For Masashiro Kuroda and Masahiko Morita, the feeling is familiar. They were in this position before, at Grand Prix - Yokohama. Together with Tomomi Otsuka, arguably Japan's best female player, they came close to upsetting ABU in the finals. Today, with Katsuhiro Mori subbing in for Otsuka, they are out for revenge.
Their opponents, S.S.D., are looking for a big upset. They'vealready done it once, dispatching Masayuki Higashino, Tsuyoshi Fujita and Takayuki Nagaoka in the semifinals. Their leader, Shuuhei Nakamura studied under Fujita, making their victory over his team all the sweeter. He is joined by his friends Kimio Imai and Naoki Kabouchi.
S.S.D. kicked off, and kept their commitment to a minimum. P.S.2 were heading into set roles. Kuroda would be red-black, Mori would get blue-green (his favorite!) and Morita would take green white. This last was a reaction to what they saw as Imai's commitment to green-red after an early Wild Mongrel.
If there was any doubt about Morita's commitment to green, an early Overrun
married him to it. He started lowering his curve almost immediately. Mori, too, was going for tempo beats. Kuroda was riding the high-end, seemingly looking for a control deck.
At the other end of the table, things were also going according to plan. That is, except for Kabouchi's dabbling between green, blue and red. Despite working in three colors he found himself without a strong stack of cards. Things were looking golden in the middle, where Nakamura was resolutely pursuing black-white. His creature quality and removal were both excellent. On the end Imai's red-green was developing nicely.
Then Morita opened a second Overrun, and S.S.D. started to get worried.
In the second set of packs things got outrageous, when Mori opened a THIRD Overrun. How lucky that he should also be drafting green! Not only were P.S.2 the favorite, but now even the packs had turned against S.S.D. A lack of power cards on their side of the table was definitely hurting their morale, but though Kabouchi's deck was having trouble finding focus, Nakamura and Imai were doing well. Imai would need some help from Torment to best Morita's house, but it wasn't out of the question.
P.S.2, by contrast, were having to keep their confidence in check. It seemed like Mori's innate speed was spreading to the rest of the team. The three were a flurry of card consultations and hand gestures, evaluating every pack in mere seconds.
The first Torment
pack was unspectacular, but things started to pick up. Mori's deck got the fewest tools, remaining only exceptional thanks to double-Windreader. Meanwhile Kuroda was living the dream. A whopping three Organ Grinder
s came to his aid, along with a pair of Mesmeric Fiend
s and a Barbarian Outcast
. Morita got some defensive measures just in case Imai's deck came together.
Across the table things had gone very badly. Imai had first-hand experience about how bad the red-green creatures can be in Torment. Kabouchi was solidly three colors with Petradon.
The second-last pack was opened by Morita, and it just seemed unfair that it should contain Narcissism. He entertained the idea of taking Acorn Harvest over it, but smartened up.
When asked what they thought of the matchup, P.S.2 couldn't help but laugh out loud. The disparity in power was overwhelming. S.S.D. couldn't help but concur. Nakamura's deck seemed excellent, but the other two looked like they were not up to the challenge.