Finals: Tom Ross vs. Brian Braun-Duin

Posted in Event Coverage on November 17, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

4003 players came to New Jersey this weekend with dreams of being crowned Grand Prix New Jersey Champion. Now, after fifteen rounds of swiss and two elimination rounds, only two remain. Brian Braun-Duin and Tom “The Boss” Ross spent the last week testing together in Roanoke, Virginia. Clearly, their partnership has paid vast dividends. It’s unfathomable to imagine that a pair of testing partners would meet in the finals of a tournament this large, but here they are. Who will be crowned Grand Prix New Jersey Champion? Tom Ross and his infectious army or Brian Braun-Duin and his Jeskai Stoneblade deck? They’re rooming together this weekend, so the bragging rights of victory are at least comparable to the victory itself.


In the first game, Ross’s opening hand wasn’t quite good enough, but six were better. Braun-Duin confidently kept seven.


Braun-Duin opened the action with a Gitaxian Probe for full information of The Boss’s devious plans.


Ross tried to find Inkmoth Nexus with Crop Rotation on Braun-Duin’s end step, but Braun-Duin happily traded two cards for two cards with Force of Will.


Braun-Duin played enough cantrips and fetch lands to cast Treasure Cruise for two mana relatively early in the game. Ross responded with Brainstorm, but couldn’t find an answer and was forced to allow his friend to draw three cards.


Ross found Inkmoth Nexus, but it would be difficult to activate it without Braun-Duin having a removal spell handy, especially considering how many cards his Jeskai opponent had drawn at this point.


Braun-Duin’s Stoneforge Mystic finding Umezawa’s Jitte was the first real table presence of the game.


Inkmoth Nexus got in for a point of poison, but Braun-Duin had Lightning Bolt with Force of Will backup and Ross was, once again, without any pressure.


With Umezawa’s Jitte on the table and a bevy of cards in hand, Braun-Duin cast another Gitaxian Probe. Tom showed him a familiar small grip of do-nothings and Braun-Duin stopped the game, “Did I draw for Gitaxian Probe?”


No one in the feature match area seemed sure if he had drawn for Gitaxian Probe or not, he asked if he could consult outside spectators, but Ross saved him the time by conceding the game.


Ross 0 - 1 Braun-Duin


Ross led things off in the second game with Blighted Agent. Braun-Duin tried to get rid of it with Lightning Bolt, but Ross was able to defend with Daze.


Blighted Agent started ticking up the poison count and Braun-Duin continued sculpting his hand with Brainstorm and fetch lands.


Braun-Duin tried to Pyroblast the Blighted Agent, but Vines of Vastwood protected it.


Despite being under pressure, Braun-Duin looked to be in solid control of the game. He exiled seven card from his graveyard to cast Treasure Cruise for one mana. Braun-Duin was able to find Swords to Plowshares to get Ross’s Blighted Agent off the table leaving Ross with very little in the way of pressure.


Ross cast Gitaxian Probe and Braun-Duin revealed a great hand including Electrickery.


“Knew you had that one,” deadpanned Ross with a Southern drawl.


Braun-Duin nodded, “Yea, you’ve been playing around it like a master.”


Ross continued pecking in for a single poison counter at a time with Inkmoth Nexus, but he always left open enough mana to interact.


The game dragged on, and Ross eventually had all four copies of Inkmoth Nexus, though he never dared to activate more than one and lose a counterwar against his friend.


Ross’s own Treasure Cruise met Flusterstorm, but Ross had precisely enough mana to pay for it.


Ross tapping out meant that Braun-Duin would have an opportunity to resolve and equip Umezawa’s Jitte, a powerhouse card in the matchup.


Soon, Umezawa’s Jitte was sporting four counters and Ross had his back against the wall.


He tried to hang on with Spellskite, but Braun-Duin’s Wear & Tear was good enough to get it off the table. With the Umezawa’s Jitte counters steadily increasing. Ross could see no route to victory.


Ross 0 - 2 Braun-Duin


Brian Braun-Duin is your Grand Prix New Jersey Champion!

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