Two players sat down in the feature match area for the last match of the tournament, both relatively new to the scene. Sitting there was only one trophy that said 'Pro Tour Champion', and along with that trophy, the winner would also be receiving a sizable check, Platinum Pro status which would ensure travel and qualification for the next six Pro Tours at the very least, and a World Championship invitation.
There was a lot on the line, and both players weren't willing to settle for second place.
Justin Cohen is a native of Madison, Wisconsin competing in his first Pro Tour. After winning one of the most exciting semifinal matches ever, Cohen has quickly become a crowd favorite. Cohen's housemate is Platinum Pro and twelfth-ranked Samuel Black, and the two put in countless hours of testing for this event. If Cohen were to emerge victorious from this match, he would be one of the few players to ever win their inaugural Pro Tour, a feat only previously achieved by the most talented and handsome of Magic players.
Cohen is playing Amulet Bloom, a staggeringly complex concoction that's capable of second-turn wins and tremendously complex victories in the long game with proper Primeval Titan navigation.
His opponent, Antonio Del Moral León, is competing in his fourth Pro Tour and this is his first time making it to the elimination rounds. Del Moral León play-tests Magic constantly throughout the day and night. Magic is a labor of love for Del Moral León and victory here would validate all of the hard work he's put into the game. Del Moral León is known by his countrymen as a master of Splinter Twin and it's no surprise to see him piloting the powerful combo strategy this weekend.
Both Justin Cohen and Antonio Del Moral León, one newcomer and the other relatively fresh on the Pro Tour scene, put a lot of time and effort into this event. Now, one of these players was just one match from the ultimate payoff for their work.
The two players sat quietly as they waited for the finals to begin. There was a tangible tension in the air. The players were taking deep breaths as their hearts pumped fast.
Cohen had two copies of Amulet of Vigor on the battlefield by the second turn and threatened to make an absurd amount of mana. Simic Growth Chamber was untapped twice and some of the mana was used for Summer Bloom. It resolved. Boros Garrison came next and Cohen would have the potential to make a whopping fifteen mana on his third turn.
Del Moral León went deep in the tank with Boros Garrison's trigger on the stack and he eventually decided to cast Vendilion Clique to prevent himself from potentially dying on the spot. Del Moral thought about taking either Pact of Negation or Ancient Stirrings, but eventually allowed Cohen to keep his hand.
Cohen demonstrates why his deck is fearsome.
Pestermite attempted to tap down Primeval Titan at the beginning of Cohen's next combat step, but Pact of Negation tried to play defense. Del Moral León had Dispel, however, and it looked like the game would end in the blink of an eye if Del Moral León found Splinter Twin on the top of his deck.
It wasn't there, and despite having the removal needed to dispense of one Titan, a slew of mana-making plays fueled by Azusa, Lost but Seeking and another Summoner's Pact ensured that Primeval Titan #2 would seal the deal.
The two remained silent as they shuffled up for the second game. Cohen was visibly frustrated with himself about missing a few Amulet triggers in the first game, and Del Moral León, who came in looking quite confident, was terrified by the monstrosity of a deck on the other side of the table.
Del Moral León had Deceiver Exarch on his end step and threatened to win the game on the spot. On the following turn, Del Moral León played Blood Moon, essentially locking Cohen out of any reasonable line for victory.
Cohen went down to five cards to start the third game while Del Moral León kept his opener.
Leon looks at how his cards can trip up his opponent's combo.
Del Moral León continued attacking and passing the turn. Cohen resolved Ancient Stirrings and found another copy of Simic Growth Chamber. Del Moral León used Snapcaster Mage to flash back Peek, but he was still unable to find the necessary Splinter Twin for victory.
Cohen cast Summer Bloom and started playing and bouncing lands, and he made enough mana to cast Hive Mind. Remand halted that action, but Cohen had another copy of Summer Bloom. With four more lands to play for the turn, Cohen used three bounce-lands to create six mana, and he attempted to cast Hive Mind again, Del Moral León had Negate, Cohen fired back with Pact of Negation, and Del Moral León used Dispel as the trump in the counter-war.
On the next tun, Cohen used Summoner's Pact to find Primeval Titan, but the big giant got halted by Remand. Del Moral León then used the opportunity to cast Blood Moon, making it so Cohen couldn't pay for his pact, and suddenly the Spaniard was just one game away from the trophy.
His back against the wall, Cohen seeks any way to gain the upper hand before his tournament life is cut short in the final stretch.
Simic Growth Chamber came down to reset a Gemstone Mine that had already been tapped twice for mana, but the bounce-land was punished when Del Moral León used Pestermite to tap it down during his upkeep.
This set the pace for how the game would ultimately end.
The second Deciever Exarch came down, again tapping Simic Growth Chamber during Cohen's upkeep.
Del Moral León then disrupted Cohen with Vendilion Clique and was now presenting lethal damage over the course of the next two turns.
Cohen did all he could, casting Summer Bloom to play a hand full of land for a potential top-deck.
Del Moral León sent in his team, presenting lethal on the following turn. Cohen found nothing waiting on top, and with a handshake offered, the match was over. Del Moral León had done it!
Congratulations to Antonio Del Moral León, Pro Tour Fate Reforged champion!