This was not the finals many people were hoping for with both Ken'ichi Fujita and Kouichirou Maki standing on the other side of the ropes as spectators. Japan has been an assembly line for new talent and perhaps one of these two players will step out and take on the mantle that passed from the 20th Century Boys to the next crop of player like Itaru Ishida and Jin Okamoto and onto the last wave with Katsuhiro Mori and Masashi Oiso.
Katou already has one Grand Prix Top 8 under his belt this year in Yokohama so this could be the start of big things for Jin's Apprentice form Nagoya. Harada was getting his Pro career off to a roaring start as well. Not only was he in the finals but he was going to win more money than Katou no matter what the outcome. As the highest finishing amateur in the tournament he was already up $1,500 on the weekend.
Harada kept his opening hand as did Katou who had a turn two Mask of Memory. Harada dug two lands out his library with Journey to Discovery. Katou played and cycled a Pyrite Spellbomb but he was stuck on two lands. Harada played a Flayed Nim and sent the turn back to Katou who was still without land but had Bonesplitter. Harada used Creeping Mold on one of the lands but Katou drew into another.
Harada played a Goblin War Wagon and followed up with an Icy Manipulator to tie up Katous's slowly expanding mana base. He finished him off a turn later with a Predator's Strike.
Satoshi Harada - 1 Kazuki Katou - 0
"Hmmmmm..." Katou was fearful of another mana screw and decided to draw. Harada kept his initial seven and so did Katou who played a turn one Pyrite Spellbomb. He used it on his next turn after Harada played a Leaden Myr. Mask of Memory and then a Goblin Replica from Katou were bracketed around a Flayed Nim from Harada. Harada played a War Wagon but it was Consumed Spirited away, A Hematite Golem was Shattered and a Nim Shrieker came into play. Harada was stuck on four land this game and he tapped out for an Icy. Katoup played a Berserker and a Pyrite Spellbomb and attacked. After combat he killed the Flayed Nim with the spellbomb. The card advantage from the Mask was killing Harada he could not keep up with Katou ripping through three cards a turn and eventually succumbed to superior firepower.
Satoshi Harada - 1 Kazuki Katou - 1
Now it was Harada's turn to agonize over the play-draw rule. He decided to play and kept his two-land hand with trepidation.
Kaotu played a Chromatic Sphere while Harada played out Disciple of the Vault and Pyrite Spellbomb on his own turn. Katou cycled the Sphere to play a Myr. Harada had no third land drop but he did have his own Myr. Katou made a Berserker on turn three and swung. Harada cycled the Spellbomb but had nothing and passed the turn to Katou who played a Pewter Golem.
Harada drew a third land and cast Journey of Discovery for a pair of lands. Mask of Memory resolved for Katou and he equipped his Pewter Golem and attacked for seven and some cards. He played a Spikeshot Golem after combat. Harada Detonated a Myr, trying to set up a good Barter in Blood on the next turn. Another Berserker foiled that plan and he had to put his Disciple and Myr in the way of one Berserker. He thought better of it and split his blockers so that the Pewter Golem was blocked too. He attempted to Predator's Strike his Myr but Katou activated his Goblin and killed the Myr in response.
Harada showed him the Barter in Blood and the Betrayal of the Flesh in his hand and then offered it in gracious concession. After making the Top 8 of Grand Prix Yokohama earlier this year, Katou topped that with a championship finish in Shizuoka!
Satoshi Harada - 1 Kazuki Katou - 2