Posted in PRO TOUR MAGIC 2015 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 2, 2014

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Owen Turtenwald is a titan of the current scene. Currently the No. 5-ranked player in the world, Turtenwald has fifteen Grand Prix Top 8s and a Pro Tour Top 8 already. Turtenwald is armed with a tremendously powerful White-Black deck. Black Devotion has long been considered the best deck in Standard. Caves of Koilos, an exciting land reprint in Magic 2015, makes the white-black version of the deck more consistent than it once was. Consistency issues removed, White-Black Midrange has become the weapon of choice for ChannelFireball's Pantheon team. Turtenwald has already established his platinum status for next year, but a strong finish this weekend would secure him a spot at the World Championship.

His opponent, Martin Juza, has suffered an unusually rough year, especially considering how consistently strong he's been in the past. Juza has a staggering eighteen Grand Prix Top 8s and two Pro Tour Top 8s to boot. He's been in the top 10 for the Player of the Year race five times in the last ten years. Juza brought an interesting aggressive Green/-White Aggro deck to war this weekend. Aggressive green-white strategies had fallen out of favor, despite being very powerful, because of a very weak match-up against Blue Devotion. This weekend, Juza and his teammates made the assumption that Blue Devotion wouldn't be very popular. They were right. The Blue Devotion deck is less than 10% of the field and Green-White Aggro seems like it could be a great choice.

While No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald is looking to lock in a World Championship seat, Martin Juza is fighting for Pro Player Club status.

The Games

Turtenwald won the roll and both players kept their opening hands. Turtenwald had a turn two Pack Rat to get things started in the first game. Voice of Resurgence, one of the best cards against Black Devotion strategies, came down. Juza's Voice of Resurgence got in for damage and was joined by a Fleecemane Lion, but Turtenwald was un-phased by the goings-on from the other end of the table and decisively went all-in on his Pack Rat, making a token on Juza's end step and another during combat to go with his Mutavault activation. Banishing Light dealt with one of the Rat tokens, but there were more where that came from and another Mutavault from Turtenwald was enough to put Juza down to 2 life.

No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald is not unaccustomed to the power of a second-turn Pack Rat.

One more attack was all it took. Pack Rat and a pair of Mutavaults were enough to win the first game all by themselves.

Both players were not pleased with their starting seven in the second game, but six cards proved to be slightly better. Juza's Ajani, Caller of the Pride was the first play of the game. Turtenwald continued passing with a ton of cards in hand and three lands in play. Juza couldn't find a second green mana for Advent of the Wurm, but he found Voice of Resurgence and started to make it grow with his Planeswalker.

Turtenwald used the opportunity to cast Lifebane Zombie, exiling Loxodon Smiter from the game. Banishing Light and Soldier of the Pantheon came down for Juza and Turtenwald, still on three lands, suddenly seemed very behind on the board, but his hand size told a different story.

Juza's Green-White Aggro deck is capable of producing some sizable threats.

From there, however, everything was coming up Owen. Turtenwald found Banishing Light to remove the 4/4 Voice of Resurgence from the game. Juza's Ajani, Caller of the Pride got all the way up to nine counters before the ultimate was activated. Juza did his best cat impression for a turn, but Turtenwald's Bile Blight was good enough to deal with the feline army. Blood Baron of Vizkopa let Turtenwald favorably block the pair of Loxodon Smiter that Juza had deployed. Next came Elspeth, but another Banishing Light from Juza allowed him to deal with Planeswalker.

Turtenwald had pulled too far ahead, though, and Juza could no longer find a route to victory in the face of Desecration Demon, Blood Baron of Vizkopa, and a fistful of cards.

Juza 0 – (5) Turtenwald 2