Jon Finkel Known as 'Jonny Magic' ... No. 2 all-time money winner … Participated in a record 11 Pro Tour Top 8s, also has two Juniors Top 8s … Won the 2000 Magic Invitational and was immortalized as the Shadowmage Infiltrator … Player of the Year for the ‘97-98 season ... Won both the Individual and Team Championships at Worlds 2000.
Class of: 2005
Hometown: New York City, New York
Debut: Worlds 1996
Career winnings: $291,869
Lifetime Pro Points: 380


Jon Finkel is simply one of the all-time greatest players the game of Magic has ever seen. He was winning tournaments before there was anything called a Pro Tour. Once the Pro Tour set up shop in the Puck Building one blustery weekend during February of 1996, Jon Finkel began winning there as well. In addition to his unprecedented – and still unmatched – career with 11 Pro Tour Top 8 finishes, Jon racked up two Junior Pro Tour Top 8s during that first season. That means Jon has played on Sunday of a Pro Tour a staggering 13 times, just one of several reasons why he was the top vote-getter among eligible players.

"It's a great honor to be elected to the Pro Tour Hall of Fame," Finkel said. "Playing Magic was one of the best experiences of my life and prepared me for everything else I have done since. I am very happy to be recognized by the Magic community for my accomplishments in this game. "

Finkel mastered the mind game that is Magic.

Toward the end of that first Pro Tour season, Finkel had built up the confidence to get in the ring with the big boys. He swept through the Standard portion of U.S. Nationals 1996 with Blue-white Control – an archetype that would become his calling card – although he failed to make the Top 8. At Worlds that year (the event that put made him eligible for the first Hall of Fame ballot), he finished ninth playing a modified Turbo Stasis.

The following season was a quiet one for Jonny Magic with "only" three Top 16 finishes to show for his efforts on the senior circuit. He did make the Top 8 at U.S. Nationals but lost out in his bid to be on the National team.

The 1997-98 season was Jon's breakout year. He finally broke through to Sunday in Chicago. He posted two Top 32 finishes at the next two Pro Tours before winning a Pro Tour in New York. The Top 8 there included two players with whom he came up through the ranks – David Bachmann and John Chinnock. His victory over Bachmann in the semifinals – and the securing of that first trophy by defeating Dominic Crapuchettes – seemed to mark an important moment in Jon's career as he drifted from being one of the "Jersey kids" to developing a lasting relationship with the Deadguys: Dave Price, Chris Pikula, Worth Wollpert, and Tony Tsai. Jon also made the U.S. National team that year. The U.S. won the team event at Worlds, Jon finished third in the individual competition, and won the title of Player of the Year. Players began to get the sneaking suspicion Finkel was the best player in the game.

By Jon's own admission, he had accomplished everything he had set out to do in Magic and his motivation level declined after the '98 season, which is hard to believe when you consider the accolades and trophies that he had yet to win.

That drop in motivation did nothing to dispel the legend, though. It may have only served to build it up as Jon continued to breeze his way through the Pro Tour with seemingly little preparation, displaying an ease that has never been matched. He made two more Top 8s the next season, losing to his good friend Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals of Los Angeles. That was also the year he passed off the title of Player of the Year to Kai Budde and set the stage for countless debates of "Jon vs. Kai" as to who was the greatest player ever to sling a spell.

Jon Finkel, circa 2005.

Jon joined forces with Steve OMS and Steve's brother Dan to form Antarctica, one of the greatest three-person teams in history. They finished third at the inaugural Team Pro Tour in Washington, D.C. (losing to Your Move Games and fellow Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle in the semis), and in an exhibition tournament for ESPN2 reached the finals against Black Ops (a squad featuring a pair of up-and-coming players in Olivier and Antoine Ruel). Later that year he was the U.S. National champion and went on to defeat Bob Maher, Jr. in the finals of the World Championships for his second and final Pro Tour title. To top it all off, he lead the U.S. National team to victory in the team competition as well – winning more than $40,000 of his lifetime $291,896 winnings in that one weekend.

Jon's win at the 2000 Magic Invitational immortalized him as the Shadowmage Infiltrator. Jon reached the Top 8 four more times over the next three seasons – he had two during the 2000-01 season and two more during 2002-03 – with his last such appearance being in the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Yokohama 2003.

In Yokohama, his play against Benjamin Caumes in that final Top 8 showed just what made Jon such a great player over the course of his career. Jon had a Sparksmith on the board without another Goblin in sight and was not holding one either – he actually had very few in his deck. Ben had played Wirewood Herald which threatened to fetch one of Caumes' Timberwatch Elf – a card that could be disastrous for Jon. So what did Jon do? He shot the Herald allowing Ben to put the Timberwatch from his deck into hand. Caumes assumed that Jon had to be holding another Goblin or he never would have shot the Herald in the first place, and refused to play the pumping elf until it was too late. From his first Pro Tour Top 8 in the Junior division of New York to the Top 8 of Yokohama, Jon exemplified the mental aspects of the game like no other player.

Asked for the person he would most likely thank for his Pro Tour career and the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Jon had an unexpectedly sweet answer.

"It is clearly my Dad," he said. "The reason I was able to become the best Magic player in the world was clearly my Dad. He bought me my first computer in 1981 and played games with me my whole life."

By Format

Format W L D BYE Matches Win %
Limited 245 143 13 18 419 61.10%
Constructed 224 101 14 21 360 66.08%
Total 469 244 27 39 779 63.38%

By Event Type

Event W L D BYE Matches Win %
Worlds 114 54 5 0 173 65.90%
Pro Tour 218 127 14 0 359 60.72%
Nationals 43 14 4 0 61 70.49%
Grand Prix 89 46 4 39 178 64.03%
PT Juniors 5 3 0 0 8 62.50%
Total 469 244 27 39 779 63.38%

By Event

Event Date Finish W L D BYE Matches Win %
Pro Tour-New York (Juniors) 2/17/1996 Top 8 5 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Columbus (Juniors) 7/6/1996 Top 4 n/a n/a 0 -    
1996 World Championships 8/18/1996 9 13 5 0 -    
1995-96 Season     18 8 0 0 26 69.23%
Pro Tour-Atlanta 9/13/1996 143 2 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Dallas - Type I 11/22/1996 116 2 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Dallas - Type II 11/23/1996 n/a 4 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Los Angeles 3/1/1997 13 7 2 3 -    
Pro Tour-Paris 4/11/1997 194 1 3 0 -    
Grand Prix-Washington D.C. 4/26/1997 16 6 4 1 -    
Pro Tour-New York 5/30/1997 15 8 3 1 -    
1997 World Championships 8/15/1997 13 13 7 1 -    
1996-97 Season     43 30 6 0 79 54.43%
Pro Tour-Chicago 10/12/1997 3 12 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Mainz 12/5/1997 20 8 4 0 -    
Grand Prix-Rio 1/30/1998 1 10 2 0 -    
Grand Prix-Lyon 2/7/1998 26 5 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Los Angeles 3/6/1998 23 9 4 1 -    
Grand Prix-Atlanta 3/28/1998 n/a 0 3 0 3    
Pro Tour-New York 4/17/1998 1 13 1 1 -    
Gran Prix-Zurich 5/30/1998 6 6 3 0 3    
Grand Prix-Indianapolis 6/27/1998 13 7 3 0 3    
1998 World Championships 8/15/1998 3 17 5 1 -    
1997-98 Season     87 31 3 9 130 71.90%
Grand Prix-Boston 9/5/1998 1 13 0 0 3    
Pro Tour-Chicago 9/25/1998 5 12 3 2 -    
Grand Prix-Texas 10/11/1998 20 6 4 0 3    
Grand Prix-Birmingham 10/17/1998 n/a 5 3 0 3    
Pro Tour-Rome 11/13/1998 45 8 6 0 -    
Grand Prix-San Francisco 1/23/1999 18 6 3 1 3    
Pro Tour-Los Angeles 2/26/1999 2 12 3 2 -    
Grand Prix-Kansas City 3/27/1999 5 8 1 1 3    
Pro Tour-New York 4/30/1999 88 6 7 0 -    
Grand Prix-Amsterdam 5/15/1999 216 1 3 0 3    
Grand Prix-Washington DC 6/18/1999 11 7 3 0 3    
1999 U.S. Nationals 7/3/1999 60 5 4 0 -    
1999 World Championships 8/13/1999 10 12 5 1 -    
1998-99 Season     101 45 7 18 171 66.01%
Pro Tour-Washington D.C. (Team) 9/5/1999 3    
Pro Tour-London 10/15/1999 178 3 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Chicago 12/3/1999 14 10 4 0 -    
Grand Prix-Seattle 1/15/2000 57 3 4 1 3    
Pro Tour-Los Angeles 2/4/2000 251 2 3 0 -    
Grand Prix-Philadelphia 2/19/2000 50 5 4 0 3    
Pro Tour-New York 4/14/2000 85 6 7 0 -    
2000 U.S. Nationals 6/10/2000 1 12 1 2 -    
2000 World Championships 8/4/2000 1 17 3 1 -    
1999-2000 Season     58 29 4 6 97 63.74%
Pro Tour-New York (Team) 10/1/2000 27       -    
Pro Tour-Chicago 12/1/2000 5 11 4 0 -    
Grand Prix-Amsterdam 1/13/2001 238 1 3 0 3    
Pro Tour-Los Angeles 2/2/2001 4 12 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Tokyo 3/16/2001 162 3 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Barcelona 5/4/2001 11 10 3 1 -    
2001 U.S. Nationals 6/2/2001 9 9 3 0 -    
2001 World Championships 8/10/2001 17 12 6 0 -    
2000-01 Season     58 27 1 3 89 67.44%
Pro Tour-New York (Team) 9/9/2001 80            
Pro Tour-New Orleans 11/2/2001 65 8 6 0 -    
Pro Tour-San Diego 1/11/2002 112 4 6 1 -    
Pro Tour-Osaka 3/15/2002 248 1 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Nice 5/3/2002 214 3 4 0 -    
2002 U.S. Nationals 6/1/2002 16 8 3 1 -    
2002 World Championships 8/16/2002 99 9 8 1 -    
2001-02 Season     32 27 3 0 62 51.61%
Pro Tour-Boston (Team) 9/29/2002 58            
Pro Tour-Houston 11/8/2002 53 8 5 1 -    
Pro Tour-Chicago 1/17/2003 3 12 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Venice 3/21/2003 132 3 3 1 -    
Pro Tour-Yokohama 5/9/2003 4 12 4 0 -    
2003 U.S. Nationals 6/29/2003 7 9 3 1 -    
2003 World Championship 8/8/2003 80 10 8 0 -    
2002-03 Season     54 27 3 0 84 64.29%
Pro Tour-Boston (Team) 9/14/2003 52            
Pro Tour-New Orleans 10/31/2003 225 2 4 0 -    
Pro Tour-Amsterdam 1/16/2004 293 1 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-San Diego 5/14/2004 165 3 3 0 -    
Pro Tour-Seattle (Team) 7/11/2004 68            
2004 World Championship 9/3/2004 63 11 7 0 -    
2003-04 Season     17 17 0 0 34 50.00%

  • Jon debuted in the Junior division of the Pro Tour at the very first event in New York and reached the Top 8.
  • Pro Tour Columbus 1996 was the last time Jon would compete as a Junior. He ended that brief chapter of his career with a Top 4 finish. The format was Ice-Age Alliances Constructed and Jon trumped the Outpost-heavy field with his Kjeldoran Outpost deck that touched red for Stone Rain and Pyroclasm.
  • Jon 'ground' into U.S. Nationals in 1996 and went 6-0 in the Limited portion of the competition.
  • Although Jon did not make the Top 8 of a Senior circuit event until the third season of the Pro Tour, he finished ninth at the 1996 World Championships – his first official Pro Tour event.
  • Jon took a year to break through into the Top 8 ranks although he did finish in the top 16 three times in the second year of the Pro Tour. He played a prison deck at the first Extended Pro Tour in Chicago 1997-98 and took third place.
  • RECORD VS. CLASS OF 2005 W L D
    vs. Darwin Kastle 3 1 0
    vs. Tommi Hovi 0 2 0
    vs. Alan Comer 2 2 0
    vs. Olle Råde 1 0 0
    Total 6 5 0

  • Jon's first victory was in New York 1997-98, where he had to get past a Top 8 that included longtime friends John Chinnock and David Bachmann. He took the best rares that Tempest had to offer in the draft and dominated Sunday with Tradewind Rider and Grave Pact.
  • After three Top 16s in the previous season, Jon followed with three Top 8s in 1997-98. That season-long dominance earned him the Player of the Year award. He closed out the year with a third-place finish at the World Championships, and he also won the Team Championship as a member of the U.S. National team.
  • Chicago continued to be a nice place for Jon to visit when he finished fifth drafting red-white in the Windy City's 1998-99 Pro Tour.
  • Jon became the second player with five Top 8s when he lost to his good friend Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals of Pro Tour Los Angeles. His prowess as a Limited player began to overshadow his early success in Constructed.
  • In addition to his outstanding Pro Tour resume, Jon has reached the Top 8 of nine Grand Prix events, with two individual wins and one team win. He took first in Rio de Janeiro defeating Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals. He also took down Randy Buehler in the finals of Grand Prix-Boston 1998 with a well-timed Lobotomy on Randy's Shard Phoenixes.
  • Jon teamed up with Steve OMS and his brother Dan to form one of the original powerhouse three-person teams – Antarctica. They reached the Top 4 of Pro Tour Washington D.C. at the inaugural team event and also won Grand Prix-St. Louis, with a Top 4 in Grand Prix-Pittsburgh as well.
  • The 1999-00 season saw Jon return to take the U.S. National Championship playing the notorious monoblack Napster deck. He went on to lead the U.S. National team to victory in the team competition and also won the World Championships over Bob Maher in an exciting Tinker mirror match.
  • Jon made his third Top 8 in the city of Chicago during the 2000-01 season with his Fires of Yavimaya deck. The Top 8 from that event is arguably the most formidable of all time, with Kai Budde, Kamiel Cornelissen, Brian Kibler, Rob Dougherty, Mike Pustilnik, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Jay Elarar joining Jon on Sunday.
  • Jon, Kamiel, and Mikey P all made back-to-back Top 8's in 2000-01 when they followed up their Constructed Chicago showing with a Limited event in Los Angeles.
  • Jon’s dominant run on the Pro Tour inlcuded a win over Ben Rubin at the Magic Invitational in Sydney, Australia. His original card Wrath of Leknif was rejected as too powerful. One of Jon’s favorite cards of was Ophidian and that was reflected in his second submission, which became Shadowmage Infiltrator.
  • Rubin exacted some small measure of revenge two weeks later when the two met in the finals of the second Masters Series event in Chicago – the format was Booster Draft. Jon lost in the Top 4 of the Masters Series to Rubin in Barcelona later that season, too.
  • The 2001-02 season snapped four-year stretch where Jon made at least one Top 8 each season.
  • Jon returned to form in 2002-03. He could hardly miss a Top 8 in Chicago and 2003 stayed true to form, when he finished third. In true Chicago fashion it was one of the toughest Top 8 drafts in memory, with Kai Budde, Nicolai Herzog, Dustin Stern, Eugene Harvey, Fabio Reinhardt, Bram Snepvangers, and William Jensen making up the Sunday field.
  • Pro Tour-Yokohama was Jon's most recent Top 8 appearance – a record-extending ninth Sunday for the man also known as Finkeltron. The event brought Jon's lifetime winnings to almost $300,000, twice as much as anyone else in the inaugural Hall of Fame Class and second all-time to Budde.
  • "Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids", a 2005 Random House book by David Kushner, detailed Finkel's rise from social outcast to the best Magic player in the world, along with Finkel's exploits after leaving the Pro Tour.
  • Listed below are the decklists from Jon Finkel's Top 8 appearances on the Pro Tour, World Championships, and U.S. Nationals.

    Jon Finkel - Tinker
    2000 World Championships


    Jon Finkel
    Worlds 1998

    Main Deck

    60 cards

    18  Mountain
    Wasteland

    22 lands

    Ball Lightning
    Fireslinger
    Ironclaw Orcs
    Jackal Pup
    Mogg Fanatic

    19 creatures

    Cursed Scroll
    Fireblast
    Hammer of Bogardan
    Incinerate
    Shock

    19 other spells

    Sideboard
    Bottle Gnomes
    Final Fortune
    Phyrexian Furnace
    Pyroblast
    Shattering Pulse
    Torture Chamber

    15 sideboard cards






    Jon Finkel
    1998 U.S. Nationals

    Main Deck

    59 cards

    17  Island
    Quicksand

    21 lands

    Man-o'-War
    Ophidian
    Silver Wyvern
    Tradewind Rider

    11 creatures

    Capsize
    Counterspell
    Forbid
    Impulse
    Legacy's Allure
    Mana Leak
    Sapphire Medallion
    Whispers of the Muse

    27 other spells

    Sideboard
    Disrupt
    Hydroblast
    Meekstone
    Null Rod
    Phyrexian Furnace
    Suq'Ata Firewalker

    13 sideboard cards



    Jon Finkel
    Pro Tour-Los Angeles 1998-99, Rochester Draft




    Jon Finkel - Napster
    2000 U.S. Nationals


    Jon Finkel
    Pro Tour-Chicago 2000, Standard


    Jon Finkel
    Pro Tour-Los Angeles 2001, Rochester Draft


    Jon Finkel - Zombies
    2003 U.S. Nationals



    Video

    All files are Windows Media Player format.

    Photo Gallery

    Jon Finkel after winning Worlds 2000, capping an amazing year in which he was U.S. National Champion, World Champion, and part of the championship U.S. team.


    Jon Finkel faces Kai Budde at Pro Tour-Chicago 2003 in one of the few sanctioned matches between the game's greatest players.


    Jon Finkel's success made him into the game's first superstar.


    Jon Finkel at Pro Tour-Chicago 2000, which featured a Top 8 including Kai Budde, Kamiel Cornelissen, Brian Kibler, Rob Dougherty, Michael Pustilinik, Zvi Mowshowitz and Jay Elarar.


    Jon Finkel, at Worlds 2004. This was Jon's most recent appearance on the Pro Tour.

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