Semifinals: Brock Mosley (Red Abzan) vs. (1) Owen Turtenwald (4-Color Rally)

Posted in Event Coverage on February 29, 2016

By Marc Calderaro

At events, the first-ranked player in the world, Owen Turtenwald, is always in business mode. He's there to do a job, and he'll do everything in his power to achieve it. The man has the results to show for it: 18 Grand Prix Top 8s, and three Pro Tour Top 8s. But you wouldn't know his business modality when he sits down next to a new opponent in the Top 8.

When Turtenwald and Brock Mosley sat across each other, they talked casually about their road to get here, how they felt about their decks, and—after Turtenwald asked for an Oracle reading of Tainted Remedy—specific sideboard cards. Questions like: “What's Tainted Remedy for?” Like it was just another game of Magic.

After a bit, they started talking about the tournament. “I want to keep playing against the Hardened Scales deck,” Turtenwald said. “I played against it five times.”

“I hadn't played against it in the first day at all.” Mosley said. “It wasn't until the second day that I really knew about how many people were playing it.”

Mosley had told me personally that he had also avoided every 4-Color Rally deck on the way here—the deck Turtenwald was playing. And that he was glad for it. He talked about the match-up being a bit tough. “And in the first game, I'm on the draw; that's really not good,” he concluded.

The Dallas local knew that between Reflector Mages to slow him down and remove blockers, and the instant-speed marquees of the deck messing up combat math and combat itself, he would have to draw pretty well. If he gets early pressure, then can back it up by keeping Nantuko Husk from going crazy, Mosley could pull this out.

Oh yeah, but also he's against the top-ranked player in the world.

Brock Mosley

The Games

“What kind of art is that for Evolving Wilds?” Brock Mosley asked.

“Dark Ascension. OG.” Turtenwald trumpeted. With his trademark crispness, he hit every blue deck's favorite two-drop, Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.

Mosley got it off the battlefield in short order. Then tried to advance his board state while not letting the Rally deck get too much of the little beasts on its side. But, sadly for the Texan, the creatures kept coming from Owen. Mostly thanks to Collected Company.

This card can make the deck explode. The first Company came mid-combat and fetched Elvish Visionary and Catacomb Sifter; then came two Nantuko Husks. From a completely empty board, in mere turns, Turtenwald had amassed an army.

Mosley was nowhere close to winning, and he saw the game running away from him. Two Husks makes combat even harder against a deck that's notoriously hard to combat. Mosley was at 20 life when Turtenwald attacked with just the two Husks and a Zulaport Cutthroat.

He didn't make it out alive. With only one blocker, Mosley had no choice but to block the Cutthroat and hope Turtenwald was out of shenanigans. He wasn't. After sacrificing everything to an unblocked Nantuko Husk, draining Mosley in the process with the Cutthroat, he cast a Rally the Ancestors with X set to three. He got all his creatures back and just sacrificed them all over again.

Turtenwald stopped counting the damage around 26.

In the second game, Mosley was on the play. As he had said earlier, this can severely help his game against the deck. Creating a board presence to pressure with early, and putting Rally on the back foot the whole time is one of the better ways keep them off balance and take the game before they can spiral it out of control.

Mosley led with a Sylvan Advocate, Pia and Kiran Nalaar (with the accompanying Thopter tokens), and Siege Rhino. He had Turtenwald down to 11 life quickly. All Mosley needed was some follow-up. In this state, the 1/1s and 2/2s Turtenwald made looked less like an army than they had previously.

Owen Turtenwald

But looks can be deceiving. In the first game, Turtenwald had zero creatures on the board, and then after multiple Collected Company, sewed up the game out of nowhere. And in this game, his plinky, paltry little creatures made Nantuko Husk and unstoppable killing machine turn after turn. He just kept attacking up and eating a blocker each time.

Just a few turns later, Turtenwald was still at 11 life, but now Mosley was at 8 and he no longer had any creatures. The follow-up hadn't come. He had drawn land exactly when he needed spells. And despite his efforts, the game was again slipping through his fingers.

Owen Turtenwald and his 4-Color Rally meticulously disassembled Mosley's value creatures, and then disassembled him.

Owen Turtenwald wins 2-0 and is going into the finals!

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