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Grand Prix Nagoya Live Coverage

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Saturday 8/28/04, 10:00 Done and well done!

by Brian David-Marshall

They turned off the air conditioning one and a half rounds ago so we are all dying from the heat.

Ron Foster: “I am discovering pores I didn’t even know I had!”

Fortunately for us the day one action has come to a conclusion. There were only three undefeated players at the close of the action and Toru Takesita sat atop the standings with his Affinity deck. Standing alongside him were Hiroyuki Kobayashi and Kentaro Ino--the former with green-white control (no slide) and the latter with goblins. Ino defeated Pro Tour winner Kuroda in the final round to preserve his sterling record.

Both Takesita and Kobayashi were amateurs coming into this event so they will be playing for even more money tomorrow than most of the players around them. Tune in tomorrow for decklists, the copious consumption of electrolytes, and our march to the Top 8 and an eventual sweaty champion!


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 9:45 Not Losing!

by Brian David-Marshall

Satoshi Imura took his first loss on the day in the ninth round to fellow Osakan Tooru Takeshita. Takeshita was playing Affinity and took down the zombie player in two quick and brutal games. It was actually the only time that Tooru had faced Affinity all day long--although he expects that to change tomorrow when he is anticipating a field full of Goblins and Affinity.

Tooru was not afraid of anything the format could throw his way though. He has played in three Grand Prix Trials leading up to this event and has only taken two losses--conceding both times to friends in the Top 8. The other time he won straight through to earn himself three byes for this tournament. There is no question in his mind, “Affinity is best deck!”


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 9:15 Local Hero

by Brian David-Marshall

He has a raging fever and is taking massive doses of medication.

He and his wife just became parents for the first time in the past two weeks.

He has barely had time to play any Magic much less practice for the upcoming World Championships.

Oh yeah…he was 8-0 coming into the final round of competition today.

I am talking about the man that finally brought a Pro Tour title home to Japan. Of course he didn’t have to bring it very far since he won it in Kobe. Since then the pressures of a new family have prevented Kuroda from playing much Magic but that hasn’t stopped the new father from tearing through the top tables with his goblin deck that he appropriated from Osamu Fujita.

Kuroda is currently in the mid-twenties in the Player of the Year Race--good for about $15K which is not a bad piece of change for a fledgling family--but he is looking to move up a few spots between now and the end of Worlds. Worlds will be the first Pro Tour he attends since his historic victory. He assessed the constructed formats for Worlds and declared Affinity to be the best deck in both disciplines but don’t expect to see him casting any Arcbound Ravagers in San Francisco.

Kuroda --“That deck is too difficult to play. I am not good enough.”


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 9:04 In With the In Cloud

by Brian David-Marshall

As the players moved toward their seats for round eight all of the undefeated players were contained to one stretch of tables for the first time in the tournament. There were no undefeated players sitting any higher than table eight. The first table featured Japanese hero and PT Kobe winner Masashiro Kuroda facing off with lesser known Fumiki Nakano. Compared to the rest of the top tables Fumiki is Kai Budde though as all of the Japanese stars seem to have taken at least one loss to this point in the tournament.

A quick scan of the tables showed flashes of Goblin, Beast, Tooth and Nail, and Affinity as the players shuffled for their round. One match in particular stood out as the cards flashed seemed to be off-color from the rest of the top tables. Yoshimitsu Tanaka was 7-0 with his blue-white control deck and was opposing Satoshi Imura from Osaka. Satoshi was running a mono-black Death Cloud deck that was designed as a counter-measure to all of the mono-green Tron decks that have become so popular in Japan.

He defeated an Affinity player last round when his sideboarded Relic Barriers worked overtime to get him to his Death Clouds. He has played in numerous PTQs and Grand Prix but this was the first time he has ever come close to making Day Two. Both he and Yoshimitsu are almost locked for Day Two as is anyone with two losses.

Satoshi fell in the first game when Yoshimitsu was able to recover from a Death Cloud for three and still cast and activate Mindslaver and then make three 4/4 angel tokens a turn later. Satoshi looked confident going into the next game and went straight for three Cabal Interrogators that were waiting in his board.

He chose to cast Headhunter on turn two and got in for a card on turn three. He was missing a land for that turn and his side boarded Cleric was Mana Leaked. He missed a land drop again but kept on trucking with his 1/1 beater. He found land number three and when Yoshimitsu cycled Decree of Justice to block the Headhunter an Echoing Decay cleared the way for another card.

Yoshimitsu was up against the ropes card wise after a few hits from the Headhunter. He killed it with his second Decree but had to Wrath on his turn when Satoshi cast an Interrogator post combat. He found his fourth land on the next turn and promptly found a fifth with a Solemn Simulacrum. Yoshimitsu made a pair of angels with his third Decree but there was a dark cloud brewing and Death Cloud for four resolved on the nest turn. Yoshimitsu scooped shortly thereafter to the unstoppable terror that is Blinkmoth Nexus.

Yoshimitsu mulliganed to start game three and went down a second card when Satoshi’s Ravenous Rats ate another on turn one thanks to Chrome Mox. His second turn Rotlung Reanimator was Mana Leaked. The Rat kept coming and Satosho made another on turn four. His morph was Mana Leaked on the next turn.

Yoshimitsu was down to one card in hand and Satoshi got it with a Death Cloud. It was countered with Last Word so although it got the card in hand it did not get any precious lands. The same thing happened next turn although it was Condescend and Yoshi kept both cards he saw. He only drew one of them though since he was planning on blowing his Flooded Strand and made a 4/4 angel token.

Satoshi could not attack and took four in the air on the next turn. He made a third Rat and got in for two with his original pair. He fell to eight during the next attack and Yoshimitsu made a second Angel that threatened lethal damage. Satoshi peeled his next card and found a Dark Banishing on top of his deck. He killed the fresh angel and got in for two more.

Yoshimitsu managed four more points of damage but neither of his two counterspells in hand could deal with lethal rat damage on the next turn. Satoshi was one of only seven undefeated players left after this round and is now guaranteed his first ever GP Day Two appearance. He was also headed for his first ever appearance in the feature match area round nine.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 8:20 Sideboard Tech: Swords and Barriers

by Eli Kaplan with help from Yuu Kanazawa

Two of the hot sideboard cards that have been played heavily today are Sword of Fire and Ice and Relic Barrier. While slipping under the radar of many players globally, the two are all the rage in Nagoya. Some thoughts from Japan's pros:

Jin Okamoto was hesitant to commit to endorsing Fire and Ice, purely on the mana investment. Five mana for enhancing a creature in play was just too much for him. However, he loved Relic Barrier. "It should be in every sideboard where Affinity is a poor matchup, and since Affinity is everywhere, it's an excellent card. So cheap!"

Itaru Ishida also acknowledged the Sword's high price, but said that he thought it was worth it. Strong against Mono-red and affinity alike, he liked the card's ability to kill almost any creature in the Affinity deck, even Somber Hoverguard. Having it on a Somber Hoverguard wouldn't be bad either, he noted. Ishida also praised Relic Barrier, citing its utility against Affinity, Big Red's artifact lands, and Tooth and Nail's miscellaneous artifact creatures alike.

Masami Ibamoto, fresh off a top 4 appearance at Pro Tour Seattle, raved about the Sword of Fire and Ice. "It's a powerhouse!" He would be playing it today, if it weren't for the fact that he's already running Sword of Light and Shadow! He's also very unhappy that he forgot to play Relic Barrier. If he had been packing it in his round 8 match, he thought he would be undefeated.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 7:00 Round six: Jin Okamoto vs. Masashi Oiso

by Brian David-Marshall

Despite Masashi Oiso's experience--he is one whole year removed from winning the Rookie of the Year Race--and success--he has been in the Top 8 of three different Pro Tours--he still seems every bit the nervous player he was when he first burst upon the scene. He is all elbows, knees, nervous glances, and sheepish grins. Oiso has abandoned the StationWorks deck he and Tomohiro Kaji played in Malaysia in favor of an Eternal Slide deck--Kaji was also with Slide one table over against Osamu Fujita's goblins.

On the other side of the feature match table, Jin Okamoto conveyed the quiet self confidence befitting the nickname The Last Emperor. With his bookish glasses perched on the end of his nose he appeared as stately and in command as one can muster with frosted hair and a dragon on your T-shirt. Like so many of the Japanese pros in attendance today he had chosen to play mono-green Tron--the deck that Shigehara used to win the online qualifier.

Both players were 4-1 coming into the round. If the early matches were any indication, Oiso was at a decided disadvantage since the Tron decks seemed to be running more copies of Sundering Titan as per Shigehara comments in my interview with him a couple of weeks ago. The Titan can take down four lands in one turn and forces the Slide player to use the Slide on his own creatures--giving the Tron player a chance to respond with Oxidize or Triskelion.

Game One

Oiso mulliganed but seemed none the worse for wear as both players went straight to four lands. Jin had a Trellis to commemorate the turn while Oiso played a Simulacrum. Jin cast Sylvan Scrying on the next turn and then Witnessed it back. Oiso attempted a little recursion of his own when he played Astral Slide and cycled targeting his Jens. Jin responded with Oxidize.

Jin played a Tower on the next turn and was able to cast and activate Mindslaver. Oiso rolled his eyes dramatically and laid out a hand of two Witnesses, Triskelion, Gilded Light, and drew Renewed Faith. Jon sucked in his breath and tried to puzzle out how to play the turn. Oiso twitched nervously as he waited for what he felt was the obvious play but Jin was patient and thought through his options. Finally he cycled Renewed Faith to remove his own Witness from the game. When he demonstrated that he was going to get back Mindslaver, Oiso conceded.

Game two

This game was Jin's turn to mulligan and he frowned at his next hand of six lands but decided to keep it. The first spell that Jin cast other than a Sylvan Scrying for a Tranquil Thicket was a Sundering Titan that took down two of Oiso's land. Oiso was in okay position to deal with it with Jens and Slide on his side of the table. He simply avoided putting any Plains into play to minimize the damage. In the meanwhile he was able to block the Titan and fetch a land each turn.

Oiso seemed to think he was headed for the two loss bracket when Jin cast Tooth and Nail but Jin was not as sure of the outcome of the spell as he contemplated Colossus, Witness, and Trike. He took the two artifacts and put them into play. Oiso untapped and put two parts of the Urza combo on top of Jin's deck. A turn later Oiso took out the 11/11 with a Duplicant. Jin played an Oblivion Stone and promptly popped it. Oiso cycled out his Duplicant and it took out the Witness that Jin used to pick up his Talisman after the Stone.

Oiso had a second Plow Under and a turn later made two 4/4 angel tokens. Jin regrew his Stone and took out the tokens but not before falling to two life. He looked to the top of his deck to find an answer to Oiso's freshly cast Eternal Dragon but he just found pieces of Tron.

Game three

Jin mulliganed again and patiently pile shuffled his cards while Oiso threatened to burst out of his chair as his eyes bugged at the time clock which had ticked down to under five minutes. He kept his second hand and they were off. Neither player got off to an especially explosive start and Jin kept Oiso at bay with a semi-recursive Oblivion Stone. It looked like Oiso would have win given an extra fifteen minutes but that was a luxury he did not have and the round ended in a draw.

Final result: Jin Okamoto -1 Masashi Oiso - 1


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 6:30 Tables with Undefeated Players

by Eli Kaplan

Here's a listing of match-ups at the top tables. Undefeated player faces undefeated player. Who will win?

Table 1 Affinity vs. Beasts
Table 2 Affinity vs. Mono-Black Death Cloud
Table 3 Afffinity vs. Goblins
Table 4 Affinity vs. Big Red
Table 5 Affinity vs. Affinity
Table 6 Affinity vs. Ponza
Table 7 Goblins vs. G/R Goblins
Table 8 Affinity vs. Affinity
Table 9 Affinity vs. Mono-Black Death Cloud
Table 10 Tooth and Nail vs. Goblins
Table 11 Affinity vs. Eternal Slide
Table 12 Affinity vs. W/U Control
Table 13 Tooth and Nail vs. Goblins
Table 14 Affinity vs. Goblin Bidding
Table 15 Tooth and Nail vs. W/U Control [15 points]

 

Saturday 8/28/04, 5:03 Life Counters

by Eli Kaplan

Japan is famous for manga, but it's generally not sold in the medium most Americans are familiar with. Most comics appear in massive weekly or monthly magazines, and Japan does have a large market of fan-produced comics, however, that are familiar in form to the North American reader. Doujinshi are written, drawn, printed, and sold by fans of shows. They usually only make about 200-300 copies and sell them at swap meets. Fans have been producing their unique, specialized items. One popular item that Magic players often customize is their life counter.

The illustrated rectangular cardboard counters with a round counter on them are commonly found at dealer's rooms in North America and Europe. It's easy to replace the front by slapping a sticker on it.

One popular series of life counters released by Hudson is made of durable plastic and has two counters, one for you and one for your opponent. The two released in Japan sport art by Ron Spencer and Rebecca Guay.

However, many Japanese fans take these solid, handy life counters and make them one of a kind.

Japan's most charismatic judge, Yoshiya Shindo, had his personalized by the Japanese artist Ittoku.

And, just to be rogue, one creative individual took a minimalist approach.

But that's not the only type of cool thing you'll see at Japanese tournaments. Hand-made and painted dice, anyone?

(All Japanese six-sided dice have the one dot painted red. A dark, ominous red. An evil, solitary eye that spells doom for all that roll it.)

Or perhaps kung-fu dinosaurs?

God, I love Japan.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 4:25 Welcome to Round Four

by Brian David-Marshall

Round four marked the dramatic debut of all the pros Japan has thrust into the limelight over the past couple of years. I wandered about the tables to get an idea of what people were playing and look for interesting decks.

In the feature match area we had Jin Okamoto facing off with former Japanese National Champion Kotaro Otsuka. Jin has posted two separate top 2 finishes on the Pro Tour over the past year. The first was against Daniel Zink during last year's World Championships and the second was just weeks ago in Seattle as part of Team Shop Fireball 2 in a battle with Kamiel and the Von Dutch.

Both Jin and his opponent are from the Nagoya area and there was tremendous interest in the match between the two popular players. They were both playing the mono-green Urzatron deck--or Tron Deck as the Japanese prefer--that has become tremendously popular in the wake of Shigehara's MTGO World's Qualifier triumph.

Both players opened with identical draws; two lands, Trellis and Oblivion Stone but Jin broke parity when he stumbled on his land drops. They eventually traded Stones and walls when Otsuka went to put a fate counter on His Trellis but Otsuka was ahead on mana and he eventually took the match from his mentor two games to zero.

Itaru Ishida was also playing the mono-green Tron deck and was facing off against Yuta Ushie with a blue-red Obliterate deck. Their match went three games with Itaru taking the match despite being on the wrong side of a Dwarven Blastminer for most of game three. I asked Itaru what happened to his Seedborn Muse control deck from Kuala Lumpur and he laughed holding his fingers to his nose.

Masashi Oiso shooed me away with an embarrassed grin as I wandered by his match up with Hidenori Katayama. Oiso was down a game with his green-white slide deck vs. Hidenori's Tron deck. He got double Sundering Titaned in the second game and lost two Plains and two Forests. His Astral Slide was of little use against the pair of 7/10's and he was quickly one match in the whole alongside Jin.

Osamu Fujita was playing mono red goblins and found himself staring into a mirror for round four against Hiroki Yanagihara. He lost the first game after mulliganing and went straight to six in the second game as well. His Prospector was Electrostatic Bolted. He followed up with a Sledder and a turn three Sword of Fire and Ice. Hiroki had a Sharpshooter and was able to shoot the Sledder before it wielded the Sword thanks to the haste making of a Warchief.

Osamu had two Volcanic Hammers in hand and took down both the Sharpshooter and the Warchief on the next turn. His opponent followed with a Clickslither but Fujita had a Siege-Gang Commander for his turn five. He joined Jin and Oiso in the loser's lounge though when his opponent equipped the Clickslither with a freshly forged Sword of his own.

It was looking like round four was going to be a bloodbath for the top Japanese pros. That impression was fortified when I wandered by Masahiko Morita's match with Takuma Ito. It game three and Morita was with Affinity while his opponent was plying the goblin trade. Morita's board featured three land and a lone Ornithopter hoping to stave off an army of goblins including a Commander and his Siege-Gang along with a Prospector and Sledder.

I was sure that Morita would soon be sipping a cocktail with Jin and Osamu but somehow he scrapped to stay alive. He took out the Commander with a Shrapnel Blast and untapped to play a Worker, Chromatic Sphere, and Myr Enforcer. He was at six but suddenly seemed in control of the game. He played a Moriok Rigger and grew it to a 3/3 with his Sphere which yielded another Rigger that he played a turn later.

He Thoughtcast into another Shrapnel Blast and a Blinkmoth Nexus while Ito just slammed his one card per turn onto the table top in frustration. That may have been something of a bluff as he played two Goblin Warchiefs on the same turn and attacked with both of them and a goblin token. He left a token and a Sledder back on guard duty. There was not even much of a decision here for Morita--as opposed to if Ito had say…I don't know…attacked with everyone? Morita blocked everything and only lost an Arcbound Worker that he used to Shrapnel Blast Ito from seven to two. Ito conceded the game and Morita escaped the round four bloodbath.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 2:49 How do you beat Affinity?

by Eli Kaplan

How do you beat Affinity? The locals have been doing their homework. One deck piloted by Nagoya local Yuji Ootsubo takes a novel approach. Borrowing from past decks like Machinehead, his red/black creation runs efficient, vicious spot removal. Ootsubo's Electrostatic Bolt, Shatter, Stone Rain, and Dark Banishing eliminate threats until he can pound through with Arc-Slogger. Death Cloud backs up the destruction and takes out Affinity's land and creatures. He's defeated two Affinity decks in a row, and at 4-0 has an excellent shot at making day 2.

Another black/red deck that takes a different tack, piloted by another local who is on a hot streak, Yusei Goto. He won the first Trial in Nagoya two months ago with Affinity and finished second in the massive Tokai Regionals a few months ago. His deck runs the same array of red spot removal (Shatter, Electrostatic Bolt, Arc-Slogger) but backs it up with acceleration via Pentad Prism and Talisman of Indulgence. Stone Rain, Death Cloud, and Greater Harvester all add for a real punishing build that keeps the opponent's board clean.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 2:25 The Travellers

by Eli Kaplan

Early on in the history of the Pro Tour, Japanese players didn't have a great rep. Communication had been a problem at times. Most of the early Pro players had little experience playing with non-Japanese speaking players.

At many Japanese PTQs, it's now common to have one or two non-Japanese players show up. Most of the non-Japanese players are English teachers, and they usually have weekends free. These days, many of the PTQ circuit players have gotten a taste of playing an opponent who doesn't understand everything they say, preparing them for the culture shock of the Pro Tour.

Two local foreigners have won their first three matches. Loys Le Goff lives in Osaka. His G/W Eternal Slide deck defeated a Cleric deck to go 3-0. He's traveled so much that he has a hard time saying what country he's from. The DCI says he's from Japan. Oliver Oks works in Tokyo and hails from Adelaide, Australia. He's managed to go 3-0 with Affinity.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 2:15 What a Country...

by Brian David-Marshall

Japan is sooooo much better than Canada. I have complained in previous coverage about the decaffeinated Mountain Dew in Josh Bennett's homeland. While Japan does not offer much in the way of Doing the Dew it does offer canned coffee on seemingly every street corner. Just a few feet from where I am working is a vending machine with un unending supply of iced black coffee. While the Boss is not the Boss of them All at the Nagoya Convention center I am quite happy with my Blues Black Coffee.

Additionally, they sell Godzilla toys at the convenience store Although with 940 players that is about all the local convenience store has left--it has been stripped of any edible products. We actually need to send someone by car to another location for lunch. With all the three bye competitors getting geared up for the remaining six rounds of action today I am going to need something besides coffee very soon.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 12:50 Notes From the Floor

by Eli Kaplan

Round 2 was an opportunity to scout the floor and search for bizarre and interesting decks. Yoshiya Shindo, ran a deck with Patriarch's Bidding, Read the Runes, and ... Clerics? Taking a page out of Gabriel Nassif's book, he ran a host of Clerics coupled with Grave Pact for maximum creature destruction. But a chance pairing with Big Red knocked him down to the X-1 bracket. Shindo usually wears the black and white judge shirt at Grand Prix.

Other deviations from the norm included several Shared Fate decks. None of these decks have displayed kill mechanisms. Nate Heiss's article about Shared Fate has inspired some players.

Numerous players are running U/W control with counterspells and Wrath of God. Blue/white control was shunned in the Trials yesterday, but as the single-elimination tournaments progressed, more decks with Islands and Plains made it to the end. Most of these use Eternal Dragons as the kill mechanism, but Tadashi Yaoi went with a less popular ally, Kaldra. Using Steelshaper's Gift to tutor out the Sword, Shield, and Helm of Kaldra, backed up by Story Circle and Worship, the undying Avatar would swing repeatedly at his opponent. To his dismay, Yaoi was facing a G/W Astral Slide deck. Despite having a Worship and Story Circle on the table, he could never pound lethal damage in. But his indestructible minion protected him from a constant assault of Soldier tokens. Odds are against Yaoi making Day 2, but anything can happen at a Japanese Grand Prix.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 12:40 The family that paints together...

by Brian David-Marshall

Daniel Gelon
The guest artists this weekend are the husband and wife team of Daniel Gelon and Heather Hudson. Daniel's contributions to Magic go all he way back to Alpha--in fact his contributions to Wizards of the Coast go back even farther. He was one of the artists on Ars Magica and Talislanta way back when Wizards was still humbly housed in Peter Adkison's basement. Daniel has not contributed a Magic card to a set since Urza's Legacy.

He has been offered opportunities to contribute new pieces but his job as Senior New Media Designer for Wizards of the Coast leaves him with little time for painting. One of his current projects is overhauling the look and feel of MTGO for version 3.0.

Daniel's most famous cards include Savannah Lions, Wheel of Fortune, and the original Stone Rain. Normally he is asked to sign Savannah Lions more than any other card but not today, "Is Sea Monster good?" he asked. Apparently it is the card more people have presented to him so far this afternoon than any other. Not surprising, really, since so many of his cards are highly sought-after collectibles.

Heather Hudson
His wife Heather Hudson came on board as a regular contributor to Magic during Legends with Chains of Mephistopheles. She continued to produce artwork in almost every set and is most proud of her recent work in Champions of Kamigawa. She attributes her work in that set to not only a fondness for manga and anime but the influence of the work of Andrew Loomis. Her husband Daniel recently bought her the out of print 'Creative Illustration' by Loomis for Valentine's Day. "I am very excited about my work on Champions and hope everyone enjoys it as much as I do."

When I popped by their crowded signing area the race for most-signed Heather Hudson card was a neck and neck race between the tournament unplayable but common Craw Wurm and the green-red Beasts staple but rare Molder Slug. With a much longer neck--do Slugs even have a neck?--and the edge in commonality, Craw Wurm looked to be the winner.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 12:05 Not terribly relevant but interesting (AND with a ton of decklists!)...

by Brian David-Marshall

We have located the remaining Trial decklists and while Ron Foster was typing them up he pointed at an interesting feature of the constructed deck sheet that was being used. There is a box on the upper right hand side of the deck sheet that has the letters A,B, and C. It turns out that the Japanese High Scholl Championships have qualifiers utilizing the rarely seen Team Constructed format. The Top 16 teams are determined through Team Standard qualifiers throughout the summer (they faced off last weekend in the finals although they played Team Rochester for the big tournament).

I asked him if they used unified Standard or if the players were able to all play with the same deck. They utilize the latter but Ron was intrigued by the possibility of the former under which each team of three players is bound by the four-of rule as opposed to each player. Basically you can have four Arcbound Ravagers on the whole team, which would allow only one player to wield an Affinity deck creating a much more diverse field of decks.

I have always been a big fan of the Unified Standard team format and will be excited to report on the results of next year's High School Championships in The Week that Was although I would love to see the format adopted in other parts of the world before then. While we hold out collective breath here are the remaining deck lists from yesterday's individual Standard GP Trials.

It should be noted that while there were fifteen Trials, there were so many players that the last five Trials were run as SIXTY-FOUR player tournaments with the Top 2 winning byes. Well over six hundred players entered Trials for this event. While the attendance in the main event was not record-setting, I am sure that the Trial attendance must have been.

Yasuhiro Miyazaki
Goblins

Kenta Oohira
Goblins

Jun Orihara
UW Control

Main Deck

60 cards

Cloudpost
Flooded Strand
Island
Plains
Temple of the False God

25 lands

Eternal Dragon

3 creatures

Akroma's Vengeance
Condescend
Decree of Justice
Mindslaver
Renewed Faith
Rewind
Thirst for Knowledge
Wayfarer's Bauble
Wrath of God

32 other spells

Sideboard
Annul
Decree of Silence
Mana Leak
Purge
Stifle

15 sideboard cards


Keita Higashida
UW Control


 

Saturday 8/28/04 11:40 AM: Toshinori Shigehara

by Eli Kaplan

Toshinori Shigehara, the Magic Online sensation who won a qualifier for Worlds, fared poorly in his first high profile match in the first round. Piloting a build nearly identical to his qualifying deck, he went down in the mirror match as Yusuke Taniguchi used Reap and Sow and Creeping Molds to keep Shigehara down in three games.

Shigehara wasn't in his comfort zone at the Feature Match table, as he was too aggressive in playing the pair of Sylvan Scryings from his hand. In the Tooth and Nail mirror match, Scrying is often best used as a 'patch' to repair the massive mana generation of Urza's Mine, Urza's Power Plant, and Urza's Tower. But with tempo to spare, Shigehara took a risk and lost. He faces an uphill battle, needing to go 7-1 to make day 2.


 

Saturday 8/28/04, 9:30 am: Setting the Stage

by Brian David-Marshall

Yesterday, while out to dinner with Ron Foster, Heather Hudson, and Daniel Gelon, our meal was interrupted by a phone call to Ron from the tournament site where they were holding Grand Prix Trials for today. There were actually two separate sites running Trials throughout yesterday and each location was scheduled to hold six thirty-two person events. There was such demand for the events that the call was a plea from the event staff for three additional sanctioning numbers for extra Trials.

In the end they got the sanctioning numbers and ran a total of fifteen trials throughout the day with four hundred and eighty players--although no word on how many unique entries--we can't get that number until sometime next week. Players who were here described the field as, "Affinity, red that hates Affinity, and Tooth and Nail." Apparently the mono-green Tooth and Nail deck that Toshinori Shigehara used to win the MTGO online qualifier for Worlds was a very popular choice among the locals.

Interestingly, Toshinori does not have any byes for this event. He plays his Magic almost exclusively online and his rating is non-existent. He chose not to play in any Trials yesterday but will be in the mix starting with round one today. He could potentially win Rookie of the Year with a couple of points here this weekend and a Top 8 finish at Worlds. (Both Tomohiro Kaji and Kazumasa Shiki might have a thing or two to say about that--they are in the running for the title and have this event and Worlds to close the gap between them and leader Alexandre Peset.)

Anyway... Here are a few of the deck lists from yesterday's Trials. They were typed up by cub reporter Eli Kaplan who will be helping out with the coverage today provided he doesn't have an aneurysm over being called 'cub reporter'. "Cub?!? Cub?!? I have done coverage at six Grand Prix!"

Shingo Katanase
Dear Love Song From You

Nobuhito Omichi
G/W Cycling

Takuma Ito
Goto Deck Red

Hiroki Yamashite
Affinity

Ryouma Shiozu
Ponza

Main Deck

60 cards

Blinkmoth Nexus
Forgotten Cave
15  Mountain
Stalking Stones

27 lands

Arc-Slogger
Avarax
Dwarven Blastminer

11 creatures

Demolish
Electrostatic Bolt
Lay Waste
Molten Rain
Pyroclasm
Stone Rain

22 other spells

Sideboard
Avarax
Flashfires
Oblivion Stone
Relic Barrier
Shatter

15 sideboard cards



 

Saturday 8/28/04, 9:30 am: Announcements

by Brian David-Marshall

There are 940 players in the tournament today which means we will be playing nine rounds today and, after a cut to the top 128 players, six more tomorrow before a cut to the Top 8. The players took up every single seat in the hall including the feature match area as they were all seated for perhaps the only time today (with byes and drops it is highly unlikely that the whole field will ever sit down at the same time) and listened as the judge made their announcements.

It is funny because these things take on a shape and a sound that transcends language barriers. Despite speaking in Japanese it was obvious that these were the same announcements I have heard in a dozen different languages, "We will be using match result slips--do not mark anything in the drop box unless you want to be dropped from the tournament!"

When he was done with the announcements, almost a thousand players sprung to action as they jockeyed for position to get at the pairings board (for players without byes) and the vending machines (for players with byes). We are about to get underway and we will be checking in with some rare round one feature with Shigehara.

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