gpkit13

Tan's Courage Crushes Kitakyushu

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The letter I!t was a quick and brutal affair, as it always seems to be when Bant Hexproof is firing on all cylinders. Malaysia's Raymond Tan, armed with Unflinching Courage both cardboard and emotional, carved his way through the Top 8. He put his signature on the event with a shocking game two victory over finalist Koichi Kudou after mulliganing down to just four cards!

From the early goings, the tournament was under the shadow of Kibler Gruul. The trials on Friday night awarded plenty of byes to those putting their faith in Domri Rade and his gaggle of monsters. It was everywhere on Day 1, and was a fixture at the top tables. Beyond that, however, variety was the order of things. Decks of all description were in the hunt for Day 2.

On Sunday, the field of 1185 competitors was whittled down to just 161. Kibler Gruul again had the best numbers, joined by Jund, Bant Hexproof, and Big Black-Green. Of these, only Jund was left out of the Top 8 party. Naya Midrange, Junk Tokens, and Yuuta Takahashi's surprising "Last Delver" completed the mix. Big monsters won out in the quarters, and it seemed like a sign of things to come. After all, whose monsters are bigger than the man with all the enchantments?

Congratulations to Raymond Tan, Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013 Champion!




Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Kentaro Yamamoto   Ryosuke Nomura, 2-0        
8 Ryosuke Nomura   Kouichi Kudou, 2-1
       
4 Kouichi Kudou   Kouichi Kudou, 2-0   Raymond Tan, 2-0
5 Yuuta Takahashi    
       
2 Raymond Tan   Raymond Tan, 2-1
7 Hiroaki Taniguchi   Raymond Tan, 2-1
       
3 Tzu-Ching Kuo   Tzu-Ching Kuo, 2-1
6 Takashi Naitou    









EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Raymond Tan $3,500
 2.  Kouichi Kudou $2,300
 3.  Tzu-Ching Kuo $1,500
 4.  Ryosuke Nomura $1,500
 5.  Kentaro Yamamoto $1,000
 6.  Yuuta Takahashi $1,000
 7.  Takashi Naitou $1,000
 8.  Hiroaki Taniguchi $1,000
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  • Top 8 — Players

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Raymond Tan

    Age: 29
    Residence: Malaysia
    Occupation: Engineer

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    Top 8, GP Bangkok 2013

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    Bant Hexproof, Geist of Saint Traft

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-1-1

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    Midrange decks with black; Spell Rupture and Negate.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    I went 13-1 and didn't have to play the last round.

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Scavenging Ooze

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Force of Will




    Hiroaki Taniguchi

    Age: 31
    Residence: Hyōgo Prefecture
    Occupation: Resident spirit in the Omonshi Residence

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    None

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    Kibler Gruul, any burn spell

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-2

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    Golgari Control

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    I had lucky top decks all weekend.

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Wight of Precinct Six

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Forest, as I usually play Green decks.




    Yūta Takahashi

    Age: 27
    Residence: Tōkyō
    Occupation: Card shop employee

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    Lots of losses and few wins. It's the memory of the wins that keep me playing Magic.

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    UW Delver. It's full of cards I like, and I get happy just looking at my opening hand.

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-2 with 3 byes

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    I hate Voice of Resurgence! It's about as bad for me as Great Sable Stag is for Faeries. I use Detention Sphere and Supreme Verdict to get rid of them.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    Topdecking a Supreme Verdict.

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Jace, Architect of Thought and Blood Baron of Vizkopa

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Cryptic Command. Drawing it in Faeries always meant I was going to win.




    Kentarō Yamamoto

    Age: 28
    Residence: Saitama Prefecture
    Occupation:Magic Online player

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    Pro Tour Top 8, Grand Prix Top 8

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    BG Rock, Disciple of Bolas

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-1-1 with 2 byes

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    UW Flash, which I use Duress against.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    So few Rock decks!

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Archangel of Thune and Jace, Architect of Thought

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Psychatog




    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    Age: 32
    Residence: Taipei
    Occupation: XXX

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    2012 World Magic Cup Champion, 10 Grand Prix Top 8s

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    Bant Aura, Geist of Saint Traft

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-2

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    BG Control. I bring in more counterspells against them.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    I was X-1 at the end of Day 1, but I couldn't ID into the Top 8.

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Essence Scatter, because Cavern is gone.

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Geist of Saint Traft, because it helped me win the World Magic Cup several other high finishes. So sick!




    Kōichi Kudō

    Age: 30
    Residence: Tōkyō
    Occupation: Game creator

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    Top 32 in numerous Grands Prix and Japan National Championships

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    Kibler Gruul, Thundermaw Hellkite and the seven mana creatures in my sideboard

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-2

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    Bant Aura. I don't have anything in my sideboard against it. My only losses in the Swiss were against Ban Aura, and both those players are in the Top 8!

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    Thundermaw Hellkite always coming to help me in a pinch!

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Mizzium Mortars and Strionic Resonator

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Uthden Troll. It was in the first pack I ever bought, and he's cute in an ugly way.




    Takashi Naitō

    Age: 25
    Residence: Okayama Prefecture
    Occupation: Teacher

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    Champion, "King of Okayama" tournament

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    GWB token, Scion of Vitu-Ghazi

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    8-1

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    Jund Control, which I use Rootborn Defenses against.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    Panappu going 5-4

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Voice of Resurgence

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Serra Avenger. I was in one of the first boosters I ever bought, and I loved the illustration.




    Ryōsuke Nomura

    Age: 26
    Residence: Aichi Prefecture
    Occupation: Company employee

    What are some of your previous Magic accomplishments?:
    None

    What deck are you using this weekend, and what is your MVP card?
    Naya Control, Warleader's Helix

    What was your record in the Swiss rounds?
    13-2

    What is the worst match-up for your deck, and do you have any special cards in your sideboard to deal with that deck?
    Jund. I get help from Sigarda and Witchbane Orb.

    Tell us about a memorable moment from the tournament.
    Going 6-0 on Day 2.

    What card do you think is most likely to get reappraised by players after the rotation?
    Voice of Resurgence

    This year is Magic's 20th anniversary. Of all the cards printed in that time, which one do you have the best memories of playing with?
    Sigarda, Host of Herons. I only have one in my deck, but she led me to victory twice in Round 15.




     

  • Top 8 — Decklists

    by Event Coverage Staff


  • Yuuta Takahashi
    Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013






    Kouichi Kudo
    Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013


    Hiroaki Taniguchi
    Grand Prix Kitakyushu 2013




     

  • Quarterfinals — Yuuta Takahashi vs. Kouichi Kudou

    by Ben Swartz

  • The letter Y!uuta Takahashi was in his element with his deck choice in this tournament. He won two Grand Prix in 2008 with the Lorwyn-block based Faeries deck—an aggro-control deck. Though not as active in the Pro Scene today, Yuuta was very excited that he had an opportunity to play his favorite type of deck, aggro-control, at GP Kitakyushu.

    Standing in his way was Kouichi Kudou. When I asked pros what deck they were most expecting at this Grand Prix, their answer was uniform: Gruul Aggro. Kouichi Kudou was one of many players to come equipped with the deck this weekend.

    The Matchup

    This quarterfinal was a matchup of known versus unknown. Kouichi Kudou was playing Gruul Aggro, a Red-Green deck popularized by Brian Kibler and the most popular deck in day two. Yuuta Takahashi was playing Blue-White Delver, a deck reminiscent of the dominant deck in Standard a year ago, but one that has seen no play as of late.

    Gruul's strength comes from its creatures. From early beaters such as Flinthoof Boar and Strangleroot Geist and strong finishers such as Thundermaw Hellkite and Ghor-Clan Rampager, it has the ability to close games out very quickly.

    Yuuta's deck is an aggro-control deck at heart. While he is susceptible to Mizzium Mortars, he can take advantage of the cost of Kouichi's creatures by using Unsummon and Azorius Charm to gain tempo while attacking in with his suite of creatures: Delver of Secrets, Geist of Saint Traft, Snapcaster Mage and Restoration Angel.

    The Games


    Both players began with ideal starts for their decks: turn one Elvish Mystic into Domri Rade for Kouichi and a pair of Delver of Secrets that immediately Transform for Yuuta.

    It would seem like the Insectile Abberations would win in that battle being able to take out the Kouichi's Domri Rade, but that was not the case.


    Yuuta Takahashi

    Though the card that Yuuta most feared, Mizzium Mortars, never came, Kouichi filled his side of the board with creatures and brought Yuuta down to two life.

    When a Thundermaw Hellkite came off the top for Kouichi, there was nothing Yuuta could do and the match went to a second game.


    Kouichi Kudou

    In the second game, Yuuta had his ideal start: a first turn Delver of Secrets that immediately transformed.

    The smile on Yuuta's face did not last long, however, as Kouichi had a Searing Spear to take out the Insectile Abberation.

    Kouichi's hand was full of creatures and Yuuta's hand was full of counterspells. While some of Kouichi's creatures got countered, some still got through.

    With no creatures from Yuuta, the time that the counters earned him was worthless. When he tried to begin to stabilize with a Restoration Angel during Kouichi's attack step, Kouichi had the perfect trump card: Ghor-Clan Rampager.

    With no board and only a Snapcaster Mage in hand, there was nothing Yuuta could do to defend from Kouichi's onslaught.

    Kouichi Kudou 2 – Yuuta Takahashi 0




     

  • Quarterfinal — Roundup

    by Josh Bennett

  • The letter T!he first round of Top 8 is never an easy time for a player. You barely get a chance to enjoy your accomplishment before being thrust back in to battle. The stakes were just a little higher this time around. Only the Top 4 would receive Pro Tour invitations. Here's a quick look at how three of the four quarterfinals shook out.


    Raymond Tan (Bant Hexproof) vs. Hiroaki Taniguchi (Kibler Gruul)

    Tan thought hard about his first decision of the game, staring at a hand that had everything he needed except for a creature. He chose to keep. His faith was rewarded with an elf that got itself a Rancor. Taniguchi had a fast start of Strangleroot Geist and Flinthoof Boar, but Tan piled on Etherial Armor and Unflinching Courage, lifelinking his way to victory.

    Taniguchi's deck was cruel for game two, forcing him down to just five cards. Still, he led with a pair of Flinthoof Boars. Tan was a slow to start with only Geist of Saint Traft on the third turn. He was at eight before he could attack. He had banked on Unflinching Courage, but a pair of Fogs from Taniguchi forced a third game.

    Again Taniguchi went to just five cards, and this time he didn't have the tools to put up a fight. Tan summoned Geist of Saint Traft and gave it Spectral Flight, and that was good enough.

    Raymond Tan defeats Hiroaki Taniguchi 2-1



    Kentaro Yamamoto (Big Black-Green) vs. Ryosuke Nomura (Naya Midrange)

    Yamamoto was stuck on three lands early, but removal and Liliana of the Veil took care of Nomura's first few threats. Unfortunately for Yamamoto, Nomura had plenty in reserve and landed Thundermaw Hellkite. A fourth land for Yamamoto taunted him with the useless Mutilate in his hand. An Ooze joined the dragon, and they were quickly on to game two.

    Yamamoto's ill fortune continued into the second game, where he stalled on just two land. Doom Blade and then Putrefy off a timely third land handled Nomura's first two threats, but then came Thragtusk and Thundermaw Hellkite. Yamamoto soon extended the hand in defeat.

    Ryosuke Nomura defeats Kentarou Yamamoto 2-0



    Tzu-Ching Kuo (Bant Hexproof) vs. Naitou Takashi (Junk Tokens)

    Takashi opened with the powerful trio of Call of the Conclave, Lingering Souls, then Intangible Virtue. Kuo had already summoned Fiendslayer Paladin and given it Rancor, but he had been wary of putting all his eggs in such a vulnerable basket. The Virtue meant he would need more power for his lifelinker, and so gave it Spectral Flight. It only got one hit in before falling to Selesnya Charm. Kuo almost managed to take the game regardless by replaying the Rancor on Invisible Stalker, but a second Selesnya Charm gave Takashi lethal damage.

    Game two was a real contrast to the back and forth power of the first. Kuo played a second-turn Geist of Saint Traft and suited it up with two Spectral Flights. The game was over on turn four.

    Takashi again pulled out the opener of Call of the Conclave and Lingering Souls, but passed on four mana. Kuo had Geist of Saint Traft but wasn't about to fall for Advent of the Wurm. He snuck damage in the following turn, but was at a precarious two life. Takashi sensed a win, and turned all his creatures sideways. Kuo showed him Fog. Takashi was unfazed. He was still at eleven life. He had four mana, Ray of Revelation and Abrupt Decay. What could go wrong?

    Well, Increasing Savagery on Geist of Saint Traft for starters. Combined with the Rancor already on it and then an Etherial Armor. That, combined with the other two 1/1 attackers and the Geist's helpful angel completed the lethal puzzle. Takashi could kill two enchantments, or one enchantment and the angel token, but no matter what he could not survive the turn.

    Tzu-Ching Kuo defeats Naitou Takashi 2-1




     

  • Semifinals — Tzu-Ching Kuo vs Raymond Tan

    by Ben Swartz

  • The letter C!oming into Grand Prix Kitakyushu, Tzu-Ching Kuo was probably the most feared non-Japanese player. Having won the inaugural World Magic Cup with the Chinese Taipei team, he was not the player you were hoping to face off against this weekend. It was no surprise when Kuo waltzed his way into the top eight here in Kitakyushu disposing of players left and right.

    His opponent, Raymond Tan, was no stranger to high-level play. Three months ago, he made the top eight of Grand Prix Bangkok. He escaped day one with a single loss and quietly racked up wins today to make it to the semifinals.

    The Matchup

    Both players were playing Bant Hexproof, a powerful deck that attempts to create one enormous hexproof creature through auras such as Unflinching Courage, Rancor, Ethereal Armor, and Spectral Flight.

    The first game of this mirror match would be a battle of Auras; since neither deck could interact well with one another, whoever could get the strongest creature attacking first would likely win.

    After sideboard, however, that would all change. Both players had access to cards like Fog, Nearheath Pilgrim, Ray of Revelation, and Celestial Flare. Depending on how much each player wanted to dilute their deck they could have answers to threats from the other side of the table.

    The Games


    Both players began with their respective hexproof creatures, Gladecover Scout for Tan and Geist of Saint Traft for Kuo.

    Though Kuo's creature was inherently more powerful, it would be up to the Auras to decide who would win this game.

    In Kuo's case, he only had a Spectral Flight.

    For Tan, he had two pair: Ethereal Armor and Unflinching Courage.


    Raymond Tan

    Without being able to interact versus the gigantic elf, Tzu-Ching Kuo conceded and headed to game two.

    Game two started in a similar fashion to the first game. Kuo had Geist of Saint Traft while Tan had Gladecover Scout.

    Enhancements came in the form of a Nearheath Pilgrim and Unflinching Courage for Kuo and another pair of Ethereal Armors for Tan.

    Though Kuo may have had the more threatening monster the game entered a stalemate; neither player wanted to attack into certain death from the other.

    After a few turns of staring at each other, Kuo finally attacked with his entire team. This prompted a Fog from Tan, which Kuo used Spell Rupture to counter.

    Kuo's last card was a Ray of Revelation. It let him remove all of the Auras from Tan's Gladecover Scout and sent the match to a final game.


    Tzu-Ching Kuo

    The players mirrored each other for the final game; both had Invisible Stalker on turn two and Geist of Saint Traft on turn three.

    Tan was the first one to have Auras—a pair of Spectral Flight for his Geist of Saint Traft.

    This forced Kuo to play catch-up. Unfortunately for him he had only one Spectral Flight.

    Kuo passed the turn with a single green mana up, representing Fog. This put Tan in a tough spot. It was too risky for Tan to call Kuo's bluff. Instead, he hedged, attacking with his Invisible Stalker while holding back his Geist of Saint Traft.

    Kuo had a second Spectral Flight and the two Geists collided. Tan attacked with all of his creatures on the following turn. While Kuo had the Fog he was representing, he was left with only an Invisible Stalker.

    Unable to deal the final five points of damage, Kuo was helpless to Tan's attack and Raymond Tan headed to the finals.

    Raymond Tan 2 – Tzu-Ching Kuo 0




     

  • Semifinals — Ryosuke Nomura vs. Kouichi Kudou

    by Josh Bennett

  • The Players

    The letter O!n one side, Koichi Kudou, a journeyman player who has battled plenty of Day 2's and is finally enjoying his first Top 8. This weekend he chose Kibler Gruul and it served him well.

    On the other, amateur Ryosuke Nomura, caught up in the swell of his first great tournament performance. He's been battling with Naya Midrange with plenty of maindeck lifegain.

    The Matchup

    On paper it looks good for Nomura, provided he draws the tools to weather the early pressure from Kudou. All that incidental lifegain from Warleader's Helix, Thragtusk and Huntmaster means that it's that much harder for Kudou to steal the game with a Hellrider or Thundermaw Hellkite.


    The Games

    In the first game they went toe-to-toe, running cards into each other with Kudou scoring extra damage here and there. His attempt at a big Hellrider attack with Nomura at twelve life was thwarted by Searing Spear, and Warleader's Helix put him well out of harm's way. A pair of Thundermaw Hellkites showed up to go about the business of winning the game, and Nomura added a flourish with Selesnya Charm and Reverberate on the lethal attack.

    Nomura 1 - Kudou 0


    Ryosuke Nomura

    Kudou mulliganed to six and fell behind early, with just Scavenging Ooze to defend against Boros Reckoner and Huntmaster of the Fells. Nomura's hands were shaking as he pressed his advantage. Kudou wasn't about to make it easy on him, however, and summoned Ruric Thar, the Unbowed! Nomura held his team back, and blocked with his Reckoner when Ruric Thar swung in. Kudou tapped two and Bloodrushed Ghor-Clan Rampager. Nomura smiled and tapped two of his own. Six life was a small price to pay for Selesnya Charm.

    Still, Kudou was safe behind his 5/5 Scavenging Ooze, and the next turn he summoned Thundermaw Hellkite and swung in, leaving Nomura at nine. Nomura had no way to stop it, and couldn't push through enough damage despite his impressive board. He scooped up his cards and shuffled for game three.

    Nomura 1 - Kudou 1

    Nomura fanned out his opener and thought hard. He was on the play with just two land, and only Selesnya Charm and Boros Reckoner for early plays. He shuffled it back and forth, then decided he would gamble on it. He missed on his first two draws and was rewarded with four damage on the chin thanks to a pair of Strangleroot Geists. His third draw was Huntmaster of the Fells and he was forced to discard Thragtusk.


    Koichi Kudou

    Kudou wasn't about to go easy on him. A third Strangleroot Geist hit play and Nomura was down to ten. He made a 2/2 Knight with Selesyna Charm at end of turn, then untapped...

    Sacred Foundry! He gladly paid two life to summon Boros Reckoner, but whatever joy he may have felt was cut short by Mizzium Mortars. Unable to defend himself, he extended his hand in defeat.

    Koichi Kudou defeats Ryosuke Nomura 2-1.




     

  • Finals — Raymond Tan vs. Kouichi Kudou

    by Ben Swartz

  • The letter A!fter fifteen grueling rounds of swiss and two single elimination rounds, both Raymond Tan and Kouichi Kudou have earned their way to the finals of Grand Prix Kitakyushu. Both players made their way past pros in the top eight to get to this point: Tan defeated Tzu-Ching Kuo in the semifinals and Kudou defeated Yuuta Takahashi in the quarterfinals.

    During those seventeen rounds, Kouichi Kudou has lost exactly twice, once against Raymond Tan and once against Tzu-Ching Kuo. Both Kuo and Tan were playing Bant Hexproof, a deck that attempts to create a single powerful hexproof creature by attaching as many auras to it as possible.

    Kudou is playing the big bad wolf of the format: Gruul Aggro. Popularized by Brian Kibler at the World Championships, the deck uses quick powerful creatures in an attempt to decimate the opponent's life total.

    The Matchup

    Well nothing is a sure thing, the fact that Kudou's Gruul deck has fallen twice to Bant Hexproof does not bode well for him. Before the match, I talked to Tan about how he thought the matchup would play out. He told me that if he could resolve an Unflinching Courage the game out be in the bag.


    Looking at the player's sideboards, Kudou does not have much to combat the hexproof creatures. His best bet would be to miracle Bonfire of the Damned and clear away Tan's early creatures before they could become enchanted. Other than that, his only hope is to attempt to take out Tan before he has the chance to create an unbeatable monster.

    The Games


    The first game started off slowly for both players. While Kudou had a pair of Scavenging Oozes, Tan was had a third-turn Invisible Stalker that he enhanced with Rancor.

    When Tan untapped and cast Unflinching Courage, all bets were off. The enchantment made Tan's Invisible Stalker a 5/5 and threatened a four-turn clock while padding his life total.


    Raymond Tan

    Kudou had an uphill climb; he had to race a creature that was causing a ten point life swing each turn.

    On the following turn, Tan shrugged and slammed down a second Unflinching Courage on his Stalker. With no way to destroy the unblockable creature and no way to race it, Tan quickly took game one.

    If there's one thing that the Bant Hexproof deck does not take to kindly, it is mulliganning. Due to its color requirements and necessity for both creatures and enchantments, it is not uncommon for Hexproof to mulligan multiple times.

    In the second game, Tan was plagued by exactly this; he begrudgingly kept a four-card hand.

    This was exactly the opening Kudou needed. Kudou was able to get a normal start, playing Flinthoof Boar and Domri Rade, while Tan stumbled with a second turn Gladecover Scout.


    Kouichi Kudou

    It didn't matter though; Tan slowly drew the card for his third turn—a third land for Unflinching Courage.

    Now it was Kudou's turn to fumble; unable to find a fourth mana source, he was stuck casting another Flinthoof Boar.

    The players were at a stalemate; Tan continued to draw lands while Kudou continued missing land drops.

    Finally, Tan found a Spectral Flight, giving his Elf flying. Kudou was on a four-turn clock and need to finish Tan off quickly.

    Unfortunately for Kudou, Tan soon found Ethereal Armor, enchanted his Gladecover Scout, and attacked for the win becoming Grand Prix Kitakyushu Champion.

    Raymond Tan 2 – Kouichi Kudou 0




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Kitakyushu

    by Ben Swartz and Josh Bennett



  • 5. Scavenging Ooze

    When top pros were asked what the most influential card in Standard was, it was unanimous: Scavenging Ooze. Before Magic 2014 was released, one of the most popular decks was Junk Reanimator. Thanks to the pesky 2/2, Unburial Rites barely made an appearance here in Kitakyushu. The fact that it can quickly grow to become a 5/5 and get out of range of Mizzium Mortars made it incredibly powerful against Gruul Aggro decks. Finally, Strangleroot Geist and Snapcaster Mage players were tearing their hair out all weekend while the two-drop disrupted their plans — turning extraordinary cards into just ordinary.





    4. NOT Sphinx's Revelation

    One of the most surprising things that started happening around Round 5 in Kitakyushu was the absence of Sphinx's Revelation from the top tables. After being a key card in both Ben Stark and Shahar Shenhar's Standard decks from the World Championships, the expectation was to see it in droves here. Even Shouta Yasooka opted to remove white from his control deck, opting to use Opportunity in Sphinx's Revelation's place.








    3. Delver of Secrets

    When Yuuta Takahashi showed me that he was playing Delver of Secrets this weekend, I was sure that he had pulled the wrong deckbox out of his bag. The one mana transform card hasn't been seen since Yuuya Watanabe's championship "Samurai Delver" at GP Manila, nearly a year ago. With it rotating in a month, Yuuta Takahashi decided to take it out for one last hurrah by recreating the Blue-White Delver deck of memory, cobbling it together with Quicken instead of Gitaxian Probe, and Unsummon for Vapor Snag. It paid off — Takahashi made Top 8. Turns out a 3/2 flyer on turn two is still good.





    2. Thundermaw Hellkite

    The finisher of choice for aggressive decks with red. When the opponent is already reeling, trying to fight off Flinthoof Boar and Scavenging Ooze, they rarely have anything left in the tank to stop the Hellkite. Five damage quickly turns into ten, and that's usually more than enough. Kouichi Kudo spent the weekend giving a masterclass in 5/5 haymakers, but he met his match in Raymond Tan's Bant Hexproof. His only losses in the swiss were to Tan and Kuo, and their meeting in the semifinals all but doomed him to second place. Five hasty damage isn't going to steal a game where your opponent is gaining seven a turn.





    1. Unflinching Courage

    In the land of races and Mizzium Mortars, the five-toughness trampling lifelinker is king. This little enchantment (and its partner in crime, Fiendslayer Paladin) strikes at the heart of Kibler Gruul and exposes its weakness — an inability to deal with non-creatures. Where other decks would have access to Ray of Revelation or Abrupt Decay, Kibler Gruul is left out in the cold. The king is dead at last. But in even here we cannot escape the legacy of Brian Kibler. After all, he was the man who introduced the world to Armadillo Cloak.






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