Hall of Famer Raphael Levy is no stranger to playing Magic at the very highest levels of competition. Levy has three Pro Tour Top 8s and an impressive nineteen Grand Prix Top 8s over the course of his career. Recently Levy's name has become synonymous with Team Revolution, a group of European Magic Pros that have been crushing professional level events since Pro Tour Theros. Levy is currently on a long Magic trip, but he'll be headed to South Africa after this tournament to get married on August 31. Levy is armed with Team Revolution's Rabblemaster Red deck, a powerful new aggressive strategy that has been performing very well over the course of the weekend.
His opponent, Patrick Dickmann, is a relative newcomer to the professional Magic scene. In his short career, has proven himself to be a real contender though. Dickman has accrued 40 Pro Points thus far this season with the help of a Pro Tour and Grand Prix Top 8 along the way. Dickmann is playing Blue Devotion, a deck he knows very well and is confident in his ability to pilot optimally.
Both players enter this round at 9 – 3. A win ensures their chances at Top 8 remain alive. Anything less, and the hope of playing on Sunday dims a lot.
What's at Stake?
Levy needs to Top 75 this Pro Tour if he's going to achieve Platinum status for next season. In order to achieve that goal, he needs to win two more rounds here today. With a wedding on the Horizon, Levy would love to have a shiny new Pro Tour trophy to join him and his soon-to-be wife on their honeymoon in Hawaii.
Dickmann also needs to Top 75 this event to lock up Platinum for the season. A win this round means that he only needs one more win over the course of four rounds to achieve this goal. Also, Dickmann is currently in the lead for captaincy of the German World Magic Cup team. Trailing close behind is Christian Seibold though, who is current 10-2 in this tournament. Seibold near striking distance of Top 8, and Dickmann needs to put up a solid finish if he hopes to maintain his lead in the race.
Talking before the match it became clear that it was Dickmann's match to win. Rabblemaster Red, while very powerful, is quite weak against Blue Devotion. The new Red strategy is taking advantage of the format's slow pace, but the Blue Devotion strategy is blisteringly fast and includes four copies of Tidebinder Mage and Master of Waves, two of the best possible cards against creature-based red strategies.
In Game 1, Dickmann led things off with a turn one Cloudfin Raptor and Levy only had a Mountain. Judge's Familiar came down and evolved Cloudfin Raptor, allowing Dickmann to start attacking. Levy had Burning-Tree Emissary into Firefist Striker for the next turn, though, and it looked like he might be able to swing the race in his favor. Dickmann continued attacking with the Cloudfin Raptor, but left Judge's Familiar on defense. Levy attacked with his Burning-Tree Emissary and continued to advance his boardstate with Rakdos Cackler and Firedrinker Satyr.
Levy continued to advance his board-state with another Burning-Tree Emissary, but Dickmann's Master of Waves would prove a difficult obstacle to overcome. Thassa, God of the Sea came down on the following turn, and while it wasn't a creature yet, it would provide Dickmann with the card manipulation necessary to assemble a boardstate where he could start attacking. Levy couldn't find an answer. When Dickmann found Nightveil Specter and crashed into the red zone with his Thassa, God of the Sea and 2/3 Cloudfin Raptor Levy was forced to block with Burning-Tree Emissary. Goblin Rabblemaster came down and Master of Waves jumped in front of the token. Protection from Red was proving to be a real problem for Levy here. Dickmann wasn't attacking, but it seemed like he was running away with the game regardless. Cloudfin Raptor and Thassa, God of the Sea started to get aggressive and Levy eventually succumbed to the German.
The second game wouldn't be so easy, though. Dickmann was riding high on his victory the game before and he kept a suboptimal hand for the match-up. Levy got things started with Firedrinker Satyr. Cloudfin Raptor came down for Dickmann and Levy attacked and activated his one drop. Dickmann could only play Mutavault and pass on his second turn while Levy cast Goblin Rabblemaster and started making goblins. Dickmann was able to block the goblin tokens with his Mutavault, but Levy was still getting in for two a turn with his Firedrinker Satyr. Dickmann cast Jace, Architect of Thought on his fourth turn, but Levy had Legion Loyalist and was able to win the game out of nowhere thanks to Goblin Rabblemaster's powerful trigger.
Goblin Rabblemaster is one of the most exciting cards in Magic 2015 and its power is fully showcased by the deck that's being played by Team Revolution.
In the third game of the match, Dickmann's Cloudfin Raptor was answered with a Rakdos Cackler from Levy. Dickmann had a pair of Judge's Familiar for the following turn, but Levy had Burning-Tree Emissary into Firefist Striker to get reasonably far ahead. Tidebinder Mage from Dickmann bound Levy's Tidebinder Mage.
The players joked about how bad the match-up is for Levy.
Dickmann coyly smiled, "I think the hand I kept for Game 2 was pretty bad."
Levy disagreed, "I thought it was good."
"Yes, for me."
The next turn was deceptively complicated. Levy needed to get Tidebinder Mage off the table, but Dickmann's pair of Judge's Familiars meant that he would have to do so using the convoke mechanic. Legion Loyalist came down for Levy and he used it and the rest of his board to cast Stoke the Flames to deal with Tidebinder Mage. Another Tidebinder Mage came down to keep Firefist Striker tapped down and the pair of Judge's Familiar continued getting into combat.
Levy snapped back with an attack of his own. Dickmann put both of his available blockers in front of Legion Loyalist. A perfect block. Levy had Titan's Strength and was able to trade it and his Titan's Strength for Dickmann's Tidebinder Mage. Frostburn Weird came down next and levy sent two Rakdos Cackler and his remaining Burning-Tree Emissary into the red zone. The damage from blocks and Lightning Strike were enough to finish off the Raptor, but Levy was falling very far behind in cards and tempo.
Thassa, God of the Sea from Dickmann put the breaks on Levy's attacks while Judge's Familiars continued to peck away at the Frenchman's lifetotal. Mizzium Mortars dealt with Frostburn Weird, giving Levy the chance to start attacking again, but Dickmann's army of flying creatures would prove too much for Levy to overcome. Levy tried to bait the necessary blocks from his opponent to decrease Thassa's Devotion on the final turn of the game, but Dickmann refused to take the bait and was able to attack for lethal on the following turn.
Raphael Levy 1 – Patrick Dickmann 2