Zvi Mowshowitz (USA) vs Terry Tsang (Canada)
- Alex Shvartsman
Zvi is playing a Fluctuator deck that seeks to play out enough artifacts and generate infinite mana via Tolarian Academy-Palinchron combo, then use that mana to deck the opponent with Stroke of Genius.
Terry's deck is somewhat combo-based as well. It uses Tolarian Academy and mana-producing artifacts as well as Tinker to get out a Phyrexian Colossus quickly.
Although Zvi's deck can usually win a turn or two faster with no interference, the matchup is closer than one might think. Game one is almost certainly a win for the Fluctuator deck, as the blue-red deck does not have the tools to prevent the opponent from going off. After sideboard, the red artifact destruction cards give it somewhat of an edge, but the matchup remains too close for comfort.
In game one Terry Tsang played his Tolarian Academy very early, as he was well aware of what Zvi is playing. Since Academy is a Legendary Land, having one in play would prevent Zvi from getting one of his own on the table.
Zvi had a perfect draw though. He played some early artifacts, cast Lingering Mirage to turn Terry's Academy into a basic Island and played his own Academy. Zvi was able to go off on turn 4, leaving Terry in the role of a spectator for good fifteen minutes and easily won the game.
Terry sideboarded in some artifact destruction. Surprisingly, he kept Arc Lightnings in the main deck even though direct damage is usually very weak against combo decks. Terry explained his strategy after the match: "I playtested the matchup last night. Leaving Arc Lightning in the main deck allows me to win a turn early with Phyrexian Processor - I am able to pay 17-19 life, attack once and finish the opponent off with the burn." Zvi realized that his opponent will bring in artifact destruction, so he added Yawgmoth's Will into his deck in order to combat that strategy.
Tsang mulliganed aggressively in the second game. He had mana, but wanted to draw some of his sideboard cards. His second draw was relatively poor, but he would not go down to five cards. Because of this mulligan, Terry was stuck at two lands and Zvi started his combo early, taking advantage of the fact that Terry would be unable to interfere with his plays.
At one precarious moment Zvi had plenty of mana on the table but only one cycling land in his hand - he cycled it with Fluctuator and... drew a Stroke of Genius. At that point the game was his, with Zvi drawing 10+ cards and leaving enough mana untapped to continue with his strategy.
Game three seemed as though it was Terry playing the ultra-fast combo deck. Terry managed a turn four win generating a lot of mana early to play a Phyrexian Processor (paying 12 life) and the Phyrexian Colossus. He attacked for 20 points of damage and the win.
Rack and Ruin played the key role in game four. Tsang put Zvi on the clock early and use that card to remove two of Zvi's artifacts. That slowed Zvi down so that he could not possibly start the combo soon enough to survive.
Game five looked good for Tsang. He slammed down an Academy and went on to play three more lands so that he could cast Rack and Ruin. He was unable to put any pressure on Zvi though as he drew no artifacts.
Zvi got an excellent draw himself. He played three Monoliths and Stroked for 10. This canceled the card economy Terry would gain from the Rack and Ruin by a big margin. Terry kept drawing nothing, he removed some of Zvi's artifacts but ultimately Mowshowitz drew too many cards and was given too much time. He was able to start off the combo and power it up with Yawgmoths Will, winning the match 3-2. Despite this match going all five games, it was the first one to finish.
Mowshowitz 3 - Tsang 2