It isn’t always the case that a local champion rises to the Grand Prix occasion. At Grand Prix Omaha, one player from Nebraska was close to completing the gauntlet: Erik Peters, with the powerful Birthing Pod deck in hand, had won the previous twelve matches – including two in the Top 8 – to earn his seat in the finals.
Across from him was Stephen Speck, another rising unknown that worked his way through the field and Top 8 to a finals seat. Playing one of the most interesting and surprising decks of the weekend, the Amulet of Vigor-Summer Bloom combo that powered out Primeval Titan, Hive Mind, and more in a single turn. It was exciting for many to see a relatively unknown combo perform so well, and it often baffled opponents caught unaware of it when they first played it throughout the weekend.
Speck was particularly proud to have done so well with it.
“I talked to Matthias Hunt before this event,” Speck said, referring to the deck’s most prominent advocate. “I made a lot of changes.”
The tweaks and changes paid off for Speck, propelling him all the way through the Swiss rounds and through the Top 8. He didn’t find total agreement with Hunt. “He said I should be worried about Memoricide and that I’d see it all weekend. I didn’t think so.” Speck said. He had indeed not found the powerful anti-combo spell in his march to the last table.
Would the upstart combo finally claim its place among the best decks, or would the reigning villain of the Modern format find yet another Grand Prix title? It was time to find out.
Peters began the first game after mulliganing to five. It was an inauspicious start for the player on the play. He used a Windbrisk Heath to find Overgrown Tomb, untapped, and cast Noble Hierarch. Speck had a first turn Serum Visions to dig deeper into his library.
“Well I have a Sage of Reclamation in hand so I’ll blow up one of your Amulets,” Peters said as he did so. He paid 2 more life again to transform his Sage into Siege Rhino, evening the life totals to 15-13 in Specks favor. Not shabby for a five-card start.
A third Amulet of Vigor came down, but Peters keep plodding along fine. Birds of Paradise became Scavenging Ooze as Speck drew nothing that would help him. Without any lands beyond his first two, Gavony Township and one more attach was enough for Speck to take it to the second game.
The second game was a stronger start for Speck, resolving Amulet of Vigor then Chalice of the Void for one. Abrupt Decay came out for Peters, but it was Amulet of Vigor that took the fall. That meant Speck’s own Chalice locked out part of his own combo. He did have Summer Bloom with Gruul Turf and Selesnya Sanctuary on the following turn, powering out Hive Mine the turn thereafter.
That was the critical mistake for the match.
“I was supposed to kill you there,” Speck said after realizing the Birthing Pod resovled.
“Thank you for not doing that,” Peters said. It was the last banter they would share.
Peters made his attack with Voice of Resurgence before converting it into Reclamation Sage to destroy Speck’s enchantment. Now out of options, Speck was forced to cast Simian Spirit Guide in its Gray Ogre mode for defense, but it was woefully undersized. Peters had Siege Rhino to easily overrun Speck’s meager resistance.
“You got it,” Speck said as he extended his hand. The Nebraskans following their horse hooted and clapped: They got their hometown hero.
Erik Peters defeated Stephen Speck, 2-0, and became champion of Grand Prix Omaha!