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.
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.
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
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.
“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 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!