Round 11 Feature Match: Itaru Ishida v. Kazuya Hirabayashi

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Kazuya Hirabayashi may not have the star power that Itaru Ishida commands. He's more often covering the Top 8 than playing in it, but he's still a strong player in his own right, and today he's making another run at a title to prove what so many already know. Ishida needs no introduction. Behind his veneer of spectacles and quiet contemplation is an electric mind that dissects game states and reassembles them into victory. Next weekend he'll be in Seattle playing with the game's best at the Magic Invitational.

Hirabayashi tried to win with speed, opening with Festering Goblin and Wretched Anurid. Ishida cut that off at the knees with Chain of Plasma. He started his own offense with a morph. Hirabayashi answered with Nantuko Husk. Ishida swung in and traded his creature, Skirk Commando, for Festering Goblin. Then he tapped out for Serpentine Basilisk.

Hirabayashi was happy on defense, making a morph and staying back. Ishida pressed, a Wave of Indifference in his hand making racing very attractive. He just needed a fifth land to bust out Barkhide Mauler. He made Leery Fogbeast to wait for it. Hirabayashi returned fire and when the Fogbeast blocked the Hustk, showed Haunted Cadaver. Ishida was left with just Barkhide Mauler. Pacifism shut down his Basilisk.

He drew Solar Blast, and was given a perfect target in Hirabayashi's Festering Goblin. Hirabayashi was unfazed, and tapped out for Exalted Angel. The crowd gasped. Ishida knew his only hope, slim though it was, was to power out creatures and outrace. Barkhide Mauler was followed by Battering Craghorn. The fact that Hirabayashi had Death Pulse to cycle on it was downright unfair. Five power worth of creatures wasn't going to race four life a turn.

Hirabayashi 1 - Ishida 0

Ishida's draw was land-heavy in the third game. Though he had Goblin Sledder and Shock for Whipcorder, his third-turn Leery Fogbeast was shut down by a morph from Hirabayashi. When he had no further play, Hirabayashi morphed again. On his fifth turn he flipped over the Angel. Ishida drew, and showed lands seven through nine in his hand, and conceded rather than play out this farce.

Kazuya Hirabayashi defeats Itaru Ishida 2-0

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