March 06 - 4:11 p.m.: Final Round Wrap-Up
by Brian David-Marshall
March 06 - 3:02 p.m.: Penultimate Top Table Rundown
by Brian David-Marshall
March 06 - 1:28 p.m.: Tsuyoshi (Double) Strikes Again!
by Brian David-Marshall
March 06 - 12:35 p.m.: Round Eleven Feature Match: Justin Gary vs. Masashi Oiso
by Brian David-Marshall
March 06 - 11:05 a.m.: The Sixty-Four Who Survived
by Brian David-Marshall
March 06 - 10:31 a.m.: Round Nine: Taylor Putnam vs. Grant Struck
by Brian David-Marshall
Sunday, March 6, 10:31 a.m. - Round Nine: Taylor Putnam vs. Grant Struck
There were only three undefeated players after eight rounds of play yesterday. If you are wondering why you are looking at a feature match between two player's you have never heard of it is because they are two thirds of that trio. I always try to kick off the Day Two coverage with a feature from the first table.
Taylor Putnam is a Calgary based player with a Gush-a-Tog deck based off of Michael Bower's Pro Tour Houston decklist. Bower owns the local card shop in Calgary and provided the base of the deck for Taylor. The deck took down all seven opponents that Taylor played yesterday including Shuhei Nakamura and Masashi Oiso playing the Cephalid Life deck. "I hope I play those guys all day…I can't lose to that deck."
Based on the match-up you might easily confuse this event with PT Houston as the clash is between Psychatog and Rock. Grant Struck is a Portland player who had two byes coming into the tournament and defeated all six players yesterday. Still an amateur coming into this tournament he found himself close to losing that status with a few more wins.
While the two players settled into the feature match area, Taylor complained that his name was misspelled on the Feature Match board. One of Struck's 'friends' who was watching on suggested that there was a misspelling for both player's names, "Actually there is not supposed to be a T or an R in his last name."
Both players were starting out with full grips. Taylor came out with a pair of Polluted Deltas and cracked them for ---
He turned to the judge showing an Echoing Truth in his main deck and announced, "I get a game loss… this should not be in my main deck."
"Jeez…Cabal Therapy for the win?"
These two players spent the latter part of yesterday playing near each other as the area known as "The Top Tables" grew became increasingly selective and they had no trouble sideboarding even though neither player had revealed very much about the other's deck.
Putnam bangs Red with his chucks.
Grant asked about Taylor curious lack of amateur status, "How many Pro Tours have you played in?"
"One," answered Taylor who had apparently tried to eBay off his two Pro Points overnight.
Turn two for Grant was Mesmeric Fiend, which prompted a "Hmmm" from Taylor who had Brainstormed last turn. He had another at the ready and promptly broke a sac land and stuck a couple of counter spells on top of his deck.
Grant looked at a hand with two AKs, two Gush, Island and Counterspell -- he took the last one. Grant got his beat on with the Fiend and attempted a Therapy but Taylor had the Mana Leak he had pushed last turn. Struck had to decide how much he wanted to attack Taylor's hand and he decided to sacrifice the Fiend --returning the Counterspell -- to eat two AK's with the Therapy.
The play looked good on the next turn when Taylor missed his fourth land. Putnam chose not to counter a Call of the Herd and got bashed for three on the next turn. Taylor used one of his counters to combat another Cabal Therapy but Grant played Wild Mongrel and fed it to a flashed back therapy -- he took the Gushes.
Both players were stalled on three lands but Grant had the elephant taking nice sized chunks out of Taylor's life total each turn. Grant had another Therapy but Taylor had another Mana Leak -what else could they have? They had no lands.
Grant played Rancor on his next turn and took Taylor down to seven. At the end of that turn, Taylor Cunning Wished for Dominate. He made the mistake of not using it on his own turn which allowed Grant to flash back Cabal Therapy and get the last Counterspell out of Putnam's grip which cleared the way for Cranial Extraction on Psychatog.
"Okay…go nuts." Grant took out all four and when he lingered over Taylor's deck for a while longer Taylor raised his eyebrows, "You will not find a fifth one in the deck."
Grant made a fresh Call token expecting to see it Dominated but Taylor had to use his freshly drawn AK for three cards. On Grant's next turn the Dominate targeted the elephant but Grant Smothered his own guy. After combat Grant added a Sword of Fire and Ice and a Treetop Village to the board.
When Grant used those two cards in conjunction on the next turn that was the game. Taylor claimed he needed one more turn to be able to lock his opponent under Capsize lock and set up a Cunning Wish cycle culminating in Brainfreeze for the win.
Sunday, March 6, 11:05 a.m. - The Sixty-Four Who Survived
There were a couple of surprises when I broke down the Day Two field and contrasted each archetype total with how many decks of each type started out on Day One. Goblins was the prevalent Day Two species which was not much of a surprise as it was that way yesterday as well. Aluren and Reanimator both advanced only one player to today's action although they were fairly high on the list yesterday. RDW also took a hit to its reputation today with only four of thirty-four advancing.
Goblins - 11 out of 39 Day One
Rock - 9 out of 33 Day One
Tog - 7 out of 13 Day One
Cephalid Life - 6 out of 19 Day One
Affinity - 6 out of 25 Day One
Red Deck Wins - 4 out of 34 Day One
Blue-White Desire - 4 out of 25 Day One
Madness - 3 out of 21 Day One
Scepter Confinement - 2 out of 9 Day One
Life - 2 out of 9 Day One
White Weenie - 1 out of 11 Day One
Aluren - 1 out of 22 Day One
ScepterTog - 1 out of 2 Day One
Form of the Rector - 1 out of 2 Day One
Sneak Attack- 1 out of 4 Day One
Blue-Green Opposition - 1 out of 3 Day One
Kiki-Opposition - 1 out of 2 Day One
Gro-a-Tog - 1 out of 6 Day One
Reanimation Machine - 1 out of 13 Day One
Reanimator - 1 out of 17 Day One
We have only one undefeated player remaining in the tournament. Portland Amateur Grant Struck defeated the only other X-0 in the tournament last round to advance to 10-0. Max McCall was playing Goblins and he fell to the Rock in a three game match. This was a significant match for both players as it could determine the outcome of the battle for the top amateur payout in the tournament -- which is an additional $1,500 above and beyond any other prize money.
Sunday, March 6, 12:35 p.m. - Round Eleven Feature Match: Justin Gary vs. Masashi Oiso
As the players drifted over to the Feature Match area Justin's friends and supporters teased him that he was about to fall beneath the blades of the Japanese buzz saw.
Masashi Oiso has skills.
"I'm sorry Justin its been a nice tournament," chided Paul Rietzl who makes every feature match interesting -- even if he is not playing in it.
Justin tried to muster some support for his comeback tournament -- he actually needs to win a slot if he wants to go to Philadelphia, "USA? USA?"
Rietzl scooted around the Japanese side of the table and cheered, "Go Masashi!"
Rietzl shrugged at the match-up as he discussed who would win with Brian Kibler, "At least Justin is not a deer in the headlights here. At least he looks like a competitor."
Justin quickly announced he was keeping. Oiso stared intently at his cards and put a hand to his brow as his thought about all the permutations involved. Finally he mulliganed much to the surprise -- and delight of Justin. He tried to get the USA chant going again but with little luck.
"C'mon you have to root for the underdog here."
Justin led off with Duress and examined a six card hand of Worldly Tutor, Brainstorm, Reanimate, Vampiric Tutor, Illusionist, and an Underground River. He took the Brainstorm. Justin's next turn featured a second Duress -- Justin did not play a land first -- and Oiso responded with Vampiric for Reanimate. He showed Justin a hand that had picked up Forbidden Orchard since we last looked at it.
Justin thought for a long time about which card to snag and finally settled on the old Reanimate. He followed with Wasteland on the Underground River. Oiso played the Forbidden Orchard and showed the second Reanimate when Justin Cabal Therapied him for Cephalid Illusionist on the next turn. Gary also played a Bird.
Oiso was out of land and passed with no play while Justin had Pernicious Deed and a Treetop Village. Justin seemed inpatient with the amount of time Oiso was taking with each turn. Eventually after much internal debate, Oiso Exhumed his Illusionist.
Justin attacked for four and then flashed back Therapy -- eating his Orchard token -- on Worldly Tutor. Oiso had no follow up and Justin smoked the Orchard with a second Wasteland.
"I love Wasteland!"
"Ahhhh. . .Wasteland. . .Mmmmmwah" added Kibler who was watching from the sidelines and blew the modern day Stripmine a kiss.
Both players kept their opening hands for Game 2. Justin had Duress again and Oiso used his Worldly Tutor in response. He showed off an Illusionist before putting it on top of his deck. He also showed off a hand with three lands and Sutured Ghoul.
"That's not where he is supposed to be."
Oiso played the Illusionist and Justin stared uncertainly at the top of Oiso's deck as he tapped out to play Sakura-Tribe Elder. Oiso passed turn three without a play and Justin cracked his Elder. Turn three saw him perform a Cranial Extraction on Oiso naming Living Wish -- because of Living Wish Justin could not name any of the creatures.
He removed two Living Wishes and continued to look through the deck almost overlooking the third one before catching it on one final pass through the deck, "That could have been pretty embarrassing."
Geddes Cooper shook his head at the effects of old age, "Remember when we were young and saw everything?"
"Have I attacked you yet this turn?
"Then here it comes."
Oiso blocked and used the Cephalid's ability to prevent all damage to and from itself which prompted Justin to read the card (and if truth be told me as well) and put three card in his bin. Oiso had no play on his turn and Justin came back with Cabal Therapy on the Reanimate the Japanese player was holding and then performed some more skull surgery -- this time naming Krosan Cloudscraper.
Oiso ripped a Shuko off the top and used it to mill his entire library -- but not before getting in for two with the Illusionist. He then flashed back Therapy targeting himself to get the Sutured Ghoul into his yard and then passed the turn to Justin. He played a Bird of Paradise and pored over Oiso's graveyard adding up the creatures. He used Wasteland on a Brushland which meant that Oiso would need to use Forbidden Orchard to flashback Krosan Reclamation -- which he did. That gave Justin one more point of toughness to absorb the blow from the Ghoul. He had the opportunity to attack with his tokens but chose to leave them back. There was a Dragon Wins in Oiso's bin but for some reason Justin had it in his mind that the tokens from Forbidden Orchard flew.
Oiso was able to make an 8/8 'monster' by removing all of the Nomads, Kamis, and Illusionists from his yard. It gained flaying, haste, and some extra power when Shuko, Dragon Wings, and Dragon Breath all hopped on the monster. He flew over for nine and when the top of Justin's deck did not yield an Edict he scooped the game.
There was some debate in the peanut gallery about whether or not Justin should have named Ghoul or Cloudscraper but the real issue seemed to have been the missed attack on Justin's last turn before Oiso stitched up his monster.
Justin Gary, left, defends Seattle from Oiso.
An unhappy Justin ed off Game 3 with Therapy and named Vampiric Tutor. He hit and also saw Exhume, Illusionist, Ghoul and three lands. Another Therapy took Illusionist on the next turn. Wasteland took out a Llanowar Wastes. When Oiso Exhumed the squid it was quickly Edicted away.
Justin returned Wasteland with Eternal Witness and took out a City of Brass. Oiso Brainstormed in response and then Worldly Tutored EOT for another Illusionist. He was able to play out the combo on his turn and passed the turn back to Justin who has a little surprise in store for Oiso.
He passed the turn back to the Japanese player and he dumped his deck into his yard during his upkeep. He went to Krosan Reclamation an Exhume and a Reanimate and Justin responded with Coffin Purge and flashed it back to take out both targets. Oiso nodded and Justin breathed a sigh of relief.
"Saved from my own stupidity. I don't know why I keep thinking that the Orchard tokens have flying."
"It is the first card to make spirit tokens where they don't fly," offered the table judge helpfully.
Sunday, March 6, 1:28 p.m. - Tsuyoshi (Double) Strikes Again!
Tsuyoshi Fujita is one of the world's best deck designers and has used a Grand Prix platform several times in the past to upset the metagame applecart. A few years back in Bangkok Tsuyoshi released Goblin Bidding on the Standard format a few weeks before Worlds. Last year in Kuala Lumpur he displayed some innovative sideboard tech with Relic Barriers in he board of his green-white Eternal Slide deck against Affinity. At Japanese Nationals this past season his green-red build of Goblins quickly became an industry standard.
Now he is smuggling his fiendish creations into this country and potentially altering the remaining weeks of the PTQ season with his Sneak Attack deck. While Sneak Attack has made more than a couple of Top 8s around the country none have featured Fujita's innovative Blazing Shoal technology which allows you to pile up the damage pretty quickly with a double striking Dragon Tyrant.
Round twelve saw Fujita paired with American Alex Majlaton who was playing Affinity. He dropped Game 1 but came back in Game 2 with a Sneak Attacked Dragon Tyrant that he was able to pump into lethal damage with a Seething Song. Game 3 featured a Rorix that was boosted with two Blazing Shoals after being Sneaked into play.
After the match I asked him about the deck and he laughed and gave all the credit to Go Anan with a wink. Generally all of his deck creations are credited to his friend Go Anan -- a joke that seems to have taken off around the world as over a dozen American players listed him as the designer for their decks when they turned in their sheets yesterday.
While the deck has regularly gone off on turns three and four, Fujita has also "ritualed" out Rorix on the first turn in more than one game this weekend.
Sunday, March 6, 3:02 p.m. - Penultimate Top Table Rundown
Sneaky Go / Tsuyoshi Fujita
Day Two - Grand Prix Seattle - 3/06/05
The action at the top tables.
The day is blazing by and we can now see the Top 8 over the horizon. Players settled into the second to last round of play with only undefeated Grant Struck confident that he could reach the elimination rounds. Grant was 12-0 to this point in the tournament and has no ideas about slowing down. While many players would opt to double draw in the last two rounds, the Portland player was entertaining fantasies about pulling off the perfect -- a 17-0 record on the weekend.
Grant and his MaceyRock deck were paired up against Lance Loden of Kiki-Opposition fame. The Alabama player and his mana-challenged creation first popped up on the radar a few weeks back when his deck started making the Top 8 of PTQs around the country. Grant dropped the first game when he found himself locked under Tradwind Rider Mystic Snake. He took the next two down though and is one win away from being the only player to go through the Swiss at a GP undefeated since Ryan Fuller a few years ago.
Table two saw Goblin wielding Max McCall of Portland, Oregon square off with Japan's Shuhei Nakamura playing Cephalid Life. Canadian Taylor Putnam and Gush-a-Tog were facing off Tsuyoshi Fujita and his blazingly fast Sneak Attack deck.
Table three saw Gush-A-Tog out sneak Sneak Attack when Tsuyoshi Fujita's eponymous enchantment was countered by a tapped out Taylor Putnam with Foil.
The feature match this round was between Brad Taulbee's Togs and Geddes Cooper's Sutured Ghoul. The match went to three games with Cooper getting what he needed in Game 1 while struggling to keep any many on his board vs. a Dust Bowl and the abundant card drawing power of the Tog deck in Game 2. Game 3 came down to time and Geddes managed to pull out the win when he Reanimated Brad's Psychatog and could deal just enough damage on the last of the extra turns.
Table five saw Justin Gary's comeback bid continue as he dispatched Charles Toratani and his Reanimator deck in three games. Justin's Rock deck is perfect against every archetype that does not rhyme with Bobblins. His only two losses this weekend have come at the claws of little red men.
Mitch Tamblyn's day continued it's downward slide. He took a game loss in the previous round when he put an additional land into play against Justin Gary. He was in command of the game at the time and there seemed to be no way he could lose until his misstep. This round his Desire did not deliver against John Ripley's Goblins.
Sunday, March 6, 4:11 p.m. - Final Round Wrap-Up
Fujita reveals his secret source of power
Tsuyoshi Fujita put his deck through its paces before a stunned Daniel Hanson in the final round of action. Hanson was playing Goblins and the winner of this match would likely advance to the Top 8. Although the absence of intentional draws at this tournament meant that anything could happen with tournament leader Grant Struck two full match wins above the nearest player in the standings. In the first game Hanson had only a Mogg Fanatic in play when a Dragon Tyrant came Through the Breach with Blazing Shoal back-up. Game 2 took an extra turn when Hanson delayed his opponent with a Wasteland but a Blazing Shoal off the top of Fujita's deck allowed him to do twenty-four with a Dragon Tyrant that launched a Sneak Attack over Hanson's mounting goblin army.
After the match Tsuyoshi showed off his undergarment that leant him so much success this weekend with giant red dragons.
The question on everyone's minds seemed to be, "How many Japanese players will make the Top 8?" Tsuysohi looked to be in and the only other viable contender was Shuhei Nakamura who was squaring off with Lance Loden of Kiki-Opposition fame. Shuhei managed to get the win he needed and it looked like the answer to the burning question would be, "Two."
The Grant Struck expressed has been derailed from the perfect game track in the final round. John Ripley -- who was in 64th place coming into today's battles -- accomplished what no one else this weekend has been able to do. He defeated Struck's Rock deck with a perfect Vial Goblins draw in the last game of the last round. Ripley is likely to make the Top 8 as a result and the two players could easily be matched up in the first round of the Top 8.
Finally, Justin Gary and Taylor Putnam were fighting for their Top 8 lives -- sort of. Justin needed a win to get in while Putnam needed only a draw. The draw could result in Justin winning an invite but he wanted to win and make the Top 8. The two players battled back and forth for some time but Justin could not break through in the final game even though he had Extracted all of Putnam's Togs. The match ended in a draw and Justin had to hope that the breakers fell his way to earn a Pro Tour invite.