Grand Prix Sapporo Recap
by Yaro Starak
Day one of Grand Prix-Sapporo brought together many of Japan's finest Magic players as well as a good sampling of overseas players and Magic celebrities. Japanese superstars of Magic were there, including Itaru Ishida and Masaya Mori. As usual Alex Shvartsman made the trip and another American player, Chris Guerrette, took a 9 hour boat ride from Misawa airbase to attend the event.
Takashi Aida, level three from Hobby Japan in Tokyo had the privilege of head-judging the event. He had some help from Sapporo local judges and staff from Hobby Japan. Chris Zantides, level 4 judge from Australia served as Tournament Manager.
At the end of day one, which was seven rounds of Mercadian Masques Block sealed play, Kiyoshi Sasanuma from Japan was at the top of the swiss. Alex Shvartsman was in contention for yet another Grand Prix top 8 as he finished in 8th place. Past and present pro tour players, Toshiki Tsukamoto, Satoshi Nakamura and Masaya Mori all made the second day.
Outside of the main competition, many Magic fans and Grand Prix dropouts competed in Invasion side events and other activities. Ron Spencer and Mark Tedin were on hand to sign cards and other artwork. There was no shortage of outlets to purchase cards from, with no less then 24 tables with singles, boosters and other Magic paraphernalia available.
Day two began with the serious business of Rochester Drafting for the top 64 competitors. Meanwhile the players not drafting in the final 64 were playing in a Pro Tour Los Angeles qualifier. After 2 drafts and 6 rounds of play, a cut was made to the top 8 players, who then played in one last Rochester Draft.
The top 8 of Grand Prix-Sapporo was full of talent. Satoshi Nakamura made the cut in 8th place, further cementing himself as one ofJapan's current top players. Katsuhiro Mori, a 2000 Magic Invitational Invitee managed to place 5th after the Swiss rounds. Rounding out the rest of the top 8 included: Kiyoshi Sasanuma (top of the Swiss), John Taro Kageyama, Tomohiro Maruyama, Kazuyuki Momose, Otsubo Ugyuji, and the Buddhist Priest, Takamasa Fukata.
Satoshi Nakamura may have just made it in to the top 8, but as soon as he was there he became a force to be reckoned with. Winning most of his games quickly he was in to the finals in no time. His finals opponent was none other then Takamasa Fukata, the Buddhist priest in training participating in his first Grand Prix top 8. Nakamura proved too strong in the end, winning in 2 games straight.
Satoshi Nakamura is the Grand Prix-Sapporo Champion.