It's been a heck of a weekend for Tsuyoshi Fujita. The well-known Japanese player and Grand Prix Kyoto Champion took a U/B deck of his own design and smashed his way into the Top 8. He was the first Japanese player to do so, and soon found himself opposite Zvi Mowshowitz in the finals.
Mowshowitz is a respected deckbuilder from New York who recently made Top 8 at Pro Tour Chicago. He is playing his team's creation, a U/W creature/control deck designed specifically to punish decks running red. Fujita's deck shares this distinction, eschewing many cards that other U/B players considered automatic. It was interesting to see such heavily metagamed decks square off against each other.
Many pros considered Fujita the heavy favorite. However, Mowshowitz's team disagreed with the common perception.
Mowshowitz mulliganed in Game 1, keeping a one-land hand. He stalled at two. While he pretended to play, Fujita summoned an army of three Ravenous Rats. Mowshowitz took their savage beats, kept off his paces by a Recoil on his Coastal Tower. When Mowshowitz played Galina's Knight, Fujita Repulsed to knock him to five.
But Mowshowitz had gained ground. With five land in play he was able to drop a pro-black Voice of All and a Stormscape Apprentice. Fujita held back. Mowshowitz tried to replay the Knight, walking into Fujita's Undermine and falling to two. He played another.Tsuyoshi Fujita
Fujita played a main-phase Fact or Fiction, looking for the tools to finish Mowshowitz. The cards were Urborg Shambler, Exclude and three Islands. He got the Shambler, but didn't have the mana to get it into play. Mowshowitz preempted this threat with a second pro-black Voice. He attacked with his Knight. Fujita double-blocked, killing it.
He untapped and played Yawgmoth's Agenda. This gave him access to an Undermine that could kill Mowshowitz, but also meant that he couldn't respond to an Absorb. Mowshowitz played Fact or Fiction on his own turn, revealing Exclude, Repulse and three land. Surprisingly, he chose to split the Exclude from the other four cards, fearing the Exclude's ability to prevent him from getting a threat on the table.
Mowshowitz was happy to take the bigger pile. It gave him the ability get to the point where he'd be able to play a spell and protect it with Absorb. Commentator Randy Buehler was particularly surprised that he didn't split the cards into lands and spells. If he took the spells he wouldn't be able to use them without dying.
Now Mowshowitz was on the offensive. His Apprentice locked Fujita's Rats while his angels hit for four in the air. On his next main phase, Fujita Repulsed the Voice of All. This meant that Mowshowitz would have to wait until he had seven mana and an Absorb to get it back. Mowshowitz Repulsed Fujita's Rats so that he could attack in earnest.
Here, Fujita seemed to make a second mistake. He replayed the Rats instead of the Shambler in his hand. Mowshowitz wouldn't feel the discard effect after having been bolstered by that four-card Fact or Fiction. Shambler, meanwhile, would end the game in one hit. Mowshowitz laid his seventh land and played Voice of All. Fujita thought briefly, but knew he had to Undermine. Mowshowitz had the Absorb.
Now Fujita was under a very fast clock. He Recoiled his Agenda to try and get back in the game, playing out Ravenous Rats and an unkicked Scuta, but it didn't matter. The twin angels needed only two more attacks to finish him. Mowshowitz's Meddling Mage took away the only weapon he had left to combat them: Repulse. He scooped.Zvi Mowshowitz
The players' sideboarding for Game 2 was very interesting. Fujita transformed his deck into a near-creatureless version, ending up with only four Nightscape Familiars and a Ravenous Rats. He traded the other creatures for Gainsays.
Mowshowitz went to the other extreme. He, too, brought in Gainsay, but buffered his creature base with Crusading Knights and Pure Reflections, taking out Crimson Acolytes and a Fact or Fiction. The Reflections would act as creatures, filling the shoes of the very suboptimal Acolytes. Fujita could have boarded his deck into a creature-heavy version, making the Reflections work for him. Said Randy Buehler at this "It's like Zvi read his mind.", anticipating his sideboarding and going against it.
Mowshowitz was on the offensive early with a pair of Stormscape Apprentices. His Meddling Mage was Prohibited and one of the Apprentices was Recoiled and then Gainsaid. Fujita had no counter for his Galina's Knight, though, and so couldn't stabilize. He did Undermine the next one, but the real trouble was already in play.
Fujita played Yawgmoth's Agenda next turn, taking another three from Mowshowitz's monsters. On his next turn he tried to Recoil the Knight. Mowshowitz used Disrupt to get deeper in his deck, then Absorbed. Fujita tapped out for a Fact or Fiction at the end of Mowshowitz's turn, and got Disrupted.
It didn't matter that Mowshowitz's next Galina's Knight got Maliced. He had done so much damage in the early turns that he finished Fujita in short order.
Mowshowitz left did not modify his deck going into game 3. Fujita's only change was to swap the Rats for a Scuta. He played out a Nightscape Familiar, which was some defense against Mowshowitz's early Galina's Knight. He Addled for blue and saw a nightmare ahead of him. Mowshowitz's only blue card was Repulse. He also held two Crusading Knights and a Pure Reflection. The Reflection entered play next turn. Fujita Recoiled a Coastal tower to buy time.Pro Tour Champion Zvi Mowshowitz
Mowshowitz cast one of his Crusading Knights. Fujita Prohibited it, but still faced a 4/4 token. Mowshowitz kept the pressure up. His Galina's Knight was Gainsaid, but he succeeded in casting a Voice of All. Now Fujita was taking four a turn, his Familiar busy blocking the giant Reflection token. He couldn't find any board control fast enough and died to two successive attacks.
As loudly as they had applauded their favorite, the spectators were just as appreciative of Mowshowitz. The New Yorker shook his opponents hand vigorously, an enormous grin spreading across his spectacled face.
After the match, Fujita explained that he had played against Brian Selden, who played the same deck, earlier in the tournament. He hadn't brought in the Pure Reflections, and so wasn't expecting Mowshowitz to do so. In his testing of the matchup he found that his best chance was sideboard as he did. When Mowshowitz showed no Reflections in Game 2, he stuck to his plan.
Mowshowitz's playtesting information told a different story. His team worked on the matchup the night before and he agreed with their findings. It seems the results of Games 2 and 3 back him up.
Congratulations to Zvi Mowshowitz, Champion of Pro Tour Tokyo!