Round 10 Feature Match: Zvi Mowshowitz vs. Craig Jones

Posted in Event Coverage

By Randy Buehler

"We don't think we broke the format, but we did solve it." - Zvi Mowshowitz

This line has been repeated a lot this weekend. It sums up Zvi pretty well: he's confident to the point of arrogance, but he might be able to back it up. Sporting an 8-1 record with his "Solution" deck, it's hard to argue with his pre-tournament proclamation.

Zvi and the rest of Team Godzilla (reigning English national champion Ben Ronaldson, two time Pro Tour and three time Grand Pix champion Kai Budde, 5-time Top 8 competitor and PT new York champion Scott Johns, etc.) felt that the Pro Tour would be full of red/green, black/red, and black/red/blue decks. They built an aggressive blue/white deck with four main deck Crimson Acolytes among its many creatures. It turns out they were right about the field - red/green and black/red comprise about half the field on Day 2 - and 6 of the 7 players running "The Solution" went through to Day 2, with Zvi leading the charge. Zvi explained elaborated on their decision by commenting that there are no broken decks in Invasion Block Constructed. It's remarkably well balanced. Therefore, playing the metagame becomes one of the best ways to gain an advantage.

Grand Prix Birmingham champion Craig Jones took a black/red/blue deck into battle with Zvi in round 10 - exactly the deck type that Zvi wanted to face. Jones ran the table on day 1 but lost his first round f day 2 to Ryan Fuller. Zvi played a turn 2 Meddling Mage and named Blazing Specter. That was the right call as Jones had two in hand and Nightscape Familiar already on the board. Jones did manage to remove it with a Ghitu Fire, but by then Zvi had not one, not two, but three Stormscape Familiars in play to keep all Jones' creatures tapped while Galina's Knight and a second Meddling Mage (set to "Void") took bites out of his life total. Zvi had no cards in hand, which allowed Jones to destroy Galina's Knight with a Recoil, but all those tappers were simply more than Jones could handle.

Jones started slowly in game 2 because his second land was Darigaaz's Caldera. Nightscape Familiar helped counteract that a bit and Recoil on an island slowed Zvi down enough that Jones got to play Blazing Specter before Zvi could get Exclude mana onto the table. Zvi then Repulsed the Specter and prepared to Exclude it on it's second trip down. However, Jones played the situation beautifully. Instead of replaying the Specter he played Void, named three, and sent two Excludes from Zvi's hand into his graveyard. With the coast now clear, Blazing Specter returned to the table, but was tapped by a Apprentice. Zvi attempted to regain some card advantage with a Fact or Fiction, but muttered "good division" when Jones split the piles into (Absorb, Apprentice) or (Acolyte, Acolyte, Coastal Tower). Zvi took the counter and the tapper. Jones played Addle to force Zvi to use that Absorb and then Jones followed up with a Void for 1 that nailed both of Zvi's tappers and left him without cards in hand or non-land permanents.

Forced into top-deck mode, Zvi's deck cooperated reasonably, delivering up a Galina's Knight, a Meddling Mage (which he set to "Ghitu Fire"), and then a Voice of All (which he set to red). However Zvi was down to 5 and when Jones' deck gave him a Pyre Zombie, the end was in sight. With Zvi on 1, he drew an Absorb to stop the lethal Zombie from hitting the table. However, Jones had one of the Gainsays that he had sideboarded in and that was that. They moved on to a deciding game 3.

"Blue/white is not supposed to be that quick" was Jones' lament as Zvi started game 3 with Stormscape Apprentice and two Galina's Knights. All Jones' managed before his fourth turn was to use Terminal Moraine to get his third color. Zvi knocked Jones to 9 before Jones could clear away those Knights with a Void for 3 that also knocked Crimson Acolyte out of Zvi's hand. Gainsay prevented Zvi from Excluding a Pyre Zombie and suddenly Zvi's board was in trouble. After trading one of his Apprentices for the Zombie, Zvi played a Meddling Mage to prevent the Zombie from coming back. Jones removed it with Ghitu Fire and Zvi's "oh boy" meant he knew time was running out. Jones was down to 3, but Zvi's offense was reduced to a pair of tappers. Zvi was reinvigorated when he top-decked a Crimson Acolyte, thinking it would allow him to bust through for the last three damage but Jones knocked the last card out of Zvi's hand with his Specter (since Zvi had sent in both his tappers) and then Jones was able to kill the Acolyte with a Recoil! "You top-decked that Recoil?" asked Zvi? "No, I've had it" explained Jones. Zvi's "really?" was answered with "it's a precision weapon, it had to be used with care." Now Pyre Zombie came down with enough mana so that Jones could block one tapper and shoot the other and cling to his last point of life. Zvi failed to draw another Acolyte or a Voice of All or a Galina's Knight or a Fact or Fiction to go digging for them and it was the problem, not "The Solution" who moved to 9-1. Sometimes rock is strong.

Final Result: Jones 2 - Mowshowitz 1

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