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By: Pyrosin, Matt Rossi
Mar 12 2008 11:01pm
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Grand Prix Shizuoka


Geography lesson of the Day: Mt. Fuji (shown above) is the highest mountain in Japan, and marks the Northern Border of the Shizuoka Prefecture, just west of Tokyo.

Welcome Magic fans to another edition of The Highlight Reel.  This time around we'll take a look at the results from the Standard Grand Prix event held last weekend in Shizuoka, Japan.

When we last left the Standard format, we saw Uri Peleg's with his Doran deck defeat Pat Chapin's revamped Dragonstorm deck to win Worlds 2007 in New York, New York.  The standard portion of that tournament was dominated by  Elves,  Mannequin, and  Big Mana.  Tarmogoyf was everywhere, and White was MIA.  But that was all before the release of Morningtide...

A whooping 827 players showed up to sling cards at Shizuoka, meaning 128 players would see Day 2 play.  Outside of the Japanese contingent, the only foreign Pro of note to show up was perpetual road warrior Olivier Ruel, who came into this tournament tied with Alex Shvartsman for the all-time lead in GP Top 8 appearances at 21.

So, we've got 16 rounds of Swiss and a Top 8 to sift through, let's see what panned out.

 The Rise of Reveillark

The big discussion coming into this tournament was the impact the Reveillark combo deck would have on Standard, and we got our answer pretty quickly.  Day 1 saw 2005 Player of the Year, Kenji Tsumura, pilot his Reveillark build to a perfect 9-0 record, in which he only lost ONE game the whole day.  Now, last time I told you about the Reveillark combo running around Extended that won one of the trials leading up to GP Vancouver.  That's a pure combo deck that revolves around getting into an infinite loop to ping your opponent to death with Mogg Fanatic, and a Body Double copying Reveillark that returns upon sacrifice to a Carrion Feeder

The funny thing about the Standard version of Reveillark is that it isn't really a combo deck, but rather a control deck.  As you can see from Kenji's list below, the deck plays all the common elements of control: counters with Rune Snag, mass removal with Wrath of God, bounce with Riftwing Cloudskate, and card drawing with MulldrifterReveillark allows Kenji to further abuse the comes-into-play abilities of these creatures, and just win through sheer card advantage.  It also features Teferi's Moat out of the sideboard to deal with those pesky Elves and Goblins. 

But, this is a Reveillark deck, which means it also has an alternative-combo win condition.  This combo was featured in an Ask Wizards from Feb. 25.  For this combo, you need Mirror Entity and Reveillark in play, with Body Double and Venser, Shaper Savant either in play, or in the graveyard.  Activate Mirror Entity's ability set to zero, activate it the number of times equal to the number of permanents your opponent controls.  When the first Mirror Entity ability resolves, all you creatures become 0/0 and die.  Congratulations, you've just Wrathed yourself.  Ah, but wait...there's more.  Reveillark goes to the yard, allowing you to return Body Double copying Reveillark, and Venser, Shaper Savant to bounce a permanent.  The next Mirror Entity activation comes off the stack, allowing you to repeat this process.  At the end of all this, you opponent has no permanents in play, and you have six power of creatures on the board.  How cool is that?

Besides Kenji, two other players finished Day 1 undefeated: Hiromasa Imagawa playing a  deck with Countryside Crusher and Taichi Fujimoto playing a pretty standard  Elves deck.

Breaking down Day 2

Looking at the decks that went at least 6-3 on Day 1, we see that Kenji Tsumura wasn't the only player to have success with the Reveillark deck, which almost comprised an entire quarter of the Day 2 field.   

Colors Deck Name Number Percentage









Big Mana













  - Made Top 128  - Made Top 8

 Reveillark seems to have spawned the only completely new deck to have success this weekend.  There were no Warrior or Rogue-centric decks to speak of, indicating the most powerful tribes still revolve around the Lorwyn Races and not the Morningtide Classes.  To get more of a feel for the impact of cards from Morningtide, check out Arnnaria's Pure Standard article to be posted later this week. 

At the top, we still see a large contingent of Elves, Big Mana, and Goblin decks.  The similarity to the Reveillark deck seems to have diminished the popularity of Makeshift Mannequin, with a lot of players swapping  for .  As we've seen over the past few months online, Doran has fallen off most people's radar.  It didn't even make it on Jamuraa's latest statistics for standard PEs online.  That said, the Doran deck of Shintarou Ishimura was the outlier in this week's Top eight, which also included three Reveillark, two Elves, and two Faerie decks.  Amazingly, we only find eight Tarmogoyfs in the Top eight.

Look up in the sky... Is it a Bird?  Is it a Plane?  
No, it's a 1/1 black Faerie Rogue token FTW!

 This Top 8 featured 3 previous GP Winners including 2005 Player of the Year Kenji Tsumura, Olivier Ruel, and Akira Asahara.  These three Pros were making their 12th, 22nd (record), and 9th GP Top 8s, respectively.  The other Top 8 member of note was Yuuta Takahashi, who made the finals of PT San Diego with Kentaro Yamamoto in Time Spiral block limited 2HG before losing to Chris Lachmann and Jacob Van Lunen.  The Top 8 also included Ryousuke Masuno, Kazuya Mitamura, Taichi Fujimoto, and Shintarou Ishimura.

*Match Accuracy Warning: Most of the Tournament Coverage was written in Japanese, and the Google translator has trouble turning Magic terms into coherent sentences, so I can not defend the accuracy of my summaries for the Quarterfinals and Semifinals.  If you read Japanese, then you're welcome to read a more complete play-by-play of the Top 8 here.*

Quarterfinals: Olivier Ruel (Faeries) versus Akira Asahara ( Reveillark ).  In the middle of Game 1, Olivier had only a Oona's Blackguard on the board versus Asahara's Venser, Shaper Savant.  But that Rogue Blackguard allowed Olivier to prowl in a Notorious Throng, giving him an extra turn to find a Spellstutter Sprite and keep the air clear long enough to win.  Game 2 saw an early Bitterblossom from Ruel that just put too many threats on the board for Asahara to deal with.  Olivier advances 2-0.

Ryousuke Masuno versus Kazuya Mitamura.  There was no coverage of this match.  All I can say is Masuno's Elves deck defeated Mitamura's Reveillark deck 2-0.

Kenji Tsumura ( Reveillark ) versus Taichi Fujimoto (Elves).  In Game 1, Kenji got stuck on a Mutavault and 2 Nimbus Mazes.  With no colored mana, he quickly conceded.  Game 2 saw Kenji came back by combo-ing out with Reveillark.  In the decider, Kenji had 2 Wrath of Gods and a Teferi's Moat to stop all the little green men, allowing him to finish the job through the air.  Kenji advances 2-1.

Yuuta Takahashi (Faeries) versus Shintarou Ishimura (Doran).  Ishimura started Game 1 with a turn 2 Doran, the Siege Tower off a Birds of Paradise.  Takahashi was stuck on 3 lands for the entire game and could not mount a defense against the 5/5 treefolk.  Following that game, both players went heavily into their sideboards, with each player siding in at least 9 cards.  In Game 2, Ishimura had Tarmogoyf, but Takahashi had Sower of Temptation to take the Goyf and added a few more flyers to overwhelm the board.  I'm not really sure what happened in Game 3, from what I get from the Japanese to English translator is that Takahashi had a turn 2 Bitterblossom allowing him to apply early pressure.  A few turns later, Ishimura attached with Doran and a Treetop Village which prompted Takahashi to flash in a Mistbind Clique, killing the man-land and resulting in a concession from Ishimura.  I think I must be missing some key component of this game, because Ishimura knew the Clique was in Takahashi's hand due to a first turn Thoughtseize.  Either way, Takahashi advances 2-1.

If we take a look at Takahashi's Top 8 Faerie deck, we see one major addition from Morningtide... No, not Mutavault, the new Mishra's factory is crazy-good and played in almost every deck.  The major addition is Bitterblossom.

Elves have Imperious Perfect and Wren's Run Packmaster, Goblins have Mogg War Marshal and Marsh Flitter, and now Faeries also have their token generating machine in Bitterblossom.  The power of Bitterblossom was on display all weekend long and no more so than in the Top 8 itself, allowing the Faerie player to amass an army, that if destroyed, quickly replenishes itself.  At least in this tournament, Bitterblossom was just too fast.

Semifinals: Olivier Ruel versus Ryousuke Masuno.  There was no coverage of this match either, but Ruel advanced 2-1.

Kenji Tsumura versus Yuuta Takahashi.  Game 1, two Ancestral Visions gave Takahashi a large enough advantage with Bitterblossom and Mistbind Clique that Kenji could not recover.  Again in Game 2, the faerie deck is just too quick for the slower Reveillark combo deck.  Kenji can not find the 5th land he needs to play out threats like Riftwing Cloudskate, and Takahashi flyers in for the win.

Congratulations to Yuuta Takahashi, GP Shizuoka 2008 Winner
Congratulations to Olivier Ruel for his Record Setting 22 GP Top 8 Appearance

Kenji's Teferi's Moats were pretty useless against the flyers, and his only real answer to Bitterblossom were the 2 Crovax, Ascendant Hero which he couldn't find.

Finals: Olivier Ruel versus Yuuta Takahashi.  Faeries dominated the Top 8 of GP Shizuoka, leaving us a mirror match in the finals.  The only question now was whether or not Ruel was able to learn anything from his loss to Takahashi earlier in the Swiss, or would Takahashi's extra card drawing just be too much to handle? Game 1 was a Bitterblossom war.  The deciding factor was a Cryptic Command from Takahashi that tapped down Ruel's army, followed by a Scion of Oona that allowed Takahashi to get in enough damage so that Ruel died to his own pair of Bitterblossoms in his upkeep.  Game 2 saw an early Bitterblossom from Takahashi, and no answer from Ruel.  The swarm of faeries soon finished the job as Ruel was unable to stabilize.  Takahashi wins 2-0.

So there you have it, GP Shizuoka saw Bitterblossom and Reveillark take center stage.  How will the metagame respond?  Was the wane in Tarmogoyf an aberration or the beginning of a trend?  Can someone come up with an answer for Bitterblossom?  I'm thinking Oblivion Ring.  We'll just have to wait until late May to see when Standard returns at PT Hollywood.


Top 20 in the 2008 Player of the Year Standings 
Following GP Shizuoka

Ranking Player Points
1 Jon Finkel* 25
2 Mario Pascoli 20
3 Joel Calafell 16
3 Marcio Carvalho 16
3 Ming Xu 16
6 Shuuhei Nakamura* 15
6 Paul Cheon* 15
8 Olivier Ruel 14
9 Yuuta Takahashi* 13
9 Guillaume Wafo-Tapa 13
11 Mike Hron 12
11 Nicolai Herzog 12
13 Robert van Medevoort 11
14 Brandon Scheel 10
15 Patrizio Golia 9
15 Raphael Levy 9
15 Martin Juza 9
15 Shuu Komuro 9
15 Kazuya Mitamura 9
15 Akira Asahara 9

* 2008 Event Winner

Player of the Year Race

The top of the Player of the Year standings still look a lot like the Top 8 from PT Kuala Lumpur.  But GP Shizuoka did shake up the bottom half of the top 20 with Olivier Ruel, Yuuta Takahashi, Shuu Komuro, Kazuya Mitamura, and Akira Asahara all moving up because of last weekend's performance.

Join me next week when we get back to Extended as the Pros come to my home town for GP Philadelphia.  There's also something going on in Vienna, but I don't live there, so it'll have to wait a week.


where oh where? by Arnnaria at Thu, 03/13/2008 - 08:38
Arnnaria's picture

Where oh where did you find all the day 2 decks?  I looked all over the site for them, but had to use the top 8 decks instead for my article.

Great coverage by hamtastic at Thu, 03/13/2008 - 09:01
hamtastic's picture

Even though I don't do much Standard anymore, this was really good coverage.  Especially considering you had to translate it from another language.  :)

Goooooo Reveilark, Bitterblossom and Mutavault!

RE: where oh where? by Pyrosin at Thu, 03/13/2008 - 11:14
Pyrosin's picture

They didn't give us all the deck lists, only a breakdown by deck, on the Day 2 blog.

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dungdung's picture

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