Round 4 Feature Match: Neuschwander, Chien, Henry vs. Sperling, (21) Rietzl, Williams

Posted in Event Coverage on February 1, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

In 2012, San Jose was host to one of the most celebrated Grand Prix at the time: It was the first team-based Grand Prix in years. There, the seeds of several long-running teams were sown. One that remains through to this Team Limited return to San Jose is Matt Sperling, No. 21-ranked Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Paul Rietzl, and David Williams.

History buffs will recall that this was also the team that won Grand Prix San Jose in 2012.

The pro points, prizes, and prestige of winning a second Team Limited event is more then enough for the trio to try, but for others the playing in comraderie for Pro Tour qualification is the draw. Justin Neuschwander, Athur Shien, and Cameron Henry joined the San Jose fry for just that.

Who better than friends at your side to take on the Magic world?

The Decks

Each side had divvied their pool apart in similar ways.


From left to right, Justin Neuschwander, Arthur Chien, and Cameron Henry.”


Paul Rietzl  (left) and David Williams (center) drew looks of concern from Matt Sperling (right) at times.

The Games

In the first seat, Sperling roared to an early start with Jeskai Windscout and a morph, using removal to push damage through Neuschwander's early plays. Typhoid Rats and Ainok Bond-Kin held the ground for Neuschwander, but Sperling expanded his air force further with Lotus Path Djinn. With a little more removal to back it up Sperling took the first game.

Abzan Acendancy was Neuschwander's early play in the second game, but Sperling's Supplant Form to bounce and copy Archfiend of Depravity tipped the scales back the other way. By the time Neuschwander got rid of the Demon copy and replayed his own, Sperling's Become Immense was enough to slam home lethal damage.

The first match point went to team Sperling-Willaims-Retzl.

In the third seat during the their first game, Rietzl's deck was filled with ways to create tokens and his array of Sprits and Warriors were pressuring Henry. Crippling Chills and Will of the Naga bought Henry some time, but Ponyback Brigade took Rietzl's team even wider. Henry couldn't hold it all back. Their second game was a “kept two lands in hand but never saw another until it was too late” story for Rietzl, who at one point had to begin discarding a card to end his turns. Tied up heading into their third game, Rietzl leaned on Sperling for support on what to bring in from his sideboard.

But the real story of this match was in the center seat.

For the first game Chien had an even faster start than Sperling's, amassing an early army of prowess and overrunning Williams before he could do much to resist. The second game was better for Williams who used morphs to pull ahead as Chien drew too many lands. Pyrotechnics turned into a one-for-one when Williams turned Sidisi's Pet face up, and that in turn made Kin-Tree Invocation better on the next turn better.

But Chien had some moxy. Williams played Tasigur, the Golden Fang nd Chien played Friendly Fire right back. He found the Murderous Cut (between Palace Siege, Reach of Shadows, and Necropolis Fiend which all would have done the same) he needed to slay the young khan. Williams simply followed up with Necropolis Fiend and he began to take over. Chien tried to swam over Williams with an all-out attack, but Reach of Shadows and Fiend blunted it.

It left Chien without any creatures to Williams' impressive army. “I have one out,” Chien said before drawing for his turn. “Drawing land is not it.”

They moved to a third game and Williams played aggressively. After Chien missed his third land drop Williams played Rakshasa's Secret to eat into Chien's hand. However, William's himself ran out of land drops after three as Chien caught up. Whisperer of the Wilds, Forest, and Palace Siege put Williams back in command again, and Hooting Mandrills with Kin-Tree Invocation put an exclamation on it.

Palace Siege was set to Khans, ensuring the longer the game went the more creatures he'd keep in play.

However, Chien fired out his removal despite the self-replenishing army attacking. Pyrotechnics finally killed the array of deathouch creatures Williams had assembled to temporarily open a less painful path on the ground. Williams played and attacked with his Necropolis Fiend, however the combination of Kill Shot and Feat of Resistance turned a profitable attack into losing his Fiend, Mandrills, and a Reach of Shadows.

It looked good but Chien wasn't out of danger.

Palace Siege's work was in full effect as multiple Typhoid Rats returned to the battlefield and Williams took command once again. Abomination of Gudul and Gurmag Angler finally broke through Chien's remaining forces. Before the Rietzl-Henry showdown could finish, Chien extended his hand.

“That card is really good,” Sperling said, pointing to Palace Siege.

“Yeah,” Williams agreed. “You can block. You can beat down. You can get them back. Raise Dead is gross.”

It wasn't even the only match in the feature area that showed off the power of Palace Siege.

“Raise Dead” raised Sperling, Williams, and Rietzl to a 4-0 record. The one time San Jose champions were doing their part to make it happen again.

Justin Neuschwander - Abzan

Arthur Chien – White-Red

Cameron Henry - Temur

Matt Sperling - Temur

David Williams - Sultai

Paul Rietzl - Mardu

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