Seven players had 42 points at the end of Swiss, meaning five of them would come up just short and not play for the title of Grand Prix-Washington D.C. champion. Brad Nelson was not one of those five. Squeaking in as the eighth seed, he faced his Magic Online clanmate Brett Blackman (of "Osyp Drives Me to School") in the Quarterfinals.
Before the match, the judges asked Brad to re-sleeve his deck. He finally got to the feature match area and discovered that the replacement sleeves he bought marked very easily. After another delay that involved desleeving his sideboard to come up with sixty non-marked cards, he finally drew his opening hand... and promptly mulliganed to six. Brett kept his opening seven.
Brad took a point of life to activate Arid Mesa, while Brett did the same for Verdant Catacombs, leading to Noble Hierarch. Brad cracked another Mesa, going to 18, and cast Wall of Omens. Brett had a turn-two Knight of the Reliquary that had to stare at a second Wall of Omens from Brad. Brett came back with a Lotus Cobra, Birds of Paradise, and Dauntless Escort in one turn thanks to the Knight's sacrifice ability. Wall of Omens number three and four came down for Brad the next turn, desperate to find answers before Eldrazi Conscription could wreak havoc. But after some clarification on shortcuts and mana, Brett cast Sovereigns of Lost Alara and the colorless enchantment found its way to Birds of Paradise, putting Brad at 6 life. Brad continued the desperate search for answers with two Spreading Seas (one on his own Plains), but could not find them, and Brett had the game won with one more swing.
Brett Blackman 1, Brad Nelson 0.
Brad looked slightly dejected during sideboarding and leading into the second game, but at least the mulligan roles were reversed. He was able to keep his first hand while Brett took a single mulligan. After three turns of land-go, Brad tried to make the first move with Spreading Seas on Brett's Celestial Colonnade, but it met a Negate. Brad retaliated with an Oblivion Ring on the Knight and Spreading Seas on a Forest. Brett snuck in Gideon Jura with Brad tapped out, but on the next turn, a second Spreading Seas met a second Forest, and Brett was without green sources. He tried digging for them with Jace, the Mind Sculptor, but it was not to be. Attacking with Gideon Jura turned out to be the source he needed, as a Path to Exile removed the white planeswalker.
A Celestial Colonnade attack left Brett without anything but lands. Brett's third fetch-land of the game left the slow-moving affair at 20-17 in favor of Brad, but it allowed him to animate Celestial Colonnade, attack for 4, and cast a 5/5 Knight of the Reliquary. Brad responded with a 1-for-1 Day of Judgment, but Celestial Colonnade attacked Brad down to 12, and Brett's own Oblivion Ring took out the one holding his Knight. Brad mounted some defense with Baneslayer Angel, but Brett had Sovereigns of Lost Alara the next turn and Conscripted his Knight. Baneslayer blocked, and Brad bought some more time with Day of Judgment.
Celestial Colonnade ate a Tectonic Edge and a second Baneslayer came down for Brad along with two Wall of Omens. He declined to block an attack from a Colonnade, going to 1 in the process. An attack from Baneslayer brought Brad back up to 6 and Brett down to 12. Colonnade swung back unblocked to put Brad back down to 2. Brad attacked the next turn, but Brett blocked with Birds of Paradise and fetched a Sejiri Steppe with Knight of the Reliquary, negating the life gain. Brett deliberated, then attacked with Knight of the Reliquary and Celestial Colonnade, both of which were blocked. Another Angel attack from Brad evened the life totals at 7. Celestial Colonnade and Knight of the Reliquary continued to bring pressure, putting Brad at 3, then Dauntless Escort provided insurance against a would-be Day of Judgment.
A Sejiri Refuge and a Baneslayer swing put Brad back up to 9, then an Oblivion Ring swallowed a large Knight of the Reliquary. Brett tried to stave off the attack, but Brad would not relent, swinging again and putting Brett at 2. Martial Coup made eight tokens, and when Brett realized he couldn't outlast the Soldiers, he conceded, forcing a deciding third game.
Brett Blackman 1, Brad Nelson 1
After a quick bathroom break by Brad, Brett went first in game 3. Brad had two Sejiri Steppes in his first three land drops, while Brett's fetch-lands drove his life total 2 points the other way. Brett had the first offense with a Qasali Pridemage, putting the totals at 19-18 in favor of Brad. A 4/4 Knight of the Reliquary followed, and Brad met his next draw with a quizzical look on his face. After much thought, a sip of water, and a reminder from the table judge to maintain a reasonable pace, Brad cast Gideon Jura only to have it Negated. Noble Hierach arrived and allowed Qasali Pridemage to attack for 4, putting Brad down to 15. Day of Judgment met Brett's second Negate, and Knight of the Reliquary got up to a 6/6 at the end step. Celestial Colonnade, Knight, and Pridemage all attacked, putting Brad down to 4. Martial Coup for five cleared the board, but Brett recovered with Dauntless Escort and another Noble Hierarch. Brad kept up the pressure, though, with Baneslayer Angel. Celestial Colonnade attacked with exalted, but was met with a Path to Exile after Brad gained 5 life with first strike damage. Ten power worth of tokens and Angels brought Brett down to 8 life, and when Brad's Jace, the Mind Sculptor bounced the Hierarch, it was on to the Semifinals for the man they call "Fffreak."
Brad Nelson 2, Brett Blackman 1