Yuuya Watanabe

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Yuuya Watanabe
ResidenceMachida, Tokyo, Japan[1]
Pro Tour debut2007 Pro Tour Yokohama[2]
Pro Tour wins (Top 8)0 (5)[4]
Grand Prix wins (Top 8)7 (28)[5]
Lifetime Pro Points643[6]
Planeswalker Level50 (Archmage)

Yuuya Watanabe (渡辺雄也) is a Japanese Magic: The Gathering player and former World Champion.[I] With five Pro Tour top eights and 27 Grand Prix top eights (including seven wins), Watanabe is best known for his Rookie of the Year title in 2007,[7] and his Player of the Year titles in 2009 and 2012. He is one of only three players to become Player of the Year more than once.[8][9] He was elected to the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame in 2016, along with Owen Turtenwald[10], but removed in May 2019 after a cheating scandal involving marked card sleeves.[11]


Watanabe's professional Magic career began in 2007 at Grand Prix Kyoto. He emerged as the champion from a top eight of relatively unknown players,[12] something former Player of the Year Kenji Tsumura had predicted on day one of the tournament.[13] This qualified him for his first Pro Tour, Yokohama, held about a month later. Despite not making another top eight that season at either the Pro Tour or Grand Prix level, strong finishes at Pro Tour San Diego (22nd) with teammate Shuhei Nakamura, and at Pro Tour Valencia (21st) were enough for him to win the Rookie of the Year title.[7]

The following season Watanabe did not perform as well on the Pro Tour, with a 35th-place finish at the World Championship being his best finish. However, off Tour he did have some stand-out finishes. A third place standing at the Japanese National Championship earned him a place on the Japanese national team.[14] Along with his national team colleagues Masashi Oiso and Akihiro Takakuwa, Watanabe made the semifinals of the national team competition at Worlds, where Japan lost to the United States team.[15]

In 2009, Watanabe achieved a strong season, though the first half was somewhat unimpressive. He was able to offset the deficit of earning only the minimum two Pro Points at Kyoto and Honolulu with a second-place finish behind Tomoharu Saitou at Grand Prix Kobe. The second half on the other hand was nothing short of spectacular, with Watanabe making the top eight in six consecutive premier level events. The run began with a second-place finish at Japanese Nationals behind his San Diego teammate Shuhei Nakamura.[16] After this finish, Watanabe made the top eight of four back-to-back Grand Prix in Bangkok, Niigata, Prague, and Melbourne, winning the last of these. This gave him the lead in the player of the year race going into Pro Tour Austin, and made him the first non-Australian to win a Grand Prix in Australia. A year and a half after his Pro Tour debut, Watanabe made his first Pro Tour top eight at Pro Tour Austin. He lost his quarterfinal match in five games to Hunter Burton.[17] After a 62nd-place finish at the next event, Grand Prix Tampa, Watanabe pick up right where he left off with another Grand Prix top eight in Kitakyushu. Despite not doing very well at the World Championship, finishing 101st individually and 7th with the Japanese team that were favourites to win the tournament, none of Watanabe's competitors for Player of the Year were able to capitalise, and he was awarded the title at the end of the tournament.[9]

During the 2012 season, his most successful season yet, Watanabe reached three Grand Prix top 8s, winning two of them (Kuala Lumpur and Manila) and thus securing his participation, as the Japanese player with the most Pro Points, to the first Magic Players Championship, which he eventually won by defeating his fellow countryman Shouta Yasooka in the final.[18] Since the tournament replaced the briefly retired Pro Player of the Year title, Watanabe also became the second Magic player after Kai Budde to earn this title more than once. Later that year, at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Watanabe got his second Pro Tour top eight, losing in the final to Stanislav Cifka.[19] The next year's Players Championship was renamed to the World Championship, with Watanabe receiving an invitation as the winner of the Players Championship. He went on to finish 6th at the event.[20]

At Grand Prix Beijing 2014, Watanabe won his seventh Grand Prix title, equalling the all-time record for Grand Prix wins held by Kai Budde.[21] With seven Grand Prix wins in 21 total Grand Prix Top 8s, six more than Kai Budde, Watanabe was for a time the most successful Grand Prix player in the history of the game, until Shuhei Nakamura won GP Dallas in July 2015. His performance during the season earned him an invitation to the 2014 World Championship.

Watanabe started the next season strongly, making the top eight of the first Pro Tour of the 2014–15 season, Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, where he lost in the quarterfinal to eventual champion Ari Lax.[22] At the 2014 World Championship in December, Watanabe came close to becoming the first repeat World Champion, finishing the Swiss portion of the tournament in first place. However, it was his semifinal opponent Shahar Shenhar who would go on to claim his second Worlds title.[23] He ended the season on 59 points, resulting in an eight-place finish in the Player of the Year standings, as well as an invitation to the 2015 World Championship. He was the only player to have qualified for the first 6 invite-only World Championships since the format change after the 2011 Pro Tour season. His streak was broken at the 2018 World Championship where he failed to qualify.

Wantanabe was disqualified at Mythic Championship II for cheating by using marked card sleeves.[24] After an investigation, Wizards of the Coast determined that he had intentionally marked several key cards in his deck, which would allow him to identify a card before drawing it and make decisions based on that information. As a consequence of this, they banned him from organized events for 30 months, removed him from the Magic Pro League, and removed him from the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame.[11]


Top 8 appearances[edit]

 Season   Event type   Location  Format Date  Rank 
2007 Grand Prix Kyoto Standard 17–18 March 2007 1
2008 Nationals Yokohama Standard and Booster Draft 19–21 September 2008 3
2008 Worlds Memphis, Tennessee National team 11–14 December 2008 4
2009 Grand Prix Kobe Extended 18–19 April 2009 2
2009 Nationals Hiroshima Standard and Booster Draft 18–20 July 2009 2
2009 Grand Prix Bangkok Sealed and Booster Draft 22–23 August 2009 6
2009 Grand Prix Niigata, Niigata Sealed and Booster Draft 29–30 August 2009 8
2009 Grand Prix Prague Sealed and Booster Draft 5–6 September 2009 2
2009 Grand Prix Melbourne Sealed and Booster Draft 10–11 October 2009 1
2009 Pro Tour Austin, Texas Extended and Booster Draft 16–18 October 2009 6
2009 Grand Prix Kitakyushu Sealed and Booster Draft 31 October–1 November 2009 5
2010 Grand Prix Sendai Standard 5–6 June 2010 6
2010 Grand Prix Manila Standard 12–13 June 2010 4
2010 Grand Prix Sydney Sealed and Booster Draft 9–10 October 2010 5
2011 Grand Prix Kansas City, Missouri Sealed and Booster Draft 18–19 June 2011 2
2011 Grand Prix Shanghai Sealed and Booster Draft 20–21 August 2011 1
2011 Grand Prix Pittsburgh Standard 27–28 August 2011 1
2012 Grand Prix Kobe Sealed and Booster Draft 18–19 February 2012 7
2012 Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur Standard 24–25 March 2012 1
2012–13 Grand Prix Manila Standard 16–17 June 2012 1
2012–13 Players Championship Seattle Special 29–31 August 2012 1
2012–13 Pro Tour Seattle Modern and Booster Draft 19–21 October 2012 2
2012–13 Grand Prix Philadelphia Sealed and Booster Draft 27–28 October 2012 8
2012–13 Grand Prix Taipei Sealed and Booster Draft 24–25 November 2012 6
2013–14 Grand Prix Bangkok Sealed and Booster Draft 22–23 June 2013 4
2013–14 Grand Prix Beijing Standard 29–30 March 2014 1
2013–14 Grand Prix Washington DC Limited 28–29 June 2014 2
2014–15 Pro Tour Honolulu Standard and Booster Draft 10–12 October 2014 7
2014–15 Worlds Nice Special 2–7 December 2014 3
2014–15 Grand Prix Cleveland Limited 14–15 March 2015 7
2015–16 Grand Prix Beijing Team Limited 24–25 October 2015 2
2015–16 World Magic Cup Barcelona National team 11–13 December 2015 8
2015–16 Grand Prix Minneapolis Standard 28–29 May 2016 8
2016–17 Grand Prix Chiba Legacy 26–27 November 2016 3
2016–17 Pro Tour Nashville Standard and Booster Draft 12–14 May 2017 2
2016–17 Nationals Shizuoka Standard and Booster Draft 9–10 September 2017 3
2017–18 World Magic Cup Nice National team 1–3 December 2017 1
2018–19 Pro Tour Atlanta Standard and Booster Draft 9–11 November 2018 8

Last updated: 11 September 2017
Source: Event Coverage at Wizards.com[permanent dead link]

Other accomplishments


^I Watanabe has never won an event called the World Championship. However, the Players Championship, which he won in 2012,[18] was later changed to the World Championship, and Watanabe is therefore considered the 2012 World Champion.[23][25]


  1. ^ "Pro Tour Return to Ravnica Top 8 Player Profiles". Wizards of the Coast. 20 October 2012. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  2. ^ Koch, Florian (29 July 2013). "World Championship Special" (PDF). ChannelFireball. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Top 200 All-Time Money Leaders". Wizards of the Coast. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  4. ^ "Lifetime Pro Tour Top 8s". Wizards of the Coast. 16 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  5. ^ "Lifetime Grand Prix Top 8s". Wizards of the Coast. 27 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  6. ^ "Planeswalker Points". Wizards of the Coast. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  7. ^ a b "2007 Rookie of the Year Race". Wizards of the Coast. 31 December 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  8. ^ "PLAYER AND ROOKIE OF THE YEAR WINNERS". Wizards of the Coast. 31 October 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  9. ^ a b "2009 Pro Tour Player of the Year Standings". Wizards of the Coast. 25 November 2009. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  10. ^ "Introducing the 2015-16 class of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame". Wizards of the Coast. 6 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  11. ^ a b "Statement Regarding Yuuya Watanabe". wizards.com. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Amateur Wins in Kyoto!". Wizards of the Coast. 18 March 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  13. ^ "Quick Questions". Wizards of the Coast. 17 March 2007. Retrieved 31 October 2014.
  14. ^ "Masashi Oiso wins Japan National Championship!". Wizards of the Coast. 18 September 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  15. ^ "Malin, Team USA Crowned Kings of Magic". Wizards of the Coast. 14 December 2008. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  16. ^ "Shuhei Rocks Japan!". Wizards of the Coast. 17 July 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  17. ^ "Kibler Completes Comeback with Austin Victory". Wizards of the Coast. 18 October 2009. Retrieved 13 November 2009.
  18. ^ a b "Watanabe Wins Magic Players Championship". Wizards of the Coast. 31 August 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  19. ^ "Cifka Savors Pro Tour Breakfast of Champions". Wizards of the Coast. 21 October 2012. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  20. ^ "Youth Served in a Flash". Wizards of the Coast. 4 August 2013. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  21. ^ "Watanabe Does Wonders!". Wizards of the Coast. 30 March 2014. Retrieved 30 March 2014.
  22. ^ "Lax Outlasts Tough Honolulu Field". Wizards of the Coast. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 5 December 2014.
  23. ^ a b "SHENHAR TWICE AS NICE". Wizards of the Coast. 7 December 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Round 16 Disqualification". MAGIC: THE GATHERING. Retrieved 27 April 2019.
  25. ^ "Top 4 Profiles – Yuuya Watanabe". Wizards of the Coast. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 8 December 2014.
Preceded by
Germany Sebastian Thaler
Rookie of the Year
Succeeded by
Australia Aaron Nicastri
Preceded by
Japan Shuhei Nakamura
Pro Player of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Brad Nelson
Preceded by
United States Owen Turtenwald
Pro Player of the Year
Succeeded by
United States Josh Utter-Leyton
Preceded by
Japan Jun'ya Iyanaga
Magic World Champion
Succeeded by
Israel Shahar Shenhar
Preceded by
Ryuuichirou Ishida
Japanese National Champion
Succeeded by
Shouta Yasooka