ll eyes were on the first day of competition, as we got the first glimpse of the new Extended at a high level tournament. After eight rounds, the field has whittled down to the Top 64, providing a more focused perspective regarding what we should expect from the new metagame. Here's the breakdown, and what the top players are using.
Jinpei Hassaku, Tsuyoshi Douyama, Shinji Mihara, Shuuhei Nakamura
Osamu Fujita, Tsuyoshi Fujita, Takayuki Nagaoka, Masahiko Morita
Jin Okamoto, Hisaya Tanaka, Ryou Ogura
Dancing Ghoul -4
Chikara Nakajima, Kazuya Hirabayashi, Kazuhiko Mitsuya, Tsuyoshi Ikeda
Goblin Bidding -3
UG Madness -4
Red Deck Wins -4
Loop Junction -3
Masami Ibamoto, Akira Asahara, Ryuuichi Arita
BU Reanimation -2
Mind's Desire -3
Katsuhiro Mori, Masahi Ooiso
Yokosuka Nether-Go -2
Rogues- 9 total
Aluren: 1 (Asuka Doi)
Crush-Weaver: 1 (Satoshi Nakamura)
White-Green Beatdown: 1 (Kiyoshi Sasanuma)
Charbelcher: 1 (Masahiro Koura)
The Rock: 1
UW Weenie: 1
Death-Wish Goblin (Goblins + Living Death): 1 (Lee Sang-ryeol)
Life (Loop Junktion)
While Extended became absolutely insane, the Life combo deck quietly built up an arsenal of cards to make it a force to be reckoned with. It wasn't viable while faster decks were around, but now that the environment has slowed down, it may be one of the better combo options. The deck has lots of ways to go off, such as Daru Spiritualist and an en-Kor, Task Force and an en-Kor, and Worthy Cause or Starlit Sanctum to put it all together. Test of Endurance or Serra Avatar can finish it off, and Living Wish along with Academy Rector provides consistency.
This deck just made its first impact in Japan last week, when it made the Top 4 of a PTQ. The designer is veteran player Masami Ibamoto, who made Top 18 at Pro Tour Mainz a long time ago. Akira Asahara won the traditional end of year tournament in Japan last month, which featured Extended. Asahara was occupied with testing for Pro Tour Amsterdam, and the Gob-Vantage deck he used to success a few weeks ago is no longer legal. So, he looked to Ibamoto, who provided him with this deck. It's new, which means that it's out of the metagame's focus, and it's powerful and consistent thanks to the tutors. With unquestionable power and the factor of surprise, all the elements are in place for Life to be successful this weekend.
The old metagame dominator is back, and apparently as strong as ever. Of the 64 decks being played today, sixteen feature the old familiar grinning monster. Jinpei Hassaku is best known for unleashing Draco-Explosion upon the world, and designed the version that is getting the most attention at this event.
Kazaya Hirabayashi is a well-known columnist within Japan, and a Constructed specialist. Many players here refer to him as the Japanese version of Zvi Mowshowitz. His deck building skills are well-respected, and he always has a great deal of influence over the PTQ season. As is the case with most of the pros this weekend, Jin Okamoto and Tsuyoshi Ikeda were too occupied with Pro Tour Amsterdam to work on Extended. Okamoto decided to go with Enchantress, but Ikeda is running Hirabayashi's newest design- Dancing Ghoul. The concept is similar to the Angry Hermit decks, although it's obviously not as powerful due to Hermit Druid being banned. Now, Buried Alive along with Corpse Dance and Fling are used to win, along with plenty of tutoring power.
Sometimes when an environment goes back to square one, your best bet is to go with an old standby. In this case, Itaru Ishida and Koicihiro Maki decided to play blue-black Reanimator, similar to the archetype that Kai Budde made popular. This version is extremely straightforward in its design, running four copies of every card (save one Visara and three Duress), including the full four copies of Akroma and Phantom Nishoba. Chrome Mox provides a little acceleration, and the often mocked, yet surprisingly efficient Putrid Imp supplies another discard outlet in addition to Careful Study.
Katsuhiro Mori is back from the retirement he declared at Japanese Nationals during the summer, and looked in the most unlikely of places for an Extended deck. As a testament to the fact that Japanese players are networking far more than they did in the past, he got the idea for Blue-White Mind's Desire from Antoine Ruel on Magic Online. The splash of white is mainly for Sunscape Familiar, which essentially gives the deck four more Sapphire Medallion type cards to make the spells cost less, allowing the deck to "go off" much easier.
Recruiter or no, the Japanese still love the Goblin deck. Now it's gone back to its strictly aggressive roots, and Tsuyoshi Fujita even wrote "Goblins Looking for Dave Price!" in the "Deck Name" column of the registration sheet. Despite the loss of the Recruiter, the Matron and Ringleader are still around, along with four copies of Goblin Burrows. An especially intriguing tech card is Blood Frenzy, which is mainly being played to take out problem creatures such as Psychatog or Phantom Nishoba. Of course, it can also be used to sneak through four more points of damage when needed.
Living Death Goblins
Reminiscent of Goblin Bidding, Lee's version takes the concept one step further and plays Living Death. Thanks to the creatures with sacrifice effects like Skirk Prospector and Mogg Fanatic, the board is cleared of creatures and the Goblins come back onto the empty battlefield. It combines the early game aggression of Goblins with a solid late game plan, making it a strong contender. The tutoring power of Burning Wish and the disruption of Cabal Therapy round out the strategy.
Kiyoshi Sasanuma is a notorious rogue deckbuilder in Japan, and has been nicknamed "The Torpedo" because he comes out of nowhere to sneak up on the metagame and blow it up. He's living up to his reputation this weekend, defying convention once again by playing Green-White Beatdown. There's nothing fancy at all about this build- it simply runs the most efficient creatures available in the colors, and tops it off with aggressive enhancers like Rancor and Armadillo Cloak. In classic fashion, Armageddon deals the fatal blow while the opponent is reeling.
Speaking of rogue deck designers, Satoshi Nakamura showed up this weekend with Spellweaver Helix, the same deck he played at Pro Tour New Orleans. This deck aims to put Cabal Therapy and Crush of Wurms on a Helix, and then "goes off", creating a ton of 6/6 monsters.