"Owen's gonna be tough," Brad Nelson said to no one in particular as he waited for his opponent to show up for the Finals. Owen Turtenwald meandered over to the feature match area and sat down for his second Grand Prix Finals appearance. His deck? The hated Jund while Nelson had brought Blue-White Control to do battle.
Nelson's control deck won the die roll and the players got underway. Owen's first-turn Raging Ravine turned into an Island as Brad cast Spreading Seas targeting it, and Nelson got to draw an extra card the following turn as he cast Wall of Omens. The tandem of cantrip spells put Turtenwald on the back foot, with no creatures over the first three turns.
Brad cast Elspeth, Knight-Errant and made a Soldier, but lost his planeswalker as Owen used Lightning Bolt and Blightning to deal enough direct damage to kill it. A second planeswalker joined the battlefield for Brad, this time a Gideon Jura. Now Owen was in a really tight spot, with no creatures on the table and staring down a Gideon with eight loyalty. A second Blightning made that five and emptied Brad's hand, but he topdecked Jace, the Mind Sculptor and used it to brainstorm.
Feeling confident with his setup, Nelson sent his Gideon at Owen's face dropping Turtenwald to 12. Siege-Gang Commander made an appearance and Brad Jaced up a brainstorm for the second time since casting the blue power rare. That netted Brad a Baneslayer Angel, and he used Gideon to require all Owen's creatures attack the planeswalker the following turn.
A Lightning Bolt and a Goblin sacrifice allowed Owen to take out the Baneslayer, and he then traded a second Goblin for Brad's lone Soldier token while dropping Gideon to four loyalty. A turn later it dropped to three loyalty as Brad continued forcing his opponent to attack the planeswalker while Owen built up his creature base with Bloodbraid Elves.
Jace found Brad a Mind Spring for seven which put him at a commanding lead in the card advantage department. Trying to gain some ground on that advantage, Owen cast a Sarkhan the Mad and used it to draw a Bituminous Blast from the top of his library. Nelson cleared the board with Day of Judgment, though his Gideon Jura had finally bit the dust to one final attack from Owen's team before dying to the Wrath. The game was taking a while to finish, and that favored Nelson's deck particularly when you considered he was leading at 21-12.
Two planeswalkers died in short succession, first Owen's Sarkhan the Mad to Oblivion Ring, then Brad Nelson's Jace, the Mind Sculptor to the direct damage from a Blightning. Nelson cast a monstrous Martial Coup for more than enough tokens to take out the remainder of his opponent's life, and Owen was on only one out: Maelstrom Pulse. He didn't draw one, but cast Bituminous Blast targeting a Soldier. The first cascade revealed a land, then a Broodmate Dragon, then…the Pulse! The crowd roared in amazement.
Nelson shifted to Plan B, Celestial Colonnade. With a ton of mana on the table, he could activate two copies of the creature-land and bash for 8 each turn. That left Owen looking to the top of his library for hope yet again, but when it wasn't there they were on to the second game with Brad in the lead.
Brad Nelson 1, Owen Turtenwald 0
On the play for the first time in the match, Owen Turtenwald led off with a powerful sideboard card on his second turn: Duress. Brad was forced to discard Elspeth, Knight-Errant, then cast a second-turn Wall of Omens. Putrid Leech for Owen was followed by Bloodbraid Elf, which cascaded up Pentad Prism, and when he was attacked by both of the creatures Brad used Celestial Purge to take out the Leech.
At five mana, Brad Nelson cast Baneslayer Angel but seemed to know intuitively it was going to die. Sure enough, his opponent untapped and took the powerful Magic 2010 rare out with a Maelstrom Pulse. A second Bloodbraid Elf from Owen found him a Duress, and he used that to take out the Day of Judgment in Brad's hand. The Elves continued pressing in dropping Nelson to 8, which became 7 as Owen cast Malakir Bloodwitch.
That gave Brad one turn to find a solution to the creatures headed his way, and he found a doozy: Sphinx of Lost Truths with kicker. When Owen revealed a second Maelstrom Pulse to take the 3/5 out, however, Brad didn't have an answer for the Bloodwitch and the match was evened to one a piece.
Brad Nelson 1, Owen Turtenwald 1
For the final game of the match, both players had artifacts to cast on the second turn. Brad's was an Everflowing Chalice with one counter while Owen had Prophetic Prism. An Elspeth, Knight-Errant from Nelson met its end at the hands of a Maelstrom Pulse, but Turtenwald missed a land drop to stay stuck on three and was soon facing a second Elspeth just a turn removed from dealing with the first.
Not to worry, though, as he promptly drew his fourth land and then cast Bloodbraid Elf. He cascaded into a Putrid Leech sprouting an instant army and forcing Nelson to chump block his 3/2 with a Soldier token. A Mind Spring for three cards put Nelson far ahead on the card count for the second time in the match, and Owen crashed his Putrid Leech and Bloodbraid Elf at Elspeth, again forcing Nelson to chump with Soldiers.
Before long Owen found himself with a second copy of Bloodbraid Elf which dutifully cascaded forth into Maelstrom Pulse. That allowed him to kill the second Elspeth and gave him enough threats on the battlefield to start pressuring Brad's life total. Day of Judgment cleared the table of creatures, but Owen reloaded with a Sprouting Thrinax and Putrid Leech. Martial Coup for six Soldiers dealt with those threats and for the moment Brad had stabilized.
A third Bloodbraid Elf for Turtenwald allowed him to attack with three Saprolings and the Elf itself. Post-combat the board was clear of creatures save for the creature-lands on either side of the table. Celestial Colonnade was batting for Brad while Owen had Lavaclaw Reaches. Baneslayer Angel joined the team for Nelson and began cushioning his life total. When he cast a Gideon Jura after the Angel, it became clear Owen was going to need a lot of good draws in order to pull the match out.
Brad activated his Colonnade and attacked with his team, prompting a chump block from Owen. A turn later, with no help on top, Turtenwald extended his hand in concession.
Brad Nelson 2, Owen Turtenwald 1