Finals: Rose-Cowley-Cowley vs. Murray-Visco-Liao
Kyle Rose is the biggest name in the Richmond Team Sealed Open finals, with 4 Pro Tour top 8s, a win at Pro Tour London in 1999, a Team Grand Prix win, a Team Worlds win, a US National Championship and more. His teammates Bruce and Steven Cowley are fellow old school players, well versed in team drafting. But Matthew Murray, David Visco, and Albert Liao are not intimidated by their experience. Can they pull off the upset?
Kyle started off against Albert in the C-seat, while Bruce battled Matthew in the A. David and Steve faced off in between. This best-of-nine match would be the first to five wins, with the players shifting down seats after all three of the first round’s matches have been played. As they had the higher seed, the team of Murray-Visco-Liao had the option to play or draw in all of their matches.
Left to right: Bruce Cowley, Steven Cowley, Kyle Rose
Bruce and Matthew faced off in a U/B mirror match in the A, while Albert’s Mono-Red splashing very lightly for green took on Kyle Rose’s U/W defensive deck. In between, Steve’s G/B Midrange faced down the W/G aggro deck piloted by Steven.
Steve was able to flood the board with creatures, and the prospect of an enormous Blood Bairn combined with David’s mana flood and ineffective creatures (Wall of Swords doesn’t match up well against Deadly Recluse or Blood Bairn) was enough tobe able to put away the first game.
Steven 1, David 0.
Albert’s early Regathian Firecats and Dragon Hatchlings were no match for Kyle’s trio of Celestial Flares, which he used to great effect to take down the high power animals and turn the game in his favor with a pair of Charging Griffins. Barrage of Expendables plus Molten Birth put Kyle under a bit of strain, but he was nonetheless able to pull out the victory thanks to Pay No Heed turning off the Barrage during the key turn, and emerged from a tough situation.
Kyle 1, Albert 0.
Bruce was able to assemble The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (Festering Newt, Bogbrew Witch, and Bubbling Cauldron) in short order and used it to take advantage of his match. Matthew was forced on the back foot early, which meant tapping low for Nightwing Shade for defense… which not only died in combat, but resulted in Mind Rot taking both Grim Return and Mark of the Vampire. But that was about it from Bruce, who got extremely flooded over the next couple turns to fall behind Matthew’s Deathgaze Cockatrice and assorted chips in here and there. A trio of Archaeomancers were on Matthew’s board doing dirty work in the red zone as well, but Nephalia Seakite suddenly became the biggest thing on the board to slow the game back down.
But here’s even more of the Witch’s Brew combo for you: Elixir of Immortality allowed Bruce to shuffle back in the pieces of his engine and reuse the two Festering Newt. With all of the incidental damage already accrued, aand with the Elixir of Immortality presenting itself yet again near the top of Bruce’s library, Matthew saw the writing on the wall and scooped.
Bruce 1, Matthew 0.
Steven and David began Game 2, with Steven’s start of Elvish Mystic accelerating him into four creatures by turn three. David had Rootwalla and Brindle Boar for early defense though, so only Deadly Recluse could swing freely. Indestructability on Rootwalla was not unwelcome though for the Selesnya player, and Steven had to slow down and figure out how to remove the suddenly impenetrable lizard on the opposite side of the board… Well, Megantic Sliver (with Predatory Sliver on the board already), backed up by Sporemound & Sons, LLC, were once more what the doctor ordered and he used them to great effect. David was unable to keep up, and quickly succumbed to the onslaught.
Steven 2, David 0.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 1, Murray-Visco-Liao 0.
Left to right: Albert Liao, David Visco, Matthew Murray
A pair of Blur Slivers and Academy Raider provided the early offense this game for Albert, and Kyle had to fend off the offending red army with Charging Griffin and Wall of Swords. But Primeval Bounty threatened to take over in short order, creating 3/3 Beast after 3/3 Beast and adding much appreciated life points and +1/+1 counters over the course of the next few turn. With a worse mana situation (three lands behind), a worse board presence, and facing the incremental advantage engine combined to be too great of a hill to climb, and Kyle prepared for Game 3 rather than continue.
Kyle 1, Albert 1.
Bruce was able to land and keep Bogbrew Witch in play in his Game 2, immediately cashing in on the hag’s penchant for gross things and assembling Voltron (or Newt-tron? Eh? Good one, right?) once more. Matthew’s air force of two Trained Condors and Scroll Thief looked significantly less impressive with the Festering Goblins-turned-Phyrexian Plaguelords facing him down. Liturgy of Blood took out the Ophidian and also allowed Bogbrew Witch to locate Festering Newt numero dos, with a mana still available to knock off a Condor. This time Elixir of Immortality didn’t even need to show up, as Matthew quickly scooped up his cards.
Bruce 2, Matthew 0.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 2, Murray-Visco-Liao 0.
Albert was behind the eight-ball, but up to the challenge as he quickly brought his team once closer. Kyle’s early defense of Angelic Wall and Celestial Flare were usually good enough to keep Albert at bay, but Molten Birth created a total of six tokens this game made those measures less than effective. A few short turns later, unable to find Charging Griffin, Griffin Sentinel, or any way to knock off an attacking 1/1 Kyle surrendered to the forces of fire.
Albert 2, Kyle 1.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 2, Murray-Visco-Liao 1.
One third of the total matches now completed, the players shifted: Matthew’s U/B control now faced Kyle’s U/W, Albert’s Mono-Red faced down the G/B monster piloted by Steven, and David’s G/W Aggro faced the Bogbrew Control deck Bruce had going in the third match.
Kyle put up a wall against Matthew… actually, it was three Walls, two Angelic and one of Swords, and also Griffin Sentinel added to the defensive bonanza. Deathgaze Cockatrice is a good way to combat that though, as is Doom Blade taking out Wall of Swords (oh, the irony!) and Water Servant. Mark of the Vampire turned the Deathgaze Cockatrice into a crazy threat though, and Kyle died to the beastly 4/4.
Matthew 1, Kyle 0.
Back to Channel Witchman, Bruce had to mulligan to six on the draw in his match, but David’s draw was less than impressive. Four Forests and only a Rootwalla on the first four turns don’t look so good when you have Bogbrew Witch on turn four, and once again the cycle of Newts got underway. Howl of the Nightpack for six 2/2s brought him back into the game though, so it looks like another long haul…. Until Devout Invocation added a bajillion 4/4s to the board in addition to the army of 2/2s. A Newt sacrifice and a 2-for-1 Mind Rot don’t look so hot in comparison, so despite his pretty decent board position Bruce died to a mass of tokens.
David 1, Bruce 0.
Regathian Firecat, Molten Birth (only for two creatures) and Striking Sliver were the offensive creatures this time for Albert, who used Chandra’s Outrage to knock off Sporemound before it could gain any advantage. But Albert was not able to capitalize quick enough, as the green creatures came out to play for Steven: Predatory Sliver, Blood Bairn, another Sporemound, Groundshaker Sliver, every turn another threat that Albert’s small quick creatures can’t really deal with. Even Primeval Bounty couldn’t save him this time, as the mythic enchantment came down too late to be effective. Eventually, Steven built up enough of an advantage that he felt comfortable beginning to attack and a few turns later that was that.
Steven 1, Albert 0.
Matthew 1, Kyle 1.
David played a turn two Voracious Wurm as a simple Bear Cub to get things going, while Bruce had Bubbling Cauldron into Quag Sickness on David’s turn three Advocate of the Beast. Rumbling Baloth kept up the pressure, and Bruce had to take a bunch of damage after he simply tapped out for Bogbrew Witch on turn four. That Witch keeps showing up! Mind Rot emptied David’s hand, hoping to stymie his development and force him to merely put Bruce to 4, which happened and a Newt came down at end of turn. The engine ground David to a halt, and slowly but surely Bruce dug in his heels and made headway. Corrupt for six eliminated a freshly played Dawnstrike Paladin, and tons of damage from a follow-up Nightwing Shade finished off David.
David 1, Bruce 1.
The finals of #SCGRICH!
Turn three Rumbling Baloth, thanks to Elvish Mystic, certainly didn’t hurt against the early Molten Birth Albert presented, but Chandra’s Outrage was able to easily dispatch of the 4/4. Albert made a veritable plethora of 1/1 Elementals with Molten Birth and then threw a strike with Pitchburn Devils, but Steven’s never ending stream of 2/2s with good relevant abilities continued to frustrate the Red Mage…. Until Seismic Stomp rendered the ground assault on Steven’s board useless, and Albert was able to steal one from Steven.
Steven 1, Albert 1.
Kyle and Matthew had a defensive battle, with Scroll Thief from Matthew as the first play and Sensory Deprivation and Charging Griffin turn five being Kyle’s first action. Mid-combat Disperse on the Deprivation was met by Quicken into Time Ebb. Matthew had the follow-up play of Accursed Spirit and passed. Charging Griffin and Accursed Spirit traded three damage at a time, Doom Blade killing one Griffin only to be replaced the next turn by another and Accursed Spirit getting Frost Breath (along with Deathgaze Cockatrice) for a pair of turns. The going was indeed slow, but they soldiered on, until Nightwing Shade from Matthew threatened to turn the game entirely in his favor. Kyle couldn’t slow Matthew sufficiently, and when Archaeomancer brought back Doom Blade to knock off Kyle’s lone two-power flier the game ended shortly thereafter.
Matthew 2, Kyle 1.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 2, Murray-Visco-Liao 2.
Bruce and David began their game with a relatively quick start and early action, with turn two plays of Voracious Wurm and Child of Night. Divination refilled Bruce’s hand, while stuck without white mana for the first few turns David simply passed. But guess who showed up turn four? Bogbrew Witch! Facing no pressure, Bruce used his engine to assume total control early and held it throughout the game, despite David’s steady stream of creatures (and impressive 8/8 Voracious Wurm, thanks to Verdant Haven into Brindle Boar sac), and took the match.
Bruce 2, David 1.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 3, Murray-Visco-Liao 2.
Steven and Albert has a match similar to their first two affairs, with lots of early creatures and two-power-for-three-mana trades. Academy Raider provided a different angle of attack for Albert, until Sliver Construct and Syphon Sliver teamed up to put an end to those plans. Eventually, both players had the mana they needed and a steady stream of spells (Albert even had his green splash available), which is exactly where Steven wants to be in this matchup. Trollhide found its way onto Syphon Sliver, and teamed up with Groundshaker Sliver to deal some serious damage (and gain some serious life in the process). Blocks were bad all around, inspite of Pitchburn Devils being able to knock out the Construct, and Albert untapped at 10 life with only Academy Raider and Striking Sliver facing down Steven’s 24 life and Trollhided Sliver and friends. Four damage a turn was too much for the red-green deck to deal with, and Albert conceded the match.
Steven 2, Albert 1.
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 4, Murray-Visco-Liao 2.
The teams are fighting for more than just pride!
Despite the disadvantage of being the lower seed, the team of Kyle Rose and the Cowleys only needed one win out of the remaining three matches to become Team Sealed Open champions. Albert, David, and Matthew had their work cut out for them, needing to sweep the remaining three matches. This round, Albert’s little red men would face off against the Bogbrew menace, Kyle’s U/W Skies would take on David’s G/W Aggro, and Matthew’s U/B with the powerful end game would take on Steven’s G/B… with a powerful end game.
Steven came out swinging… sort of, with Deadly Recluse on turn two. Syphon Sliver is a much more potent threat, and came down for the third turn. Matthew only had four Islands for his first several turns, while Steven continued to flood the board, adding Giant Spider. He was forced to just play Archaeomancer as a chump blocker, and when you’re plan is to chump block with a four-mana ½ your days are numbered. Steven won game one in short order.
Steven 1, Matthew 0.
Kyle led with a mulligan, but his first game of the last set went slightly better. Despite assembling Rumbling Behemoth and Advocate of the Beast, Celestial Flare took care of the now 6/6 Beast. In fact, over the course of the game Kyle cast four Celestial Flares (three plus one more thanks to Archaeomancer) and David added one as well, removing Kyle’s Water Servant in a combat step. Kyle finally ran David out of threats, and even Devout Invocation for two 4/4 Angels wasn’t enough since Air Servant came out to party for Kyle’s team. The Angels represented lethal of course, so Kyle had to maneuver his way into a win, but was able to do so in the way that Pro Tour champions so often do. A few damage here and there from Kyle’s Trained Condor teaching Scroll Thief how to fly finished the game.
Kyle 1, David 0.
Regathian Firecat and Blue Sliver proved a potent combo for Albert, quickly attacking for six, while Bruce’s first play, Blightcaster, hoped to hold the fort. Chandra’s Outrage threw a wrench in those plans though, so the follow-up Liturgy of Blood had to do double duty. He used the bonus mana to add Gnawing Zombie to the board. The early pressure allowed Primeval Bounty to enter the battlefield, which helped Albert turn early turn aggression into late game inevitability. Diabolic Tutor for Sensory Deprivation made Pitchburn Devils less of a threat, but the green enchantment was too strong in the long run, and Albert won a long game.
Albert 1, Bruce 0.
Steven had an early combo with Blood Bairn and Tenacious Dead, but the Bairn died to Quag Sickness sooner than it could go off. Megantic Sliver also met an early end before it could enter the red zone in a Liturgy of Blood. All the while, Matthew’s air force of Messenger Drake and Trained Condor dealt big chunks of damage, and Steven couldn’t keep up, dropping the second game.
Steven 1, Matthew 1.
Bruce kept a sketchy one-lander, hoping to find lands on top of his deck, and as a result of not being successful in finding them fell behind too quickly to Albert’s aggressive start of Molten Birth, Academy Raider, and friends. Albert finished off Bruce in a Barrage of Expendables-fueled fire.
Albert 2, Bruce 0.
Step One complete! Two more to go…
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 4, Murray-Visco-Liao 3.
David assembled Advocate of the Beast and Rumbling Behemoth, but Kyle had the Disperse to stave off the assault until he could find the second Plains for Celestial Flare to put an early end to those shenanigans. Kyle miscalculated his match a bit, forgetting that Brindle Boar would set his two-turn clock back a turn and would therefore have to withstand another attack from David. Luckily for the PT champ, he found another chump blocker on top of his deck to fall to 3 and then, the following turn, all the way to 1 life. David tried to finish off Kyle with a lethal Giant Growth, but as the last spell of the match was Negate from Kyle he survived! His assembled air strike team of Air Servant and Messenger Drake did the final dirty work, and Kyle took the match!
Rose-Cowley-Cowley 5, Murray-Visco-Liao 3.
Bruce Cowley, Steven Cowley, and Kyle Rose are your StarCityGames.com Richmond Team Sealed Open champions!