Against The Odds – Making Top 8 at Pro Tour: Kobe (Part 2)

Last time out, Kenji took us through his performance in the first three drafts of Pro Tour: Kobe. Today’s article deals with his flawless second day of play, a day that catapulted him up into the Top 8! Drafting tips, game-play analysis, and the thoughts of the current Player of the Year, all wrapped up in a fine article!

[Part 1]

Hello again!

This time, I will give you my report from Pro Tour: Kobe’s second day of play, as I mentioned in the last article.

Here we go!

My first pick from pack 1 was Vesuvan Shapeshifter. There were few playable Red or Blue cards in the rest of this pack, but I kept on picking those two colors regardless. When we opened packs 2 and 3, the result of our co-operation appeared. One Errant Ephemeron was first-picked from pack 3, but the other two were passed to me by my left neighbor and right neighbor respectively. Sulfurous Blast was fourth pick from pack 3!

Round 10: Miyaoka Hiroyuki. G/W.

Typical… I’m playing against my friend from Hiroshima! He was on my right in the draft.

Game 1 saw me play a turn 2 Jhoira’s Timebug, and suspend Errant Ephemeron the turn after. This was very nice for me. My opponent also played creatures from turn 1 to turn 3, but on turn 4 I blocked his attack with the Timebug… He played Aether Web to let his creature survive. Luckily, Sulfurous Blast came out of nowhere, and I win the game.

As my opponent’s spells cost very little, I sideboarded into the following:

In: 1 Viashino Bladescout, 1 Tolarian Sentinel
Out: 1 Cancel, 1 Temporal Eddy

I wondered whether I should play Viashino Bladescout and Tolarian Sentinel. I thought Tolarian Sentinel made the combat nice for me, and if I could assemble the combo with Subterranean Shambler I would win, so I was very happy with the 1/3 flyer

Game 2 saw my opponent take a mulligan, and he missed a land drop pretty early. My draws were so good: I played a Morph and followed with my Tolarian Sentinel. Turn 6 flipped my Brine Elemental, and on the next turn I assembled the Vesuvan Shapeshifter combo. I won from there, of course.

Round 11: Mike Thompson. RB.

This was my first feature match at this event. My opponent was sat on my left during the draft – Mike Thompson.

I will supply the details to let you know what I thought during the game, but I think this is a little boring to read. To help you along, you can also read the coverage from MagictheGathering.com, found here.

Game 1 began with his Keldon Halberdier, suspended. I suspended Errant Ephemeron on turn 2, and Viscerid Deepwalker and Riftwing Cloudskate on turn 3. This was nice, I admit. Mike simply had a Sangrophage in play. On turn5, it was the time for the Keldon Halberdier to arrive.

I had Cancel, Subterranean Shambler, Temporal Eddy, and another two or three cards.

I thought long and hard, and played Cancel on the arriving Keldon Halberdier because I couldn’t play a fourth land for my Shambler. Mike attacked with Sangrophage and played Skittering Monstrosity, and passed the turn.

I finally found the fourth land and played Temporal Eddy, bouncing Skittering Monstrosity. I beat down with Errant Ephemeron, and Riftwing Cloudskate that came in to play next turn, and that was enough.

I did no sideboarding in this game.

Game 2 I answered his early Goblin Skycutter with my Aetherflame Wall. Mike played Skulking Knight, and I played Flowstone Channeler. Mike attacked, and followed up with a strong Smallpox!

Luckily for me, he kept on drawing lands and went through a harsh period of mana-flood. I played spells while leaving 1UU open for the Cancel in my hand, and I won soon after.

Round 12: William Ljungberg. R/B splashing Stormbind.

Game 1 I had Sulfurous Blast in my opening hand, so I played with the perfect time to play the board-sweeper in mind. However, William’s draw was not very good, and I beat him with Riftwing Cloudskate, Crookclaw Transmuter, and Vesuvan Shapeshifter copying the Transmuter.

Again, no sideboarding this time.

Game 2 saw the ground became clogged early. I played Sulfurous Blast at the optimal time, and I won soon after.

At this time, I was stood at 9-3. This was a great place to be after my Day 1 performance. I could make the Top 8 if I posted a 3-0 in the next draft.

Getting nervous, I went to the final draft of the day.

Here is the deck.

At this time, I wondered a lot about which card to play – Dream Stalker or Gorgon Recluse – because there were few creature with which to protect the ground. I thought I had to play lands each turn when thinking about the deck, so I decided not to play Gorgon Recluse because I had few cards with which to discard.

However, I showed this deck to Takuya Osawa. He said, “Gorgon Recluse is better than Stormcloud Djinn.” So I exchanged the Djinn for the Gorgon whenever I played against Green.

Round 13: Kazuya Mitamura. G/W.

Game 1 saw me drawing first, and I played Looter Il-Kor on turn 2. My opponent played Ashcoat Bear, but he didn’t draw good spells at all, and I won thanks to Looter Il-Kor’s ability.

As I mentioned above, I took out Stormcloud Djinn and put in Gorgon Recluse instead.

Game 2, and my opponent couldn’t play his fourth land for a while… I played Looter Il-Kor and other creatures, Canceled his Hail Storm at an important moment, and won.

Round 14: Masaya Kitayama. R/B.

Game 1 saw Masaya take a triple mulligan. I took a single mulligan, and the game started. I played Looter il-Kor early (again), and followed it up with Crookclaw Transmuter and Stormcloud Djinn. His morph flipped into Fortune Thief, but once he tapped out, I played Ixidron and defeat him.

My opponent’s deck seemed weak against flyers, so I didn’t change a card for games 2 and 3.

Game 2 saw me take a mulligan. I played Coral Trickster on turn 2, followed by Looter Il-Kor (which I drew on turn 3), and then a Basal Sliver. Masaya only had a Morph, and couldn’t play his fourth land (again). He Strangling Sooted to Basal Sliver, and not Looter il-Kor. After the game, he told me that he had had Subterranean Shambler in his opening hand, so he didn’t want to waste the Soot on the Looter. He played the Shambler after getting his fourth land on turn 6, but by then I had two morphs and a Withered Wretch (the morphs were Slipstream Serpent and Fathom Seer).

Next turn he didn’t pay the echo cost for the Shambler. He played a fifth land, then passed the turn.

I flipped Slipstream Serpent after attacking, and reduced his life to 6.

On his next turn, he played Orcish Cannonade on the other morph, so I flipped it to draw two cards. I got Stormcloud Djinn from the two I drew, and that was a big problem for Masaya. I won next turn.

Finally, I’d positioned myself to make Top 8 with a win in the final round of the day! Both my opponent and I decided to make the most of our chances at the tournament, and the game began!

Round 15: Thomas Gundersen. G/R/w.

Thomas played first, but I suspended Errant Ephemeron, which is the best start possible for me. However, Thomas cast Scryb Ranger at the end of turn, which is also good for him.

After that, he played Gemhide Sliver and Might Sliver, but I made them both vanilla 2/2s with my Ixidron! I lost my Ixidron to his Strength in Number-backed attack, but I swung with Errant Ephemeron (that finished its suspension), Viscerid Deepwalker, and Corpulent Corpse. All the while I kept an eye on my life total. That was enough to win the game.

In: Gorgon Recluse
Out: Stormcloud Djinn

Game 2, and my opening hand was terrible. I judged that I didn’t need to take a mulligan, so I kept this hand with reluctance.

For reference, my hand was:

Coral Trickster
Withered Wretch
Basal Sliver
2 Island
2 Swamp

Actually his hand and draw were not so good, so I thought “Maybe I win?”

Of course, it is natural to assume that I can’t win, because the two combats that will involve my creatures will see them both die to double Viashino Bladescout… And of course, that’s what happens.

Game 3, I began with Looter Il-Kor on turn 2, and I suspended my Errant Ephemeron (ripped off the top) on turn 3. Yes, this is best for me. Thanks for asking.

My opponent played Scryb Ranger, following Mogg War Marshal, and to protect my life I blocked the goblin token with my Pit Keeper. I think that was a mistake. After that combat, Thomas put Bonesplitter Sliver into play, and I regretted my block a lot. When I considered his Strength in Numbers, it suddenly became very hard to block the Sliver Cockroach with a morph, so I bounced it with Temporal Eddy to make some time.

Thankfully I had Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir in my hand, so I thought the game would become good for me as he couldn’t play Strength in Numbers if I could put Teferi into play.

But his next action was stronger than I expected. Thomas played Bonesplitter Sliver from the mana created by Coal Stoker! The extra guy meant that if he had Strength in Numbers, he could play it in response to my Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir, and I would lose a lot of ground.

In spite of this problem, I had no choice but to play my Teferi when he attacked, so I attacked with Looter il-Kor and passed the turn.

Thomas had four creatures.(Bonesplitter Sliver, Coal Stoker, Scryb Ranger, Goblin Token) and there were no other creatures other than Looter il-Kor on my side of the board; of course, he swung with all of his creatures.

It was heart-pounding…

I played Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir

And he played…


Suddenly the game was swinging in my favor. I blocked Coal Stoker with Teferi and killed it, succeeding in making the game even though I was sat at ten life. He played Cockatrice and said go.

Next turn I played Gorgon Recluse with Madness. His attack, with Cockatrice and Scryb Ranger, was blocked with my Errant Ephemeron (that had finished its suspension). I played a face-down Brine Elemental at the end of his end, so it seemed my victory was promised… unless something unbelievable happened.

Of course, that’s exactly what happened.

His next spell was Tromp the Domains!

Thomas had Forest, Mountain, Plains so it gave all his creatures +3/+3 and Trample.

I will re-explain the board…

Thomas had Spinneret Sliver (a 7/5), Bonesplitter Sliver (also a 7/5), Scryb Ranger (4/4), and a Goblin Token (a 4/4). Four creatures in total.

I had Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir; Gorgon Recluse; a face-down Brine Elemental; and tapped Looter il-Kor and five mana.

Fortunately, I also had Tendrils of Corruption

In the response to Tromp the Domains, I cast Tendrils on the Bonesplitter Sliver. I gained two life, climbing to eleven. Thomas didn’t care, and attacked all-in regardless.

I blocked the Goblin token with Gorgon Recluse, the Spinneret Sliver with my morph, and I took damage from Scryb Ranger because I had no creature that could block it. I had Basal Sliver in my hand, so I didn’t kill Spinneret Sliver.

Apparently, Thomas thought my morph was a Fathom Seer; he assigned three damage to the morph, dropping my life total to five.

I topdecked Fathom Seer, and played this face-down with three of my six mana. After drawing two cards, I attacked with Looter Il-Kor, and finished my turn.

As expected, Thomas attacked with Scryb Ranger. I flashed in my Basal Sliver, and blocked the Ranger (thanks Spinneret!). Thomas followed with a Sporesower Thallid, and passed the turn.

I sacrificed my Basal Sliver to create two Black mana… and played Phthisis on the Sporesower! Thomas took eight damage, and I won the game!

With this victory, I posted a 3-0 to make it into the third day of play.

When writing this report, it was pretty clear that I was very lucky at times. I drew Looter Il-Kor early a fair few times, and my opponents often got screwed.

I want to practice more and more, so that I can win without help of luck.

From Japan, Tomoharu Saitou and Takahiro Suzuki both made Top 8… I went to bed saying, “it’ll be good if one of us win the first prize!”

Next time, I’ll write about the Final draft. I will also share what I thought while picking my cards in the Top 8, and I’ll list my Top 5 commons (determined after the Pro Tour). For now, I’ll say goodbye.

Until next time,

Kenji Tsumura

[Translated by Naoki Shimizu]