SEMIFINALS: IVAN FLOCH VS. OWEN TURTENWALD

Posted in PRO TOUR MAGIC 2015 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 3, 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

No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald is a titan of the current Magic scene. This former Player of the Year is competing in his second Pro Tour Top 8. Turtenwald is armed with a powerful White-Black Midrange deck that put both him and No. 20 Ranked Player William Jensen into the Top 8 of this Pro Tour.

His opponent, Ivan Floch, is a Pro Tour mainstay with over 160 lifetime Pro Points that's competing in his first Pro Tour Top 8. Floch is playing a dedicated White-Blue Control deck that wins a very long game by countering spells and wiping the board repeatedly before doing it all over again thanks to Sphinx's Revelation and Elixir of Immortality. Both players have secured their place as the national champion of their countries, the United States and Slovakia respectively, by making it this far in the final Pro Tour of the year.

Ivan Floch and No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald face off in a match between Sphinx's Revelations and Underworld Connections.

The Games

Ivan Floch was afforded the choice to play first because of his strong record in the swiss. Both players kept their opening hands. Owen Turtenwald's turn two Pack Rat was met with Last Breath from Floch and the subsequent Underworld Connections was countered by Dissolve.

Desecration Demon managed to stick and things looked good for Turtenwald when he was able to attack with it the following turn.

When Obzedat, Ghost Council came down there was a plot twist, though. Floch had Quicken and Supreme Verdict to clean things up. Floch countered the next Desecration Demon and refilled his hand with Divination. Turtenwald was able to resolve Thoughtseize to strip Floch of his Sphinx's Revelation. Floch still had Planar Cleansing in hand, though, and Turtenwald would need more threats if he intended to overcome the powerful board sweeper.

The game appeared to be a stalemate, but the presence of Sphinx's Revelation in Floch's deck gave him a decisive advantage, even if he didn't have one in hand yet. With a fistful of spells, Floch countered and destroyed every threat Turtenwald could present. Meanwhile, he had resolved multiple copies of Jace, Architect of Thought and used the minus two ability. Turtenwald tried to get back into the game with Underworld Connections, but Planar Cleansing was used to destroy the card drawing aura.

Floch's relentless sweepers are difficult to overcome.

Floch remained solidly in the lead as he continued countering spells and drawing cards. Turtenwald tried to get aggressive with Mutavault, but Sphinx's Revelation for nine reversed all of the work he had done while also perfecting Floch's hand. Turtenwald couldn't get a threat on the table and, with the writing on the wall, Turtenwald chose to pack it in and move on to a second game when Floch had another copy of Sphinx's Revelation.

Both players kept their opening hands for the second game. Turtenwald resolved Underworld Connections on his third turn, signaling that Floch didn't have a Syncopate in hand. Sin Collector came down and Floch revealed a hand of Supreme Verdict, two copies of Last Breath, and Planar Cleansing. Turtenwald stripped him of the Planar Cleansing as he drew an extra card with his Connections.

Last Breath got Sin Collector off the table, but Turtenwald would be drawing two cards a turn if Floch couldn't find an answer to Underworld Connections. The cards kept flowing and Turtenwald started playing threats. First came Desecration Demon. Floch had Supreme Verdict. Next was Pack Rat, and Floch didn't have an answer. In just one turn cycle, Turtenwald had three Pack Rats and two Mutavaults in play. Floch was unable to find and answer to Turtenwald's rodent army and he died over the course of the next two turns.

Turtenwald has been demonstrating the sheer power of Pack Rat for most of the season.

In the third game, both players kept their hands. Turtenwald started things off with a turn one Duress revealing Sphinx's Revelation, Jace, Architect of Thought, Divination, and three lands. Floch was forced to discard his Planeswalker.

Lifebane Zombie came down for Turtenwald on the third turn, giving him perfect information about Floch's hand following a Divination; Quicken and Planar Cleansing had been added to the mix.

Azorius Charm dealt with Lifebane Zombie on the following turn when it attacked, but it was instantly upgraded into a Desecration Demon. Unwilling to commit more to the board in the face of Planar Cleansing, Turtenwald just sent his Desecration Demon and Mutavault at Floch before passing the turn. Floch chose to use his Planar Cleansing to get Turtenwald's Demon off the table, but it gave Turtenwald the chance to resolve Underworld Connections and draw a card. With Sphinx's Revelation in hand, Floch looked to be in a pretty good spot with seven lands in play.

Turtenwald continued drawing cards with Underworld Connections and forced Floch to cast Dissolve if he wanted to protect his Sphinx's Revelation from a discard spell. Blood Baron of Vizkopa resolved, but when it attacked alongside a pair of Mutavaults on the follow turn, Floch had Quicken in conjunction with Supreme Verdict to clean up the board.

Then came Sphinx's Revelation for five. Turtenwald continued drawing extra cards with his Underworld connections and had a bit of pressure with Lifebane Zombie, but his opponent had just drawn five cards. Floch dealt with Underworld Connections and Lifebane Zombie in one fell swoop by drawing Planar Cleansing.

Turtenwald used the opportunity to resolve Elspeth, Sun's Champion, make tokens, and attack with his Mutavualt. Floch still had a healthy life total, but he needed an answer for Turtenwald's Planeswalker if he didn't want it to make short work of his life total. Jace, Architect of Thought came down and found quicken. Elspeth had gotten all the way up to seven loyalty, though, and Floch needed to find and answer badly. He dug as deep as he could. Cycling three Azorius Charms, he found Supreme Verdict and was able to survive when Turtenwald activated Elspeth's ultimate.

The Sphinx's Revelation for eleven on the following turn put him in a position that was seemingly unbeatable. Jace, Architect of Thought came down for the Slovakian and started to go up in loyalty. Turtenwald couldn't get a threat to stick on the table for the remainder of the game and conceded when it was apparent that Floch had an unbeatable hand.

Ivan Floch defeats Owen Turtenwald 2-1 and advances to the Final!

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