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Players Tour Online 4 Day Two Highlights

June 22, 2020
Corbin Hosler

More than 300 players turned up to compete in Players Tour Online 4, and after a stacked Top 8 that saw some of the best to ever play Magic fall in defeat, only Akira Asahara remained.

It was an incredible weekend for the longtime Japanese player, and continued his incredible 2020. After making the Top 8 of Players Tour Nagoya in February, he made his way back to the Top 8 again by defeated Rivals League member and Pro Tour Avacyn Restored champion Alexander Hayne in the quarterfinals on his way to the title.

In the hands of Asahara, it was Temur Reclamation’s Top 8, but not its weekend. The format’s top deck was attacked from all angles, and there were some cracks in the armor as Jund Sacrifice broke through to win Players Tour Online 3 and Temur Reclamation’s representation dropped 5% from Day One to Day Two at Players Tour Online 4.

The Top 8 itself was stacked with a mix of the game’s biggest names from history and a crop of skilled rising players. Temur Reclamation reigned supreme, with four copies in the Top 8, along with Bant Flash, Bant Ramp and a pair of Azorius Control decks. You can read the stories of all the Top 8 members here.

Here's how the Top 8 broke down:

  • Thomas Hendriks (Bant Flash)
  • Arne Huschenbeth (Temur Reclamation)
  • Alexander Hayne (Temur Reclamation)
  • Akira Asahara (Temur Reclamation)
  • Tomasz Sodomirski (Temur Reclamation)
  • Tom White (Azorius Control)
  • Pesach Israeli (Bant Ramp)
  • Gabriel Nassif (Azorius Control)

A Win 15 Years in the Making

Akira Asahara may not be a household name for the younger generations of Magic players, but he should be. After his Top 8 at Players Tour Nagoya in January followed his victory here, he now has five career Top Finishes, tying him with multiple members of the Magic Hall of Fame. On top of that, te has 10 career Grand Prix Top 8 appearances with wins in both 2003 and 2005.

But 15 years is a long time to wait for any player. Before Nagoya, his last Top 8 came in 2011 at Grand Prix Hiroshima. His return to the top is one of the best stories in Magic Esports for 2020, and if people weren’t paying attention to one of the game’s best returning to form in front of our eyes they will be now.

Asahara wasn’t able to find anything to beat Temur Reclamation, so he brought the format’s known top deck, and over the course of the tournament he proved adept at navigating the kinds of complex boardstates and branching decision trees that only Temur Reclamation can offer. That included in the quarterfinals, where he prevailed in a mirror match with a former Pro Tour Champion and Rivals League member in Alexander Hayne. Asahara won yet another mirror in the semifinals before facing off in the finals against Tom White, whose Azorius Control–teched out against Temur Reclamation–was the deck of the tournament after sending both White and Gabriel Nassif to the Top 8. And he showed Asahara exactly why.

But Asahara fought back. He picked up the second game and made it into the third and final tilt to determine a winner. And with it all on the line, the “easy wins gameplan” of Nightpack Ambusher came through, taking over an empty board to send Asahara to victory over a mana-light White.

Temur vs. The World

Temur Reclamation can only change so much. Some additional Aether Gusts and Negates for the mirror, spot removal vs. Nightpack Ambusher–these are the relatively few decisions Wilderness Reclamation pilots can make in deckbuilding since they’re piloting a well-tuned machine that contains multiple must-haves, including the newest powerhouse in Shark Typhoon.

But that doesn’t mean the rest of the field can’t get creative to beat Temur Reclamation, and that’s exactly what they did. Day One was headlined by the Orzhov Yorion deck piloted by William Jensen to an eventual 10-5 finish at Players Tour Online 4. The deck is both wildly creative and boasts an intriguing origin story, which we covered in-depth..

Jensen’s wasn’t the only unexpected deck to find success.

Nassif Brews his Way to the Top 8

The Sunday story heading into Top 8 belonged to Gabriel Nassif and his take on the Azorius Control deck. He’s been piloting it online for several weeks, and has learned the power of including Yorion, Sky Nomad in the starting 60–no companions needed. By far, it accounted for the most dramatic moments on camera.

“You’re always worried going into a big tournament with a rogue archetype, but we kind of crushed it,” Nassif said. “I’ve been playing this version of blue-white with four maindeck Yorion, Sky Nomad for two weeks now and was winning a lot.

“This Top 8 may not be as prestigious, but I was excited to see if I could do well with a deck I had pretty much only played on the Arena ladder and see if my success could translate into the online Players Tour. It’s especially cool to Top 8 this tournament with a fairly rogue-ish version of blue-white.”

Plus, plays like this are a lot more fun than casting Wilderness Reclamation.

With Core Set 2021 nearly upon us, we’ll soon have several hundred new cards to throw at this Standard metagame. With the Players Tour Finals coming up, will the Sharks continue to soar, or will the upcoming Players Tour Finals see a shakeup?

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