ROUND 3: RAPHAËL LÉVY VS. (12) JACOB WILSON

Posted in 2014 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP - COVERAGE on December 2, 2014

By Josh Bennett

With so many archetypes to choose from in Vintage Masters draft, you wouldn't expect to face the mirror. Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy and Pro Tour Born of the GodsfFinalist Jacob Wilson were sitting at 1-1 and would square off with decks that were funhouse reflections of each other.

It's hard to oversell Raphaël Lévy. He's one of the Pro Tour's true graybeards, been around forever and winning the whole time. He's the all-time leader in lifetime Pro Points, and the only player above six hundred. Last year he led a boisterous French team to victory at the World Magic Cup, earning him his spot in this year's competition.

In contrast to Lévy's staggering career, Jacob Wilson's in still in its early days. He's made the most of it, however. His first Pro Tour appearance was in 2011, and a year later he was claiming his first Grand Prix win at Chicago. His star continued to rise, and last year he cemented his status as a player to watch with his performance at PT Born of the Gods.

Both had drafted white-black decks with an aggressive base of creatures, but Wilson's tilted more towards late-game power. Lévy was pure aggression with two of the deck's marquee common Battle Screech.

The longtime Pro Tour competitor and Hall of Famer squares off against the young rising star.

The Games

In the first both rolled out beatdown draws with first- and second-turn plays. Wilson's Sarcomancy token was doing work, and he did his best to clear out Lévy's attackers. He had no answer for Dauthi Mercenary with Brilliant Halo and his life total started to plummet. Benalish Trapper showed up to help out.

Lévy spilled more creatures onto the board. He was down to one card in hand but had the advantage. Wilson meanwhile had gone thin on action. Facing lethal he tried to buy an extra turn by tapping Stoic Champion instead of Dauthi Mercenary, bluffing Exile, but Lévy called it and Wilson scooped up his cards.

Few players can say they have close to the amount of top-level Magic experience as Hall of Famer Raphaël Lévy.

Both players went down to six cards, and this time it was Wilson building an early advantage after Lévy stalled on two plains. Between Benalish Tracker and Swords to Plowshares he managed to stall Wilson slightly, but his life total continued to drop.

He started to draw out of things and soon had Teroh's Faithful to stop Chimeric Idol, then Battle Screech with immediate flashback to set up an air force. Wilson had plans to keep the race in his favor, however. First was a big Death Grasp leaving Lévy at 5 life. Soltari Trooper snuck in two more damage, and Famine dealt the final 3 before Lévy could find his feet.

Lévy came off the blocks fast in the third game with Soltari Trooper into Pianna, Nomad Captain. Death's-Head Buzzard from Wilson would have been the perfect rejoinder if not for Swords to Plowshares. Lévy also had Benalish Tracker to keep pesky blockers at bay.

Twelfth-ranked player Jacob Wilson has proven himself to be one of Magic's best young pros.

Wilson desperately needed that Famine, as well as the time to cast it. He brought out Mystic Zealot and passed with five cards in hand. Lévy attacked all out and summoned Dauthi Mercenary in defiance of the possible Famine. Lucky for him, Wilson only had Parallax Wave the following turn. It gobbled up two shadow creatures buying Wilson some valuable time.

Wilson was down to 8, though, and needed more defense. He brought out Kongming, "Sleeping Dragon" and managed to catch Pianna with a timely Shelter stopping the Tracker's ability. The Parallax Wave was slowly disappearing, and worse, Lévy had Mesmeric Fiend to steal away Death Grasp before it could be put to use. Wilson held on with Chainer's Edict but none of his draw steps yielded Famine. Lévy dropped him to 3 life, removing it as an out, and took the match the following turn.

Lévy 2 - Wilson 1

As he picked up his cards, Wilson shook his head slightly. "I took out some of my two-drops. I think if I'd had them I could have won that game." Lévy agreed. As he de-sideboarded he flashed Urborg Uprising. "Brought this one in against you. I think it would've been good." Wilson nodded.

After the match I asked Lévy about his decision to play boldly against Wilson's slow draw in the deciding game. "The turn before he Parallax Waved, yeah, if he has it I'm in trouble. I mean I still had some cards in hand, and the turns after I could afford to play around it."

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