Itaru Ishida is not the man you want to sit across from in your quarterfinal match. The unflappable head of Panzer Hunters is also something of a machine when it comes to singles play. You'd best be on top of your game. Fortunately, Akihiro Takakuwa is. One of the Top 8's lesser-knowns, Takakuwa drafted the deck that had all the reporters murmuring. Three Lavamancer's Skills. Good wizards and evasion creatures. Riptide Director. Blistering Firecat. It certainly looks like he's the man to beat in this Top 8. Ishida's is a more pedestrian green-red, but in his hands, anything is lethal.
Ishida kept a two land, Krosan Tusker hand playing first, and was rewarded with two lands off the top. He cycled on Takakuwa's turn when Takakuwa dropped a morph, and then got in with Ridgetop Raptor. Takakuwa tried to slow it with Mistform Wall, but Ishida had Pinpoint Avalanche to push through four damage.
Takakuwa showed the first of his three Lavamancer's Skills on his morph, ridding himself of the Raptor. He played Mistform Dreamer to go on the offensive. Ishida decided to force the issue with Blade Sliver and a facedown Commando. That was enough to convince Takakuwa to flip over his Voidmage Apprentice and shoot the hidden Commando. Ishida came back with a cycled Solar Blast to stop the Apprentice in its tracks. Takakuwa caught the Blade Sliver with an Echo Tracer that saved itself.
Ishida wasn't out of gas. He dropped Sparksmith and Goblin Clearcutter, but Takakuwa showed him Skill number two on the Dreamer to get rid of the gunner. Ishida tried Enormous Baloth, but Takakuwa had Riptide Biologist. He flipped up his Echo Tracer to send the Baloth home, then dropped the third Skill to finish off the Clearcutter. Ishida had a Thunder of Hooves to wipe the board, but he needed to draw a second beast. His Baloth sat waiting while the Dreamer went overhead. Ishida stood at nine.
Ishida ripped Skirk Marauder and shot down the Biologist, forcing Takakuwa to chump with his Tracer. Just as Ishida thought he had things in the bag, Takakuwa showed him Blistering Firecat, dealing exactly lethal damage.
Takakuwa 1 – Ishida 0
Ishida started Game 2 with a morph. Takakuwa shut it down quickly with Mistform Wall. Ishida made no move on his third turn, and unmorphed his Undorak after Takakuwa came down with Riptide Director. Ishida hit for three then Solar Blasted the Director. It looked like Ishida had the edge when Takakuwa could only hit for one and make an Ascending Aven. Ishida shot back for four and played a Skirk Commando face-down.
Of course, Takakuwa's deck is never without Lavamancer's Skill. He dropped it on the Wall, shot the hidden Commando, and still had mana left to cycle Choking Tethers on the Snarling Undorak.
Ishida tapped seven for Enormous Baloth. Takakuwa sailed by with the Aven and played a morph. Ishida dropped Naturalize on the Skill and sent both his men. The Wall chumped, and Ishida pumped the Undorak twice to leave the life totals at thirteen to eight in his favor.
Takakuwa thought awfully hard before playing a second morph and swinging for three in the air. That caused Ishida to grab his own chin and ponder. He feared the Firecat, since it and the Aven would deal ten exactly. He played his ninth land and served with the Enormous Baloth, leaving the Undorak at home. Takakuwa cycled Backslide before chumping with one of his morphs. It was Echo Tracer. Unfortunately, Ishida had no backup.
Takakuwa untapped slowly, then drew. He almost shouted as he cycled Choking Tehters on the Undorak, and then flipped over Firecat. Ishida shrugged.
Final Result: Akihiro Takakuwa defeats Itaru Ishida 2-0
GP Kyoto 2003 Top 8
GP Kyoto 2003 Top 8