Kentaro Yamamoto Member Statement

My Experiences

I began playing Magic when my little brother asked me to back in junior high school. Back then it seemed like the biggest creatures were strongest, so the first deck that I copied was Fires, a red-green beatdown deck. My brother moved on from the game before long, but it got popular with my junior high friends, and I played with them until they quit in preparation for high school. It was around that time that I became a regular at weekday card shop tournaments. Once I was in university I became friends with some players who were serious about going pro, and I was able to take part in the Pro Tour. The thing is I couldn’t win at all. About three years back I decided I wanted to start winning in the Pro Tour, and I started Magic Online then. In part because practicing by myself online is a good fit for me, I’ve finally started winning recently.

I really wasn’t thinking that I wanted to go pro or make a living from Magic, but last year the folks at Hareruya invited me to play on their pro team, Hareruya Pros, for a year. Before I was ever sponsored, I really admired Hareruya, particularly the owner, Tomoharu Saito. He managed to create a huge 300-seat shop right in Tokyo, one that actively hires Magic players, and has just done a lot for the industry as a whole. To be sponsored by someone like that filled me with gratitude.

This is the first time in Japan that a company without a hand in Magic: The Gathering has sponsored players of the game. It’s a true honor to have been selected as part of that, and I joined Team Cygames in hopes that this might help forge connections between Magic: The Gathering and other industries.

About the Team

Yuuki is full of vitality, and he seems to have more or less unlimited energy. There aren’t many other people who can explain Magic into words quite as effectively. It can be a challenge to explain why a given deck was successful in a way that other people can wrap their heads around, but he’s able to do that in a methodical way, saying that A turned out in such-and-such a way because of B, and the result was C. That ability to put things into words is something I lack, and I always just end up saying something like, “Huh, wonder why I won that one. Must’ve been lucky.”

In the past year or two I’ve gotten closer to Teruya. He’s so true to himself and true to the game. We were talking a little while back about why he got back into Magic, and he said, “Magic was the most fun of anything in my life, so I came back to become the best in the world.” It just struck me as incredible that he was able to casually say something like that. There aren’t a lot of people who can speak about themselves that honestly, so I’m a little jealous. He’s really working hard to make that dream a reality. It’s almost like the main character in a manga.

Since there are only three of us on the team it’s not possible yet, but in the future, once there are about six of us, I’d like to do a league. We could stream our matches and do things round-robin style. Even people who aren’t so knowledgeable about the game would be able to understand, and I think that it would be fun.

My hope is that people see what we do and decide that they want to join a team as well. It would also be great to have a league match between Team Cygames and Hareruya Pros, maybe like a three-on-three.

Future Goals

My goal is to eventually win a pro tour, but I just don’t have that level of skill yet. My goal for this season is to come out of a Grand Prix as a champion, and while I should be able to make Top 8, the championship still could be out of my reach. During the last Pro Tour, Magic Origins, I made Top 8, but my deck wasn’t what was required of a champion. To win a championship, you need both skills and a strong deck, and I don’t think that I’m going to be able to raise both abilities at once.

In the previous Pro Tour, Magic Origins, Kentaro lost in the quarterfinals.
Source:Magic: The Gathering

My dream is to one day be 60 or 70 years old, spending my days playing Magic with my friends, so I hope that Magic is still around then. I think that our sponsorship from outside the card industry is one of the first steps toward that goal. I hope that Cygames is a trailblazer here for other companies from outside the industry.

A Message to Supporters

I’m always so grateful when people tell me after a tournament that they always read my articles, or when they wish me luck going forward. I want to pay back their support by really showing results at tournaments and providing tech ideas for constructed and draft.

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