Quarterfinals: (2) Owen Turtenwald (Temur Emerge) vs. Yuta Takahashi (Bant Company)

Posted in PRO TOUR ELDRITCH MOON on August 7, 2016

By Chapman Sim

When Emrakul, the Promised End was previewed, it was largely received with fanfare—mostly because we only saw Kozilek's and Ulamog's resurfacing in the previous block, leaving everyone wondering when the "trinity" would be complete. While there were nagging suspicions about whether a thirteen-cost card might see heavy play in Standard, a select group of visionaries had already confirmed that prospect's feasibility.

"So, I heard Jon Finkel asked you to play Emrakul," Takahashi inquired.

"Yea, he said it was broken." Turtenwald was a Finkel believer—and quite honestly it would be foolish not to be. Once The Pantheon found the correct shell to house it, they never looked back.

"In your deck, it goes as cheap as seven mana?"

"No, six. If I manage to get my only Chandra, Flamecaller in the graveyard."

Managing the timing of this key card was of immense importance, so both players mutually agreed upon using a die to indicate the number of card types in the graveyard. For the newly crowned Player of the Year, he had no problem with that number ticking up. On the other hand, Takahashi would desire the opposite.

Bant Company was the boogeyman of Standard even before Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, but various tools have "emerged" to keep the dominant archetype in check. Perhaps the most significant improvement, which makes Kozilek's Return better than before, was the ability to trigger it from the graveyard with a bunch of Eldrazi that you don't actually pay seven-plus mana for.

Having said that, Takahashi maintains that the matchup was still pretty good because Bant Company still had access to tempo plays backed with countermagic as disruption. Spell Queller, another of Eldritch Moon's hot cards, stopping enablers such as Grapple with the Past, Vessel of Nascency, and Gather the Pack will also slow down Turtenwald's strategy.

The Games

Owing to Takahashi's higher Swiss standing, he wisely chose to be on the play. However, after dealing himself "such a bad hand," he shipped back his seven for a more acceptable six.

The first confrontation between the duo occurred when Turtenwald tried Vessel of Nascency on his second turn. Takahashi wasted no time springing out Spell Queller, munching it up. Stuck on two lands, Turtenwald's next move was Gather the Pack, even if it was unable to net him any lands.

Capitalizing on Turtenwald's plight, Tireless Tracker was Takahashi's next threat, investigating his way into three Clues and cashing in all of them. Staring down at a 6/5 and a 2/3, Turtenwald was still unable to acquire a third land. Takahashi mercilessly took Game 1.

Owen Turtenwald struggled to find lands in Game 1.

Takahashi reached for his sideboard in preparation for Game 2, before remembering that new rules were in effect. Ever since Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, players would play best-of-five matches, but sideboarding was allowed only from Game 3 onward.

With that, both players presented their main decks and got ready for Game 2.

Turtenwald's Gnarlwood Dryad threatened to become a 3/3, provided that Gather the Pack could enable delirium. It didn't, so Takahashi fell to 19 before putting up Duskwatch Recruiter. Nissa's Pilgrimage and Pilgrim's Eye ensured that Turtenwald would not be plagued by mana issues, but it was Takahashi's turn to stumble on land drops.

Thankfully, he had Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to get him out of the fix, eventually drawing a third land. Despite his best efforts to assemble any form of pressure, Takahashi was unable to do so and had a lot of catching up to do. As Turtenwald approached seven mana (with five card types in the graveyard), Emrakul, the Promised End was ominous. When the titan appeared right on cue, Ojutai's Command countered it—but Turtenwald could still try to demolish Takahashi's position.

A pair of Tireless Trackers in Takahashi's hand could do no harm, and neither could Sylvan Advocate or Reflector Mage. All Turtenwald did was force Jace, Vryn's Prodigy to attack into Gnarlwood Dryad before passing back the turn. Takahashi dropped Tireless Tracker and Reflector Mage, so Turtenwald thought it was a great time to pull the trigger on Elder Deep-Fiend, "flashing back" Kozilek's Return.

Thereafter, Chandra, Flamecaller allowed Turtenwald to exchange Nissa's Pilgrimage for two new cards, and he was happy to keep both Elder Deep-Fiend and Gnarlwood Dryad on defense. Along with the new card from the next draw step, he was able to swap out three cards in his hand for a fresh four, receiving a second copy of Emrakul, the Promised End!

Turtenwald sent in all of Takahashi's creatures on a suicide mission, and then bounced Emrakul, the Promised End with Reflector Mage for a third helping! That was simply too much to handle, and both players moved on to the sideboarded games, tied at one apiece.

Finally given access to their sideboards, both Turtenwald and Takahashi both hoped to take control of the match.

In Game 3, Takahashi kicked off with with Duskwatch Recruiter (quickly transforming into Krallenhorde Howler). Corrupted Grafstone, Nissa's Pilgrimage and Gnarlwood Dryad was an excellent start and Turtenwald also used Kozilek's Return to kill Tireless Tracker before Takahashi could sacrifice Clues to bolster it.

Despite very quickly arriving at seven mana, Emrakul, the Promised End was still a few turns away due to a relatively empty graveyard. Gather the Pack hoped to change things, and it succeeded. Turtenwald found the Eldrazi he wanted, while increasing the number of card types in his graveyard to five. Ishkanah, Grafwidow provided the defense Turtenwald needed to take over the third game with yet another game-winning Emrakul, the Promised End.

But wait, Takahashi was ready with Summary Dismissal, not only exiling Emrakul, the Promised End but also deftly dodging the Mindslaver trigger!

Turtenwald baited out Spell Queller with Gnarlwood Dryad, in order to successfully resolve Vessel of Nascency. The enchantment gifted him a second copy of Emrakul, which in combination with Kozilek's Return erased Takahashi's troops. However, Takahashi had another counterspell ready, this time Ojutai's Command. That doesn't stop Emrakul's trigger though, so Turtenwald burnt Collected Company to "help" Takahashi scry 6 while killing Jace, Unbound Telepath with a -3 activation.

Just as Turtenwald was running out of gas, he immediately topdecked Grapple with the Past, prompting everyone around the table to burst into hearty chuckle, including Takahashi himself.

"Nice! Are you going to cast Emrakul a third time?"

Well, Turtenwald did.

However, this time round, its trigger might as well be Spy Network, since all Takahashi had was a couple of lands in his hand. After Emrakul's influence, Takahashi fired off Collected Company to bounce Emrakul with Reflector Mage, and attacked with his entire team to reduce Turtenwald down to 6 life.

If Turtenwald failed to draw a relevant spell, Takahashi would take down this drawn-out Game 3. Well, Elder Deep-Fiend was the exact card Turtenwald needed, buying him just enough breathing room to cast Emrakul, the Promised End for the fourth time.

Four cast triggers from Emrakul, the Promised End took their toll on Yuta Takahashi.

"Well, that's a first. I've never needed that many before. Takahashi played really well to survive it all," Turtenwald mused.

The score was now 2-1 in Turtenwald's favor and Takahashi needed to win the two remaining games to advance. He wasted no time recruiting Sylvan Advocate and Reflector Mage to commence the beatdown, while Turtenwald Grappled with the Past and accelerated with Corrupted Grafstone.

Tireless Tracker joined Takahashi's army, prompting Turtenwald to call in Pilgrim's Eye and Gnarlwood Dryad for defense. That put a minor dent in Takahashi's plan, so he utilized a second copy of Reflector Mage to bounce the "deathtouch guy." Declining to block with Pilgrim's Eye, Turtenwald went down to 6 life, an indication that an emerge card was on its way.

Unfortunately for Takahashi, Wretched Gryff's appearance (in combination with Kozilek's Return from the graveyard) reduced Takahashi's overwhelming force to nothing.

With the game spiraling out of control extremely quickly, the subsequent trio of delirious Gnarlwood Dryads indicated that the doors were closing for the Japanese player. On the next turn, Emrakul, the Promised End signaled the end of Takahashi's run at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. Despite that, he should be content with his newfound Platinum status, and he wished Turtenwald good luck in the upcoming matches.

Owen Turtenwald defeats Yuta Takahashi 3–1 to advance to the semifinals.

As Takahashi offered the congratulatory handshake, he had one final question before stepping away from the Sunday stage.

"You haven't won a Pro Tour yet, right?

"Yes that's right."


Turtenwald was looking to change that.

Owen Turtenwald's Temur Emerge

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Yuta Takahashi's Bant Company

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