syp Lebedowicz took time away from doing live webcast coverage to sit down and chat about the final matchup between Pierre Canali and Shuhei Nakamura. Lebedowicz recently won Grand Prix-Orlando with Affinity, which. Canali played to the top of the standings. Canali was now one match away from starting off the 2005 season with a victory in Pro Tour-Columbus.
Patrick Sullivan also joined the discussion. Sullivan has been a crucial part of Team TOGIT's success. He also happens to be the one-team member that has always played Red Deck Wins. If Nakamura takes the title he will become the second Japanese player to have won a Pro Tour title.
Both players, as well as everyone that was talked to, agreed that the match up looked bad for Canali. Going down Nakamura's deck list the first two cards we come across are Rishadan Port and Wasteland. Both of these lands will attack the Affinity decks mana base. With only 19 lands in his deck, Canali could easily be stopped from playing any spells at all.
The volume of two damage effects in Nakamura's deck include Grim Lavamancer, Firebolt, Seal of Fire, Magma Jet and Cursed Scroll. Grim Lavamancer offered Nakamura a cheap, quick, and efficient way to remove some of the smaller creatures in Canali's deck. In fact only Arcbound Ravager and Myr Enforcer could withstand even one shot from the Lavamancer. Unlike Olivier Ruel, who only had one Sparksmith and one Goblin Sharpshooter in his deck, Nakamura's deck was packed with ways to slow down a quick Affinity start.
Lebedowicz felt that Canali's best chance rested with Arcbound Ravager and Aether Vial. Arcbound Ravager could outgrow Nakamura's removal to the point where only Pillage could take it down. Even if a Pillage does hit the Ravager, the counters could still be moved onto another artifact creature to give the Affinity player a little bit of staying power. Aether Vial both allowed Canali to get a quick start and play his creatures at instant speed as tricks. The Vial has been crucial to Canali's success so far this tournament and he will need to see them often turn one in order to beat Nakamura. The rest of the creatures in Canali's deck just aren't big enough to hang around to impact the game.
After sideboarding, Nakamura will probably bring in Ensnaring Bridge. Sullivan felt that Nakamura would not bring in Flametongue Kavu because of the threat that Chill offers to his red spells. Nakamura has twenty-four lands to help against Chill, as well as the ability to keep Affinity off of its blue mana sources. Sullivan even suggested that the Pillages might be pulled out of Nakamura's deck to make room for Ensnaring Bridge solely because of how expensive Chill makes casting Pillage.
Besides Chill, Canali could bring either Engineered Plague or Cabal Therapy. Neither are particularly exciting options, however they are the best answers he has. Canali will probably just bring in Chill and hope that his fast beat down wins before Nakamura to stabilize.