After a banner season for Japanese Magic, the best in the nation have come to Osaka this weekend to decide who will be the national champion, and which three players will represent Japan at Worlds. This past season saw Japan take its first Pro Tour championship thanks to Masashiro Kuroda, and had Japanese competitors as a constant fixture in the Top 8. The only thing left to accomplish is to send a strong team to the World Championships, and play for national glory. Speculation has already begun, as a Fantasy Nationals contest online asked players to predict who would come out on top. The leading candidate turned out to be Itaru Ishida, followed by Akira Asahara and Masashiro Kuroda. Surprisingly absent from this top three are Masashi Oiso and Jin Okamoto. Apparently, despite all their accomplishments on the Pro Tour, there are rumblings that these players have a "domestic curse", and have problems winning at home. Considering the streak Oiso has been on, it wouldn't be surprising to see him prove this theory wrong.
Of course, this tournament occurs right before U.S. Nationals next weekend, and could very well factor into the Constructed side of things. Skullclamp may still be legal, but the Japanese have provided time and time again that just when you think an environment has become stagnant, they are capable of coming up with something completely original and effective. Additionally, how will Fifth Dawn factor into draft strategies? Stay tuned to our coverage all weekend, as we find out who will go to Worlds, and get a glimpse at the state of the Limited and Standard environments.