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Round 3: Kazuya Hirabayashi vs. Tomoya Taniguchi

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Today is apparently the Sideboard Japan Staff's day off, as both Koichirou Maki and Kazuya Hirabashi are wearing their street clothes and sitting in the competitors' chairs. This round it was Hirabayashi's turn to sit in the Feature Match area, giving him a chance to show off his crazy green-red-black Vegetation deck. Packed with cyclers to take advantage of Lightning Rift and plenty of big men besides, it's rogue with a capital "R". His opponent, Tomoya Taniguchi, is playing a much more pedestrian Goblins deck, touching black for Smother and Patriarch's Bidding.

Game 1

Hirabayashi won the die roll, which was good news against Taniguchi's goblins. Unfortunately, he had no play before a turn-three Lightning Rift, thanks to a slow Forgotten Cave, and so Taniguchi was free to bash with Sledder and Piledriver. Before the Rift could come online, Taniguchi added a second Piledriver and a Skirk Prospector. Things were looking dire for Hirabayashi.

He played his fourth land and passed it back, looking at Spark Spray, Tranquil Thicket and Forgotten Cave in hand. Taniguchi swung in. In response to the Piledrivers' abilities going on the stack, Hirabayashi cycled the Spray, and aimed at the Sledder. Taniguchi used it to buff up a Piledriver. In response to that, Hirabayashi cycled Tranquil Thicket, and shot down the Piledriver, taking only four. Taniguchi made a post-combat Sledder and was done.

Hirabayashi untapped and showed his third color of mana with a Bloodstained Mire that fetched a swamp. He tapped all five for a Silklash Spider, big enough to hold off the Piledriver ... for now. Taniguchi came right back with a mighty Siege-Gang Commander. Fortunately, Hirabayashi wasn't out of cyclers. Twisted Abomination got rid of the Sledder, and Forgotten Cave handled the Commander. However, Taniguchi had stocked up on Sledders, and played a third, allowing him to swing into the Spider with impunity. Hirabayashi traded his Spider for a token and seven life. Not a bad deal.

He untapped and upgraded to Silvos, Rogue Elemental. This time the Piledriver went down for good. Gempalm Incinerator was a poor replacement. Hirabayashi cycled away the Sledder, and mercifully drew another cycler, taking down the Incinerator. That drew him an Incinerator of his own, and Taniguchi's offense was dismantled. Another Silvos hit the table, and this one stuck. Two swings later Hirabayashi cycled him out.

Hirabayashi 1 – Taniguchi 0

Game 2

Taniguchi kept a sketchy two-lander choked with expensive spells, while Hirabayashi stayed on six lands and a Spark Spray. Taniguchi forgot to play his Prospector on the first turn, and drew into Goblin Piledriver to punish himself. Hirabayashi found a Rift, and accepted four damage. Taniguchi played another Piledriver. Hirabayashi drew his card slowly. It was Starstorm!

Suddenly, Taniguchi's board was clear, and his landscrew was crippling. He cycled Incinerator but drew a non-land and sat there looking foolish. Hirabayashi, meanwhile, was laying down Silvos and double-Rifting to the face. Taniguchi scooped rather than continue the humiliation.

Final Result: Kazuya Hirabayashi defeats Tomoya Taniguchi 2-0

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