Semifinals: Wyatt Darby vs. Owen Turtenwald

Posted in Event Coverage on June 3, 2018

By Tobi Henke

This was the first Top 8 for Wyatt Darby at a major event. The same wasn't quite true for his opponent, but rather the opposite. So far, fourteenth-ranked Owen Turtenwald of Ultimate Guard Pro Team had reached the playoffs at 24 Grand Prix, one World Championship, and five Pro Tours once you include this one.

While the two players from the United States shuffled up for their match, they exchanged a lot of stories and friendly banter. One talking point was how, in the quarterfinals, Thomas Hendriks had exiled two of Darby's Hazoret the Fervent with his one Hour of Glory. "I still don't know how I won that," said Darby, while Turtenwald wondered, "How am I going to top that!"

I didn't want to go there, but these two forced my hand when they talked about how this would be spun into a tale of David versus Goliath. They agreed that it was a good story. "But wait, Goliath loses!" Turtenwald cried out in mock horror. "I don't like that at all. And wasn't the point of the story that Goliath was big and dumb?"

Cliché David and Goliath jokes aside, both Wyatt Darby and No. 14 Owen Turtenwald had put in some serious performance this weekend and weren't read to settle for an end in the semifinals.

So much for the fun part. On the business end, Red-Black Aggro player Turtenwald casually asked for Darby's take on the matchup. "Do you feel you're generally at an advantage in the red mirror?"

"Not necessarily," Darby replied, not giving away too much. "But I feel a lot of the small differences are kind of positive. Hazoret's still a great card."

The Games

For a while it looked as if Turtenwald actually had a fine draw, with an early Heart of Kiran and Scrapheap Scrounger. He even managed to kill the opposing Rekindling Phoenix for good when he cast Goblin Chainwhirler after attacking with Heart of Kiran.

But after missing land drops on turns four, five, and six, Darby's Hazoret the Fervent put Turtenwald on the spot. A total of three Scrapheap Scrounger didn't help, and attacks plus a couple of burn spells wrapped things up.

"Good game," said Turtenwald with barely a hint of disappointment in his voice.

Darby led with Kari Zev, Skyship Raider on turn two, whereas Turtenwald made his first play, Goblin Chainwhirler, on three. Darby had a Chainwhirler to match.

This time, Turtenwald went straight to four mana. He cast Chandra, Torch of Defiance and used it to kill the menacing Skyship Raider, leaving two Chainwhirlers staring each other down. Turtenwald hoped for a standoff. He couldn't expect his shaky defense to hold up though, and it didn't. Abrade took down his 3/3 and Darby also summoned Earthshaker Khenra, killing Chandra and taking Turtenwald to 15.

Turtenwald spared no minute of preparation as he sought to make the most of his fifth Pro Tour Top 8.

Turtenwald's next play of Pia Nalaar met Shock and the Thopter couldn't block either as Darby had another Earthshaker Khenra. Turtenwald fell to 8 life. On his turn, he made another Chandra and shot down Goblin Chainwhirler.

Darby decided to ignore the planeswalker. He pointed Lightning Strike at Turtenwald's single blocker and attacked with everything: the pair of Khenras and the Soul-Scar Mage Darby had cast the turn before took Turtenwald to 2. Post-combat Darby played the last card from his hand: a fifth Mountain.

Turtenwald went to exile the top card of his library with Chandra and found the perfect spell: Goblin Chainwhirler, which killed both Earthshaker Khenras!

Alas, it was for naught. Darby ripped a sixth Mountain from the top of his library the old fashion way, eternalized one of his Khenras, and swung for the win.

Sideboards got involved for the third game, and this meant that things didn't go as quickly as before. There was a lot of back and forth, more than should be listed in its entirety. One of the most curious occurrences was that both players cast Hazoret the Fervent when they still had several cards in hand afterward.

As expected, Darby was the first to empty his hand, but Turtenwald followed suit soon enough. He also landed a Glorybringer and a Chandra, Torch of Defiance. While the Gods made ground combat impossible, the 4/4 flier, along with the activated abilities of Chandra and Hazoret clinched victory for Turtenwald.

"Is it too late to make this best-of-three?" Darby joked.

For the first time this match, Darby got to have the first turn. He wasn't able to capitalize on it though, at least not right away. His Earthshaker Khenra was killed with Chandra's Defeat and his Goblin Chainwhirler met Lightning Strike. His Hazoret stuck around, but it was also stuck unable to attack.

Things looked to be going well for Turtenwald. He had Chandra, Torch of Defiance on turn four and Glorybringer on five.

Darby wasn't about to let the gauntlet of Pro Tour veterans that he had to face in the Top 8 stop him from a trophy.

Things took a sudden turn, however, when Darby drew his fifth Mountain, cast Glorybringer himself—enabling Hazoret to attack in the process—and crashed in for 9.

Turtenwald made a grim face. "This ... puts me at 8."

He had used his Chandra to kill Kari Zev the turn before, so Darby's Glorybringer was safe. Chandra exiled the top card of the library instead, but there was nothing useful there.

With how things stood on the battlefield at this point, things weren't over yet. However, when Darby drew his sixth Mountain and eternalized Earthshaker Khenra, they were.

Goliath had fallen. Turtenwald wasn't happy about it but was a good sport nevertheless. He gave his congrats to Darby and wished him good luck for the final match.

Wyatt Darby defeated Owen Turtenwald 3-1 and advanced to the finals!

Wyatt Darby—Mono-Red Aggro

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Owen Turtenwald—Red-Black Aggro

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