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Day 2 Blog Archive

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  • Blog - 7:38 p.m. - Round 14: Rich Hoaen vs. Toshifumi Hanoaka
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 6:54 p.m. - Round 13: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Quentin Martin
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 4:16 p.m. - Drafting with Saito
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 3:03 p.m. - More Quick Questions!
    by Keita Mori
  • Blog - 2:34 p.m. - Round 10: Shouta Yasooka vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 1:31 p.m. - Photojournalism
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 1:00 p.m. - Quick Questions with the Pros!
    by Keita Mori
  • Blog - 9:04 a.m. - Drafting with Shouta Yasooka
    by Ted Knutson

  • BLOG


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 9:04 a.m. - Drafting with Shouta Yasooka
    by Ted Knutson


  • 1 Osamu Fujita
    2 Yuma Osanai
    3 Yoshito Okumura
    4 Shuuhei Nakamura
    5 Shouta Yasooka
    6 Richard Hoaen
    7 Kenji Tsumura
    8 Akiyoshi Suzuki

    We begin Day 2 by following the draft of current Player of the Year leader Shouta Yasooka. As you can see, this wasn't the draft pod he was hoping for. Being sandwiched by Shuuhei and Rich Hoaen is bad enough, but also having to worry about running into Osamu Fujita and Kenji in the same pod is a miserable way to start your morning.

    There's three talented guys.

    I don't know how you prefer your drafts to open in triple Time Spiral, but I prefer to open my pack and find Disintegrate staring back at me. Yasooka apparently does too, and though he rarely shows much emotion when he plays, if he did, one could imagine him doing a small Tiger Woods-style fist pump as he kicked off his day with the best card in the set. His second pick was of slightly lower quality but still plenty bomb-y in Triskavelus. The rest of pack 1 was relatively average, giving Yasooka a number of reasonable creatures like Herd Gnarr and Blazing Blade Askari, but nothing that compared to his first two picks.

    Yasooka's second pack was nearly as saucy as his first, with Magus of the Scroll giving a cheeky wink from the back. The Magus was followed by Spike Tiller and a couple of Search for Tomorrow before the pack once again devolved into playables, but nothing special. Pack 3 for Yasooka gave him Firemaw Kavu, but that was followed by Ashcoat Bear and more chaff. Looking at his final decklist, Yasooka concluded he had somehow ended up with a bad deck. Sure, he had five first pick quality cards, but no removal spells like Rift Bolt, Sulfurous Blast, or Sudden Shock. He picked up a Durkwood Baloth along the way in green, but the rest of his creatures were mostly bear-sized and they lacked pump spells to make them dangerous. If Yasooka draws the good parts of his deck consistently, he should be fine, but if not he will likely struggle to do better than 1-2 in this draft. Then again, there's a reason why he's leading in the Player of the Year race…

    For those of you playing the home game, Hoaen first-picked a Cancel to put himself in blue and then filled his deck with Tim effects, good blue creatures, and black removal. Nakamura grabbed another Magus of the Disk (his third on the weekend) and settled immediately into white, but then somehow ended up pairing it with green, giving him another odd, aggressive deck with a few control elements and Squall Line to finish opponents at low life. Nakamura's green picks likely explain a lot about why Yasooka's middling deck quality.


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 1:00 p.m. - Quick Questions with the Pros!
    by Keita Mori




  • In keeping with this week's theme on Magicthegathering.com, tell us you're your favorite "Legend of Time Spiral" is.

    Ryou Ogura (Day 1 undefeated): Jelger Weigersma (Day 1 undefeated): Tomoharu Saitou (Day 1 undefeated):

    Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder. He helped me win yesterday.

    Kaervek the Merciless. He helped me beat Ogura!

    Ninja of the Deep Hours! What? That's not a legend? It's not in Time Spiral either? Oh… Then I guess Endrek Sahr, Master Breeder.


    Masahiko Morita (Day 1 undefeated): Akira Asahara: Tiago Chan:
    Flagstones of Trokair! It's not a creature, but it is a legend.
    I'm a fan of the back story, and I'm also a big fan of Kamahl, so I have to say Stonebrow, Krosan Hero, who was a friend of Kamahl's. He's like Zh?ng F?i from Romance of the Three Kingdoms (S?nguó Y?nyì). I was saddened when he was killed by Karona…
    Shadowmage Infiltrator. Jon Finkel is truly a legend.


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 1:31 p.m. - Photojournalism
    by Ted Knutson


  • Don't ask me why, but on Saturday large numbers of Japanese children were flocking to see…

    This guy. What does Ken have that I don't have, minus a giant, pointy orange noggin?

    Martina Pilcerova brought a number of originals to Yamagata as well as many prints of her brilliant Seething Song.

    Yamagata is a long way from Martina's home in the Slovak Republic, but she says she's loving it here.

    Check out this sweet sword.

    Can I still claim this as one of my daily servings of fruit?

     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 2:34 p.m. - Round 10: Shouta Yasooka vs. Shuuhei Nakamura
    by Ted Knutson


  • The feature match are this round is positively loaded with star power. On one side of the divider Jelger Wiegersma and Tomoharu Saito are dueling to see who will be the last undefeated standing here in Yamagata, giving them the best chance to pick up a bunch of extra points in the Top 8. On the other side of the area are the two players they are chasing - Shuuhei Nakamura and Shouta Yasooka. As the two frontrunners in the race, you would think these guys had squared off a few times this year, but Magic pairings are fickle. This is only the second time they have played each other this season, the first coming in the quarterfinals at Grand Prix-Toulouse earlier this year.

    In terms of deck advantage, Shuuhei's white-green deck is probably a little better, especially if Yasooka doesn't know Nakamura has Magus of the Disk. As noted in the draft review earlier, Yasooka's deck has a number of bombs, but is somewhat lacking in the boom boom department. He'll need to get an aggressive draw early and hope that Nakamura is a bit slow out of the gates to pull this one out. Or he can just draw Disintegrate, the great equalizer in Limited.

    Yasooka won the die roll and both players kept their opening hands. Yasooka suspended Search for Tomorrow on his first turn, followed by Thallid Shell-Dweller and Herd Gnarr on turns 2 and 3 while Nakamura got in the game on turn 3 with Errant Doomsayers. Yavimaya Dryad pumped Yasooka's Herd Gnarr for a turn, but Nakamura answered with Magus of the Disk. Yasooka pushed his Herd Gnarr as big as it would go on the next turn, dropping Nakamura to 8, while enabling Shuuhei to get a 5-for-2 on his turn as a result. Yasooka reloaded with Coal Stoker and Keldon Halberdier, again putting Shuuhei under the gun, but Nakamura's card advantage was telling now and he quickly had a board full of good stuff while Yasooka was out of gas. Might Sliver, Amrou Seekers, and Spinneret Sliver were making quick work of Yasooka's life total, while Icatian Crier was pumping out citizens on the D. A lack of Disintegrate off the top of Yasooka's deck gave game 1 to Shuuhei.

    Nakamura 1 - Yasooka 0

    Yasooka took an early lead in game 2 with Ashcoat Bear, Grapeshot on Amrou Scout, and Magus of the Scroll. A Magus hit on Nakamura's Essence Sliver was huge (he had a 40% chance of success), allowing him to block and trade with his Bear, but Yasooka was stuck on three land with a hand full of four-drops. He finally drew out of it two turns later, but had given back all of his early advantage and was now staring down a small army of white creatures. The fourth land gave Yasooka Herd Gnarr followed by Coal Stoker and Herd Gnarr a turn later, using extra summons to make the Gnarr grow like chia pets, but he was getting smashed right back each turn. Firemaw Kavu for Yasooka looked like it might stem the flow of blood, but Nakamura launched an alpha strike, dropping Yasooka to one at the cost of most of his men, and then finished the job with Squall Line.

    Nakamura 2 - Yasooka 0

    In other news, Jelger finished Saito when the Pro Tour-Charleston winner got mana screwed in game 3, leaving him as the only undefeated in the field.


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 3:03 p.m. - More Quick Questions!
    by Keita Mori




  • Who are you planning to team up with for the Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour in San Diego next year? If you don't already have a partner, with whom would you like to team up?

    Ryou Ogura (Day 1 undefeated): Jelger Weigersma (Day 1 undefeated): Tomoharu Saitou (Day 1 undefeated):

    Takuya Oosawa has asked me if I'd like to go with him already, so I imagine that's who my teammate will be.

    I'm teamed up with Richard Hoaen.

    (simply points at Tomohiro Kaji)


    Masahiko Morita (Day 1 undefeated): Akira Asahara: Tiago Chan:
    Go Anan! Sometime, I would like to have the opportunity to team with Mark Justice, whom I greatly respect, or Masato Sasaki. Of course, Justice and Sasaki would make a good team in and of itself, but I suppose that would never happen…Would it? I've gotten offers from a lot of pros, but I haven't made up my mind yet. If I make Level 5, I would like to team up with my friend Frederico Bastos, who hasn't been doing so well lately.


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 4:16 p.m. - Drafting with Saito
    by Ted Knutson
  • Pod 1, Draft 2

    1 Takahiro Suzuki
    2 Ryo Ogura
    3 Min-su Kim
    4 Antoine Ruel
    5 Masahiko Morita
    6 Jelger Wiegersma
    7 Tomoharu Saito
    8 Takeshi Ozawa

    I originally sat down to follow Jelger Wiegersma's draft, but quickly realized that his 11-0 record on the weekend meant his draft wouldn't matter all that much, since he's already guaranteed a spot in the Top 8. Thankfully Tomoharu Saito was sitting directly next to Jelger and made the switch an easy one. Saito is an enigmatic character. Suspended once early in his career when he was very young, Saito has come back with a vengeance over the last couple of years. He's close friends with Tomohiro Kaji, and is perhaps best known for his pre-game ritual where he slaps his face in order to help focus his concentration. His first Pro Tour Top 8 came with One Spin back in Atlanta in 2005, and then he won a team Pro Tour title earlier this year in Charleston. His first individual Top 8 performance came just a couple of weeks ago in Kobe, making him one of the hottest players on the planet. In fact, Saito is the only player this year to play on two different Pro Tour Sundays.

    Saito's first pick was a Riftwing Cloudskate over Uthden Troll and nothing particularly impressive. Next came Amrou Scout and then Snapback over Tromp the Domains, Zealot il-Vec and Hunting Moa. A second Scout followed (over Momentary Blink), and Spinneret Sliver and Cancel rounded out his pack 1 playables. To Saito's right, Jelger Wiegersma was in green-blue, nudged in that direction by Mystic Snake. Pack 2 gave Saito the option of Spike Tiller, Pirate Ship, or a third Amrou Scout. Saito grabbed the Scout for his pile, choosing to stick with the rebel theme. Outrider en-Kor added to the tribal tally, but the next two packs only gave him underwhelming picks in Flickering Spirits (over Ghost Ship and Strength in Numbers) and Viscerid Deepwalker. Slipstream Serpent was the next card to find its way into his pile, but then a welcome (and late) Castle Raptors arrived and brought little buddy Coral Trickster with him to the party. By this point Jelger was gobbling up all the red cards coming back through Saito and looking to switch out of green-blue into blue-red.

    Pack 3 for Saito started with Temporal Isolation followed by Knight of the Holy Nimbus (yet another rebel) and Fortify. Fathom Seer and Crookclaw Transmuter plus a second Fortify completed the notables of what looked to be a very solid deck Watching a bit of his first match of this pod solidified the idea, as Saito used Icatian Crier plus Crookclaw Transmuter and a pair of Citizens and then double Fortify to demolish his opponent on turn 6.


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 6:54 p.m. - Round 13: Katsuhiro Mori vs. Quentin Martin
    by Ted Knutson


  • The reigning World Champion has had a quiet year thus far, earning only 15 pro points this season, far off the level 6 pace he set last year. He's always been strong at Japanese Grand Prix though, and Yamagata appears to be no different. One more win is likely to get him into the Top 8. Mori's opponent this round is Quentin Martin, who is here in pursuit of Level 5 Players' Club status and because he enjoys coming to Japan.

    Mori won the die roll, suspending a Riftwing Cloudskate on turn 2. Martin suspended Search for Tomorrow on turn 1, but had no further action until a fourth turn Sporesower Thallid. Meanwhile Mori added an Opaline Sliver to his team and then Ovinomancer two turns later. Martin killed a Cloudskate with Firemaw Kavu but chose to leave the sheepmaker alone for the time being. Mori's developmental setback with Ovinomancer meant he was taking a ton of damage from Martin's Kavu, eventually dropping to 8 life without forcing Quentin to play any further spells or creatures. Savage Thallid gave him another hefty beater, but Mori made both disappear with a combination of Ovinomancer and Tribal Flames.

    Havenwood Wurm was Quentin's reload, but Snapback during the attack nullified it, while Mori added a Cavalry Master to his otherwise empty board. Martin replayed the Wurm and suspended Rift Bolt, using it to drop Mori to 5 before attacking right through Mori's fresh Errant Ephemeron. A blank for Mori the next turn gave Martin the win.

    Martin 1 - Mori 0

    Both players kept again for game 2, and Mori kicked off the action with a suspended Ephemeron, but missed his third land drop. Martin only had red lands in hand and on the board, but that was enough to cast Blazing-Blade Askari. He then drew a Forest, which allowed him to put a Katsu Mori elephant token into play. Mori's Ephemeron came online just as he cast Watcher Sliver to hold down the ground, but Martin went bigger than that with Havenwood Wurm. Temporal Isolation during combat shut down the Wurm, but Martin used it as an excuse to wipe out Mori's board with Sulfurous Blast and Grapeshot after combat. Clockwork Hydra with a Griffin Guide attached finally gave Mori the edge he was looking for and evened the score in this action-packed match at a game a piece.

    Martin 1 - Mori 1

    Mori had to mulligan in game 3, but Martin again pulled his "draw no Forests" trick for a couple of turns, stunting his development a bit. An Askari reprise plus an Elephant token brought the beats, but Snapback made the elephant disappear and Clockwork Hydra gave Mori a big enough blocker to hold down the ground while the World Champ waited for Ith to come out of suspension. Jedit's Dragoons complicated Martin's situation dramatically. A block of the Askari plus Firemaw killed the Dragoons, but now Ith was online and attacking from either side stalled. Lightning Axe from Martin got rid of the Hydra before it got out of hand. Mori then played through two morphs, both Slipstream Serpents, killing a weenie of Martin's with each unmorph. Martin's draws did nothing to improve his situation while Mori drew Errant Ephemeron, giving him plenty of attacking power. Snapback on Martin's last blocker eventually gave Mori the game and match.

    Mori 2 - Martin 1


     
  • Sunday, Nov 19: 7:38 p.m. - Round 14: Rich Hoaen vs. Toshifumi Hanoaka
    by Ted Knutson


  • Rich Hoaen came here on a quest for Level 5. He reached that last status last round (assuming he shows up to register for Worlds, anyway), and now he's driving for a whole lot more. A Top 8 appearance here would go a long way towards giving him a shot at the rarified air of level 6 status in the Players' Club for next year, at which point he's stated he plans to travel to nearly every GP on the planet with his biggest fan - Kenji Tsumura. Standing in Hoaen's way is a 21-year-old Magician from Okayama named Toshifumi Hanoaka. Hoaen is into the Top 8 with a draw here, but Hanoaka can't afford that luxury.

    Hanoaka was forced to mulligan but still had a turn 2 play in Gemhide Sliver, one that immediately died to Feebleness. Hoaen's first turn Mindstab demolished Hanoaka when it finally resolved a couple turns later and combined with the mulligan game 1 was hardly a game. Rich offered the draw again as soon as Hanoaka started scooping up his cards, but was politely denied. Hanoaka needed a win and a prayer to make it and was willing to take his chances, even down a game against one of the world's best Limited players.

    Hoaen 1 - Hanoaka 0

    Hoaen again had a first turn black suspend spell, but instead of Mindstab it was Corpulent Corpse. Hanoaka had a much better start this game, casting Greenkeeper and Two-Headed Sliver, followed by Watcher Sliver as well. Hoaen had plenty of removal in hand, but Hanoaka's sliver army kept getting bigger, with Might Sliver answering the recruiting call. A fourth Swamp and Tendrils of Corruption dispatched that sizeable threat, and Hoaen began smashing with a Coal Stoker and his Corpse. A turn later Sulfurous Blast took care of the army and now the two decks were playing draw, go. Hanoaka drew out of it first, while Hoaen drew four lands in a row from his deck. Essence Sliver died to Strnagling Soot flashback, but the slivers, they kept a'comin now furious and double-striking and the match was now even at a game a piece.

    Hoaen 1 - Hanoaka 1

    First turn Mindstab - this time on the play - greeted Hanoaka before he'd even played his first land. How lucky! Suspended Search for Tomorrow from the young Japanese player completed his three-color mana base, giving him a turn 3 Essence Sliver. Hanoaka was able to get Two-Headed and Sidewinder Sliver out of his hand, but the Mindstab hit a full three spells and Hoaen killed the Essence Sliver with Tendrils that turn to boot. Pardic Dragon turned what was once close into a blowout, and Hoaen was now sporting an undefeated record in draft on the day and back-to-back Grand Prix Top 8s to go along with his new Level 5 status.

    Hoaen 2 - Hanoaka 1

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