Best Top 8 Ever? Kitakyuushuu on Display

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日本語の取材へ

And it's over. All tolled, the eight players to make it to the top came to the Quarterfinals with a sum total of 56 Grand Prix appearances under their collective belts. Lumped together, these eight gentlemen have made almost half-a-million dollars at the game, making for one of the most talent-rich GP finales imaginable. In particular for Itaru Ishida and Masahiko Morita, getting into the Top 8 meant pulling ahead of Kai Budde in GP top 8 appearances with 15 showings each to date.

In the end, it was two blue decks, the Scepter-Chant and the fearsome Dredge-a-Tog that made it to the finals, with Tomohiro Kaji's Urza's Rage plus kicker ending the Ryou Ogura's hopes of taking home the trophy.

When we look at what today means for Extended, it's worth mentioning Makihito Mihara's accomplishment. While his brand-new archetype, hitting the scene a mere week after the new Extended environment kicked off at PTLA stopped at the semi-finals today, his Life from the Loam-powered Seismic Assault deck is sure to get some attention from players the world over.

Will Mihara's Confinement-Assault-Life "CAL" deck prove to be the kind of epoch-making tech that Tax-Edge was? Only time will tell, but we shouldn't have to wait too long. Extended remains in the spotlight as one of the chosen formats of Worlds in Yokohama, Japan at the end of this month.

May the best metagamers win!


Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Masahiko Morita   Ryo Ogura, 2-0        
8 Ryo Ogura   Ryo Ogura, 2-1
       
4 Masashi Oiso   Masashi Oiso, 2-1   Tomohiro Kaji, 2-0
5 Itaru Ishida    
       
2 Jin Okamoto   Tomohiro Kaji, 2-1
7 Tomohiro Kaji   Tomohiro Kaji, 2-1
       
3 Makihito Mihara   Makihito Mihara, 2-1
6 Akira Asahara    


EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Tomohiro Kaji $2,400
 2.  Ryo Ogura $1,700
 3.  Makihito Mihara $1,200
 4.  Masashi Oiso $1,000
 5.  Masahiko Morita $800
 6.  Jin Okamoto $800
 7.  Itaru Ishida $800
 8.  Akira Asahara $800
Pairings Results Standings
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  • Sunday, November 6: 10:21 a.m. - Gorillas, fish eggs, and a steaming cake of mugwort


  • Somebody call Peter Jackson!

    I had a chance to hit the town for an hour this morning before the daily festivities started at the tournament center. Luckily, the rain had just let up, leaving it a brisk, misty morning. The town was stirring, the birds were chirping, the giant apes were scaling the buildings.

    My first guess was that this simian-infested edifice was what's known as a "love hotel" -- a gaudy sort of place that rents rooms cheaply overnight or for a three hour so-called "rest" -- but much to my surprise there was a sign out front claiming that it was an apartment building, and lo and behold, there were vacancies! They didn't mention whether the vacancies were in the room with the anatomically accurate Kong-crotch view, or whether there was a premium for such a choice piece of real estate.

    I moved on to breakfast, a little wary as I'd heard the local delicacy was mentaiko -- a kind of prepared fish eggs that looks like pink finger, bristling with little shiny globules of salty putrescence. Thankfully, I found a bakery with quite a line-up of baked goods.

    Yummy goodness from our bakers, to you

    Just in case you can't read that text on your browser, the labels on these various treats read (from left to right):

    Chocolate & Custard Cream Flaky (now with Real Flak™!)
    Leek Roll (nothing like a good leek to start off the day)
    Hashed Beef Cup (not sure what this is, but it sounds painful)
    Mugowrt Steamed Cake (yes, the label actually says "Mugowrt," though I'm pretty sure they meant "Mugwort." I'm not sure which sounds more appetizing.)

    Er, bon appetit!


     
  • Sunday, November 6: 5:26 p.m. - Round 8: Masahiko Morita vs. Itaru Ishida


  • Masahiko Morita

    Morita and Ishida -- both tied in the race for second place in number of lifetime GP Top 8 appearances and both with perfect records from Day 1 faced off in a slow, thoughtful match-up during the first round of the day, Morita with a Scepter-Chant deck designed by Katsuhiro Mori of Tokyo, and Ishida with an update of his own Dredge-a-Tog design. Game 1 The first game started off slowly after a mulligan by Morita, as each opponent held each other off with counters. Morita plainscycled an Eternal Dragon into his graveyard but was unwilling to tap out for it, while Ishida slowly built up his hand with a loam, finally landing a Pernicious Deed on the table. Ishida followed with a Nightmare Void but Morita said "no" to the Nightmare Void that followed on its heels. Morita dropped a face-down Exalted Angel, prompting Ishida to set off his Deed for 0. Morita used the last of his mana to morph the Angel, which was summarily sent to the graveyard with a Chainer's Edict, followed by a Nightmare Void for good measure.

    However, it was beginning to look like a pyrrhic victory for Ishida, as multiple Life from the Loam dredgings had brought his library down to a mere 8 cards, with no Psychatog in sight. At the end of Morita's turn, Ishida held his breath and activated Cephalid Coliseum on himself, bringing his library down to four cards, which soon became three with his next draw. Finally, the Psychatog hit the table, followed by a dredged Nightmare Void that left Morita holding a single card: Wrath of God, and Ishida with one card remaining in his library, and one very hungry Psychatog on the table.

    Thankfully, a huge graveyard meant lots of food for the tog. Morita tried to Wrath, but to no avail.

    Morita 0 - Ishida 1

    Game 2

    Itaru Ishida

    Game 2 started off solid for Ishida with a turn three Boseiju, Who Shelters All, followed with a Gifts Ungiven, pulling out two cycling lands, a Life from the Loam, and a Genesis, guaranteeing him two card engines up and running, while Morita tried in vain to keep up with a Fact or Fiction.

    Ishida kept building his mana base, but the fetchlands, painlands, and Boseiju, Who Shelters All had drained another of his resources: his life, leaving Ishida with 7 remaining and Morita with a glint of hope in his eye.

    The final blow came from a cycled Decree of Justice for five soldiers that marched by a tapped Psychatog, bringing Ishida down to 2 life, and no mana left after a heavy bout of cycling.

    Morita made a Cunning Wish for Urza's Rage, and . . .

    Morita 1 - 1 Ishida

    We'll never know who would have one the third deciding game, as game two ended with less than two minutes remaining in the round, but what a matchup!


     
  • Sunday, November 6: 7:46 p.m. - Round 9: Kenji Tsumura vs. Makihito Mihara


  • Mihara: I should've gone to PTLA!

    When Japanese language coverage staff member (and pro player in his own right) Koichiro Maki asked Makihito Mihara about his deck today, his response was "I should've gone to PTLA!

    His deck, which he has dubbed "CAL," gets its name from its key cards: Solitary Confinement ("C"), Seismic Assault ("A"), and Life from the Loam ("L"), has certainly plowed through the opposition in this tournament, and has a good chance of going on to the Top 8.

    In this round he faced a player every knows, Kenji Tsumura, whose neck-in-neck race for Player of the Year has considerably heated up with Oliver Ruel's no-loss performance in the first day of GP Copenhagen. He's got to do well this tournament or risk falling behind.

    Game 1 was a wash, with Mihara stating "I won't need life this match" before fetchlanding for a guildland, and bringing out a Birds of Paradise . . . while Tsumura sat having to say "end" with only one land in play after his second turn. Mihara, who mentioned he was fearing "public execution" at the hands of Tsumura the headman, started chatting up a storm and swinging with an Eternal Witness (who was nice enough to bring back a Seismic Assault). Tsumura managed to Fire/Ice the Witness to an early grave, but ate a handful of land for his trouble.

    Tsumura 0 - 1 Mihara

    Game 2 begins much better for Tsumura, who keeps the lands coming steadily while Mihara plays carefully, setting down Birds of Paradise and Sakura-Tribe Elder, ever mindful of the Force Spike he sees lurking behind every sleeve in Tsumura's hand.

    Mihara made the first move, laying down a Seismic Assault in the hopes that it would be countered, but Tsumura let it pass, only to smite down the Burning Wish that followed with a Force Spike. Adding injury to insult, Tsumura follows up with a Cunning Wish for Disenchant and the Seismic Assault is no more.

    The beginning of the end comes with Mihara's successful Cranial Extraction of half of Tsumura's deck name: the Isochron Scepter.

    Tsumura keeps his opponent on his toes with a well-defended Exalted Angel that finally falls (after a Counterspelled Chainer's Edict that Mihara pulled in with a Burning Wish, prompting him to complain "hey, you draw too many counters.") to a Putrefy.

    As one would expect of a man in the running for Player of the Year, Tsumura showed masterful topdecking skills by pulling another Exalted Angel, but with Seismic Assault on the board and Life from the Loam in action, it's all over.

    Tsumura 0 - 2 Mihara

    Tsumura: Player of the Year?

     
  • Sunday, November 6: 8:09 p.m. - Decklists: The Top 8 Decks











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  • Sunday, November 6: 8:22 p.m. - Feature: The Top 8 Player Profiles


  • Masahiko Morita

    Masahiko Morita

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 23-year-old freelancer from Osaka.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I was the champion of Venice Masters with my teammates Masashiro Kuroda and Katsuhiro Mori. This is my 15th Grand Prix Top 8. I've also been on the Pro Tour numerous times.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    Katushiro Mori told me about the deck three days ago over the phone. I worked on it with my friends from the Osaka area.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    Katsuhiro Mori designed this version of No-Stick. The biggest changes are putting Exalted Angel in the main deck, and being able to use Cunning Wish to gain access to 12 different spells.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    Certainly not this one.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    Affinty.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    In one match, Bob Maher (Dark Confidant) stole 17 life from my opponent for me.




    Masashi Oiso

    Masashi Oiso

    Please tell us about yourself.
    I'm a 21-year-old university student in Hiroshima.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I have 5 Pro Tour Top 8s. I played at the Magic Invitational, and I won Grand Prix Boston 05.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    Most of my preparation for this event involved washing my clothes after getting back from LA. I did most of my playtesting in my head.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    I'm using Katsuhiro Mori's No-Stick design. I think the most important thing about the deck is the card in the sideboard, particularly Urza's Rage.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    I'd have to say this deck.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    Affinity. Probably with 3 copies of Arcbound Ravager.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    For the first time in my life, I mulliganed 4 times. 3 cards is not a lot to start with.




    Akira Asahara

    Akira Asahara

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I'm 27. I live in Kanagawa, making my living as a professional card player.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I won the Chameleon Cup, a local tournament.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    I sequestered myself in the mountain wilds in order to train. My practice partners were the local pandas that live there.

    ??Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    It's my own take on Balancing Act, with Tooth and Nail in the sideboard.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    Shuu Komuro's deck.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    Anything with Sarcatog.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    A lot of my opponents would counter my Terrarion, but not my Chromatic Sphere.




    Jin Okamoto

    Jin Okamoto

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I'm a professional gamer from Aichi. I'm 30-years-old.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I won the last Asia-Pacific Championship. I was the finalist at Worlds 03, and the finalist at PT Seattle.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    Image training.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    I copied Antoine Ruel's deck from LA, and tweaked it a little bit to make it easier for me to use. (Grats, Antoine!)

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    Mihara's Seismic Assault deck.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    Something that contains Psychatog.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    I won one game by attacking with a Wonder that I played on the fourth turn.




    Makihito Mihara

    Makihito Mihara

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I live in Oita prefecture, where I attend college. I'm 23-years-old.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I've made the Top 8 of Japan Nationals three years in a row beginning in 2003.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team? Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    I designed my deck myself after I remember about Seismic Assault.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    I have to say, mine.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    No-Stick.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    I don't know exactly how, but I was able to beat both No-Stick and Mind's Desire.




    Tomohiro Kaji

    Tomohiro Kaji

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I live in Saitama, north of Tokyo. I'm a 21-year-old university student.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I came in fourth at PT Atlanta.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    I worked with Katsuhiro Mori the day before the Grand Prix.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    Probably the most unique thing is the 12 instants in the sideboard.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    This one.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    The same deck I played this weekend.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    I won my last match and got into the Top 8!




    Itaru Ishida

    Itaru Ishida

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I live in Tokyo, where I work on various projects. I'm now 26.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    Finalist at PT Seattle. This is my 15th Top 8 at a GP.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    I got together with Takuya Oosawa, Ryou Ogura, and Akihiro Takakuwa.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    This deck is a hybrid of traditional Psychatog and Dredge-a-tog.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    Reanimator with Sundering Titan, definitely.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    A threshold deck with a full compliment of 8 mongooses.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    In one match, my opponent mulliganed over 10 times.




    Ryo Ogura

    Ryo Ogura

    Please tell us about yourself.?
    I'm a 21-year-old university student from Aichi.

    What are some of your previous outstanding Magic achievements?
    I was a semi-finalist at last year's World Championship.

    How did you prepare for this event? Did you have a playtest partner or work with a team?
    I almost didn't come to this event. I was thinking of going to a concert instead. I worked on the deck with Itaru Ishida and Takuya Oosawa.

    Who designed your deck? Is there anything unique about it?
    It was Takakuwa's idea. It's basically Antoine + Tsumura divided by 2.

    Of the decks you saw at this tournament, which one(s) impressed you the most??
    Katsuhiro Mori's No-Stick.

    After seeing the results of this event, if you were to play in a PTQ next weekend, what deck would you choose to play??
    Any deck that can make a lot of tokens.

    Tell us about something from this event that stands out in your mind.?
    I was surprised that Kenji Tsumura didn't make Top 8.


     
  • Sunday, November 6: 8:57 p.m. - An Oks in Osaka


  • Oks on the rise?

    I had a chance to sit down with a great guy, Oliver Oks, formerly of Australia, who's been moving up this year in the magic scene in Japan. He made it to the second day here playing a slightly tweaked version of Ruel's Psychatog deck from PTLA last weekend, but didn't fare so well.

    "I blame luck," says Oks. "When I Fact or Fiction for 5 lands, and my opponent does the same for five spells . . . that's luck."

    Still, it took more than luck for Oks to cruise to the Top 8 at GP Singapore earlier this year.

    "I do a little deck work with Masami Ibamoto and Tomoharu Sato -- who both speak English. Working with non-English speakers is a bit hard. We all spend a lot of time pointing at cards and grunting, but we manage. It was Sato that invited me to go with him to Singapore. I didn't think I'd be able to make it, but when I heard that I was being invited along with some of the top players in Japan, like Oiso, I made it happen."

    Oks adds his excellent performance in Singapore to a near-top 8 showing in Taiwan, and a Top 8 finish in a Team tournament in Osaka.
    Unfortunately, he says, a tougher work schedule of late has really cut into his practice time.

    "Still, I plan on going to GP Beijing. That will get me enough points to go Pro."

    And if he wins?

    "Then I'll quit my job and do the Pro Tour!"

    Good luck, Oks!


     
  • Sunday, November 6: 10:31 p.m. - Wayne Reynolds!


  • Visiting artist Wayne Reynolds took some special requests from the staff toward the end of the show . . . here are the results.

    Asako Seo of HobbyJapan becomes her character in an ongoing D&D 3E campaign . . . a female warforged! (Look closely at the knee panels...)

    Wayne: This is going in Eberron, definitely.

    Judge Nakajima gets run through by everyone's favorite Ink-Eyes.

    Nakajima: Augh, I die. Fantastic!

    Judge Yokoyama becomes a Marrow-Gnawer Gnawer. (Say THAT ten times fast . . . )

    Now we know where those rat tokens come from.


     
  • Sunday, November 6: 10:48 p.m. - Quarterfinals: Makihito Mihara vs. Akira Asahara


  • Can't get enough of Mihara's CAL deck, and the Quarterfinals saw him up against his stiffest opposition yet vs. Akira Asahara and his Balancing Act.

    Mihara: Must deliver the Zombie beats!

    Game 1

    Around turn five the two players look at each other and agree this is going to be a long game. (At this point I look at the other tables and everyone else is on their second games.) The two set themselves to growing their hands, Mihara with the Life of the Loam engine, Asahara with Fire/Ice and Chromatic Sphere. At five lands, Asahara made his move, casting Burning Wish for his first Balancing Act of the match. One Fire/Ice later and Asahara was ready to go off, sacrificing all his land, and playing Balancing Act with a Terravore in hand. Mihara has a choice: find a Putrefy and get the mana ahead of time, or simply feed his hand to his Zombie Infestation, taking the Terravore down with it. Unable to find the former, Mihara opts for the latter, and makes both their hands go away. The finale comes with Asahara's second Balancing Act that saw Mihara drop all his cards to the Infestation in an attempt to take Asahara's hand down with him a second time, which he did . . . and a Roar of the Wurm was in it. Flashback. Win.

    Asahara 1 - 0 Mihara

    Game 2

    Going for the speed beats he knows he needs to win, Mihara throws down two early Birds of Paradise and nearly weeps when Asahara Fire/Ices the early Birds into an early grave, but Life from the Loam keeps Mihara from stalling out completely.
    The killing starts with Mihara's Cranial Extraction for all four of Asahara's Terravores . . . and a look through Asahara's deck reveals a Tooth and Nail and two Roar of the Wurms on the way. Mihara Burning Wishes for a Cranial Extract which Asahara stalls with a Mana Short, using his following turn to ditch his Geothermal Crevices for a Roar of the Wurm token. Mihara continues to dismantle his opponent's arsenal with two more Cranial Extracts, one for Burning Wish, the next for Balancing Act. A Burning Wish for Chainer's Edict deals with the Wurm token, removing Asahara's last damage source and the last path to victory in his deck.

    A delicate Balancing Act

    Asahara 1 - 1 Mihara

    Game 3

    Game 3 starts slowly, with both players building mana until Asahara does a Balancing Act. Mihara sends his Sensei's Divining Top back to the library to lie low a bit and puts aside enough mana to fuel a Putrefy for that inevitable Terravore, which comes, and gets Putrefy up 'side the head. The first swing of the game comes a couple turns later from Mihara's Eternal Witness (which also grabbed some land for the CAL master on its way in) followed a Burning Wish for Cabal Therapy which shows him Tooth and Nail, Roar of the Wurm, Terravore, Balancing Act, and Orim's Prayer sitting pretty in Asahara's hand. Mihara starts to sweat, and lays another Eternal Witness for more land back from the graveyard. Eventually, the Witness duo gets Asahara too low (four life) so he Balancing Acts, wiping the board clean. Mihara regains hiis advantage with a Sakura-Tribe Elder, while Asahara is looking at a lone top. The Elder goes in search for land, fueling a Life from the Loam, and Seismic Assault hits the table.

    Asahara 1 - 2 Mihara



     
  • Sunday, November 6: 11:25 p.m. - Finals: Ryou Ogura vs. Tomohiro Kaji


  • In the end, two decktypes reigned supreme in Kitakyushu this weekend: Psychatog, which carried Ishida, Okamoto, and Ogura into the Best 8, and Scepter-Chant, the weapon of choice for Oiso, Morita, and Kaji. As luck would have it, one player from each camp sat on either side of the finals table.
    Ogura came in third in 2004 Worlds, and was ready to make his mark again at the helm of his Psychatog monstrosity, while Kaji, ever the bridesmaid and never the bride, had rode his Scepter-Chant this far and had no intention of stopping.

    Tomohiro Kaji can feel it.

    Game 1

    Kaji, going second, starts off with a mulligan, and the two sides start building up their land base, the graveyards filling with fetchalnds and cyclinglands and precious little else.

    The room takes a deep breath -- we're looking at a match that threatens to play like the UW May I? days of yore. It's 8:20 PM now . . . it's anyone's bet as to when the first game will end.

    Ogura throws the first stone on round five with the first Psychatog of the match. In response, Kaji takes advantage of Ogura's weaker mana position to cast his Cunning Wish for Wing Shards which goes into his hand and stays there.

    Two turns later, another Psychatog joins the first on the table and the two keep swinging for a conservative one point each. Kaji counters the turn after by attempting to play Isochron Scepter, countered by a Circular Logic made just strong enough by a Ghastly Demise on Ogura's own Psychatog.

    Ogura's next play is a Pernicious Deed, uncountered, and the Psychatogs swing on. Across the board, Kaji lays out a Fact or Fiction which gains him a single card: Cunning Wish.

    The Psychatogs swing again, this time met by an Orim's Prayer and Wing Shards, taking out the Psychatogs but not before they eat the Genesis in Ogura's hand, giving him the engine he needs to keep his Togs coming back for more.

    Next, a morphed Exalted Angel hits the table on Kaji's side. In response, Ogura plays Gifts Ungiven, showing Chainer's Edict, Life from the Loam, Nightmare Void, and Cephalid Colliseum. Loam and the Void take the fall--if Ogura wants to use them, Kaji will make him pay for it by dredging away his library.

    Ogura's Nightmare Void strikes, revealing a Wrath of God, another Exalted Angel, and another Isochron Scepter. Unsurprisingly the stick goes to the grave. Chainers Edict follows to send the Angel to the graveyard after it, leaving the Pernicious Deed on the board, lying in wait of the Decree of Justice that is sure to come.

    Kaji makes the most of his Mikokoro, Center of the Sea to draw through his library, but it pales in comparison to the Life from the Loam, Genesis, Psychatog machine across the table.

    Ogura dredges up the Nightmare Void, which earns a Counterspell from Kaji, but not so the following Psychatog which makes it onto the table, putting Kaji into defensive mode for a few rounds. Kaji Wrath of Gods, Ogura Counterspells, the Psychatog stays . . . for now, but the real battle was to come the turn after, when Ogura announced his attack phase. This time, a Fire/Ice flew at the Psychatog. Ogura uses Cephalid Coliseum in response, pulling up a Circular Logic to defend his 'Tog.

    Kaji has a Counterspell, and the Psychatog falls. Ogura ends with another Pernicious Deed on the table, leaving Kaji shaking his head with three extra mana in the pool for a cycled Decree of Justice. Three soldier tokens (actually three Oiso player cards provided by Ogura) land on Kaji's side and prepare for the remaining Psychatog's Onslaught.

    The first Pernicious Deed goes off, sweeping the tokens off the board. He swings with the tog, but no pump.

    Kaji uses a second Decree of Justice for a mere two tokens--fodder for the last Pernicious Deed. Ogura swings again, clearing the way with the Pernicious Deed ahead of time. With no blockers, the 'Tog is free to pump.

    Kaji's answer? Cunning Wish.

    After considerable hestitation, Ogura decides to once again look for some Gifts Ungiven. Specifically, three counters and anything else.

    Too bad he only has two left. They hit the graveyard, leaving Ogura the proud owner of a cycleland and another Psychatog.

    For Kaji's next trick, he brings an Echoing Truth in from his wishboard, and a massively pumped Psychatog goes back in hand . . . but it's not over yet! Ogura lines up his two Psychatog army and prays. He'd better, as his library is getting dangerously thin by this point.

    Kaji's turn ends and the Psychatogs remain in play. Kaji's life is at 10, which means that with a little Genesis action, Ogawa could keep the "Togs pushing until the damage killed his opponent. Yet Ogura chooses to cast a Meloku the Clouded Mirror, sealing his fate.

    Kaji Absorbs Meloku, and the counterless Ogura is forced to watch as Meloku goes away, and Kaji gets three critical life back, just enough to get him out of harm's way.

    A look at his remaining library and his opponent's Mikokoro, Center of the Sea and Minamo, School at Water's Edge convinces Ogura that this game is over.

    The clock reads 9:10 -- 10 minutes after the official end of the tournament.

    Kaji 1 - 0 Ogura

    Mikokoro . . . Mikokoro . . .

    Game 2

    Game 2 starts off with good land progress for both. Ogura fetches three turns in a row, while Kaji sits on his fetchlands for the meantime. On turn 5, Kaji makes his move with a scepter that draws the first Counterspell of the game, and puts Kaji back on the defensive.
    The next turn sees a Psychatog hit the board, and Ogura begins whittling away his opponent's life one point at a time.

    When Kaji plays his second Fact or Fiction on the heels of a preparatory Mana Leak, Ogura gets serious with an early Haunting Echoes that Kaji lets pass, taking out his Fire/Ices, Fact or Fictions (save one in his hand) and his Isochron Scepters.

    Kaji lets fly with his last Fact or Fiction the turn after. Ogura lets him reveal five cards -- which he then separates into two piles: an Absorb in one, and four lands in the other. Kaji takes the land, and goes on the offensive, playing an Isochron Scepter that lands and gets an Orim's Chant on it. With no Pernicious Deed on the board, Ogura faces the daunting prospect of an Orim's Chant between him and every spell he wants to cast from now on.

    However, the next turn Kaji lets him swing the his lone Psychatog and use Gifts Ungiven for a Genesis which he feeds to the tog for a total of two points to Kaji, but that's as far as he goes.

    And the secret weapon is . . .

    For the next six rounds, the Isochron Scepter plays its Orim's Chant with a kicker, letting Kaji work on his mana base in peace while Ogura merely bides his time, unable to cast spells or attack. He satisfies himself with a little library thinning via fetchland, bringing his life down to 12.

    Kaji sees his chance, and strikes. Under the safety of the Orim's Chant, Kaji uses a Cunning Wish to grab back . . . one of the Fire/Ices that the Haunting Echoes had made history off so many turns before. He casts it, leaving his opponent vulnerable at 10 life.

    10 life is vulnerable!?

    Ogura's eyes darted over Kaji's land, and his expression changed. Oh, right. I'm going to die.

    The lone card Kaji held out in his hand was his secret weapon, the sideboard bomb he brought in for just this occasion: Urza's Rage, with kicker, for a uncounterable 10 points of pain.

    Congratulations, Kaji!

    Kaji 2 - 0 Ogura

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