Round 11: Reid Duke vs. Brad Nelson
This weekend began with 1258 players. Today began with 156 players. Now, at the beginning of round 11, only three players remain with unscathed 10-0 records… and all three are true giants of the game: Reid Duke, Brad Nelson, and Matt Costa.
Two of those players had to play this round, and it’s only fitting that the MTGO juggernauts Fffreak and ReiderRabbit would enter the arena together for a live tournament battle. Reid arrived in the feature match area first and was already shuffling up by the time Brad arrived.
“So how’s your weekend going?”
At a combined 20-0 so far, I’d say the Team SCG teammates were doing okay.
Reid Duke surveys the board.
The high roll resulted in Reid earning the right to choose whether to play or draw (“uh oh, that’s not good”) and he elected to take the play. Things were looking even better for The Duke after he decided to keep and his opponent took a mulligan. Once Brad kept they boys led off with some comes-onto-the-battlefield-tapped lands. Reid played Farseek, as is Jund’s custom, while Brad used his turn two to get things going with Voice of Resurgence. Vampire Nighthawk was Reid’s response play.
“Maindeck?!” Indeed! The Nighthawk has been doing well for Reid so far this weekend, with all of the Aristocrats and aggro decks abounding in Miami.
Skirsdag High Priest from Brad was not joined by any third land, and after Reid swung in with Nighthawk to Blind Hunter Brad for a few points of life big Garruk joined the fray. Garruk, Primal Hunter created a 3/3 Beast (not a Brad token, unfortunately) before Reid passed back. Brad attacked with Voice of Resurgence, and Reid blocked to prevent Garruk from taking damage. The Elemental token and the subsequent follow-up Voice allowed the Demon factory to get going, and the Junk Aristocrats player was finally cooking with gas.
Tragic Slip pair with Putrefy to take down Skirsdag High Priest and Demon token for Reid, and Garruk continued to steam ahead in Beast mode. Brad took more damage from the Beast, and his response of the front half of Lingering Souls wasn’t terribly impressive. Elemental token traded with Nighthawk though, so at least Reid stopped gaining life. One of Reid’s Beasts was doubled by Voice and Spirit, meaning life totals sat at 20-8. Rakdos’s Return for four dropped Brad to 4 and also took out all of the cards in Brad’s grip. Not looking good for the Aristocratsman!
Brad added a bunch of Spirits with the back halfs of two Lingering Souls (discarding one to Return). Reid attacked for three, and Brad elected to take it. Huntmaster of the Fells also joined the party, and staring down a lethal Huntmaster flip Brad elected to end the game and move to sideboards.
Reid 1, Brad 0.
Now down a game and with his back against the wall, Brad went into ‘game mode.’ He may be happy-go-lucky almost all of the time, but when the situation calls for it Brad becomes one of the most intimidating presences in professional Magic. The 2010 Player of the Year still can flip the switch and become one of the most feared players in the game. Fortunately for his Platinum-level opponent, Reid practices regularly with another of the game’s most intimidating figures in William Jensen, so he isn’t thrown off by the powerful in-game presence.
Brad was able to keep this time, and Young Wolf on turn two (thanks to the buddy-land draw) was the first play of the match. Pillar of Flame took down the Wolf for good though, so Brad’s follow up Voice of Resurgence looked better… that is, until Pillar number two took out both halfs of that creature as well. But Garruk Relentless turn four was not what Reid wanted to see at all, and being stuck on three lands spelled even worse news for the Jund pilot. Brad kept going with Blood Artist followed by Cartel Aristocrat. Meanwhile, Brad’s 2/2 factory kept pumping out Wolves and Reid continued to be hampered on mana.
Brad Nelson ponders his lines of play.
In swung six power from Brad, followed by Varolz, the Scar Striped and yet another Wolf. Huntmaster of the Fells stemmed a bit of the bleeding, but Garruk fended off the Huntmaster and Garruk transformed into his own Werewolf-y side. A fivesome of 2/2s came into the red zone for the Junk Aristocrats mage, and after Reid fell to 3 Cartel Aristocrat and Blood Artist combined to take care of the rest of Reid’s life total.
Reid 1, Brad 1.
“I really enjoy this matchup. When the good games happen, they’re so good.”
“The problem is, we haven’t had any of those really good games yet!”
Reid’s double Pillar draw was a good start, but he needed to find his fourth land long before he did in order to make it a real game. Hopefully we will see some fireworks in this last one!
Reid snap-kept, while Brad labored over his decision to keep for a while before deciding to also keep. Turn two Farseek was the first play of the game, but Brad’s turn two play of tapped Godless Shrine was less than spectacular. Reid played land four and kept up all of his mana, while Brad played a third black-white dual and Doomed Traveler. His opponent hampered on green mana, but with no action himself, Doomed Traveler went to work. Brad found his green mana and used it to resolve Garruk Relentless, making a Wolf in the process.
Reid had all the answers… but none of the threats! Bonfire of the Damned for one and Pillar of Flame took out Traveler and Garruk, but left Wolf and Spirit to continue unimpeded at Reid’s life total. Reid fell to 16 and Voice came to party as well, but Huntmaster of the Fells of the top was a welcome sight to get back some of that lost life and board presence. Brad added a second Voice of Resurgence a turn later. Wolf blocked Wolf on Brad’s attack step, and Reid fell to 13. Brad’s post-combat Tragic Slip on Huntmaster was only the appetizer, as big daddy Obzedat, Ghost Council also came into play for team Junk (and then disappeared at end of turn).
Reid resolved another Huntmaster on his turn, still stuck on four lands of his own. Big Poppa ‘Dat came back from exile, and in came the team: two Voice, Spirit, and Spirit Advisor. Reid fell to 6 after Wolf blocked, and the Ghost Dad once more blinked into semi-existence at end of turn. Ravager of the Fells came to party thanks to no spells being cast in the previous turn, but the two life and the Voice turning into a 3/3 Elemental was less than ideal. He grappled with his next decision, understanding that he was in a difficult spot and had to play perfectly to get out from under his current predicament. Tragic Slip took out the Elemental token, a second Slip took down Spirit, and on Brad’s upkeep Huntmaster flipped back to daytime… but Obzedat came back to party as well.
Voice of Resurgence and Obzedat continued their onslaught. Wolf chumped the 5/5, and Reid fell back to 4. Brad played out yet another land (he was flooded a bit at this point), so Ravager of the Fells once more killed off a Voice. The 1/1 it created was less scary this time, and it looked as though Reid might be able to recover… assuming Brad could blank for a few more turns. Thragtusk finally joined the battle, but Obzedat did not care too much for that and continued to drain and gain every turn until Reid finally succumbed. With life at 24-7, it was still far from over… but Brad once more whiffed on spells and simply blinked out his Obzedat, Ghost Council at end of turn.
The feature match area is bustling for this heavyweight matchup!
Ravager went on the offense finally, chipping away at Brad and starting the long road back from the brink Reid found himself on. Brad could only do the ObzeDance at end of turn again. Reid resolved Curse of Death’s Hold to rid the board of Voice token and Thragtusk also swung now too. Farseek as the second spell of the turn meant Huntmaster flipped back to gain some much needed life. It was now neck and neck, with life totals at 15-5 currently in favor of Brad, but with board position squarely in Reid’s favor.
Huntmaster and Wolf swung, with Thragtusk remaining on defense. Ravager trigger, and Obzedat trigger, put life at 5-11. Doomed Traveler and Spirit died immediately to Curse, but the Morbid allowed Tragic Slip to take out the Huntmaster before it could do any more damage. Wolf attacked to drop Reid to 1 and Brad went up to 11.
Brad extended his hand, cringing, hoping to avoid a whammy topdeck…
And Reid drew…
Wow! That allowed Reid to attack for lethal, facing down the lethal Obzedat trigger on his next turn. What a finish!
Reid 2, Brad 1.
The friends wished each other luck going forward, as Reid would face the last remaining undefeated player Matt Costa in the next round while Brad would collect his first loss of the weekend.
“I hope to see you again in the top 8.”
“Same. Good luck, buddy.”