They already knew.
Both teams took their seats in the feature match areas before the pairings were even posted. The only two undefeated teams from Day One of Grand Prix Detroit, they knew they would play each other, and with a match that featured four Magic Hall of Fame members in (2) Eric Froehlich, (25) Ben Stark and Luis Scott-Vargas (who teamed together) as well as William “Huey” Jensen — and two other players you may have heard of named (13) Owen Turtenwald and Reid Duke — there was no question they would be under the lights to kick off Sunday.
It was a gathering of not just Channel Fireball members but of friends, and the laughter was loud and frequent as they waited to kick off the match. But as they began to shuffle up for what turned out to be a barnburner of a match, the noise grew quiet as the crowd grew larger, spectators eager to see who would be the final undefeated team.
Things got off to a fast start, as aggressive decks clashed against each other early. A Topan Freeblade for Turtenwald arrived first, and it connected as Stark's first play was Nantuko Husk on the third turn, ready to combo with the Act of Treason in hand.
Turtenwald didn't give him the chance. Weight of the Underworld took it out and the Freeblade continued to roll in and drop Stark's life total to 9 even as he tried to stabilize on the board. He finally did so with a Mage-Ring Bully and Eyeblight Assassin, stemming the tide for the moment and even pulling back into the race when Act of Treason allowed the hall of famer to knock Turtenwald to 12 life.
Ben Stark may be a new addition to Froehlich and Scott-Vargas's team, but they didn't miss a beat, finishing Day One undefeated.
With plenty of lands but few creatures, Turtenwald tried to claw back in by returning Topan Freeblade with Macabre Waltz, but when Ravaging Blaze sent it right back to the bin it was Stark who completed the comeback and put his team on the board.
But it would be an uphill battle. Froehlich stalled on lands dropped the first game to Duke, while Scott-Vargas fell under the pressure of Jensen's mono-red, 15-land aggro deck.
The next game didn't start much better. Jensen began the attacks while Scott-Vargas missed his land on the third turn. With Jensen's creatures massing he couldn't afford to miss another, and a Plains off the top allowed him to cast Knight of the White Orchid to find another land and catch right back up. That enabled Separatist Voidmage to bounce one of Jensen's renowned creatures and stabilize the board. With the pressure eased, Scott-Vargas's army of fliers began to populate the board, and when Sentinel of the Eternal Watch joined the team a few turns later the pair were on to the final game.
Team Peach Garden Oath may be the favorites at any team event they attend, but there's nothing easy about knocking off three hall of famers.
It would also be the deciding game, as Duke vanquished Froehlich and Stark did the same to Turtenwald with the help of a timely Act of Treason to steal a tight game. With the eyes of their four teammates — and thousands more across the room and online — Jensen and Scott-Vargas shuffled up for the decider.
Back on the play, Jensen came out of the gates with a blast. A key first-turn play in Goblin Glory Chaser arrived and got under Sigiled Starfish thanks to Subterranean Scout and became renowned, and Ramroller arrived on the scene soon after.
In the blink of an eye Scott-Vargas was down to 13 life, and he began the fight to stabilize with a fourth-turn Separatist Voidmage to buy a turn from the Ramroller. But it was only a turn, as the artifact reappeared soon after and demanded a more permanent answer.
Scott-Vargas had just that in the form of Hixus, Prison Warden, knocking out the Ramroller but still falling to five life after another turn of attacks from Jensen took out Sentinel of the Eternal Watch and threatened to do the same to Scott-Vargas the next turn if he didn't have another answer.
He had exactly that, as the sideboard cards began to hit the field. First Aven Battle Priest and then Cleric of the Forward Order put Scott-Vargas back to 10 life, and the flying threat finished off Jensen one turn later.
In what could easily be a preview match of the Top 4 to come, this round belonged to team “Pork Ben Oath” and not “Peach Garden Oath.”
(25) Stark/Scott-Vargas/(2)Froehlich defeats (13)Turtenwald/Jensen/Reid