Outlander, then Lich Lord of Unx were all summoned in Sakaguchi’s defense. Shuhei went to his deck not once but twice and, failing to find any help at all and still slightly mana screwed, conceded the match.

    Naoki Sakaguchi 2, Shuhei 1.

     

  • Blog – 1:17 p.m. – What is the Best Standard Deck?
    by Bill Stark
  • Naoki Sakaguchi: "Quik 'N Toast!"

    Yuuta Takahasi: "Faeries."

    Jun'ya Iyanaga: "Blightning Red."

    Chikara Nakajima: "I'm playing Kithkin, but it's actually White-Green Turbo Elves."

    Shu Komuro: "For Nationals, White-Green Turbo Elves."

     

  • Round 10 Feature Match: Jun’ya Iyanaga VS Yuuta Takahashi
    by Bill Stark
  • Jun’ya Iyanaga and Yuuta Takahashi are two of the lesser known pros from the island of Japan. Of course, when you’re from a nation with a Magic playing prowess like Japan, being a “lesser known” pro means you generally have a resume most players would be all too happy to have! That was the case for Jun’ya Iyanaga and Yuuta Takahashi as they sat down to battle out the final round of Limited play on the weekend. Iyanaga has twin Grand Prix Top 8s as well as a Japanese Nationals Top 8 while his opponent, Yuuta Takahashi, has seen three Grand Prix Top 8s, two Nationals Top 8s, and a Pro Tour Top 8.

    Yuuta Takahashi, a man who knows the taste of a Pro Tour Top 8.
    As the two shuffled their decks, Yuuta noticed a slight texturing problem with two of Jun’ya’s sleeves. With a judge nearby, Takahashi asked the official to examine the deck. Iyanaga didn’t seem too concerned about the turn of events, and because he and his opponent were using the same exact type of sleeves, casually checked to see if he could find the same problem with Yuuta’s. When he did, he pointed it out to Takahashi, though Iyanaga seemed unconcerned about the error, and clearly wasn’t worried about calling a judge. In an effort to keep things fair between the two, Yuuta took the initiative and called the official back, this time on himself. After ferrying both decks away, the judge returned and with no significant penalties assessed the two got their match underway.

    Takahashi won the die roll, but had to take a mulligan. Down a card or not, he was first on the battlefield with an Ethercaste Knight. The 1/3 was quickly answered by a Wretched Banquet from Iyanaga, and an Esper Stormblade from Takahashi met its end by way of a Drag Down from Jun’ya. Parasitic Strix was next on the table for Yuuta, but without a black permanent it was just a flying Gray Ogre.

    A third removal spell for Iyanaga came in the form of Executioner’s Capsule, which he used on the 2/2 flyer, while both players skipped some land drops stuck on three each. A cycled Absorb Vis from Iyanaga made sure he’d finally find a fourth, while Yuuta Takahashi just didn’t seem to care, casting Court Homunculus and Bone Saw to pump it, then following up with Dawnray Archer and attacking his opponent to 16.

    The battlefield became increasingly cluttered with permanents as Crystallization from Yuuta Takahashi nailed down Jun’ya Iyanaga’s Scavenger Drake, a Brackwater Elemental joined Takahashi’s team, and Spearbreaker Behemoth and Drumhunter joined Jun’ya’s. It was the Behemoth which seemed to spell problems for Takahashi who was still stuck on just four lands while Jun’ya had a whopping seven plus an Obelisk of Grixis. To make matters worse, Iyanaga would get to draw an extra card each turn thanks to his Drumhunter!

    A Drastic Revelation just a turn later meant Jun’ya was actually drawing five extra cards thanks to an empty hand, but Yuuta didn’t seem as concerned as one might imagine. After all, Jun’ya was still at just 6 life. Taking his turn, Takahashi seized on an opportunity to take advantage of a possible mis-step by his opponent. Jun’ya had only the Spearbreaker back to block. Unearthing Brackwater Elemental and attaching Bone Saw to it, Yuuta turned the 5/4 sideways into the red zone. Dawnray Archer kicked in with exalted to make it a lethal creature, and a Path to Exile prior to blockers was the rare corner case removal spell that could maneuver around Spellbreaker Behemoth’s indestructibility. Just like that, Yuuta had stolen a game that had seemed to have slipped entirely from his grasp!

    Jun’ya Iyanaga 1, Yuuta Takahashi 0

    Yuuta Takahashi’s aggressive Esper Deck was fast out of the gates for the second game, with a second-turn Vedalken Outlander followed by a third-turn Dawnray Archer. His opponent did a fine job keeping up, however, cycling Jund Sojourners to kill the Archer and using Wretched Banquet to take out the Outlander. Takahashi simply followed up by casting a second copy, and beating his opponent to 16. Post combat he cast Talon Trooper to continue the assault on Jun’ya’s life total.

    The game was a solid example of the control/aggro match dynamics. Jun’ya would likely win a long game thanks to his more powerful spells, while Yuuta was hoping it wouldn’t come to that after starting aggressively with smaller creatures. Giant Ambush Beetle dined on the Talon Trooper, but Yuuta solved the 4/3 with Controlled Instincts, casting Ethercaste Knight to continue getting in with his second Vedalken Outlander through his opponent’s Scavenger Drake and Drumhunter.

    Jun’ya Iyanaga seeks to return to past Nationals glory.
    Brackwater Elemental hit the battlefield for Takahashi, and Iyanaga nervously shuffled his cards around in his hand trying to figure out a game plan. He used Fiery Fall on the Elemental when it attacked to cushion his life instead of taking the damage, and made an Executioner’s Capsule that promised to deal with a future large threat from his opponent. A turn later he found himself able to cast Spearbreaker Behemoth, but instead attacked to trade Drumhunter for a Vedalken Outlander, pumping his Scavenger Drake in the meanwhile.

    After spending a number of turns on defense, Jun’ya finally decided to get some damage in attacking with his 4/4 Scavenger Drake and making the score 15-10, still in his opponent’s favor. That gave Yuuta the chance to attack back with his Vedalken Outlander, but Iyanaga just activated his Executioner’s Capsule to deal with the bear. Another attack from his Drake, now a 6/6, put Takahashi at 9. He found a Parasitic Strix with no black permanents to chump, but fell to 1 on his opponent’s next attack as Jun’ya cast Drag Down to clear the way of blockers. With no help forthcoming for Takahashi, the two were on to the rubber game.

    Yuuta Takahashi 1, Jun’ya Iyanaga 1

    Both players had two-drops for the final game, with Jun’ya’s Putrid Leech staring down Yuuta’s Esper Stormblade. A Violent Outburst for Iyanaga saw a free Wretched Banquet hit the table, acing his opponent’s Stormblade and allowing him to attack Yuuta to 17. Takahashi unloaded casting Court Homunculus, Talon Trooper, and Vedalken Outlander over the course of two turns, while Jun’ya had a Scavenger Drake and a Dark Temper to kill the 2/3 Trooper.

    Jhessian Zombies helped hold the ground for Iyanaga, who had been able to get through for quite a bit of flying damage with his Drake. Yuuta, meanwhile, hadn’t cast a spell in quite a few turns since losing his Talon Trooper. He drew yet another land, and was forced to trade Court Homunculus and Vedalken Outlander for Putrid Leech, pumping the Scavenger Drake to lethal proportions in doing so. When he found yet another land waiting for him on his turn, he flopped his hand on the table in disgust and conceded.

    Jun’ya Iyanaga 2, Yuuta Takahashi 1

     

  • Blog – 4:32 p.m. – Photo Essay 2
    by Bill Stark and Keita Mori
  • Time for another gander around the sites at Japan Nationals!

    "A group of players enjoy a game of EDH."

    "Hall of Famer Tsuyoshi Fujita wearing the Your Move Games red dragon."

    "Anthon S. Waters and Mark Tedin slowly bring to life a painting together that will be awarded as a prize later in the weekend."

    "The precious..."

    "A finer looking crew of judges has never been seen as the one at Japanese Nationals."

     

  • Round 11 Feature Match: Shirou Wakayama VS Yuuya Watanabe
    by Bill Stark
  • A former Rookie of the Year, Yuuya Watanabe represents a young group of Japanese players who have come up through the ranks via a large tournament circuit called “The Planeswalker Cup.” He also gets the benefit of testing with some of the world’s best in the form of Tomoharu Saito, amongst others. Shirou Wakayama is a newer generation of Japanese pro still, who marked his first Pro Tour in Kyoto this season.

    Yuuya won the die roll, and watched as his opponent started on a mulligan. Watanabe’s Faeries deck had an uphill battle to defeat Shirou’s aggressive red build, and Yuuya fell to 17 as Shirou cast a Hellspark Elemental on his second turn. Unfortunately for Wakayama, when he unearthed the creature to attack again, Yuuya was ready with a Peppersmoke to kill it. He also got to draw a card after having cast a Spellstutter Sprite at the end of Shirou’s previous turn. Wakayama missed a land drop, but Watanabe gave no inclination as to whether he was excited about the turn of fortune.

    Former Rookie of the Year Yuuya Watanabe.
    Yuuya was anything but short on lands, sitting on three Mutavaults, a Sunken Ruins, and an Island. His opponent had quickly caught back up on the resource, playing Savage Lands and a Mountain on back-to-back turns, but was well behind on the battlefield with the Faeries deck on the offensive. Anathemancer from Wakayama was met by a Broken Ambitions from Watanabe, and when Yuuya won the clash, Shirou opted to put his revealed Lightning Bolt on the bottom of his deck. It was a heads up play, as milling four unknown cards that could be Hellspark Elementals or Anathemancers was essentially like drawing cards for Wakayama.

    Yuuya wasn’t about to let it come to that, however, attacking Shirou to 10 with two Mutavaults and the Spellstutter Sprite. That opened up an opportunity for Wakayama to resolve a second Anathemancer, which he did, hitting Yuuya for 4 on the way into the battlefield. Watanabe simply stole it with a Sower of Temptation, but Shirou used Volcanic Fallout to wipe the board and, with a half dozen cards in his hand and his opponent at 11 life, it looked entirely possible Shirou could sneak a win out of the first game.

    He cast a third Anathemancer, dropping Yuuya to 7. Having three copies of the 2/2 Alara Reborn standout in his graveyard was very bad for Watanabe, who couldn’t counter the unearth ability. However, he took advantage of a mostly tapped out Wakayama to put himself in a winning position. A Scion of Oona left Yuuya with just enough mana to activate three Mutavaults and attack for exactly enough, thanks to the Crusade effect of the Scion.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1, Shirou Wakayama 0

    While waiting for Watanabe to present his deck for the second game of their match, Shirou refocused himself by lightly slapping his own cheeks. Smiling, Yuuya said “Saitosan?” referring to Tomoharu Saito. Slapping one’s cheeks to remain alert is a move made famous by Saito, the former Player of the Year.

    The players got under way, with Wakayama watching while Yuuya took a turn mulliganing. Shirou’s start was considerably more aggressive than the first game, opening on casting a first-turn Figure of Destiny. The Figure became a 2/2, then a 4/4 singlehandedly battering Yuuya to 14. Trying to keep up, Watanabe played a Spellstutter Sprite, then a Stillmoon Cavalier. The 2/1 pump Knight was dispatched with Lightning Bolt, and Wakayama’s encore was attacking with his 4/4 to put his opponent at 10, then casting Anathemancer to sting Yuuya for 2 more. Watanabe attacked with his Spellstutter Sprite, then cast Mistbind Clique on his main phase taking advantage of the fact his opponent was tapped out and unable to blow up his only Faerie, the Spellstutter, in response.

    Doom Blade dealt with the 4/4 flyer, but got Yuuya his Spellstutter Sprite back. He used the 1/1 to chump Figure of Destiny, falling to 6. It was a valiant effort to stay alive, but Wakayama’s Figure and Anathemancer combined with a flurry of burn spells were too much for Yuuya to overcome, and the players headed to the third game.

    Yuuya Watanabe 1, Shirou Wakayama 1

    Hellspark Elemental was the first creature to enter the battlefield, attacking for Wakayama to put Yuuya at 17 life. Watanabe cast Jace Beleren, drawing both players a card. Unearth from the Hellspark attacked Jace to two loyalty, which became one as Yuuya opted to draw himself a card on his turn. When Shirou tried a second Hellspark Elemental to finish off Jace, Watanabe used Cryptic Command to tap his opponent’s attacker and draw himself another card.

    Shirou cast Thoughtseize seeing Cryptic Command, Mistbind Clique, Agony Warp, and a second Jace Beleren (in addition to three lands he couldn’t target). The rookie nabbed Jace before passing the turn. Neither player had an actual creature on the table, though Yuuya at least had Mutavault. He activated the land and cast Mistbind Clique, again taking advantage of the fact his opponent was tapped out on his turn, unable to blow up his only Faerie.

    Shirou Wakayama, outfitted in an homage to Satoshi Nakamura.
    Wakayama used Blightning to knock out some more cards from Yuuya’s hand, having its damage dealt to Jace. He then used Thoughtseize to steal a Mistbind Clique from Watanabe. At the end of the turn, Shirou was still sitting on five cards, ready to wreak havoc on Watanabe’s forces. Using Magma Spray and Volcanic Fallout he dispatched the 4/4 Mistbind Clique, and connected with an Anathemancer to leave Yuuya at 12 life. A second copy of the 2/2 made it 9, and Shirou was all too happy to trade his Anathemancers for any of Yuuya’s life points or creatures. Thanks to unearth, a dead Anathemancer was just as good as a live one!

    Agonizing over how to deal the final few points of damage, Yuuya tried to come up with a game plan. Finally he decided on Cryptic Command to bounce Shirou’s Anathemancer, drawing himself a card. He untapped quickly, drew a card, and sucked in his breath. Puppeteer Clique flopped from his hand to the battlefield excitedly, presumably to target an Anathemancer that would be lethal against Shirou’s board of four non-basic lands. Shirou agonized over whether he had a play that could save himself, looking at his hand: Flame Javelin, Volcanic Fallout, and Anathemancer. When the math didn’t work out to be able to hit Yuuya for lethal, Wakayama extended his hand.

    Yuuya Watanabe 2, Shirou Wakayama 1.

     

  • Sunday, 5:23 p.m. - Deck Tech with Kenji Tsumura
    by Bill Stark
  • Kenji Tsumura with his Elf deck.

    The impact of Magic 2010 on Standard was the issue front most and center on everyone’s minds headed to Big Rose convention center this weekend. One player who was certain he had it figured out, and brought a number of his countrymen along for the ride, was the resurgent Kenji Tsumura. The scrappy super pro, who has had to put his professional Magic career on the back burner of late, worked out a version of the White-Green Turbo Elves style deck he was happy with.

    “I got the decklist from [Israeli former World Champion] Uri Peleg. I saw it on Starcitygames.com,” Tsumura explained. Kenji had started the weekend undefeated with the powerful concoction ripping off four straight match wins before heading into the Limited rounds on Day 1. “I didn’t practice for Limited,” he grimaced, looking downtrodden. “I’m 5-1 in Standard!”

    Also bringing the powerful deck to the table for the weekend were Pro Tour champion Masashiro Kuroda, defending National Champion Masashi Oiso, and a local player named Masuda Masakazu. “I played the deck a lot on Magic Online,” said Kenji, adding “I won so many games. So many games!”

    For readers at home, Kenji suggested the deck as a powerful choice for Grand Prixs, National Championships, and Pro Tour Qualifiers. On the topic of possible changes he said “I’d cut one Windbrisk Heights for a Plains, and a Forest for a Mosswort Bridge.” Here’s the list for those of you inclined to follow in Kenji’s footsteps.

     

  • Sunday, 6:17 p.m. – Japan’s Mister Orange
    by Bill Stark
  • Videographer Evan Erwin is a constant presence at North American Magic events, bringing the world his video commentary on all the latest happenings under the pseudonym “Mister Orange.” Japan, ever a forward thinking place, now has their own Mister Orange, and he was at Japanese Nationals with bells on. His name is Takuya Natsume, and the coverage team had the chance to catch up with him in between rounds. [Translation help by Ron Foster.]

    How long have you been producing videos?
    About two years.

    What inspired you to start filming?
    The final match of Grand Prix-Kyoto, 2007; it left a big impression on me. I was so impressed I felt it was a waste for the match to be lost forever with the event. I felt there should be something to preserve these things for everyone.

    Do you follow American Evan Erwin?
    Of course. It’s been very helpful to watch him in learning how to do video coverage.

    How much time do you spend on producing videos?
    It depends on the content. A short game might take a few hours, a long match could take an entire day.

    Where are your videos, and are they available in English?
    They’re uploaded to Youtube [you can find them here], and we’re planning on including English subtitles with them so more people can enjoy them.

    Who is your favorite pro player to cover?
    [Smiling] Yuuta Takahashi!

    Takuya Natsume, Japan’s Mister Orange.

     

  • Round 13 Feature Match: Motoaki Itou VS Ren Ishikawa
    by Bill Stark
  • Motoaki Itou found himself sitting down to a Round 13 Feature Match within striking distance of the Top 8. To get there he’d need to best a fellow city native in Ren Ishikawa; both players hailed from Kanagawa. Ishikawa had known previous Nationals success as a runner up to the title in 2007. He was trying to get that lightning to strike twice, provided he could maneuver around Motoaki.

    Ishikawa opened on Mutavault for his first land, aggressively attacking with it on his second turn while Itou was tapped out from playing a Vivid Crag. When Ren tried a Scion of Oona, Motoaki used a Jund Charm to kill it, taking an additional 2 from another attack by the Mutavault. Casting Kitchen Finks undid some of the Mutavault damage and provided a hefty blocker to prevent the 2/2 from attacking anymore.

    Because Ren Ishikawa was not playing any threats, outside of his Mutavault, Motoaki Itou stepped up to the plate to pursue the role of beating down. He cast Bloodbraid Elf which revealed a Stillmoon Cavalier off cascade. Ishikawa opted to Broken Ambitions the 2/1, and Itou sent his team to the red zone to attack Ishikawa for 6. Ren took the opportunity to cast Agony Warp, killing Bloodbraid Elf and shrinking the Kitchen Finks.

    Next up on the battlefield was a Liliana Vess from Motoaki’s Cascade Control deck. With three mana up, it looked likely Ishikawa would try to counter, but with a sigh he let the planeswalker hit play. Itou added a loyalty to make his opponent discard a card, and Ren played two Peppersmokes targeting his opponent’s Kitchen Finks in response, before discarding an Agony Warp. The following turn he used Mistbind Clique in an effort to tap down his opponent’s lands, but Itou had Bituminous Blast to say otherwise. Ren won a small victory as the cascade revealed Maelstrom Pulse which Itou couldn’t play profitably, instead putting the card on the bottom of his deck.

    It didn’t matter, however, as the Liliana wore down Ren’s hand turn after turn. Eventually she locked him to zero cards on Motoaki’s turn, and that meant Itou was free to resolve whatever he wanted. Eventually that turned out to be Cruel Ultimatum, netting a gigantic advantage as resolving the Ultimatum is wont to do, and a short time after Kitchen Finks and Bloodbraid Elf rumbled through hard enough to send the players to the second game.

    Motoaki Itou 1, Ren Ishikawa 0

    The first game of the match had chewed off half the time allotted for the round, but the players gave no inclination as to whether they were worried about that while sideboarding for the second. Their pace remained steady and certain, though a draw wouldn’t do much to help either. They finally got under way, after a stern lecture on time by one of the judges, and Ishikawa broke parity first with a Vendilion Clique on his opponent’s draw step. The 3/1 stole a Stillmoon Cavalier, but Motoaki still had a third-turn play in the form of Kitchen Finks.

    A Thoughtseize from Ren revealed double Bitumious Blast, Bloodbraid Elf, Enlisted Wurm, and a land. The Faeries player nabbed one of the Blasts, then successfully cast a Mistbind Clique on his opponent’s upkeep. Itou could only play a land and pass. With 17 minutes on the clock, a 1-1 draw was starting to look like a real possibility. Ren cast Bitterblossom after attacking with his 4/4, and protected the Mistbind from a Bituminous Blast using Broken Ambitions. The Blast revealed a Jund Charm, which Itou opted to use to make his Kitchen Finks into a 5/4.

    It was a race, and one Ishikawa was poised to win. Motoaki cast Enlisted Wurm to try to craft a lead, but when it revealed Path to Exile, Ren had Scion of Oona to protect his Faeries. The 1/1 Lord also allowed him to untap with lethal damage. When he counted up the power of his creatures out loud, Itou conceded.

    Motoaki Itou 1, Ren Ishikawa 1

    The two players had precious little time to get to the third game. There were six and a half minutes on the clock as they drew their final hands. Ren was early on to the battlefield with a Bitterblossom, just the kind of start that might allow him to race his opponent. Itou raced right back casting Bloodbraid Elf which cascaded into Anathemancer. The 2/2 hit the battlefield stinging Ren for 2 damage, but when Itou attacked with his Bloodbraid Elf, Ishikawa plopped Scion of Oona to trade with a Bitterblossom token. The following turn he had Mistbind Clique to Time Walk his opponent, and six minutes seemed all the time in the world with the start Ishikawa was enjoying.

    The Clique and Scion kept attacking while Itou tried to play more threats. Bloodbraid Elf traded with another Faerie token, while the Stillmoon Cavalier it had revealed on cascade was countered. He was falling badly behind in the race, and tried to catch up with a second Anathemancer. The 2/2 was countered, and that was the final play of the game as Ishikawa was able to attack for the win the following turn.

    Ren Ishikawa 2, Motoaki Itou 1

     

  • Round 14 Feature Match: Jun’ya Iyanaga VS Kenji Tsumura
    by Bill Stark
  • It was all down to this. Kenji Tsumura had lucked himself into being paired up against Jun’ya Iyanaga, meaning he was potentially in with a win. He had the highest tie breakers of the players with 27 match points, one or two of whom would make Top 8. Jun’ya, on the other hand, was a lock if he could win, but could potentially be knocked out with a loss. The two players had their entire weekend on the line.

    Jun’ya Iyanaga needed a win or draw to lock in a spot in the Top 8...
    Iyanaga lost the die roll, then had to take a mulligan. Kenji’s aggressive Elf combo deck was one of the hits of the weekend, but he didn’t seem happy after casting a first-turn Heritage Druid only to see his opponent open on a Mountain. Magma Spray soon exiled a Tsumura Devoted Druid, and Kenji followed up one Heritage Druid with a second, though he stayed stuck on two lands.

    Things got spicy as Tsumura cast an Elvish Archdruid, then tapped all three of his Elves to cast a second. He seemed to expect a Volcanic Fallout in response, but Jun’ya simply played Flame Javelin targeting one of the Archdruids before casting Hellspark Elemental and attacking Tsumura to 17. With a total of three Elves on the battlefield, Kenji could tap his Archdruid for three mana, but opted to simply pass the turn to his opponent after attacking with both of his Heritage Druids instead.

    Iyanaga unearthed his Hellspark Elemental, sending it to the red zone for a second time, but Kenji had an end-of-turn Cloudthresher, followed by a Primal Command to gain 7 life and put a land back on top of his opponent’s library. That was enough for Jun’ya, who conceded to get to his sideboard.

    Kenji Tsumura 1, Jun’ya Iyanaga 0

    Headed to mulligantown in the second game was Kenji Tsumura, though because he was on the draw it was a slightly less painful decision than it could have been. Six weren’t good enough either, however, and Tsumura would be starting the second game of his do or die match down two cards. Jun’ya Iyanaga watched stoically as Kenji shuffled up, revealing zero emotion.

    Despite being down on the card count, Kenji came out quickly casting Llanowar Elves on his first turn. Jun’ya, afraid of allowing his opponent to large an early lead on tempo, used Lightning Bolt to blow up the 1/1, then Thoughtseized Kenji after Tsumura cast a second Elf. The sorcery revealed a Mosswort Bridge and Burrenton Forge-Tender, and the 1/1 hit Kenji’s bin. Tsumura played his Bridge and a Devoted Druid, then passed the turn back.

    Figure of Destiny entered the battlefield for Iyanaga, with a Deathmark making short work of a Devoted Druid from Tsumura. Kenji attacked with his Llanowar Elf, only to lose a Primal Command and Burrenton Forge-Tender to a Blightning. His draw step finally yielded him a white source of mana, but it looked like too little too late as Jun’ya continued beating down with his 4/4 Figure, a land away from making it an 8/8. When Jun’ya finally drew his sixth mana source to super-size his Kithkin, the two were off to the third game.

    Kenji Tsumura 1, Jun’ya Iyanaga 1

    Kenji’s hand was much better for the final battle, opening on an Elvish Visionary. When Jun’ya cast Thoughtseize, he saw a second Visionary, Ranger of Eos, Primal Command, Elvish Archdruid, Heritage Druid, and a Wooded Bastion. Command was a life cushion for Kenji while the Ranger was a source of double Burrenton Forge-Tender. The rest of the cards in his hand ensured he could cast one or the other, and as early as the second turn the outlook was very poor for Jun’ya Iyanaga.

    ...but Kenji Tsumura was going to do everything he could to stand in his opponent’s way.
    The silent pro did some calculations in his head before making Tsumura discard Primal Command. Kenji cast a second Elvish Visionary, drawing a card as it entered the battlefield, then attacked Jun’ya for 1 with the first copy. Iyanaga had nothing on his own turn after dropping a third land, and watched as Kenji cast Ranger of Eos to search up double Burrenton Forge-Tender. Looking to make up for his opponent’s double draw off Ranger, Jun’ya cast Blightning, costing Kenji an Elvish Archdruid and a Heritage Druid.

    The first Burrenton Forge-Tender hit the battlefield, with the second close behind. Jun’ya responded to all the protection from red action with a Lightning Bolt on Ranger of Eos, and Kenji had a second Heritage Druid which allowed him to generate enough mana to cast Elvish Archdruid. The 2/2 Lord was bad news for Jun’ya who was facing an active Mosswort Bridge if he couldn’t kill at least one of Kenji’s creatures.

    Iyanaga was unable to deal with any of Kenji’s threats, instead casting a Demigod of Revenge but opting not to attack. Tsumura untapped quickly, and attacked with all of his creatures save the Archdruid. Jun’ya blocked the Heritage Druid, and Kenji activated his Bridge to put Oversoul of Dusk onto the battlefield, before following his combat step up with another Heritage Druid. Iyanaga drew his card for the turn and went deep into the tank. He submerged only with the realization there was nothing he could do, and the match went to Kenji Tsumura.

    Kenji Tsumura 2, Jun’ya Iyanaga 1

     

  • Top 8 Player Profiles
    by Bill Stark

  • Name: Yuuya Watanabe
    Age:
    Profession: Former Mister PWC [Planeswalker Cup]

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Kanagawa Prefecture.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 6-1-1
    Draft 1: 3-0
    Draft 2: 1-2

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: UB Faeries
    Deck name: Mode de Faerie
    Designer: Myself
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Drowned Catacomb and Gargoyle Castle.

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Faeries. It’s still the strongest deck.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Drowned Catacomb.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Great Sable Stag.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    2008 Japan National Tea, 2007 Pro Tour Rookie of the Year, Grand Prix-Kyoto Champion, Grand Prix-Kobe Finalist.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    I like watching Evangelion. I can’t wait to see the third movie.





    Name: Yuma Shiota
    Age: 26
    Profession: Company employee

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Okayama Prefecture.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 7-0-1
    Draft 1: 1-2
    Draft 2: 2-1

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: Affinity Elves
    Deck name: Big Druid Deck
    Designer: Naoki Ueda
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Elvish Archdruid, Great Sable Stag, Sunpetal Grove.

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    This deck—it’s a lot of fun to play.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    None





    Name: Shuhei Nakamura
    Age: 28
    Profession: Drafter

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Either Osaka or Tokyo.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 6-2
    Draft 1: 3-0
    Draft 2: 1-2

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: 5-color Cruel Control
    Deck name:
    Designer: Myself, although I got the basic design from the Decks of the Week. The sideboard was decided with help from [Kazuya] Mitamura.
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Great Sable Stag.

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Elf combo. It’s probably the strongest deck in the current format.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Essence Scatter.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    The new lands.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    Someone told me I’m the Player of the Year...

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Practicing English, traveling for fun and not Magic, touring on my bicycle.





    Name: Kenji Tsumura
    Age: 22
    Profession: Prep school student

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Somewhere in Hiroshima, preferably in Hiroshima City.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 7-1
    Draft 1: 2-1
    Draft 2: 1-2

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: Affinity Elves
    Deck name: Alright!!
    Designer: Myself and Oiso
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Elvish Archdruid, Sunpetal Grove, Great Sable Stag.

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Affinity Elves—it’s the strongest.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Honor the Pure.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    2005 Pro Tour Player of the Year.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Study!





    Name: Taichi Fujimoto
    Age: 24
    Profession: Student

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Tokyo.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 6-1-1
    Draft 1: 2-1
    Draft 2: 2-1

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: BR Blightning
    Deck name: Iyanaga Special
    Designer: Jun’ya Iyanaga
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Lightning Bolt, Dragonskull Summit.

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    I think the UB infinite turn deck is really good.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Lightning Bolt.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Baneslayer Angel.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    Grand Prix Top 8.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Eat.





    Name: Ren Ishikawa
    Age: 23
    Profession:MagicOnline player

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Kanagawa Prefecture.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 5-2-1
    Draft 1: 3-0
    Draft 2: 2-1

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: Faeries
    Deck name:
    Designer: Main deck—me, Sideboard—Shota Yasooka
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Drowned Catacomb

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Faeries. It can just win even unfavorable match-ups.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Swamp

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Great Sable Stag.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    Grand Prix-Yokohama Top 8, Grand Prix-Kyoto Top 8, Japan Nationals Finalist.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Work on my standing in the Magic Online Player of the Year race.





    Name: Tomomi Shiraishi
    Age: 24
    Profession: MD

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Gunma Prefecture.

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 5-1-2
    Draft 1: 2-1
    Draft 2: 3-0

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: Affinity Elves
    Deck name: Elf type G @ Nagashima
    Designer: Myself and my friend Kawashima
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Elvish Archdruid, Sunpetal Grove

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Toast. Faeries is a deck that’s designed around creature decks, but it’s not good at handling other archetypes.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid.

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    I have won some local tournaments.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Judo.





    Name: Naoki Sakaguchi
    Age: 22
    Profession: Company employee

    If you win, where will next year’s Japan Nationals be held?
    Nagoya!

    What was your tournament record during the Swiss rounds?
    Standard: 5-1-2 (both intentional draws)
    Draft 1: 3-0
    Draft 2: 3-0

    Please tell us about your Standard deck.
    Deck type: Quick ‘N Toast
    Deck name: Griman
    Designer: SKGL
    What Magic 2010 cards did you use? Baneslayer Angel

    If you were going to play in next week’s US Nationals, what deck would you bring for the Standard portion?
    Quick ‘N Toast. I think it can handily beat any non-Faeries deck.

    What Magic 2010 card was your VIP this weekend?
    Baneslayer Angel.

    What Magic 2010 card had the biggest impact on your deck this weekend?
    Elvish Archdruid and Great Sable Stag

    Please tell us about your other Magic achievements.
    I’ve played on the Pro Tour twice.

    What do you like to do when you’re not playing Magic?
    Pachinko.

     

  • Top 8 Decklists
    by Bill Stark
  • Kenji Tsumura
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Naoki Sakaguchi
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Ren Ishikawa
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Yuuya Watanabe
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Shuuhei Nakamura
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Yuuma Shiota
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Tomomi Shiraishi
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online


    Taichi Fujimoto
    2009 Japan National Championship Standard Top 8
    View a sample hand of this deck
    Download a .dek file for use in Magic Online

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    Dragonskull Summit
    Graven Cairns
    11  Mountain
    Savage Lands
    Swamp

    24 lands

    Anathemancer
    Demigod of Revenge
    Figure of Destiny
    Hellspark Elemental

    16 creatures

    Blightning
    Flame Javelin
    Lightning Bolt
    Magma Spray
    Volcanic Fallout

    20 other spells

    Sideboard
    Bitterblossom
    Deathmark
    Firespout
    Manabarbs
    Shriekmaw

    15 sideboard cards


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