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Rei Sato Triumphs at Yokohama's Champions Cup Final

March 08, 2023
Riley Knight

Just shy of 200 players came together in Japan last weekend to compete in the Champions Cup Final, all seeking to seize a place at the Pro Tour - and perhaps even the World Championship - for themselves. The format was Standard, with Grixis Midrange the deck to beat, and beaten in was when Rei Sato hoisted the trophy, piloting an incredibly sweet Selesnya Toxic deck all the way through the Top 8 to claim victory.

Congratulations to Rei Sato!

Sato’s opponent in the finals, Kenji Sego, had brought Esper Legends to the tournament. Esper Legends is quickly becoming a deck people are looking towards as a way to beat Grixis, but even with the might of Esper Legends Sego wasn’t able to overcome Sato and his hordes of toxic creatures. In a 2-1 finals series, Sato ultimately secured the win.

Kenji Sego and Rei Sato play for the title of champion

The top 12 players in the tournament are now qualified for the next Pro Tour, which is happening in Minneapolis, USA, in May. It will be terrific to see the best players from the Japan and Korea region come to do battle at MagicCon: Minnesota. Additionally, Rei Sato has now locked up an invitation to this year’s World Championship!

Despite Grixis Midrange players coming out in force, the Top 8 only has a single Grixis Midrange player. The rest of the Top 8 was made up of a wide range of decks: the aforementioned Selesnya Toxic and Esper Legends, as well as Mono-Blue Tempo, Grixis Reanimator, Jund Midrange, and finally two Mono-White Midrange decks.

Kenta Harane, Marei Okamura, Hirotaka Kawasaki, Kenta Masukado, Ozawa Takashi, Rei Sato, Keisuke Naito, Kenji Sego

The Champions Cup Top 8

The Swiss portion of the tournament looked very different from a numbers perspective, however. Just under 30% of the field was on Grixis, suggesting that people came prepared for the de facto best deck and knew what to do to beat it. Esper Legends is becoming increasingly popular against Grixis, while other lists like Grixis Reanimator and Mono-Blue Tempo put up good results.

The metagame from the Champions Cup

The Champions Cup once again put on display the talent and skill of players from throughout the region and sent some of them to compete on the world stage at the upcoming Pro Tour. If you think you’ve got what it takes to succeed as they did, why not find a qualifier near you, and who knows - maybe you’ll be the next one to qualify for Magic’s biggest events.

Huge crowds at the Champions Cup

2021 World Champion Yuta Takahashi makes an appearance

A big Modern tournament was broadcast as part of the event

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