After a long, grinding day of Khans of Tarkir Sealed matches, 133 players found themselves on the bubble going into the final round of Day 1, needing one more win to reach the 21-point threshold needed to come back and draft on Sunday.
At Table 80, No. 1 Owen Turtenwald faced down Michael Rothkopf for a spot in Day 2. Turtenwald was quick to the board with a pair of outlasters in Ainok Bond-Kin and Salt Road Patrol, along with a vigilant flyer in Alabaster Kirin. His opponent fought back with a Mardu Hordechief, which brought along its raiding Warrior friend. An attack from Rothkopf triggered raid once again, allowing a Mardu Heart-Piercer to shoot down Turtenwald's Bond-Kin.
A Siege Rhino from Turtenwald then swung the life totals to 24-14 in his favor, and Rakshasa's Secret took care of the Jeskai Charm and Force Away in Rothkopf's hand, leaving him hellbent. Turtenwald's Smite the Monstrous smote a Glacial Stalker, and a few attacks later his 3/5 Salt Road Patrol had won him Game 1.
Meanwhile, in a bubble match between Brian Braun-Duin and Mitchell Garrant, Braun-Duin's Dead Drop opened a trapdoor under his opponent's Rattleclaw Mystic and Pine Walker, leaving behind an empty board. However, Garrant followed up with a pair of flying threats in Swarm of Bloodflies and Sultai Scavenger.
Braun-Duin's Throttle took down the Swarm before it could grow out of range, but Garrant was able to follow up with an Armament Corps, putting two counters on the Scavenger, which took down Game 1 for Garrant.
Back in the Turtenwald-Rothkopf showdown, Turtenwald's Herald of Anafenza and Ainok Bond-Kin were in the graveyard, the apparent victims of a timely Arc Lightning. Rothkopf was applying pressure with a Horde Ambusher, a Mardu Heart-Piercer and an Ainok Bond-Kin.
The deathtouch Ruthless Ripper and Shambling Attendants temporarily stabilized the board for Turtenwald, but Narset, Enlightened Master appeared for Rothkopf, threatening to break the uneasy truce. An attack from the legendary Monk flipped a Bring Low, allowing Rothkopf to eat away at Owen's board, and Game 2 went to Rothkopf soon after.
Across the event hall, Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir semifinalist Mike Sigrist was squaring off in a bubble match against Ben Friedman, who looked to have his back against the wall in Game 3 as he faced down Sigrist's Temur army. Friedman had attempted to outlast the onslaught, with a Disowned Ancestor and an Ainok Bond-Kin, but an attack from Sigrist's Rattleclaw Mystic, Longshot Squad and Savage Knuckleblade were too much to handle, and Friedman extended his hand, putting Sigrist into Day 2.
After winning Game 2 thanks to a timely Disdainful Stroke to prevent the appearance of his opponent's Sorin, Solemn Visitor, Braun-Duin found himself facing down the planeswalking vampire once again in Game 3. Garrant got Sorin to stick this time, but the pressure applied by Braun-Duin's Abzan Guide meant the planeswalker could manage only to make two tokens before leaving for greener planes. With two morphs facing down Garrant's lone Vampire token, Braun-Duin unmorphed Thousand Winds, and the flying Elemental won him the match soon after. After Garrant had scooped up his cards, Braun-Duin diligently revealed his final face-down morph, a Kheru Spellsnatcher, just in case.
Over at Table 80, Turtenwald had led off Game 3 with a third-turn Herald of Anafenza, but was only able to generate a single Warrior token before an Arc Lightning from Ropthkopf burned it away. After eliminating Turtenwald's Herald, Rothkopf landed one of his own, to go along with a War-Name Aspirant and multiple raiding Mardu Hordechiefs.
A Murderous Cut from Turtenwald returned the favor on the Herald, and an Ainok Bond-Kin, Salt Road Patrol and Alabaster Kirin began chipping away at his opponent's forces, and then his life total. A few turns later Turtenwald cast a face-down Ruthless Ripper, only to immediately flip it face up, draining Rothkopf for two, and wining the match.
While all this was going on, Grand Prix Salt Lake City 2014 Top 8 quarterfinalist Jamie Parke was slogging through two long, drawn-out games against Josh Davis. After Parke took Game 1, he was forced into the tank after Davis cast Rush of Battle, threatening tons of damage and tons of lifegain with his Ponyback Brigade, three Goblin tokens, Timely Hordemate, Chief of the Scale, and Kin-Tree Warden.
After the dust settled, Parke was left with a High Sentinels of Arashin, Glacial Stalker, Archers' Parapet and 9 life, versus Davis's team of several creatures, but no fliers. A few attacks later the High Sentinels were able to whittle Davis's life down from 34 to zero, winning the match for Parke in two games just as time was called in the round.