Quarterfinals: Paul Dean (Abzan) vs. (5) Owen Turtenwald (Dark Jeskai)

Posted in PRO TOUR BATTLE FOR ZENDIKAR on October 18, 2015

By Corbin Hosler

Paul Dean has experienced the full range of emotions this weekend. After an incredible run through the first fifteen rounds, he found himself in a position to simply draw the last round and secure a Top 8 berth for himself and his opponent.

The only problem?

The player he was paired against in the last round wouldn't be drawing. That would be eighth-ranked player Owen Turtenwald, who was already locked for the Top 8 and opted to play the last round to give teammate Reid Duke a shot at the Top 8 if both players won. As it turned out, Turtenwald won but Duke didn't, so the last few spots in the Top 8 were up for grabs as Saturday drew to a close.

A tense Top 8 announcement followed, and Dean—who had resigned himself to a finish outside the Top 8—was shocked when he heard his name.

Déjà vu, anyone?

Owen Turtenwald dispatched Paul Dean in Round 16 of the Pro Tour to give his teammate a shot at the Top 8. However, Dean squeaked in, and now he had a change to turn the tides.

The Decks

Turtenwald was battling with the tournament's most ubiquitous deck choice in Dark Jeskai. Unlike many of the other competitors in the field, Turtenwald's team had a nice piece of tech that they felt significantly improved the deck: Kolaghan's Command. The dangerous instant had already made its mark in Modern, and now it was in the Top 8 of a Standard event as well.

Dean armed himself with Abzan, harnessing the power of Siege Rhino while also being able to take a more aggressive route thanks to Warden of the First Tree. The quintessential midrange value deck could take a fast or slow path to victory in games depending on what the situation called. Still, it was generally considered an underdog to Turtenwald's deck, which was well-prepared to deal with Siege Rhinos.

The Games

Both players began the game on six cards, but while Turtenwald set up his mana with a pair of Mystic Monastery, Dean got out of the gates quickly with a Warden of the First Tree and then a Hangarback Walker.

Coming off a finals finish at the 2015 World Championship, Turtenwald has already begun his early lead towards a seat in next year's tournament.

Turtenwald finally got on the board in turn 3 with Mantis Rider, and began to take 3 point chunks out of Dean's life total. After trading damage for several turns, Dean was forced to burn Murderous Cut on the Mantis, while Turtenwald responded by using Crackling Doom to remove a Warden of the First Tree. But with no second creature and a growing Hangarback Walker on Dean's side, the American found himself backed up against the wall.

Unfortunately for Turtenwald, that wall crumbled when Gideon, Ally of Zendikar appeared, and one draw step later, they moved on to the second game.

Dean was all smiles on being in the Top 8, and he's even got a shot at evening the record against his Round 16 opponent.

Turtenwald had a two-drop this time, deploying Soulfire Grand Master to match up against another Warden of the First Tree. But while Dean had Anafenza, the Foremost to add to his board, Turtenwald was forced to play Nomad Outpost tapped, missing his third mana when it was most critical. A huge attack from Dean dropped Turtenwald to a scant 6 life in the lightning-fast span of two turns, and a follow-up Wingmate Roc meant Turtenwald had no chance to climb back in the game.

Wishing Dean luck in the semifinals, Turtenwald offered the handshake.

Paul Dean defeats Owen Turtenwald 2-0 and advances to the semifinals!

Paul Dean's Abzan - Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar

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Owen Turtenwald's Dark Jeskai - Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar

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