“At least a European will win this, right?” Raphaël Lévy asked his opponent as they shuffled up for the final match of Grand Prix Madison.
“Let’s show these Americans how it’s done,” Magnus Lantto agreed with a smile.
Both players were in Wisconsin for a swing through the Badger State that began with the Grand Prix this weekend and continues into next week’s Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar in Milwaukee. The trip was off to a great start for both, as they cruised through the competition to meet in the finals, where hall of famer Lévy was in search of his fifth Grand Prix title while Lantto sought his second.
Their decks occupied opposite ends of the Battle for Zendikar spectrum. Lévy had assembled a three-color aggressive deck full of Landfall creatures and combat tricks, while Lantto tried to go big with a deck full of Devoid creatures and Eldrazi.
Hall of famer Raphaël vy arrived in Madison in search of his fifth Grand Prix title.
It may have been Lantto who had the control deck in the matchup, but that didn’t stop him from jumping out to a quick start in the opener. He countered Lévy’s first creature and began to attack with an Incubator Drone, while staying on curve with a fifth-turn Blight Herder. A Stasis Snare on Lévy’s side answered the 4/5, but he still fell to 11 life from the next attack when his pair of Shadow Glider ran into some Adverse Conditions.
That was enough to keep the hall of famer back on defense, but that plan was dealt a blow when an awakened Rush of Ice dropped him all the way down to 2 life on the next attack. With his back fully up against the wall, Lévy needed a big play to pull back into the game. He found exactly that by awakening Sheer Drop, removing one of Lantto’s attackers and providing an additional blocker to boot.
He wasn’t completely out of the woods, but it was enough to stymie Lantto’s next attack, and Stone Haven Medic began to pull his life out of the danger zone. As Lantto failed to find a way to push through the remaining points of damage, Lévy built his board up and then unleashed it on one huge Resolute Blademaster-fueled attack to take down the first game of the match.
After a nailbiter of a semifinals match, Lantto was looking to pull out one more win to capture his second Grand Prix victory.
After Lantto’s fast start in the first game, the pair switched roles completely in the next bout. Lévy led out fast with Cliffside Lookout into Shadow Glider and then a massive 5/5 Woodland Wanderer on the fourth turn. It was a lightning-quick start and even Herald of Kozilek wasn’t enough to stem the early bleeding for Lantto.
The early attacks knocked Lantto to 10 life, but when he deployed Valakut Invoker Lévy was forced to hold back for fear of losing his 5/5. Instead, he added a second Shadow Glider to the field and passed the turn without an attack. With the assistance of an Eldrazi Scion, Lantto was able to activate the Invoker once to remove one of the Gliders, but that left his defenses down when Lévy rumbled in with his team on the next turn. A group of creatures ganged up to block one of Lévy’s smaller creatures while Benthic Infiltrator chumped the Wanderer, but Infuse with the Elements bolstered the Shadow Glider as it connected for damage, and after looking at his next card and coming up empty, Lantto extended his hand.
With that, Lévy stood alone, winner of his fifth Grand Prix title. Not a bad start for his trip to Wisconsin.