Coming on the heels of Pro Tour Magic 2015 last week, there was no doubt that there would some star-studded lineups at the Team Limited event that was Grand Prix Portland. And there was no bigger pairing than that of Owen Turtenwald, Reid Duke and William "Huey" Jensen, who entered the first weekend of the new Premier Play season ranked (respectively) 2-3-4 in the world.
In a field of teams with more than enough talent to make it into the Top 4, there was no team better equipped to go the distance than the trio of pros who have named their partnership the "Peach Garden Oath."
The field began with more than 600 teams, and now the three teammates were just one step away from standing atop them all. But to take the final step, Turtenwald, Jensen and Duke would need to defeat Eric Severson, Benjamin Weitz and Josiah Skallerup, three players who entered the tournament without any previous Top 8s but who had already advanced past several powerhouse teams, including Gaudenis Vidugiris, Matt Severa and No. 13 Ranked Player Sam Black in the Swiss rounds.
Duke vs. Skallerup
Skallerup sat down to the finals with an aggressive black-red deck that had the potential to outpace Duke's slower blue-black deck. That is, unless Duke found the perfect answer in Jorubai Murk Lurker, which he did in Game 1. Skallerup kept it from blocking thanks to Crippling Blight, but between the lifelink it could provide and the Indulgent Tormentor that soon followed he quickly found himself down a game.
Skallerup stumbled early on mana in the second game, and while a Generator Servant allowed him to power out a hasted Paragon of Fierce Defiance, it wasn't enough to overcome Reid's flow of creatures. That gave the pros a quick 1-0 lead over the challengers.
Jensen vs. Weitz
Playing blue-red, Jensen found himself sharing a color with both of his teammates, something certainly not ideal for a team draft. He had a powerful top end including Soul of New Phyrexia, but he was vulnerable to Weitz's stream of cheap creatures and tokens.
That was exactly what happened in Game 1, as Weitz was able to assemble an impressive board state before Jensen could land the six-mana bomb in his hand. When he finally did, an Oppressive Rays fetched up by a Heliod's Pilgrim slowed down the hall of famer long enough for Weitz to push through the final points of damage.
Game 2 played out much the same, only this time Jensen was able to populate his board before landing the Soul of New Phyrexia. That meant he was able to use Inferno Fist to prevent a Marked by Honor from resolving, though Weitz was able to land Avacyn, Guardian Angel. But not even Avacyn can prevent damage from the colorless Phyrexians, and when Amphin Pathmage turned the Soul unblockable it was off to Game 3.
In the decider, as soon as Jensen's Welkin Tern picked up a Rogue's Gloves it was clear that he would access to as many cards as he wanted. But no amount of cards in hand can prevent Paragon of New Dawns from pumping a horde of small white creatures, and the flood of those from Weitz earned him the victory.
Not that he could enjoy it for long. As soon as the match ended both players immediately diverted their attention to Turtenwald and Severson, who were locked in a tight Game 3.
Turtenwald vs. Severson
Game 2 saw Turtenwald stumble on mana and by the time he was able to find a second Forest to cast the Genesis Hydra in his hand he was down to 2 life, which Severson prompted erased with burn on the next turn.
That brought the Grand Prix down to a single game, and the players made sure it would be an exciting one. Early creatures traded off before setting up the deciding line of play for the tournament.
It started with Severson tapping out to cast a Caustic Tar, and with Turtenwald at 12 life it promised to end the game in several turns. The pro crashed back with his team, taking out a Black Cat and then dodging the worst of the card's potential when he discarded a six-drop he couldn't cast. Crucially, he was able to retain a Ranger's Guile, which he needed on the next turn to save his Charging Rhino from a Stab Wound.
That left the game up in the air, with Turtenwald's board presenting a faster clock than the Caustic Tar but open to any answer from Severson.
What came to Turtenwald's rescue was the most classic of Magic cards: a Grizzly Bears (or in this case, Runeclaw Bear). Turtenwald enchanted it with a Burning Anger to clear Severson's last creature, and when the top of his deck failed to yield an answer, team Peach Garden Oath earned the Grand Prix Portland title.
Owen Turtenwald/William Jensen/Reid Duke defeat Eric Severson/Benjamin Weitz/Josiah Skallerup 2-1