You know what they say: there is always a first time for everything. Your first Magic booster. Your first Friday Night Magic or Prerelease tournament. Your first premier event. Everybody starts out somewhere, but the ultimate dream is to end up on the grandest arena we've got to offer.
In David Schnayer's case, this is his first Pro Tour, and he managed to navigate through Day One with an impressive 7-1 record. It must be a great feeling to start out in Pod 1, until you arrive to the table and stare down against seven other grizzled veterans.
Owen Turtenwald, Brian Braun-Duin, Reid Duke, Luis Scott-Vargas, Yuuya Watanabe, Antonio Del Moral León, and Jacob Wilson. There's nothing that screams "Welcome to the Pro Tour" louder than starting out Day Two in one of the most intensely stacked pods. It feels surreal and wonderful, but also a little like getting off at the wrong bus stop.
As you can imagine, there was a lot of power struggle at the table. "Some people seemed to be really happy with their draft, and others not so much," quipped Turtenwald as he was shuffling up.
"Well, I'm one of those other guys," Schnayer replied. "My deck didn't seem to come together all that well."
Despite the apprehension, Schnayer's white-black deck was laden with thematic goodness, including a pair of Bruna, the Fading Lights (shipped by Brian Braun-Duin from his right and Yuuya Watanabe to his left), Thalia's Lancers, Courageous Outrider, and Thalia's Lieutenant. Schnayer's main concern was that, despite picking up a trio of Ironclad Slayers early, he didn't actually see many removal spells (preferably in the form of enchantments) roll by.
"It would have been sweet if I had some copies of Dead Weight, Boon of Emrakul, or Choking Restraints. As it is, I have very few cards to interact with my opponent and that could just be my downfall."
In his way was the seemingly unstoppable No. 2-ranked Owen Turtenwald. Finishing as the sole 8-0 yesterday, it looked like Turtenwald was poised for another run at the Top 8. Will Schnayer be able to overcome Turtenwald's white-blue deck?
Let's find out!
Winning the die roll, Turtenwald led with Moorland Drifter and Dawn Gryff. Schnayer offered Field Creeper and Crow of Dark Tidings as defense. After all, it was in his interests to prolong the game for his haymakers to make an impact.
The fliers traded in the air, reducing the number of obstructions for Turtenwald's Fiend Binder. Drag Under bounced an opposing Ironclad Slayer, and Field Creeper was tapped down, which allowed for an unimpeded attack.
Slightly behind on the board, Thalia's Lancers tried to hold the fort while tutoring up Bruna, the Fading Light. This was a play that was worthy of even Standard and Schnayer's later turns were pretty much set up. Stay alive, cast the Angel, smash face.
The looming threat of being outclassed in the late game forced Turtenwald to act quickly, so he turned Fiend Binder into a 5/4 potentially flying monster with the help of Lunarch Mantle. When Schnayer tried to recast Ironclad Slayer, it was met with the back-breaking tempo play of Spell Queller.
"That card's awesome, I guess I shouldn't have passed you that one!"
An ensuing attack brought Schnayer down to 1 life and Turtenwald unloaded Tattered Haunter and Desperate Sentry to overwhelm Schnayer, even if he was able to madness out Biting Rain to delay the inevitable.
In Game 2, Schnayer put up Skirsdag Supplicant to not only hold back Turtenwald's Selfless Cathar, but also use it as a madness outlet to summon a premature Twins of Maurer Estate. Sensing that his opponent had no further "low drops," Turtenwald flashed in Spell Queller on turn three to commence the beatdown.
When Turtenwald tried Drag Under on Skirsdag Supplicant, Schnayer responded with Biting Rain to kill Exultant Cultist and Selfless Cathar. Tattered Haunter was Turtenwald's replacement, but Schnayer's Geist of the Lonely Vigil was doing do a great job at holding both fliers back. Turtenwald decided the aerial roadblock had to go and dispatched it with Angelic Purge.
Now that playing defense wasn't an option anymore, Schnayer opted to race instead. Granting Skirsdag Cultist Hope against Hope, Schnayer attacked with it and Twins of Maurer Estate. However, Turtenwald undid the entire board with Just the Wind and Gone Missing to stay ahead. Lunarch Mantle shortened the clock, allowing Turtenwald to get to the finish line ahead of time.
Turtenwald 2 – Schnayer 0
David Schnayer falls to 7-2 while Owen Turtenwald pulls ahead. Now at 9-0, three more wins will most likely net him his fourth Pro Tour Top 8!