Round 13: Feature Match – Brandon Nelson vs. Christian Valenti

Posted in Event Coverage on August 6, 2011

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

Brandon Nelson is Minnesota PTQ player who is looking to string together all four Pro Tours this season -- and winning Nats would go a long way to taking care of two events in one fell swoop.

Christian -- last seen on camera at Pro Tour Nagoya talking about his Block Constructed deck -- locked up his Pro Tour Philadelphia invite with a Top 50 finish in Japan and just a couple of points this weekend would put him over the hump for an invite to Worlds regardless of whether or not he made the National team,

Game One

On the draw, Christian broke a fetch land and played Grim Lavamancer, prompting a disconcerted look from Brandon. His turn two Preordain was met with Spell Pierce by Nelson and Christian chose not to attack in case there was anything that needed killing EOT.

Ponder on turn three found Misty Rainforest and Valenti's yard was filling up fast. Meanwhile Nelson was playing land and biding his time -- another Ponder, another fetch land from Valenti. Nelson played Timely Reinforcements and Valenti killed a token at the end of the turn.

Valenti whittled down the reinforcements with his Lavamancer and a kicked Into the Roil. Eventually he flashed out Deceiver Exarch and tapped one of Nelson's four lands.

"You still finished?" asked Valenti.

Nelson was finished with his turn but he was far from done. When Valenti played the Splinter Twin he cast Spell Pierce, using his last blue mana.

"You have four cards?" asked Valenti.


Christian Valenti

Valenti paid for the Spell Pierce. Nelson played Dismember and Valenti had Dispel. Nelson had another Dismember.

"Attack for one," frowned Valenti as he sent his Lavamancer into the red zone.

Nelson played Day of Judgment as a necessary one for one on the Lavamancer.

Shrine of Piercing Vision came down for Valenti in the hopes it would eventually dig him to another game winning tandem of cards. He did not have a ton of time as Nelson had a Celestial Colonnade online and was whittling down his life totals. He played a second Shrine and at the end of Nelson's next turn went to Into the Roil the new Shrine. Two Shrine triggers went on the stack but Nelson decided to Mana Leak the Roil.

Valenti eventually fell to 2 from the land but had 5 and 3 counters on his Shrines. Nelson tried to decide if he should invest the mana in trying to kill Valenti or play a more defensive game and protect his mana.

"You are only one hit away," goaded Valenti. "You have to go for it now, right?"

Nelson sighed and animated his land.

"Your Colonnade has turned into a creature," said Valenti.


"I will not allow that to happen," said Valenti but he needed a little help from the top of his deck. Nelson had two mana untapped. Valenti played Into the Roil and triggered both his Shrines. He looked four cards deep with the one he had targeted -- countering his own spell. He found Exarch and played it, tapping the Colonnade. Nelson had one mana left.

Valenti showed him Splinter Twin. Nelson played Dismember but a Mana Leak sealed it for Valenti.

Brandon Nelson 0 - Valenti 1

Brandon Nelson

Game Two

"I did not think I was going to miss the first time," said Valenti of game one. "Double Dismember? What a freak!"

Valenti led off -- on the draw -- with Grim Lavamancer and his turn two Shrine of Piercing Vision was Mana Leaked

"Probably worth fighting over," sighed Valenti.

Jace Beleren came down on Nelson's turn three and drew him a card. Valenti dug with a pair of Preordains before using his third mana to kill Jace with his Lavamancer. It was Nelson's turn to dig with Preordain and he ended up with a Spellskite. A turn later he recruited a full quad of Hawks.

Valenti played a second Lavamancer and it eventually killed the Spellskite when Nelson forced the issue with Into the Roil. Nelson began to go to work with the Hawks and forced Valenti to shoot them down with his Lavamancers. They played a long game with Valenti forestalling the inevitable Colonnade with a string of Exarchs but no Splinter Twin. He valiantly tried to whittle down Nelson's life total with a motley army of Exarchs and Lavamancers but he ran out of time and the Colonnade did him in.

Brandon Nelson 1 - Valenti 1

Game Three

They had less than 10 minutes left and they shuffled up for what they each hoped would be the deciding game. Nelson frustrated Valenti's plans on multiple fronts with Ratchet Bomb set on three and a Spellskite while mustering an air force of Hawks. Valenti's hand was a fistful of cards that could potentially break through but he was choked by the number of blue mana sources -- and the length of time and amount of turns he had to find them.

Time was called during the end of one of Nelson's turns and his air force just managed to get in exactly the amount of damage he needed to get one step closer to his master plan of winning Nats, qualifying for Worlds, and locking up his invite for Philadelphia.

Final result: Brandon Nelson - 2 Christian Valenti - 1

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