Semifinals: Kouichirou Maki vs. Satoshi Harada

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This is the battle that the weekend had been building toward. One of Japan's oldest and most respected players versus one its cocky youngbloods. (Actually, Harada does not seem in the slightest bit cocky and appeared to be intimidated by the magnitude of the match but it makes for better copy!) Maki could be found more recently on the other side of the feature match laptop providing coverage for Japanese Sideboard of which he is Editor-in-Chief.

The two players engaged in some lively banter that seemed to amuse the crowd, other reporters, and table judges. I have no idea what they were saying but I am assured it was indeed very witty banter. Harada had quite a bit to laugh about since he was already the big winner of the tournament with $1,500 paycheck already awaiting him as the tournament's highest finishing amateur.

Game One

Maki chose to draw after much debate. Harada had no mulligans and neither did Maki. Turn two brought a Talisman for Maki while there was nothing coming out of Harada's hand anytime soon--he laid a Stalking Stones. Another Talisman from Maki gave him five mana on turn three and he used his remaining untapped mana to play a Lumengrid Sentinel. Harada played an Icy Manipulator. Maki got a laugh when he played a Seat of the Synod and tapped a the Icy with the Sentinel's ability.

Harada passed the turn with no fifth land and another Seat of the Synod tapped the Icy again--Harada responded by tapping the Sentinel. Harada was stuck for black mana--he was playing a three-color deck--and played and cycled a Pyrite Spellbomb. He found land but it was another Forest. Meanwhile, Maki had plenty of land and no action. He passed the turn with eight mana in play.

Maki's next turn brought him to nine mana and still nothing. Harada had to laugh as well when he Creeping Molded Maki's Talisman with so much mana in play. Finally, Maki was able to play a Neurok Spy. A swamp for Harada enabled a Woebearer. The Spy was tapped but the Sentinel was finally able to get in for a point of damage.

Woebearer attacked and Harada followed it up with an-off-the-top Duskworker. Maki still had nothing but lands. Harada was drawing out of his mana-screw and was able to play a Goblin Dirigible. Maki played an AEther Spellbomb and attacked back for three. Harada untapped the Dirigible and attacked with everything. Maki bouced the Dirigible and took four. Maki drew a card and cracked up. He got in for one with his Sentinel and slowly tapped his mana to imprint a Wanderguard Sentry on a Soul Foundry.

Harada had a number of ways to dispatch it and chose to use a Creeping Mold. Maki made a Peek on wheels in response and saw a full mitt with Flayed Nim, Detonate, Betrayal of Flesh, Muriok Scavenger, Wurmskin Forger, the Dirigible, and Predator's Strike.

Maki played a Beserker and annouced attackers only to have his Sentry token tapped by the Icy. He got in for two with his Spy. Harada looked to be in solid control and he drew a second Detonate. He attacked with both creatures and when Maki chumped with the Sentinel, Harada gave it trample with Predator's Strike. Maki scooped with a disbelieving laugh--he drew nothing but land after land.

Kouichirou Maki - 0 Satoshi Harada - 0

Game Two

Harada sided out his Slith Bloodletter and the Woebearer for a pair of Hematite Golems. Maki's deck underwent major renovations--he had geared it toward a tough quarterfinal match-up--and he took out dead cards like Turn to Dust and brought in additional creatures including a Slith Predator and a Titanium Golem.

Maki chose to draw again and Harada kept his opening hand. Maki did as well and opened on AEther Spellbomb. Maki played a sideboarded Plains on the third turn but had no play. Harada's fourth turn saw the summoning of a Lodestone Myr. Maki cycled his Spellbomb but still had nothing on turn four. Harada played a Hematite Golem and a Vault of Whispers and tapped them both to send a 4/4 Myr into battle.

Maki had Glissa on turn five and passed the turn hoping she would live. Harada had Betrayal of the Flesh but chose to attack first with his two men. Maki could block the Myr and potentially kill it but he did not take any chances. Rather than kill the Glissa, Harada double pumped the Golem to a five power and boosted the Myr to 3/3 with his land.

Maki put four mana in his pool and smoked the Myr. He played a Goblin Dirigible and passed the turn. Harada thought his plays over--Betrayal on the Dirigible, Betrayal on the Glissa. Finally he just passed the turn and allowed Maki to kill the Golem. Maki played a Trolls of Tel-Jilad and attacked with the airship. At the end of the turn, Maki used the Betrayal to kill the Trolls. He activated his Stalking Stones and attacked for three-Maki fell to five and was going to lose to a Detonate on the next turn if he didn't pull a miracle out of his sweater pocket.

He shot the Stalking Stones with his Glissa but Harada played another land and Maki began scooping even before he saw the Detonate. Maki's sweater did not have pockets.

Kouichirou Maki - 0 Satoshi Harada - 2

The dream of seeing one of Japan's original stars in the finals was crushed but a new one was being spun for the rookie Harada. Perhaps he would follow in the footsteps of Katsuhiro Mori and Masashi Oiso, but first he would have to get past Kazuki Katou in the finals.

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