Round 6: (15) Reid Duke (Red-Green Delirium Ramp) vs. (2) Owen Turtenwald (Temur Emerge)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 5, 2016

By Chapman Sim

At the pinnacle of premier play, it is unsurprising to find two players of such towering stature converged under the bright lights of the featured match area. Both players are currently at 5-0 and would need to defeat the other if they wish to maintain their undefeated streak. Out of sportsmanship and respect for one another, the two friends decided to exchange decks for a quick review and echoed the sentiment of "may the best man win." Despite the well-natured exchange of pleasantries, we should not forget how much was at stake for each of these esteemed players.

Hall of Fame-elect Owen Turtenwald still has his eyes on the titles of Player of the Year and the US National Champion.

No. 2-ranked Owen Turtenwald was definitely glad to have been elected into the Hall of Fame this weekend, but his conquest for excellence never stops. Although he has already locked up Platinum status as well as his seat at the World Championship as the Mid-Season Master, he has one more goal in mind. No. 1-ranked Seth Manfield was 13 Pro Points ahead, and Turtenwald was hungry to cause the upset for the title of Player of the Year as well as National Champion. For that to happen, Turtenwald would realistically need a Top 8 finish, while Manfield has to fall flat on his face.

No. 15 Reid Duke was sitting at 51 Pro Points prior to this weekend, and is a tenured Platinum pro himself. However, circumstances are slightly different because he hasn't confirmed his spot on the World Championships yet. Duke would need an above-average performance here in Sydney to bump up his Pro Point total in a bid to get closer. Alternatively, he could rely on performing exceedingly well in Standard because he was also a contender for Constructed Master.

Both decks bore similarities to each other in the sense that they sought to end the game with Emrakul, the Promised End, one of the most exciting "build-around" cards to come out of Eldritch Moon. Not only do Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency help reduce the titan's cost, they also assist in finding the game-winning threat more consistently.

The main difference was that Duke's Red-Green Delirium Ramp deck focused on playing (a few) more mana accelerants and the "traditional" creature package of World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger. Land destruction promises to be key in this matchup, and Traverse the Ulvenwald offered more ways to reach for it. On the other hand, Turtenwald's Temur Emerge deck has mana disruption of another form. A "splash" of blue for Elder Deep-Fiend not only offered temporary entanglement, but playing "overcosted" Eldrazi at a reduced price also enabled him to take advantage of Kozilek's Return more effectively.

The Games

Duke rolled a 9 only to have Turtenwald beat it with a 10. In this race to Emrakul, winning the right to play first seemed to be of great importance.

Turtenwald kicked off with Grapple with the Past, revealing Vessel of Nascency, Chandra, Flamecaller, and Emrakul, the Promised End. Nissa's Pilgrimage was cast next, and if you're doing the math back home, that represents both delirium and a nine-drop Emrakul on the horizon.

Not to be outdone, Duke filled his graveyard with Grapple with the Past and Vessel of Nascency before dropping a pair of Hedron Crawlers. With both players up to around six mana, the next two turns would be extremely crucial.

Turtenwald presented a Vessel of Nascency of his own and flipped over other relevant cards, which brought him up to seven different card types in his graveyard. Suddenly, Emrakul, the Promised End looked like a real bargain at six mana! This backbreaking play also triggered Kozilek's Return from the yard, wiping out Duke's side of the board. On the next turn, Turtenwald masterfully sealed Game 1 by shutting down any possibility of recovery by tapping down sufficient mana sources with a timely Elder Deep-Fiend. Duke was a little too late, and found himself down one game.

After some extensive sideboarding and some mulligans (one on Turtenwald's side and two on Duke's), they set foot on yet another race.

Duke led with Vessel of Nascency but missed his second land drop. Turtenwald cast Gather the Pack and opted to take nothing because he felt that Pilgrim's Eye and Game Trail were better left in the graveyard. Grapple with the Past then found Turtenwald Emrakul, the Promised End, which cost eight mana at the moment. He was no more than three turns away from dropping the tentaculated bomb.

Despite these unfavorable developments, Duke was able to recover when he found Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. Nissa's Pilgrimage and Hedron Archive put him back in the game. Just two turns away from his impending doom, Duke was able to accumulate sufficient mana for World Breaker and Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger!

Duke's plan of keeping Turtenwald from ever arriving at eight mana materialized, and they were tied at one apiece.

In the Game 3, Duke had to mulligan again. Interestingly, this match was all about Shaman of Forgotten Ways.

Turtenwald found a copy via Grapple with the Past, also divulging that he had sideboarded in Summary Dismissal as a clean solution for opposing Eldrazi and their accompanying triggers. When the Human Shaman hit play, Duke used Gather the Pack to fill his graveyard for spell mastery before killing it with Fiery Impulse. Since Duke also achieved delirium in the meantime, he was able Traverse the Ulvenwald to find his very own Shaman of Forgotten Ways.

However, things started to go downhill for Duke, because Elder Deep-Fiend really feels like a Time Walk in this matchup. Turtenwald dropped the Eldrazi Octopus before untapping and sinking into the tank, possibly wondering what he would do with Duke's Emrakul should he also have a copy. In addition, Duke also had Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger as a trump. Despite having the upper hand, he needed to tread carefully. Once he had it all figured out, Turtenwald pulled the trigger and proceeded to take control of Duke's turn.

Reid Duke could do nothing to resist once Emrakul had taken his mind.

He was presented with ten mana, Emrakul, the Promised End, Hedron Archive, Traverse the Ulvenwald, and Vessel of Nascency. Turtenwald's first move was to pop Traverse the Ulvenwald for World Breaker and cast it to exile Duke's own Shrine of the Forsaken Gods. He also forced Shaman of Forgotten Ways to attack, eating it up with Emrakul.

After the deadly "Mindslaver," Duke drew his card for the turn and pondered if he had any chance to win. He could chump with World Breaker and go down to 2 life, and hope to survive to resolve Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger.

However, that line of play never saw the light of day because Turtenwald was ready with a second copy of Emrakul, the Promised End. Now that World Breaker was in the graveyard, Turtenwald was able to force Duke to sacrifice a land to return it to his hand, a maneuver that was effective in securing the game and match.

Duke 1 – Turtenwald 2

Emrakul, the Promised End does promise to end things. With this defeat, Reid Duke slips to 5-1, while Owen Turtenwald continues his ascension to the top.

Reid Duke's Red-Green Delirium Ramp

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Owen Turtenwald's Temur Emerge

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