On one side sat the upstarts of Grand Prix Detroit, dubbed the “the young bloods” by some watching the event unfold. 11th-ranked Jacob Wilson and teammates Matt Nass and Sam Pardee brought an impressive resume to the finals of the Team Limited event. Sixteen Grand Prix Top 8s entering this event. A history of working well together — Sam Pardee joined the team Grand Prix-winning duo of Nass and Wilson — and no fear of the storied foes they were facing in the finals.
And what foes they were. On the other side sat three members of the Magic Hall of Fame: (25)Ben Stark, Luis Scott-Vargas and second-ranked Eric Froehlich. They were the last remaining undefeated team in Detroit and had twice vanquished the vaunted and often-dominating trio of William Jensen, (13) Owen Turtenwald and Reid Duke. Like their opponents, Scott-Vargas and Froehlich have a history of success at team events and added Stark for this event.
Both teams had powered through a tough field and were now just one round win away from a title.
Not that the young bloods had gotten there in the expected way. Sam Pardee was on the streak of his life, going undefeated in matches through the weekend while Nass was just behind him with only one match loss. And they needed every win, since Wilson represented the opposite end of the spectrum with just one match win all weekend.
Luckily for Wilson, Detroit was a team event. And his team was playing for the title.
These two teams had fought past all competitors in Detroit, and met in the finals with the title — and a possible undefeated run for Sam Pardee — on the line.
Stark and Nass squared off quickly, and while it looked like Stark was falling behind, he was really setting up for a fourth-turn Languish to clear away three of Nass’ creatures. It looked like the match was about to swing solidly in the hall of famer’s favor, but Nass unleashed an unexpected threat: Vryn Wingmare.
The innocuous flier was deadly effective in the game. Stark never found his fifth land to pay the tax, and died to attacks a few turns later.
The three hall of famers were the final undefeated team at Grand Prix Detroit, and they hoped to finish the tournament as the final team standing.
On the other end of the table Froehlich was trying to finalize the match over Pardee. Already leading on board, he was trying to fight through a Guardians of Meletis that Pardee had found to steady the ground. When Pardee landed Blessed Spirits and declined to block with it on Froehlich’s next attack, it was clear he was ready to climb back on board in the next turn. Aware of the danger of waiting, Froehlich opted to cast Mighty Leap, going for lethal damage but opening himself up to a Disperse or Celestial Flare from Pardee’s hand.
But no such answer was forthcoming, and Froehlich evened up the games between the teams.
Meanwhile Scott-Vargas put his team firmly into the lead thanks to a Somberwald Alpha giving him the punch he needed to fight through a crowded field of blockers. With the games standing at 2-1 in favor of the hall of famers, the young bloods had their backs against the wall.
Nass did his part to pull them out. He flooded the board with creatures and used Akroan Jailer to then control what creatures Stark had access to. He fell to 5 life from Stark’s counterattack but opted to make chump blocks rather than trade and give Stark the fourth creature in his graveyard needed to activate Shadows of the Past. It was a smart decision, and when Stark’s next turn failed to yield anything he extended the handshake.
Pardee wasn’t far behind. His army of fliers dispatched Froehlich quickly in the next game and sent them into what could be a Grand Prix-deciding match even as Scott-Vargas pulled ahead in his second game against Wilson.
Facing off against three legends of the game, Pardee, Wilson and Nass showed no fear playing for the title.
It looked like the final game might end prematurely when Froehlich failed to find a third land, but hope wasn’t lost considering Pardee had drawn three Guardians of Meletis himself. With no pressure to apply, Froehlich had some time to dig out of the whole, and he worked to do that with a pair of Citadel Castellan.
But Pardee had a pair answers himself: two Claustrophobia to lock the Castellans down. Along with a Stalwart Aven and Charging Griffin finally arriving to begin pecking at Froehlich’s life total, Pardee had a path to victory if the hall of famer couldn’t find an answer.
But whatever answer Froehlich might have to find, he ran out of time to find it on the next turn: Pardee cast Sigil of Valor, equipped it to Charging Griffin and ended the game in one attack, completing his perfect run and at the same time winning Grand Prix Detroit for his team.
Nass/(11)Wilson/Pardee defeats (25) Stark/Scott-Vargas/(2)Froehlich