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Nakada's Orzhov Army Marches to Victory

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The letter A!rmed with only a single bye, Ryo Nakada fought his way through nearly 1800 players to emerge a champion. Playing a tweaked version of the White Weenie deck that put Ben Stark in the Top 4 of Grand Prix Dallas he swept Day 1 with a perfect 9-0 record, and didn't take a loss until Round 12. His opponent? Fellow finalist Shota Takao. Takao had been turning heads all weekend with his Esper Humans deck, and led the field into the Top 8.

Standard looked to be quite healthy as a variety of decks were on display. Mono-Blue Devotion, Mono-Red and Boros devotion decks, Control decks both Esper and Blue-White, and Black-based midrange decks, whether mono-colored or Black-White. That diversity was on display in the Top 8 as well. As the quarterfinals began, eyes were on the two big names, 2011 World Champion Junya Iyanaga and former Player of the Year Shouta Yasooka. Both of them fell to Takao's Esper Humans. Meanwhile on the other side of the bracket, Nakada swept Keisuke Sato's Colossal Gruul deck and scored a thrilling last-second victory against Hajime Nakashima's Mono-Blue Devotion.

It was only fitting that Nakada and Takao's match would go to three games. The hall was oddly quiet as spectators crowded around the feature match area three deep, and more watched rapt at big screens showing the live video coverage. In the decider, Nakada curved out an army, protected from Supreme Verdict by Xathrid Necromancer, and overran Takao.

Congratulations to Ryo Nakada, Grand Prix Shizuoka Champion!


Grand Prix Shizuoka video coverage provided by NicoNico Live.



Quarterfinals   Semifinals   Finals   Champion
1 Shota Takao   Shota Takao, 2-0        
8 Jun'ya Iyanaga   Shota Takao, 2-0
       
4 Kazuaki Fujimura   Shota Yasooka, 2-1   Ryo Nakada, 2-1
5 Shota Yasooka    
       
2 Hajime Nakashima   Hajime Nakashima, 2-0
7 Tadaki Tsukagoshi   Ryo Nakada, 2-1
       
3 Ryo Nakada   Ryo Nakada, 2-0
6 Keisuke Sato    









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EVENT COVERAGE INFORMATION
 1.  Ryo Nakada $4,000
 2.  Shota Takao $2,700
 3.  Hajime Nakashima $1,500
 4.  Shota Yasooka $1,500
 5.  Kazuaki Fujimura $1,000
 6.  Keisuke Sato $1,000
 7.  Tadaki Tsukagoshi $1,000
 8.  Junya Iyanaga $1,000
Pairings Results Standings
Final

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Green Bracket
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Blue Bracket
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  • Sunday, 2:00 p.m. – Deck Tech: Shota Takao's Esper Humans

    by Ben Swartz

  • Finishing 4-0 in a Magic Online daily event one week before, Shota Takao decided to bring his Esper Midrange deck here to Shizuoka. It has proved well for him so far, escorting him to a dominating 13-0 record.


    Shota Takao

    Takao was fascinated by Paul Rietzl's deck from Pro Tour Theros. Xathrid Necromancer paired with other humans formed the start of the deck for the Tokyo player. After losing repeatedly to Pack Rat he thought, "what if I were to add Detention Sphere?" By adding blue he also gained access to Lyev Skyknight.


    Takao explained that adding a third color did not make his mana too much worse. He was able to take advantage of Hallowed Fountain, Watery Grave, and Godless Shrine, along with Temple of Deceit and Temple of Silence. Since he had Detention Sphere, he could easily cut Hero's Downfall--a card that would have only made his mana worse.


    Shota Takao explaining his his 3rd color decision.

    Takao believes that he has a strong matchup against the three major decks in the format: Mono-blue Devotion, Mono-black Devotion, and blue-white control. In those matchups, he explained that Whip of Erebos and Obzedat, Ghost Council were especially important.

    In building the deck, Takao had some interesting choices. For two-drops he was unsure which of Imposing Sovereign, Cartel Aristocrat, or Daring Skyjek was best. He expected some amount of Domestications this weekend, against which Cartel Aristocrat is especially strong.

    Similarly, he had a hard time deciding which removal spell would be best, hence the split of one Doom Blade, one Ultimate Price and one Far & Away.


    Shota Takao

    Takao reiterated the importance of Obzedat, Ghost Council. "While Blood Baron of Viskopa is by no means weak, Obzedat is on a different level." With Obzedat missing from top tables as of late, Takao hoped that this tournament would spring it back into the minds of players.


    Being a lock for top eight here at Grand Prix Shizuoka, Takao had his eyes on the prize. "I really want to win this event." He hopes to follow up this tournament with a solid finish at Pro Tour Journey into Nyx.





     

  • Top 8 Profiles

    by Josh Bennett


  • Shōta Takao

    Age: 24

    Residence:
    Tōkyō

    Occupation:
    company employee
    Notable Magic Achievements: Japan Nationals Top 8, 10th place at Grand Prix Nagoya

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Hareru-ya

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Esper Mid-range

    Why did you choose this deck?
    It can just win.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 0, Day 1: 9-0, Day 2: 5-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    2009—it was a year I did best in tournaments.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Obzedat, Ghost Council




    Hajime Nakashima

    Age: 24

    Residence:
    Tōkyō

    Occupation:
    student
    Notable Magic Achievements: Top 16, Grand Prix Nagoya 2012; Top 64, Grand Prix Yokohama 2013

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Kateru-ya, Hareru-ya, PWC

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Mono-blue

    Why did you choose this deck?
    Because it's easy to play.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 2, Day 1: 8-1, Day 2: 5-0-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    Around the time of Masques and Invasion—that was my first Standard environment.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Thassa!




    Ryō Nakada

    Age: 23

    Residence:
    Kanagawa- ken

    Occupation:
    student
    Notable Magic Achievements: Going 3-0 at FNM

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Tim Hakuraku-ten, PWC, QBK, Nagasaki-in

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Wb Humans

    Why did you choose this deck?
    It's a good metagame choice against blue decks.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 1, Day 1: 9-0, Day 2: 4-1-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    Lorwyn. That was the first time I went 3-0 in FNM.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Boros Elite.




    Kazuaki Fujimura

    Age: 23

    Residence:
    Ōsaka

    Occupation:
    freelancer
    Notable Magic Achievements: NEXT Protour Champion

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Home

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Mono-blue

    Why did you choose this deck?
    It the best deck in the format after UW.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 3, Day 1: 8-1, Day 2: 5-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    Next year, when I win the Pro Tour.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    My favorite card of all time is Jace, the Mind Sculptor.




    Shōta Yasooka

    Age: 29

    Residence:
    Tōkyō

    Occupation:
    Pro Magic player
    Notable Magic Achievements: Top 4, Grand Prix Kyōto 2013

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Nowhere

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Mono-blue

    Why did you choose this deck?
    I don't need a reason.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 3, Day 1: 5-1, Day 2: 5-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    2006, the year I was Pro Player of the Year, and the one I traveled around the world.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Mutavault




    Keisuke Satō

    Age: 24

    Residence:
    Niigata-ken

    Occupation:
    student
    Notable Magic Achievements: None

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Cards of Paradise in Niigata, Game-an Beat, Top Boy, Duel Gard

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Gruul Mid-range

    Why did you choose this deck?
    I've been using it since it was first playable in the environment, and I like RG.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 2, Day 1: 6-1, Day 2: 5-1

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    Around Masques/Invasion. That was a fun environment. I loved playing with Fires of Yavimaya.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Either Stormbreath Dragon or Ghor-Clan Rampager.




    Tadaki Tsukagoshi

    Age: 28

    Residence:
    Shiga-ken

    Occupation:
    company employee
    Notable Magic Achievements: Top 64, Grand Prix Kōbe 2009

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Game Plaza Genki

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    UWr control

    Why did you choose this deck?
    I like playing those colors, and I know how to use the deck.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 2, Day 1: 7-2, Day 2: 6-0

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    2009, the year I first became a pro player.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Sphinx's Revelation—if you can get it off, it always gives you something you can use.




    Jun'ya Iyanaga

    Age: 26

    Residence:
    Tōkyō

    Occupation:
    Notable Magic Achievements: World Champion 2011

    Where do you normally play Magic?
    Nowhere

    What deck did you play this weekend?
    Esper

    Why did you choose this deck?
    I was planning on use the Kateru-ya mono-black deck, but I wasn't able to find enough Mutavaults to put it together.
    Swiss Record- Byes: 1, Day 1: 6-2, Day 2: 6-0

    This year is the 20th anniversary of Magic. Of those, what year stands out most in your memory?
    2005. That was the year when there were lots of tournaments and tournament players in Japan, and the year I played the most.

    What is your favorite card in Standard?
    Notion Thief




     

  • Top 16 Decklists

    by Josh Bennett

  • Date, Tsutomu
    GP Shizuoka 2013: Top 16 Decklists


    Shimono, Tetsuro
    GP Shizuoka 2013: Top 16 Decklists



    Murata, Toshiaki
    GP Shizuoka 2013: Top 16 Decklists



    Cho, Bu-hong
    GP Shizuoka 2013: Top 16 Decklists



    Ichikawa, Yuuki
    GP Shizuoka 2013: Top 16 Decklists




     

  • Top 8 Decklists

    by Josh Bennett


  • Nakashima, Hajime
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists



    Fujimura, Kazuaki
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists


    Yasooka, Shota
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists


    Sato, Keisuke
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists


    Tsukagoshi, Tadaki
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists


    Iyanaga, Jun'ya
    GP Shizuoka 2013 Top 8 Decklists




     

  • Quarterfinals - Jun'ya Iyanaga vs. Shota Takao

    by Ben Swartz

  • After running the tables with a 14-1 record, Shota Takao was ready to play in the top eight. His inventive Esper Midrange deck had caught the attention of players here in Shizuoka as it earned Takao win after win. Based off of the Orzhov deck that Paul Rietzl used at Pro Tour Theros, Takao added blue to give him access to Detention Sphere.

    But he had his work cut out for him; former World Champion, Jun'ya Iyanaga, was his opponent in the quarterfinals. Finishing the swiss in 8th place, Iyanaga had barely made it in; armed with his Esper Control deck he hoped to teach Takao a lesson.


    Jun'ya Iyanaga vs. Shota Takao

    When interviewed about his deck, Takao mentioned that he believed he had an excellent matchup against control decks, including Iyanaga's Esper control deck. With Soldier of the Pantheon being immune to Detention Sphere and Xathrid Necromancer giving pseudo-protection from Supreme Verdict, Takao's deck seemed favored if he could get a quick start.

    The Games

    Game one ended in a flash. Takao played Soldier of the Pantheon on turns one and two. Along with a Mutavault, the 2/1s continued to knock chunks out of Iyanaga's lifetotal. When Iyanaga was unable to come up with a Supreme Verdict on the fourth turn, the writing was on the wall. A few turns later, Takao was up a game.


    Jun'ya Iyanaga

    Takao 1 - 0 Iyanaga

    Takao's start was not as quick in game two. After mulliganing to 5, all he could muster up was a second turn Daring Skyjek.

    After Iyanaga missed his third land drop, Takao decided to cast Thoughtseize. Takao sniped Detention Sphere out of Iyanaga's hand, leaving him without an immediate answer to Daring Skyjek. Nabbing a Supreme Verdict with a second Thoughtseize the following turn and casting a Lyev Sknight, the already land light Iyanaga floundered. Without an answer, Iyanaga folded to the pair of 3/1s.


    Shota Takao

    Shota Takao defeats Jun'ya Iyanaga 2-0 and advances to the semifinals.




     

  • Quarterfinal Roundup

    by Josh Bennett

  • Here's a quick look at how three of the quarterfinal matches shook out.

    Kazuaki Fujimura (Mono-Blue Devotion) vs. Shouta Yasooka (Blue-Black Control)

    The match began on a sour note, as Yasooka was issued a game loss for a deck list error. He accepted the penalty with good grace and they shuffled up for what would be game two.

    A turn-one Thoughtseize for Yasooka gave him the lay of the land, letting him plan out his hand of Syncopate and Removal. Fujimura played out Cloudfin Raptor and Frostburn Weird, but couldn't stick anything else before Yasooka summoned Prognostic Sphinx. That gave Fujimura a window to resolve Thassa, but soon Yasooka was going one better with Opportunity. The card advantage proved too much.

    Fujimura 1 - Yasooka 1

    So they would play one game for all the marbles. Fujimura's seven were no good, and unfortunately his six weren't much better. He stayed at five, but at that point Yasooka didn't need much to get well out in front. Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver went unopposed, and a few turns later Fujimura conceded.


    Kazuaki Fujimura (Mono-Blue Devotion) vs. Shouta Yasooka (Blue-Black Control)

    Shouta Yasooka defeats Kazuaki Fujimura 2-1



    Hajime Nakashima (Mono-Blue Devotion) vs. Tadaki Tsukagoshi (Blue-White Control)

    Nakashima opened with a pair of Judge's Familiars and got in some quick damage before Tsukagoshi took care of them with Detention Sphere. That let Nakashima get out Thassa, God of the Sea. Tsukagoshi was able to stop the first Master of Waves that followed, but not the second, and then Nakashima had Nightveil Specter to actualize Thassa. A small Sphinx's Revelation turned up empty, and soon they were on to game two.

    Nakashima 1 - Tsukagoshi 0

    The second game began as a mirror of the first. Nakashima's two Familiars fell to Detention Sphere, but then he resolved Thassa. Tsukagoshi had a hand of expensive, powerful spells, and was content to play out lands. He stopped Nightveil Specter with Last Breath, then dropped Elspeth, Sun's Champion and made tokens.


    Hajime Nakashima (Mono-Blue Devotion) vs. Tadaki Tsukagoshi (Blue-White Control)

    Unfortunately for him, Nakashima had a second Specter in hand, and enough mana to make the newly-actual Thassa unblockable, killing Elspeth. They had reached a strained equilibrium, nibbling for damage on either side, but Nakashima had the advantage of Thassa's scry ability to filter his draws. Tsukagoshi matched him card for card, but couldn't find a Sphinx's Revelation to take over the game. In the end, Thassa served up enough unblockable Mutavaults to take the match for Nakashima.

    Hajime Nakashima defeats Tadaki Tsukagoshi 2-0



    Ryo Nakada (White Weenie with Black) vs. Keisuke Sato (Colossal Gruul)

    Sato couldn't even get off the blocks in the first game thanks to a backbreaking double mulligan. Nakada's draw was no slouch, two Soldiers of the Pantheon, then Daring Skyjek, then Banisher Priest for Scavenging Ooze. Sato blunted some of the damage with Sylvan Caryatid, but Nakada crushed his hopes with Brave the Elements to force through lethal.

    Nakada 1 - Sato 0

    Game two was a much more drawn-out affair. Nakada's draw was a little slow and Sato kept him off creatures in the early game with Mizzium Mortars and Shock. Xenagos the Reveller diverted some damage while giving Sato a mana boost. His Polukranos, World Eater fell to Doom Blade, but was replaced by Ghor-Clan Rampager and his buddy Domri Rade, who told him to fight a creature, leaving Nakada with just Precinct Captain and Mutavault for offence.

    It looked bad for Nakada, but his deck had served up two more cheap removal spells, leaving Sato without blockers and costing him both his low-on-loyalty planeswalkers.


    Ryo Nakada (White Weenie with Black) vs. Keisuke Sato (Colossal Gruul)

    Sato refused to go quietly, and his deck agreed, giving him another Ghor-Clan Rampager. Soon it was joined by a pair of Scavenging Oozes. Sato was well-defended, but couldn't do anything to disrupt the army that was amassing across from him. They were supercharged by Spear of Heliod, and then Xathrid Necromancer made attacking an even more attractive prospect. Still, Sato was at a comfortable life total.

    Then, Brave the Elements. Not lethal, but enough that Sato was on the back foot. With the Necromancer providing backup troops, he was unable to stop the advancing horde.

    Ryo Nakada defeats Keisuke Sato 2-0




     

  • Semifinals - Shota Yasooka vs. Shota Takao

    by Ben Swartz

  • After blasting his way through Jun'ya Iyanaga, Shota Takao faced off against another top Japanese player, Shota Yasooka. Takao had made the claim that his Esper Midrange deck, featuring Soldier of the Pantheon, Xathrid Necromancer and Obzedat, Ghost Council, was favored against control decks.


    Shota Yasooka vs. Shota Takao

    The question, though, was whether or not it would be favored against Shota Yasooka's blue-black control deck. The former player of the year, came prepared with the same deck that propelled him to a 46th place finish at Pro Tour Theros. Though he changed his deck a little bit since his time in Dublin, the premise stayed the same: planeswalkers and removal to control the board and Prognostic Sphinx, Master of Waves, and Pack Rat to finish off his opponent.

    Some of the best cards in Yasooka's deck had natural counters in Takao's deck. Domestication would be met with Cartel Aristocrat. Master of Waves and Pack Rat would be met with Detention Sphere. All this being said, it would be a disservice to count a control deck wielding Shota Yasooka out. Only one Shota could advance to the finals, which would it be?

    The Games

    Play began with early armies on both sides: Takao got a Soldier of the Pantheon and a Lyev Skyknight, while Yasooka landed an Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver and a Jace, Architect of Thought. A Detention Sphere off the top of Takao's deck took out Jace.

    Domestication proved its worth, coming down for Yasooka and stealing Takao's Lyev Skyknight. With Yasooka tapped out though, Takao was able to resolve a Xathrid Necromancer.


    Shota Takao

    Xathrid Necromancer began doing work: when Yasooka started trading for Takao's creatures, he was rewarded with many Zombie tokens. Yasooka's maindeck Ratchet Bombs came in handy, clearing away the zombies while giving him some breathing room to resolve a Master of Waves.

    A second Xathrid Necromancer came down for Takao. Paired with a Detention Sphere on Master of Waves, Yasooka was sent packing for a second game.

    Takao 1 - 0 Yasooka

    Both players had a slow start. Pack Rat for Yasooka was the first substantial play, which allowed Takao to resolve an Obzedat, Ghost Council.


    Shota Yasooka

    Yasooka attempted to remove the Obzedat with a Hero's Downfall, but Takao had a timely Negate to counter the removal spell. Yasooka tried again on the following turn, this time succeeding.

    It would seem as if this would be the time for Yasooka's Pack Rat to take over the game, but Takao had an Underworld Connections, enabling him to go toe-to-toe with the former player of the year and his rats.

    Yasooka put the Pack Rat plan on hold, casting a Jace and a Prognostic Sphinx. The race began. Jace got eaten and Pack Rat began multiplying. With a pair of Xathrid Necromancers and a Cartel Aristocrat, a zombie pack amounted.

    A Ratchet Bomb off the top was perfect for Yasooka; it allowed him to blast away the zombie army and buy him time for his Prognostic Sphinx.

    Takao had a different plan though. He resolved a Whip of Erebos and immediately brought back Obzedat. Yasooka barely stayed alive by using Devour Flesh on one of his Pack Rats.


    Shota Takao's Board

    Takao continued bringing the beatdown. Thanks to the interaction between Whip of Erebos and Obzedat, he got to keep the Ghost Council while returning a Lyev Skyknight on the following turn.

    Yasooka did what he could to try to survive the attack, but Takao's last card in hand was a Negate, countering Yasooka's Doom Blade and propelling him to the finals.

    Shota Takao 2 - 0 Shota Yasooka




     

  • Semifinals - Hajime Nakashima vs. Ryo Nakada

    by Josh Bennett

  • Both players were eager to get down to the games. They shuffled quickly and fidgeted while they waited for the go-ahead from the Head Judge. It would be Nakashima's Mono-Blue Devotion against the power of Ryo Nakada's White Weenie deck.

    Nakashima led with Cloudfin Raptor but had nothing to add to the board after Nakada played out Boros Elite. He took one, and Nakada added second Elite. Nightveil Specter evolved Nakashima's Raptor and he got in for one. Nakada wasted no time removing the Specter with Banisher Priest and swung in again.

    Tidebinder Mage turned the Raptor into a 2/3, and Nakashima decided it was time to hold back. Nakada added Imposing Sovereign and Precinct Captain to his board, preparing to strike. Nakashima summoned Thassa but was still one devotion short. Nakada struck, dropping Spear of Heliod and attacking with Precinct Captain, both Boros Elites and the Sovereign. Nakashima gave him a rude awakening with Cyclonic Rift on the Spear, letting him trade Tidebinder Mage for the Sovereign, and eat the Captain for free.


    Ryo Nakada

    It was a turning point, but Nakashima still needed help to close the deal. He found Frostburn Weird and played it. Nakada thought for a long while before settling on playing a Xathrid Necromancer and passing. Nakashima kept his top card, but made no play. Nakada dropped a second Necromancer, then attacked with the first one and the two Boros Elites. Nakashima played Rapid Hybridization on Banisher Priest, then blocked with the freed Specter, the animated Thassa and his Cloudfin Raptor.

    He had stopped the attack, but at what cost? The flurry of Necromancer triggers had doubled the size of Nakada's army, and he still had the Spear of Heliod from earlier in his hand. Nakashima attacked with Nightveil Specter, hoping to steal a solution to his problems. He did not, and scooped up his cards.

    Nakada 1 - Nakashima 0

    Nakashima couldn't hide his frustration at drawing up a clunky one-land hand, and immediately mulliganed. His six were unplayable, so he went to five. Nakada started things off with a Soldier of the Pantheon but spent his second turn on a scry land.

    If you had to start with a five-card hand, you could do a lot worse than what Nakashima had to work with. He curved out Frostburn Weird into Thassa, God of the sea. After Nakada played Imposing Sovereign, Nakashima was free to play Nightveil Specter and bash in with his animated Thassa. Nakada had Banisher Priest, but Nakashima wasn't out of gas just yet. His last two cards were Cloudfin Raptor and a second Nightveil Specter. Another hit from Thassa put Nakada to twelve.


    Hajime Nakashima

    Nakada wasn't done yet. Doom Blade took care of Frostburn Weird and his army waltzed past Nakashima's tapped creatures for six damage, leaving him at eight,. He played out Precinct Captain and passed. Still, the God of the Sea would not be denied, and she sent her Master of Waves to Nakashima's aid. He passed it back, not willing to risk an attack while his elemental army was tapped. Nakada couldn't attack either, and played out another Sovereign and Xathrid Necromancer. Nakashima counted up an all-out attack, but it would have been one damage short, and so just hit for seven with an unblockable Thassa and the Nightveil Specter. Nakada crossed his fingers and hoped for Brave the Elements, but it wasn't waiting for him.

    Nakada 1 - Nakashima 1

    Yet another mulligan for Nakashima. This time he stopped at six. Nakada came out guns blazing with a pair of Soldiers of the Pantheon, but Nakada was prepared with Ratchet Bomb. Nakada hit for four and added Imposing Sovereign to his board.

    Nakashima cleared out the Soldiers and summoned a tapped Frostburn Weird. Nakada hit for two and passed, then killed Frostburn Weird with Orzhov Charm after Nakashima played Thassa. The Sovereign and a Mutavault put Nakashima to eight, but Nakada didn't have another play.


    Hajime Nakashima

    Nakashima bolstered his defenses with Jace, Architect of Thought, upping his loyalty. Nakada swung again with his nerfed creatures and left Nakashima at six. He untapped and added a tapped Tidebinder Mage and a Mutavault to his board, then hit for five with Thassa. Nakada hit back with Sovereign and Mutavault, and stopped Nakashima from blocking with Mutavault thanks to Doom Blade. Nakashima was down to just four life. Nakada added Precinct Captain and passed.

    Nakashima's hands shook as he took his next turn, knowing the game was balanced on a knife edge. He had Tidebinder Mage, and Jace's -1/-0 ability, and an animate Thassa. He thought and thought, and decided to play it safe, summoning Master of Waves and passing the turn with all his defenses up.

    Would it be enough? Nakada drew and surveyed the board, then struck. Banisher Priest to get rid of Tidebinder Mage, turning off Thassa in the bargain, and then attacking with two creatures. He turned over his last card: Profit & Loss, for exactly lethal!

    Ryo Nakada defeats Hajime Nakashima 2-1




     

  • Finals - Ryo Nakada vs. Shota Takao

    by Ben Swartz


  • Shota Takao vs. Ryo Nakada

    It all came down to this. Shota Takao had proved his dominance thus far, with only a single loss all tournament. His Esper Midrange deck had been strong against any deck that was thrown at him. Armed with Obzedat, Detention Sphere, Xathrid Necromancer, could Takao be stopped?

    One man stood in the way: Ryo Nakada. Quietly, the 23 year old student rose to the top of the standings. Armed with a black-white Humans deck similar to the one Ben Stark played at Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth, he had attacked his way through the swiss and eventually to the finals. The potential start of Soldier of the Pantheon into Precinct Captain into Xathrid Necromancer would make any player shake in his or her boots.

    The finals would be a classic battle of aggro versus midrange. Takao had some powerful late drops: Obzedat, Desolation Demon, and Whip of Erebos. Nakada, on the other hand, had a couple of tricks up his sleeve: Brave the Elements and Orzhov Charm. Both players had the tools to destroy the other, but only one could be crowned Grand Prix Shizuoka champion.


    Shota Takao

    The Games

    After a turn of trading creatures, Nakada amounted a quick army: Soldier of the Pantheon, Banisher Priest and Daring Skyjek.

    Takao created an army of his own with a pair of Desolation Demons. Unphased, Nakada used Brave the Elements to halve Nakao's lifetotal, dropping him to 7.

    Whip of Erebos came down prompting Nakada to sacrifice his Mutavault and use an Orzhov Charm to protect against the demons. Nakao left a Mutavault untapped making Nakada unable to simply close the game out with another Brave the Elements.

    On the following turn, Takao got greedy. When he neglected to use Whip of Erebos' ability in order to cast a pair of creatures, Nakada used Brave the Elements to take the first game.

    Nakada 1 - 0 Takao

    Despite mulliganing to 5, Nakada came out of the gates quickly with Soldier of the Pantheon, Precinct Captain and Xathrid Necromancer.


    Ryo Nakada

    Takao had some answers though, he used Ultimate Price to remove the Soldier, Detention Sphere to exile the Necromancer, and Glare of Heresy to take out the Captain. Takao followed that up with an Obzedat, Ghost Council.

    Nakada found another Soldier of the Pantheon to keep Obzedat at bay, but Takao conitnued dropping big creatures in the form of a pair of Desecration Demons.

    After a turn of Demon beatdown, the writing was on the wall. Although Nakada was able to stay alive for another turn by sacrificing creatures, Takao's demons sent the match to a deciding game three.

    Nakada 1 - 1 Takao


    Nakada had a blazingly fast start for the final game of the tournament: Soldier of the Pantheon, Xathrid Necromancer, Boros Elite, and Imposing Sovereign.

    Takao lagged behind. While he was able to muster up an Imposing Sovereign of his own, the Necromancer made trading disadvantageous.

    Nakada doubled down casting even more creatures. Knowing that even if Takao had a Supreme Verdict, Xathrid Necromancer had his back, Nakada was fearless. Takao did what he could to attempt to prolong the inevitable, but after a couple of attack steps Ryo Nakada became Grand Prix Shizuoka Champion!


    Congratulations to Ryo Nakada, Grand Prix Shizuoka Champion!




     

  • Top 5 Cards of Grand Prix Shizuoka

    by Ben Swartz and Josh Bennett



  • 5. Master of Waves

    Mono-Blue Devotion was a popular choice for players this weekend, and a successful one too. It was the most numerous Day 2 deck. Nearly a fifth of Sunday players were serving Thassa, God of the Sea, and the Master of Waves is her favorite disciple. It gives the Mono-Blue deck an almost combo-deck feel, and it works extra hard against the red-based decks that were also out in force. Interestingly, Tomoharu Saito played it in the sideboard of his Blue-White Control deck, teaming up with Frostburn Weird to give his slow deck a fast route to victory.





    4. Domestication

    You can't go far wrong with Mind Control, and this one was working both sides of the room, played in both the Blue-Based Control decks and the Mono-Blue Devotion decks. Especially powerful against aggressive red strategies (why yes, I would like a pet Boros Reckoner), it was one of the reasons that none of the many red decks in Day 2 managed to crack the Top 8. Creatures are very much in vogue at the moment, so you're never short of targets. Finalist Shota Takao mentioned that his lone Cartel Aristocrat was added to the deck specifically to fight Domestication.





    3. Pack Rat

    What can we say, it's a menace for a reason. The opening of Thoughtseize and Pack Rat is just brutal, and both Mono-Black Devotion and the Black-White Midrange decks thrived this weekend because of it. Still, players came prepared for it, stocking up on Ratchet Bomb, Last Breath, and Detention Sphere. Interestingly, it also turns up in the sideboard of control decks like Shouta Yasooka's as a nasty surprise for players who skimp on removal in sideboarded games.





    2. Obzedat, Ghost Council

    Blood Baron of Vizkopa was the card everyone seemed to be turning to for help, but they paid a price in forgetting the head of the Church of Deals. The ghosts hit harder, dodge sorcery-speed removal, and can steal a game without ever hitting the Red Zone. They even play nice with Whip of Erebos, coming back for good thanks to their own exile ability.





    1. Xathrid Necromancer

    The breakout card of the tournament, the Necromancer found a home both finalist's decks. It demands an immediate answer from removal, and makes combat a nightmare for the opponent. It also foils any plans that revolve around Supreme Verdict. In the semifinals, Shota Takao paired it with Cartel Aristocrat to suddenly double his army and defeat Shouta Yasooka. In the finals, however, the Necromancer had changed its allegiance. With its help, Ryo Nakada was free to summon a vast army, knowing that Supreme Verdict couldn't save Takao, and so became the Grand Prix Shizuoka Champion.






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