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Innistrad Championship Top 8 Player Profiles

December 05, 2021
Corbin Hosler and Adam Styborski

After 15 rounds of play, the final eight competitors of the Innistrad Championship are set! Congratulations to Christian Hauck, Toru Saito, Yuuki Ichikawa, Zachary Kiihne, Simon Görtzen, Yuta Takahashi, Riku Kumagai, and Yo Akaike! In addition to advancing toward the Innistrad Championship trophy, each player that wins at least one playoff match in the Top 8 also received invitation to Magic World Championship XXVIII at the conclusion of the 2021-22 season.

Watch the Top 8 double-elimination play out with Historic on December 5, beginning at 9 a.m. PST at twitch.tv/magic.


Learn more about the Top 8 players below, and check out their Historic decklists to see exactly what they'll play throughout the Sunday showdown.

Yo Akaike


Yo Akaike

After many tries, across Grand Prix event and Mythic Championship IV, Yo Akaike finally found their breakthrough moment. As one of many competitors qualified through MTG Arena, they felt Historic was a format where "it may be possible to bring up an undiscovered or forgotten approach." Their Standard deck was quite standard as Izzet Epiphany, but their Historic choice of Jeskai Creativity was a combo deck off the radar for most competitors.

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That creativity paid off as their Standard deck was among the best and their Historic deck presented the kind of threat that could always protect itself. Now, in their first premier event Top Finish they'll need to battle some of the greatest players in the game and their fellow countrymen to claim his first Magic trophy.

Simon Görtzen


Simon Görtzen

Simon Görtzen is a Pro Tour champion who spent many years in the coverage booth before dipping his toes back into competitive play in the last few years with MTG Arena. His skill earned him an invitation to the Rivals League where he continued to prove his more than a capable player. He's put together several deep tournament runs since and is unquestionably back to a familiar spot at the highest levels of the game.

While he played it safe in Historic with the well-established Izzet Phoenix deck, Görtzen surprised many in Standard by bringing an innovative Mono-Black Zombies list to battle with. Packing both the disruption of Go Blank and Duress for Izzet Epiphany with difficult-to-answer Zombie synergies, his off-metagame approach propelled him to his third Top Finish, and a chance to earn his second Sunday title.

Christian Hauck


Christian Hauck

Christian Hauck was the leader from start to finish at the Innistrad Championship. The German was one of two undefeated players entering Day Two, and was the last player earn a loss, even knocking off another German juggernaut in fellow Rivals League member Kai Budde along the way.

A tight technical player, Hauck will bring the new Selesnya Humans deck to bear in second Top Finish during Sunday's Historic format Top 8 playoff.

Yuuki Ichikawa


Yuuki Ichikawa

One of Japan's most popular streamers is also one of Japan's greatest players. Yuuki Ichikawa is no stranger to Magic success, with victories at events such as 2021 Magic Online Champions Showcase Season 1, Grand Prix Singapore in 2018, and Grand Prix in 2016, plus back-to-back Pro Tour Top 8s at Pro Tours Journey into Nyx and Magic 2015 in 2014.

Joining Japan's testing superteam, which includes fellow Top 8 competitors Kumagai, Takahashi, and Saito, Ichikawa's top-notch skills meant the picks of Izzet epiphany in Standard and Golgari Food in Historic were a match made for Top 8. Is the third Top Finish finally the charm for Japan's streaming elite?

Zachary Kiihne


Zachary Kiihne

Kiihne has rose through the ranks over the past five years of competitive play, and when it came to preparing for the Innistrad Championship it turned into his second career Top Finish. He kept things simple: "I just started both of my decklists with four Expressive Iteration and went from there."

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Kiihne's string of strong performances at both the SCG Tour and Championship events made him a household name to many American Magic players. Now he'll try to add a premier event title to his resume when he returns on Sunday with his trusty Izzet Phoenix deck.

Riku Kumagai


Riku Kumagai

Riku Kumagai continues to prove himself one of Japan's greatest rising stars. After a phenomenal performance earned him a Rivals League invitation, he put his league status to work across the 2020-21 season to finish in 6th place in rankings and level up to the MPL.

Working alongside a superteam of Japan's finest, including fellow Top 8 competitors Takahashi, Ichikawa, and Saito, Kumagai's Standard choice of Izzet Epiphany and Historic play with Golgari Food put him in prime position for his tiebreakers to tip him into Top 8 from 11 wins. Now, he'll have to battle through some of the top players in the world, and reigning World Champion teammate Takahashi, to claim his first Championship victory.

Toru Saito


Toru Saito

Saito may have only started playing Magic in 2015, but he quickly adjusted to spending time at the top of the ladder, having reached the No. 1 rank in Constructed on MTG Arena multiple times. Now that success translated into a first career Top Finish for the Tokyo native.

Part of Japan's dominant testing team at this tournament, Saito cruised through the Historic rounds thanks to Golgari Food and relied on the "40% of the other players also chose to play this" Izzet Epiphany deck in Standard. He credited his understanding of the full metagame for his success this weekend, and he'll have a chance now to make his Top 8 debut all the more memorable if he can knock off his teammates on the way to a Championship title and seat at Magic World Championship XXVIII.

Yuta Takahashi


Yuta Takahashi

Reigning World Champion. Four Top Finishes. 14 Grand Prix Top 8s.It's safe, and easy, to say that Yuta Takahashi is one of the greatest players in the game right now. Since making the Top 8 of Players Tour Nagoya almost two years ago, he has torn across the top tables. Ascending through the ranks of the Rivals League, Takahashi secured his World Championship XXVIII invitation as one of the top league competitors, then turned around his 0-3 start there to go undefeated all the way through to the biggest trophy of his career.

Now he's one more match win away from unlocking an at-large invitation slot for Magic World Championship XXVIII as he battles alongside, and through, teammates Ichikawa, Kumagai, and Saito for a chance at claiming back-to-back premier event victories.

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