Sapporo has to be a lucky city for Satoshi Nakamura. He won the first Grand Prix - Sapporo, and now he's ended a lengthy shortage of top finishes with a Top 8 appearance this weekend. His opponent is Nobuaki Shikata, a powerful Constructed player who has Top 8's at Grand Prix - Hiroshima and "The Finals". He teams with Masashiro Kuroda and Masahiko Morita, and all three brought the same deck to this event. Morita and Shikata made Top 8, with Kuroda finishing in the Top 32. Now he's got a shot to win it all, and take his first premiere title.
Nakamura won the right to go first, and his hand was a good one. Careful Study got rid of Krosan Reclamation and island while setting up Wild Mongrel on the second turn. Shikata came back with a Study of his own, putting Rootwalla into play and Grizzly Fate in the graveyard. Nakamura made his Mongrel and Shikata matched him.
Nakamura drew Roar of the Wurm and held back on his Aquamoeba, keeping his Circular Logic available. He let Shikata have a Mental Note. It put two lands into the graveyard. He desperately needed them in his hand. Instead, he drew a spell, and passed it back. Nakamura Roared.
Shikata drew a forest. He needed to answer the Wurm quickly. He played Catalyst Stone and passed it back. Nakamura swung with his creatures. Shikata blocked Mongrel with Mongrel. Both pitched two cards. Shikata pitched a third. Nakamura Aether Bursted his Mongrel. He untapped and replayed it. He blocked both incoming creatures this time, pitching Mongrel and Quiet Speculation to force Nakamura to pitch and activate his Centaur Garden.
He untapped and played Quiet Speculation. Nakamura let it through. It fetched two Roars and a Moment's Peace. The Peace spared him eight damage on the following attack. He untapped and tried a Roar. It fell to Circular Logic. He did have an Envelop for Nakamura's Careful Study, but Nakamura smashed him to six.
Fukata dropped another Stone and the other Roar. It traded with Nakamura's on the next attack. Nakamura surprised with an Arrogant Wurm, leaving Shikata at three. But now the ball was firmly in Shikata's court. Flashing back Grizzly Fate meant that Nakamura couldn't attack. He flashed back the second one. Nakamura only had Aquamoeba to add. Shikata did a quick worst-case analysis and swung with two bears for four. He pitched Roar of the Wurm and cast it.
Nakamura drew Aether Burst, and waited. Shikata was already counting on it. He swung with just Roar token and one bear. Nakamura used his Burst to stop them. Shikata made no further play. Nakamura drew Arrogant Wurm and passed it back. Shikata flew in for eight and added Wonder to his team. Nakamura made the Wurm at end of turn. He drew a land. In desperation he swung. Shikata blocked accordingly. Nakamura ended his turn and tried to appear calm. Shikata swung for the win.
Shikata 1 - Nakamura 0
Nakamura mulliganed a five land, Aether Burst, Envelop hand to start. He kept three land, Wonder, Envelop and Aquamoeba. Shikata kept his hand quickly.
Shikata started with Careful Study. Nakamura allowed it. It pitched Roar of the Wurm and Deep Analysis. Nakamura made an Aquamoeba. Shikata Analyzed and passed it back. Nakamura pitched Wonder to hit for three. Shikata had no play. Nakamura hit for three more. Finally, at four land, Shikata could play Stone and Wurm. Nakamura's Envelop was ready for it.
Nakamura ripped Arrogant Wurm and things were sliding towards "unrecoverable" for Shikata. Nakamura knocked him to eight in the process of making his Wurm. Shikata untapped and looked at his five land. He decided to cast Grizzly Fate for two bears. Nakamura attacked, and pointed out that Shikata couldn't block because of the Wonder in his graveyard. Shikata's eyes bugged, and he scooped up his cards.
Shikata 1 - Nakamura 1
Shikata mulliganed in the deciding game, and then found himself without blue mana. Nakamura's draw was unforgiving: Aquamoeba and then Wild Mongrel before Shikata made a move. He pitched a Roar for damage. Careful Study got him his fourth land to cast it, as well as another Aquamoeba. Shikata bought a little time with Moment's Peace.
He came back with Wild Mongrel. Nakamura swarmed him. He blocked Mongrel with Mongrel and pitched two Wonders. Nakamura pitched Aquamoeba and Rootwalla to his Aquamoeba, and Aether Bursted the Mongrel. Shikata was at two. He Peaced again.
Finally, he drew an island. Nakamura was ready with Envelop for his Speculation. He had a second Peace in hand. This time Speculation resolved, and got two Roars and the third Peace. Catalyst Stone facilitated things. Nakamura waited out the Peaces, filling his hand with Deep Analysis. In the meantime Shikata made two Roars. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to stop all of Nakamura's attackers, any one of whom could destroy him.
Final Result: Satoshi Nakamura defeats Nobuaki Shikata 2-1