Round 14: (8) Samuel Black vs. (10) Owen Turtenwald

Posted in Event Coverage on August 29, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

The last round of the 2015 World Championship was a flurry of players battling for the best tiebreakers and records as fourth-ranked Seth Manfield dominated the field to a one loss finish over two days. In turn, this meant a wide range of players vying for just five losses were in tight contention to fill out the rest of the Sunday Top 4.

Eighth-ranked Samuel Black and tenth-ranked Owen Turtenwald had been in similar positions at Pro Tours and other premier events, and both were poised for a chance at the World Championship title. Turtenwald desperately wanted a win, which would raise him out of the tiebreaker math that would threaten everyone ending with a record of 9-5. While Turtenwald would, presumably, have the best among the bunch leaving your changes to math was never a position to choose over winning outright.

For Black, winning would mean getting a shot at the 9-5 sweat where the final results from other matches would shift the points to either give him his first World Championship Top 4, or leave him looking in from the outside.

Samuel Black needed a win here to have a shot at Top 4. For Owen Turtenwald, this round was improving his pole position for Sunday.

The Decks

Abzan Control was the deck on top of the tournament. In Manfield's hands it dominated through the day, and Turtenwald had similarly earned a strong record in Standard. Using a bevy of removal spells—from Abzan Charm and Ultimate Price to End Hostilities and Crux of Fate—it demolished opposing creatures until its own Siege Rhinos or Elspeth, Sun's Champions could provide the finishing blow.

Black's deck was decisively different from every other. Using just Plains and a touch of Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx to power out threats both large and small, Black's deck felt like two choices in one. Soldier of the Pantheon and Kytheon, Hero of Akros led off from the first turns, but the curve spread all the way up to Brimaz, King of Oreskos, Archangel of Tithes, and Wingmate Roc. Mastery of the Unseen was a wrinkle that had been popular during Green-White Devotion's Fate Reforged Standard heyday, and here it was a critical piece in how Black attacked control decks.

More creatures than removal was how the old devotion decks defeated control.

The Games

The first game was a volley of exchanges. Anafenza, Kin-Tree Spirit met the Ultimate Price in the first two turns as Black and Turtenwald began to count creatures to removal back and forth. Brimaz, King of Oreskos followed, but it was exiled by Turtenwald's Abzan Charm. Kytheon, Hero of Akros with the three mana up to protect it was Black's next play, with Soldier of the Pantheon shortly after.

Black had started to push in damage.

Turtenwald fell to 11 on the next attack before using Thoughtseize to force Valorous Stance out of Black's hand. Adding Courser of Kruphix afterwards, it looked like Turtenwald had started to stabilize.

Now gaining life with every land he played, and showing Siege Rhino on top of his library, Turtenwald could begin his counterattack. Siege Rhino came down, followed by a second Courser on the following turn. Removal flowed afterwards, and Black's flood of lands were not the threats he needed.

"I could do a better job of drawing spells that game but that's pretty much how the first game plays out," Black said as they shuffled up. "Even if I have another creature or two you just grind me out there."

Turtenwald's Abzan deck does exactly what it needs to do.

Black took a mulligan to start off that second duel, and didn't have a first turn creature. Knight of the White Orchid was just a 2/2, but Mastery of the Unseen was a more problematic follow up Black presented. Chaining creatures onto the battlefield would give Black inevitability against the hail of removal and answers Turtenwald would use.

Siege Rhino was the first threat Turtenwals deployed, helping to restore some of his lost life. Banishing Light cleared the way for Black to attack again, and Soldier of the Pantheon promised to strike next turn.

Crux of Fate put a stop to those plans, though Black gained 2 life by turning his manifested Hangarback Walker face up for zero mana.

"That's cool," Turtenwald said as Black grinned back. "You know that, I see."

A manifest activation from Mastery of the Unseen into Wingmate Roc was Black's next run, but Valorous Stance and Ultimate Price took out both the Rocs. Black just replaced them on the next turn. Turtenwald paused to consider his options, down to drawing off the top of his library.

"You got it." was his conclusion.

The third game finally featured a first turn creature for Black as Soldier of the Pantheon began to attack. Mastery of the Unseen followed, and it looked like a familiar sequence for Black's successful game.

Black's White Devotion deck has a couple of interesting tricks up its sleeve.

However, even digging down with Abzan Charm after multiple scry triggers from lands wasn't enough for Turtenwald to hit his fourth land on time. Archangel of Tithes was next for Black as Turtenwald fell to 11 life from his fouth land: Windswept Heath. With Atarka's Command into Valorous Stance, Turtenwald answered the Angel and enchantment, but Black persisted in a Hangarback Walker with two +1/+1 counters.

At 9 life Turtenwald missed his fifth land and passed again. When Black attacked, Hero's Downfall came down for the Walker. Black tried Valorous Stance to protect it, but Murderous Cut jumped in first. Languish cleared the battlefield thereafter for Turtenwald, but Elspeth, Sun's Champion was the next trump from Black.

Dropping to 5 life, Turtenwald drew two more cards with an Abzan Charm. Black's attack took Turtenwald to 2 life before Wingmate Roc appeared. A second Languish answered the battlefield temporarily as Solder tokens just kept coming from Elspeth. End Hostilities bought Turtenwald another turn, as did Bile Blight the turn after before Hero's Downfall finally appeared.

It looked as though Turtenwald was beginning to turn things around.

Black passed a turn before making Archangel of Thune a second time, though Turtenwald exiled it with Abzan Charm before pulling back up to 5 life from Siege Rhino. Valorous Stance crossed back from Black before the third Wingmate Roc of the game appeared. The second Siege Rhino from Turtenwald was hit by Glare of Heresy, and a Hangarback Walker with two counters again sat on Black's side.

The game was winding to its conclusion.

Unmorphing Den Protector, Turtenwald went into his graveyard for Abzan Charm to exile the Roc. Turtenwald blocked the Walker on Black's obligatory attack before they passed turns back and forth. Thopter tokens took Turtenwald to 3 life, but a Courser of Kruphix put Turtenwald back to 4 with a land.

Cracking Foundry of the Consuls at the end of Turtenwald's turn, Black attacked with four Thopter tokens. Finally, after so many tries, there wasn't another removal spell to save Turtenwald.

"Good games," Turtenwald said as he extended the hand. Black's dream of a Top 4 appearance was now in the hands of fate, and the math of tiebreakers.

Black 2 – Turtenwald

Samuel Black's White Devotion - 2015 Magic World Championship

Download Arena Decklist

Owen Turtenwald's Abzan Control - 2015 Magic World Championship

Download Arena Decklist


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