Finals: Brian Kelly (Oath) vs. Robert Greene (Grixis Thieves)

Posted in Event Coverage on August 24, 2015

By Adam Styborski

Stybs has played Magic the world over, writing and drafting as part of the event coverage team and slinging Commander everywhere his decks will fit.

Robert Greene entered the finals of the 2015 Vintage Championship ready to prove he was worthy. Without a notable finish, such as a previous year’s Vintage Championship performance or another large Vintage tournament to call his own success before, it was finally his time to stand out and shine in the community.

It was clear that wouldn’t be easy.

Both Brian Kelly and Robert Greene wanted nothing more than to go home with the Vintage Championship’s greatest prizes.

Brian Kelly was a longtime Vintage player that had influenced the format. With an array of options at his disposal, Kelly settled on a unique twist of Oath of Druids to bring to arguably the most important Vintage tournament of the year. Surrounded and supported by friends that had declared midday he’d become the Vintage Champion, Kelly was in pace to make good on his followers’ called shot.

The Decks

“They say six drops are unplayable in Vintage. I’m playing Dragonlord Dromoka and you’re playing Consecrated Sphinx,” said Kelly.

Greene nodded. “To be fair, you’re cheating yours into play.”

Greene’s choice of deck, Grixis Thieves, gained some notoriety through its appearance on the Vintage Super League earlier this year, though its roots go deeper. Using Notion Thief and other angles to pressure opponents, the ability to set up undeniable card advantage through something like Jace, the Mind Sculptor and protect it was invaluable in Vintage.

It had certainly won games for Greene all day.

Kelly brought what, at a glace, appeared to be an Oath of Druids deck. Oath was the deck of last year’s Vintage Championship winner, and this year’s already-into-the-finals Oath player seemed just as prepared. With Dragonlord Dromoka, Griselbrand, and Sphinx of the Steel Wind to choose from, Kelly took an unusual approach of adding a different flavor of combo to the deck. Affectionately called “Bomberman” by the community, the triumvirate of Black Lotus, Pyrite Spellbomb and Auriok Salvagers could generate all of the mana needed to deal an arbitrary amount of damage.

Whether Greene could keep the pressure off both of Kelly’s fronts or not was the question left to be settled.

The Games

Leading off the first game, Gitaxian Probe from Kelly showed a hand full of Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Mox Ruby, and Time Walk that turned into a Mox Emerald and second turn Jace for Greene.

It was an impressive start to say the least.

Kelly went digging with Ponder as Greene went to work with fateseal from Jace: If he could build up to the ultimate ability that would be the end for Kelly. Sensei’s Divining Top helped Kelly look for the tools to get out from the impending Jace. They skirmished over Dack Fayden first (Kelly got to resolve it) before Greene tried to Snapcaster Mage (Kelly Force of Willed that away).

Robert Greene worked hard to keep the pace his opponent set.

Kelly dug down to find his own Jace, the Mind Sculptor to begin massaging his hand as well, so Oath of Druids into Griselbrand wasn’t far behind. Falling to 2 life, Kelly drew down into his deck off Griselbrand. Time Walk appeared, and Kelly defended it with Flusterstorm.

The extra turn was all Kelly needed to clinch the first game before Jace, the Mind Sculptor could unleash his full power.

The second game started as a slower affair: neither player had action in the early turns. Greene’s Force of Will against Kelly’s unprotected Oath of Druids was the first volley, then another war began over Greene’s Vampric Tutor. That time, Kelly won with Flusterstorm.

At the end of it all Greene’s hand was depleted. He had spent everything to try and force his way through the door.

After Greene emptied has hand out, Brian Kelly took a Gitaxian peek to see what was going on.

“How many cards?” Kelly asked

“One,” said Greene. “It’s a good one.”

Kelly played Gitaxian Probe to take a look, revealing Yawgmoth’s Will in Greene’s hand.

“I told you it was good!” Greene hadn’t lied, but ultimately it wouldn’t matter.

Dig Through Time was Kelly’s next course of action, and it revealed the two pieces he needed to win against Greene’s otherwise empty hand: Auriok Salvagers and Black Lotus to join the Pyrite Spellbomb already in play. It was a surprise for Kelly, but that’s what he had designed the deck to do.

Greene extended his hand.

The Bomberman hidden away behind the Oath of Druids threat claimed its last opponent of the weekend.

Brian Kelly defeated Robert Greene, 2-0, to win the 2015 Vintage Championship at Eternal Weekend!

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