Both of these players had started 7-0 into the tournament, both had already secured a spot in the second day of competition here, and previously, both had also received the highest accolade the game of Magic has to offer, having been inducted into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. As such, it seems moot to compare their respective career stats, though the difference couldn't be more striking: Nicolai Herzog won two Pro Tours out of five Top 8s, with just a marginal showing at Grands Prix earning him three Top 8s, whereas Raphaël Lévy had made the Top 8 of three Pro Tours, but could claim a whopping nineteen Grand Prix Top 8s, including four wins.
Anyway, it was going to be hard to find a match between two more accomplished players here this weekend. So you better enjoy it!
Lévy had built a straight two-color deck in blue and red deck with loads of removal, while Herzog came equipped with an Abzan deck featuring quite the selection of rares ...
The early game was characterized by a lot of trades. Herzog's Despise took Lévy's Mystic of the Hidden Way, Typhoid Rats and Wetland Sambar traded in combat, Bathe in Dragonfire killed Mardu Skullhunter, Abzan Skycaptain met Arrow Storm, and Daghatar the Adamant was bathed in dragonfire as well.
Once the smoke from all of Lévy's burn spells cleared, he was left with Summit Prowler which remained the only creature on the battlefield for a while. But Herzog did find a follow-up soon enough, and quite a good one at that! Tasigur, the Golden Fang was summoned, paid for by all the cards in Herzog's graveyard save Daghatar the Adamant. When Tasigur attempted to return Daghatar, it failed though and didn't get another chance due to Lévy's Burn Away.
Herzog was not out of bombs however and a couple of turns later, he controlled Wingmate Roc and another 3/4 Bird. Even though he traded away the latter for Summit Prowler, the former soon took over the game. Drawing land after land, Lévy could only sit and look on in horror as his own life total dwindled, while Herzog's went up again.
Nicolai Herzog 1-0 Raphaël Lévy
The first creatures to actually stick around were Herzog's Abzan Skycaptain and the face-down creature manifested by Lévy's Fierce Invocation. The former was immediately joined by Wingmate Roc and company, eliciting a deep sigh from Lévy, who never recovered and conceded a few turns later.
"It just was that Wingmate Roc," Lévy complained. "Both times," Herzog added in commiseration.
Wingmate Roc 2-0 Raphaël Lévy