As the Swiss rounds of the 2007 Magic World Championships drew to a close, the feature match area saw a monster matchup: newly inducted Hall of Fame member Zvi Mowshowitz against previous inductee Raphael Levy. Zvi is perhaps most famous for his Pro Tour–Tokyo winning deck named "The Solution." Levy has a long list of accomplishments himself but most recently won back-to-back Grand Prix using his Gaea's Might Get There deck during last year's Extended season.
Raphael Levy is usually the only Hall of Famer in his match. Zvi won the die roll and opted to play. Word going into the event was that the deck designer extraordinaire had spent most of his testing time on Legacy, and it was certainly going to be interesting to see what he had managed to cook up. Levy had to open on a mulligan then be reminded to draw during his first turn's draw step. Once he had that formality out of the way he cracked a Flooded Strand for Underground Sea.
"Thoughtseize?" Levy said, without playing the card. Zvi placed his hand on the table face up.
"Uh, I was kidding," the Frenchman quipped.
Sheepishly Zvi quickly scooped the cards back up before Raph delivered the punch line: "No no, I'm playing it."
He revealed the Thoughtseize, dropping himself to 17, and Zvi laughed, saying, "I trusted you!"
The discard spell nabbed a Counterbalance from Mowshowitz, which was fortunate considering the New Yorker had opened on a Sensei's Diving Top. His second turn, in contrast to his first, was relatively boring as he simply played a Flooded Strand after Topping on upkeep. Raphael had a Dark Confidant which Zvi allowed to resolve, then fetched a Tundra and activated his Top again. A Swords to Plowshares on Zvi's main phase dealt with the 2/1 Invitational card before the recent Hall of Fame inductee played Mishra's Factory.
Levy took his third turn slowly, first tapping his Underground Sea then reconsidering and untapping it. Eventually he opted to play Ponder, which resolved, and kept all three cards on top of his library, drawing one. Apparently unsatisfied with the other two cards left, he cracked a Polluted Delta to find a Tundra, then played Tarmogoyf as a 4/5.
After Zvi spent his turn playing a land, Raphael made an inquisitive Engineered Explosives with one counter on it. Zvi thought for a moment, then allowed it to resolve and went back to Topping. He liked what he saw, however, opting to draw the top card of his deck instead of cracking an untapped Flooded Strand. He then played a Wasteland, giving him five lands and the Divining Top before passing back. Whatever Zvi had cooked up for Legacy, it sure didn't play many permanents judging by how the game had gone for him so far.
Raphael seemed a bit perplexed by the situation as well, though if that was because of what Zvi had played (or rather not played) or because he had yet to hit a fourth land remained to be seen. In any case, when he opted to attack with Tarmogoyf Zvi was ready: a second Swords to Plowshares stepped to the plate to deal with the troublesome creature. Raphael responded with a Brainstorm then allowed the Swords to resolve, putting the life totals 18-15 in his favor. Post-combat he made a Nimble Mongoose, which Zvi opted not to counter before doing little on his turn and passing back.
Raphael made an attack with his 1/1 before Topping into a Tarmogoyf. Zvi used his opponent's end-of-turn step to Top himself and, finally unhappy with the cards he saw, pulled the trigger on his Flooded Strand, re-Topping into Brainstorm, Counterspell, and Flooded Strand, a pretty hot set of cards. A Wrath of God cleared his opponent's board of permanents and Levy drew for his turn before re-playing Sensei's Divining Top. From there it was a staring contest as both players spent their turns drawing and Topping, trying to manipulate their decks into some action.
Levy was the first to flinch, flipping his Top to his library for a second Nimble Mongoose. Zvi answered with a Moat, but Levy was ready to fight. He tried Force of Will removing Daze but could only grimace when Zvi cracked a Flooded Strand for a second blue source in order to play Counterspell. The Moat resolved and Levy was back to working his Top. It only took one activation on his turn before he gave up hope.
"What's your win condition?" he questioned Zvi.
"Will you show it to me?" Levy continued his interrogation.
"Sure, if you concede."
Mowshowitz 1, Levy 0
Raphael didn't look happy while sideboarding, and his end-game grimace from the first contest seeped into the silence before the second. He added some cards, moved to shuffle, reconsidered his course of action and re-sideboarded, then began piling. Zvi, in contrast, was in his own world quietly swapping his sideboard cards with his maindeck cards and mentally preparing for the second game of the match.
Levy opened on Thoughtseize again, putting himself at 17 in the process. Zvi revealed a hand of Wasteland, Mishra's Factory, Flooded Strand, two Sensei's Divining Top, Brainstorm, and... Circle of Protection: Green? Raphael couldn't believe it either but was forced to nab it with his sorcery. Spectators had to lean over the railing to verify that the card in Zvi's graveyard was what they thought it was.
Zvi Mowshowitz is smiling because he is going to kill you. Zvi played an Island he had drawn, then played one of his Divining Tops. Raphael Levy followed his first turn Thoughtseize with a Dark Confidant which managed to resolve against Zvi's Force of Will-less hand. He did have a chance to prevent the pesky Wizard from drawing Raph any cards, however, by Brainstorming into a Swords to Plowshares and cracking his Flooded Strand for a Plains to kill the 2/1. It looked like that was the play as the HoFer played the Brainstorm, then cracked his Strand for the Plains, but the removal spell wasn't forthcoming.
Bob revealed a land, then Levy added Sensei's Divining Top and Tarmogoyf (4/5) to his board after attacking. A second chance at Zvi after his draw step yielded the Swords he needed to annihilate the Dark Confidant and Raph opted to try to Top into more action during his upkeep. His drawn card apparently wasn't worth much as he opted to Top again during his main phase but that didn't do much for him either. He simply attacked, then passed the turn, missing a land drop. Zvi finally played his Mishra's Factory and Raphael opted to spend his final mana on Mowshowitz's end of turn to make sure the top of his library hadn't changed. He then ran another main-phase Top replacing the top card with the only one he hadn't seen from the top three. After attacking with his Tarmogoyf he made the predicted play of cashing in the Top for the mystery card, which turned out to be Dark Confidant. Zvi was ready with a Counterspell, and the 2/1 failed to enter play.
Zvi seemed to be firmly in control save for the Tarmogoyf beating down his door. The life totals stood 17–9 in his opponent's favor with the Tarmogoyf at 5/6 though Mowshowitz had found a long term answer in the form of a second Mishra's Factory. After one final attack from the Tarmogoyf he'd be able to activate both Factories without summoning sickness, then use their +1/+1 ability to double block and kill the green creature. Raphael, doing his part to prevent that from happening, made a Ponder and then played Nimble Mongoose. Zvi allowed it to resolve, and the Frenchman re-played his Divining Top as well.
In dire straights if he didn't come up with SOME type of answer, Zvi spun his Top to see if any help could be seen from the top of his deck. What he found was Swords to Plowshares, Eternal Dragon, and Mishra's Factory. That then elicited a Brainstorm and a Swords to Plowshares on Raphael's Tarmogoyf. Prepared for just such a situation, Levy played a Force of Will removing his own Brainstorm. Zvi then cycled Eternal Dragon to get a fresh look at three more cards during his upkeep, revealing a Tundra and returning it to his hand. He didn't opt to Top during his upkeep, however, instead drawing a natural card and playing his Tundra. A Moat yielded the last two cards from Raph's hand: Force of Will and Ponder. With no blue mana available, Zvi had no counters and simply passed, gulping nervously.
Raphael attacked with both of his creatures and Zvi put a sacrificial Factory in front of the Goyf, dropping to 1. Top didn't help him and after considering his options he chose to pack it in.
Mowshowitz 1, Levy 1
Zvi got to start the final game of the match but couldn't keep his landless opener. "Looks like I'm going to be your hero by not drawing any lands." he remarked to his opponent. Levy didn't seem to notice, silently considering his own opener. Zvi's second hand was good enough and he led with Mishra's Factory into Sensei's Divining Top.
Levy echoed the play albeit it with a Tropical Island instead of the Factory and Zvi opted to improve his draw step by Topping on his upkeep. He added a Tundra to his board and passed. Levy had a big play for his turn in the form of Counterbalance and Zvi snorted in deference to how good the play was. He finally decided to Brainstorm, hoping to catch an answer to the problematic enchantment from the top of his deck in the form of Force of Will. Nothing was forthcoming and he was forced to allow the Counterbalance to resolve.
On his upkeep Zvi cycled Eternal Dragon for Tundra netting him an unseen card during his draw step, then furtively flipped through his cards before saying "Okay, plan B." Playing a second Mishra's Factory the player seemed to indicate he was willing to be the beatdown if he wasn't going to be able to resolve threats through Levy's two-card combo. Raph, not to be outdone, dug for cards with Top on his turn but simply played a fetchland and passed back. Zvi hit his fourth land drop, then quickly activated both his creature-lands and attacked. Raph cracked his Polluted Delta, then Topped seeing three fresh cards. A Swords dealt with one of the 2/2s leaving the totals 22–17 in Zvi's favor.
With the ball back in his court Levy played a fourth land and Dark Confidant, topping in between for good measure. Zvi, on the other hand, had to spin his own Top during his upkeep, desperate for action in a game starting to slip from his grasp. He decided not to attack with his Factory into the 2/1 Confidant, but when Levy tapped his final mana at the end of Zvi's turn the Pro Tour–Tokyo champion did crack a Flooded Strand to prevent his opponent from possibly having a Stifle to counter the effect.
A Thoughtseize from Levy nailed a Moat leaving a third Factory, an Island, and a Divining Top in Mowshowitz's hand. Zvi used his Top to look at three new cards from his library but shook his head in dismay. On his turn he simply played another creature-land and passed back to his opponent.
"Who leaves in Swords?" Mowshowitz admonished.
Levy shrugged and smiled.
"I thought I was getting a free hit!" Mowshowitz added, commenting on the attack that cost him a Mishra's Factory.
A meeting of formidable intellects and credentials A judge announced five minutes left in the round, and Levy played a second Nimble Mongoose. Neither could get through with two untapped Factories able to pump each other so he simply passed the turn after that. Surprisingly Zvi wasn't willing to stay on defense, getting his Eternal Dragon back on upkeep before playing the Island stranded in his hand. Levy took the opportunity to bash with all three of his creatures, the Dark Confidant and both Nimble Mongeese,, leaving the life totals at 13–12 in Zvi's favor.
Zvi wasn't out yet. He tried for a Wrath of God, but Levy had the Force of Will to counter. As he passed the turn time was called, meaning Levy would play the last turn of the match before additional turns went into effect. Sitting on a Tundra and two Mishra's Factories Zvi had enough mana open to block and potentially force a draw out of his opponent. Raphael moved to attack with all three of his creatures again, then hesitated. After reconsidering he brought all three creatures in anyway and Zvi activated a Factory then pumped it twice to kill a Nimble Mongoose. The attack left him at 7 and when Levy played another Mongoose and Dark Confidant, things did not look good for Mowshowitz.
He was forced to plainscycle his Dragon during his upkeep for a shot at three new cards from Top, desperately seeking an answer. None was forthcoming, and he simply played the Tundra he had cycled for before passing the turn. Levy began the second turn of time by revealing for both his Bobs, dropping him to 10, then activating his Top. When he moved all four of his creatures into combat Zvi activated both Factories to block. Raphael signaled a hold, exchanging one of his Divining Tops for the card sitting on his library, then revealed a Swords to Plowshares. Zvi pumped his other Factory in response, gaining two, then blocked a Dark Confidant. At the end of the turn he gave a forceful knock on his Divining Top and looked at the top three cards of his library. A Circle of Protection: Green cast by Zvi merited a Top activation from Levy who rearranged his library to reveal a Tarmogoyf to counter from Counterbalance. Zvi smiled and extended his hand.
Levy 2, Mowshowitz 1