Semifinals: (2) Owen Turtenwald (Temur Emerge) vs. (5) Luis Scott-Vargas (Bant Company)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 7, 2016

By Ray “blisterguy” Walkinshaw

No. 5-ranked Luis Scott-Vargas has already basically locked up a spot at the World Championships with his third Pro Tour Top 8 in a row, but could also have made a run at the Player of the Year race if No. 2-ranked Owen Turtenwald had only managed to 12-4 this weekend. Given Turtenwald was now seated across from him in the Top 4, that was pretty much out of the question.

Now a lock for Player of the Year, Turtenwald has also overtaken No.1-ranked Seth Manfield for the US captaincy at the World Magic Cup. Oh, and it was announced at the start of the weekend that Turtenwald has been voted into the Hall of Fame, so you could say everything's coming up Turtenwald!

Before the game began, Scott-Vargas signed one of his pro player tokens and passed it to Owen, who pocketed it with a laugh.

"I'm going to report you to social services for not playing Naya," Turtenwald joked as they shuffled. Scott-Vargas recently became a father and named his daughter "Naya", but he'd elected to play Bant Company this weekend. Turtenwald was playing a Temur Emerge that would dominate the late game if given the chance. Scott-Vargas would be aiming to attack early and keep Turtenwald on the back foot with his disruptive creatures.


Owen Turtenwald was joking about calling Social Services everybody, settle down.

The Games

Scott-Vargas led with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy and a Tireless Tracker, while Turtenwald played two Grapple with the Pasts to smooth out his draws. A land gave Scott-Vargas a Clue and he immediately spent it to send his Tracker in for 4 before playing a Selfless Spirit. Turtenwald played Nissa's Pilgrimage before taking 6 from Scott-Vargas to fall to 10. Scott-Vargas passed back the turn with five lands open and waiting.

After considering his options, Turtenwald played Ishkanah, Grafwidow, complete with younglings. Scott-Vargas seemed happy for that to happen, and it soon became clear why. At the end of Turtenwald's turn, Scott-Vargas flashed Archangel Avacyn into play, and then sacrificed his Selfless Spirit to trigger Avacyn.

Scott-Vargas untapped and transformed Avacyn. With her damage trigger on the stack, he then played Dromoka's Command to put a +1/+1 counter on his 4/3 Tireless Tracker and let Avacyn fight Ishkanah. By the time Avacyn's trigger had resolved, Turtenwald had no creatures in play and was on 7 life facing 11 power of creatures from Scott-Vargas.

Scott-Vargas began Game 2 with a Spell Queller on a Gnarlwood Dryad, while Turtenwald powered out an Elder Deep-Fiend with Pilgrim's Eye. Both players traded blows for a few turns until Turtenwald played Emrakul, the Promised End.

"This is probably not going to go great for me," noted Scott-Vargas, laying his hand on the table.

Turtenwald looked over his options with a furrowed brow. In hand, Scott-Vargas had Plains, Collected Company, and Archangel Avacyn.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy drew and discarded a second Collected Company, which transformed him into Jace, Telepath Unbound. Jace then cast Dromoka's Command from the graveyard, putting a +1/+1 counter on Turtenwald's Gnarlwood Dryad and letting it eat one of Scott-Vargas' creatures. Two more creatures attacked headlong into the much larger monsters on Turtenwald's side of the board, and Turtenwald rounded out the turn by making Scott-Vargas play the remaining Collected Company but find nothing, despite there being several creatures in the top six cards.

"I bet I could have done a better job of that turn," Scott-Vargas laughed as he drew his card for the turn, and then scooped them all up.


Luis Scott-Vargas can see the funny side of Emrakul, the Promised End.

Now armed with their sideboards, Scott-Vargas held the board early, playing more creatures as quickly as Turtenwald could remove them. When Turtenwald tried to make a Corrupted Grafstone, Scott-Vargas was waiting with a Spell Queller. When he tried to summon a Pilgrim's Eye, Scott-Vargas was there again with an Ojutai's Command, returning his Sylvan Advocate to play. Between that and a Tireless Tracker, Scott-Vargas soon had Turtenwald down to 6 life. When his next card couldn't save him, Turtenwald moved them on to Game 4.

Turtenwald mulliganed but still landed a Wretched Gryff on turn four off of a Pilgrim's Eye, and followed it with Ishkanah, Grafwidow. Scott-Vargas tried to mount an offensive, but soon found himself having to fend off an Elder Deep-Fiend with a Clash of Wills and a dwindling life total. Just when Scott-Vargas thought he had finally stemmed the bleeding, Turtenwald landed an Emrakul, the Promised End, triggering a Kozilek's Return from his graveyard to wipe the board clean of anything not made of 13/13.

"It wouldn't be appropriate not to have a fifth game," said Turtenwald.

"Good luck, Owen."

"Yeah, you too."

Scott-Vargas played a Selfless Spirit, but missed his third land drop while Turtenwald played out a pair of Gnarlwood Dryads, bulking them up quickly with Grapple with the Past. When Scott-Vargas found land number three, he played a Tireless Tracker and tried to push it in front of one of the Dryads and protect it with his Spirit, only to be blown out by Turtenwald's Kozilek's Return.

Scott-Vargas rallied behind a Reflector Mage but was already down to 10 life. Turtenwald attacked Scott-Vargas to 7 and upgraded his Dryad to a Wretched Gryff. Scott-Vargas played a Tireless Tracker, a fifth land and a Sylvan Advocate, but it was already looking too late. Turtenwald attacked Scott-Vargas to 4 and replayed his other Dryad, passing the turn with five mana open.

"Upkeep?" Scott-Vargas asked.

"No effects."

Scott-Vargas sighed. He sacrificed a Clue token, and played a Selfless Spirit alongside his Tireless Tracker and Sylvan Advocate and passed the turn without a sixth land. Turtenwald attacked Scott-Vargas to 1 and played Ishkanah, Grafwidow and brood. Scott-Vargas drew and played Reflector Mage on the Wretched Gryff, and while his creatures now outnumbered Turtenwald's, he was definitely not in a position to attack and could only pass the turn back to Turtenwald.

Turtenwald replayed his Wretched Gryff, and a turn later he flashed Elder Deep-Fiend into play and cleared a path for him to take the match.


Luis Scott-Vargas congratulates Owen Turtenwald on making the finals of Pro Tour Eldritch Moon.

Owen Turtenwald defeats Luis Scott-Vargas 3–2 and advances to the Pro Tour finals.


Owen Turtenwald's Temur Emerge

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Luis Scott-Vargas's Bant Company

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