Japan has long been recognized as a hotbed of rogue deck design. It's no surprise, then, that it should represent an unexpected decktype during the OBC portion of World Championships: Upheaval
-Infestation. The group was factioned, with some Japanese players running blue-green, some mono-black, and a handful of others running this blue-black monstrosity. They succeeded, but their results stayed under the radar thanks to mediocre performances on Days 1 and 2. Japanese National Champion Kazuhiko Mitsuya took it to 5-1. Katsuhiro Mori made 4-1-1. Yuuki Murakami scored 4-2. Numbers like that start to give it a little credibility.
Comparisons can be made to Kazuaki Arahori's winning Grand Prix - Sendai deck. Never mind the fact that it was a completely different format, killed differently, and pre-dated the release of both Torment and Judgment. The merging of a powerful card drawing compliment with standard control weapons is a winning one. It packs Upheaval, one of the most powerful cards in Odyssey block, so long as you survive to cast it. Add to that the instant kill of a bunch of Zombie tokens, and the appeal starts to become apparent. The trick is staying alive long enough to pull it off. Eight mana is a hefty price.
All three players agreed on a twenty-nine card core of the deck. Maximum copies of Aether Burst, Chainer's Edict and Innocent Blood made sure that the opponent couldn't get too much of a creature presence on board. Add to that four Circular Logics run interference, as well as a little Zevatog Standstill technology, furthering the stall. Three Deep Analyses round out the card drawing, leaving six slots for Upheavals and Infestations, three of each. Twenty-four lands left just seven cards to tweak.
Mitsuya went dedicated combo. His three Envelop
s and two Cabal Therapy
help stop problems before they get started. A pair of Flash of Insight
give his deck the ability to tutor for what it needs. Mori opted for a more reactive build, bringing in four Ghastly Demise
to help stave off creature rushes, as well as Skeletal Scrying
and an extra land.
Murakami's version is the oddball of the group. On one hand, it sports Faceless Butcher, an excellent metagame call against Roar tokens, but with possible negative interactions with Upheaval. Also, he chose to run three Guiltfeeders in the main, while the others left them in the sideboard.
Tellingly, perhaps, none of the top pros are running it. The original sponsors have all switched horses, citing its rising popularity among Japanese players. Not only does that shift advise a switch to a deck that beats Upheaval-Infestation, but also dodges other players who might have the same idea. Still several up-and-comers have chosen to pin their hopes on Upheaval-Infestation. It will be interesting to see if they can make it to the top.
2002 Worlds (OBC): Zombie Upheaval