Semifinals: Alex Shvartsman vs Mike Landers

Posted in Event Coverage on May 2, 2003

By Zev Gurwitz

Winner plays for $1000, loser takes $175.

Game 1

Mike won the roll, but shipped his hand, and was asked if this was the most money he ever played for; it is. This will be the most that Alex has played for this week. Mike kept his hand of six, and Wooded Foothills turned into a mountain. Alex kept and opened with forest and Birchlore Ranger, slamming down what he called "The play of the tournament." The Birchlore swung and a Wirewood Hereld joined the party. We were suddenly reminded that this was a "Constructed" tournament when Landers played a Call of the Herd. Alex came back with another Herald, then Birchlored out another Birchlore, making the total four elves and one elephant. The elephant casually stepped on a Herald, even though Landers said he was unsure if he was supposed to swing into the Herald. He added a face down creature to the board, which was a Nantuko Vigilante. Two Hivemasters were summoned for Alex, and an Insect token joined the elephant and elves. Landers trash talked like a villain: "I am not one hundred percent sure, but I don’t think you’re going to like this." He cast Violent Eruption, killing the two Hivemasters and a Birchlore Ranger. Shvartsman came back with a Ravenous Baloth, but Landers Firebolted and flashed it back to take it down, then swung for five to net one damage. Shvartsman just played another Baloth. With a sigh, Landers landed a Grim Lavamancer and flashed back his Call, but couldn't swing due to the Baloth. Shvartsman had no play and said go.

The two elephants on Landers’ side attacked, and a Herald and the Baloth block. The Herald got another Herald, and the Baloth was Lavamancered. Alex had Caller of the Claw, and two bear tokens were sent to fight. Shvartsman put down his fourth land, pulled five mana and plays a Verdant Succession, which was very quickly destroyed with the Vigilante. The hound, the elephant, and the insect mutant druid got into a fight with two bears. The bears all died, and nothing on Landers side went to the graveyard because he Lavamancered the bear blocking the Vigilante. An Elvish Soultiller came to fight for Shvartsman and blocked the Elephant, but Alex took the Mongrel and the Vigilante. Shvartsman untapped and plays out Herald and a monstrous Nantuko Husk that could get really rather large with the four elves in play. Phantom Centaur came down, possibly stopping the Husk before something really ridiculous happened.

The Herald decides it has no fear and swung for Shvartsman. Maybe it did have “Fear”, as it wasn't blocked, dealing one. Another Phantom Centaur joined the fight for Mike, and the board looked to be locked up. This may have favored Landers because of his red deck’s Grim Lavamancers and ample doses of burn, but if the game went long, Shvartsman could be the winner. His deck has all the components of an infinite combo on the table, and Verdant Succession was the only missing piece.

Elephant Guide enchanted a Phantom Centaur, and the Wirewood Herald played Secret Service and took the eight damage instead of Alex, then fetched one of his buddies to take his place. Alex's team attacked, with the exception of the Husk. Some combat took place. The Mongrel took on the Caller, the Birchlore Ranger met the Vigilante, a Soultiller was unblocked and another Soultiller went up against a Phantom Centaur. Alex seemed as if he would sacrifice most of his monsters to play out Caller of the Claw. Damage happened, Landers went to seven, the Soultiller died, elves were named and all but three cards from Shvartsman’s graveyard got shuffled back in. Four cards had gone to the graveyard on Shvartsman’s side, and Caller of the Claw made many bears. Landers drew Volcanic Hammer, swung it on Shvartsman's face, and said go. A Llanowar Elf and a Ravenous Baloth came out to play for Shvartsman, and his army was close to reaching lethal proporions very soon. A second Nantuko Husk came out and Shvartsman's army outnumbered Landers’ two to one. A Violent Eruption beat down on Shvartsman, and a Lavamancer played along, sending the Baloth to the yard to help out Shvartsman. Both players ended at five when Alex drew his next card.

Alex didn’t play a spell, but did swing with everything. Nine men entered the Red Zone, and Landers had out five fighters. Shvartsman was holding Gempalm Strider, and the game ended.

Shvartsman 1 - Landers 0

Game 2

Landers went first, and had several sideboard cards in his hand, as well as land. However, the board cards were Naturalize and Ensnaring Bridge, but he would have no creatures in play from what was in his hand. His only monster was a Phantom Centaur, and he only had two lands, so he shipped. Landers kept Call, Guide times two, and Violent Eruption and some lands. Shvartsman played out a Hivemaster, but it got Firebolted. Shvartsman played Herald. The Call token was Smothered, and Alex swung. Call got flashed back, while Shvartsman played a City of Brass, and tapped all his cards, elves and all, to play Elvish Soultiller. Elephant Guide enchanted the elephant token and Shvartsman went down to thirteen with some elephant beatings. Shvartsman swung, leaving back a Herald, and played a Baloth. The pachyderm didn't swing, scared off by the 1/1 Herald perhaps, and no spell came from Landers. When Shvartsman swung, Landers Violent Erruptioned the Soultiller before blockers. The ‘Tiller died, shuffling back two elves, including the ‘Tiller. The elephant blocked the Baloth, and got Smothered before damage could be done. Another Birchlore Ranger came out to play, and the turn went to Landers.

An Elephant Guide came out to enchant the token left by the previous Elephant Guide, and Landers dropped an Ensnaring Bridge. That could have lock up the game if Shvartsman had not sided in any artifact removal, because Landers may have been able to play out every card in his hand. However, he did have Naturalize, and Landers saw the play very quickly, taking out the Elephant Guide on his own creature to drop his hand to zero. Shvartsman may have had the infinite life combo in his hand, and could also shuffle cards back into his library, so Landers may have sealed his own doom. But, from my seat, I didn’t see another option.

Shvartsman started thinning his deck out, hoping to draw his combo and make sure if Landers ever gets stuck with a card the game would end, by making elves and insects. Landers sent the Lavamancer's ability at Shvartsman, and layed the card he drew- another Ensnaring Bridge. Unfortunately, Landers has no discard outlet, and could draw a card he couldn’t cast. Aso, Landers would soon run out of cards in his graveyar, before he will kill Shvartsman, who was at nine. A Caller of the Claw came out, and some bears and insects start hanging out not doing much of anything.

When the game was ready to break, it would break open. Shvartsman was at five from a Firebolt and a Lavamancer, and could die if another burn spell was drawn. Shvartsman was digging for a Baloth to get out of danger, or he may have been looking to complete his combo. With one Baloth in play, Landers drew a Firebolt, and Shvartsman sacked his Baloth before going lower. He took four, and the Baloth was nullified. More monsters on both sides and Shvartsman was at three, but there was only one card in Landers yard, making his two Lavamancers non-functioning. A Wooded Foothills was drawn by Landers, and he could now activate his Lavamancer and thin his deck. Both players were at one and Landers drew a Volcanic Hammer, ending the game.

Shvartsman 1 - Landers 1

Game 3

Shvartsman came out with Birchlore, and Landers played a Grim Lavamancer. A Wirewood Hivemaster was Firebolted, but a Husk took its place. Phantom Centaur came down to challenge the Husk, but Shvartsman had another. The Centaur swung, and a Call came out. Shvartsman hadn't missed a land drop and now had six out. He began to concentrate intensely, and when asked if he was dealing two, responded with "I am trying to figure out if you’re dead." Shvartsman dealt two, and passed the turn. The Birchlore was killed and clearly, Shvartsman's comment had some effect. Shvartsman played out a Caller, netting a bear. Landers swung with his elephant and his Centaur. Wth Shvartsman at fourteen, he called the play "interesting." His Husk took down the Call token with the help of a bear token, and another Phantom Centaur was cast. The pace with which Alex was playing indicated that he had something explosive in his hand.

Alex attacked with all his creatures, two Husks and a Caller. The Husks were both blocked. Landers was not risking death, but the Lavamancer could bite the dust. The Husk in front of the Centaur was eaten by the Husk taking down the Lavamancer. Another Caller came out, along with a bear. Landers Guided up one of his Centaurs, and swung with both, leaving himself open to Shvartsman's deck. At fourteen, perhaps he could be healthy enough to survive, but this deck is capable of some wild things.

Shvartsman played a Herald, sacked to the Husk and got another one. That one was sacked to get a Caller, which wass sacked along with all the other monsters to the last Husk. The Husk became a monster, and then the Caller of the Claw was played, making the Husk more than big enough to take down Landers twice.

Shvartsman 2 - Landers 1

Alex Shvartsman

Download Arena Decklist

Mike Landers

Download Arena Decklist
Instant (4)
4 Violent Eruption
Enchantment (4)
4 Elephant Guide
Other (2)
2 Phantom Centuar
62 Cards

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