Finals Recap - Jon Finkel vs. Chris Benafel
Approximately a month ago, Wizards of the Coast announced that $2 million would be added to the pro tour, thus legitimizing the concept of the true professional player. A number of players who had recently been complacent in their PT preparations swore that they'd be coming back and started working at their games with renewed vengeance. Amongst those players was Jon Finkel.
Considered by most to be the best player of all time, Finkel had found himself more interested in school and life then Magic in recent months. This showed in his performances this year, when, despite a number of solid finishes, he did not make a single top 8. Now, all that has been erased, as Finkel has earned his first US National Title.
Playing against new teammate Chris Benefel in what many considered to be a poor deck matchup, Jon was dominant. Playing A black deck designed by Mike Flores based around two of the strongest cards in Type 2, Yawgmoth's Will and Vampiric Tutor, Finkel smashed through Benefel's Ponza deck in three straight games, lasting less than half an hour in total.
Game one saw Finkel cast Vampiric Tutor on turn three so that he could Persecute all of Benefel's red cards in what turned out to be Chris' entire hand. After that, it was merely a matter of finding a damage source, which he finally did in Skittering Horror.
Game two also saw hand destruction spells decimate Benefel as a first turn Duress and third turn Stupor were backed up by Benefel's having to Seal of Fire his own Avalanche Rider in response to Jon's trying to Eradicate it. The only card in Chris' hand at the time was another Rider. John eventually cast not one but two explosive Yawgmoth's will's recycling destroyed lands, Vampiric Tutors and Skittering Horror, eventually using the Horror and a Spawning Pool to finish Chris off.
Game three saw Benefel, playing first halted at two lands. The crowd reacted with disappointment when Finkel didn't Tutor on turn three for a Persecute, but it turned out he didn't need to as it was already in his hand, robbing Benefel of six cards. Jon then played Dust Bowl destroying the two Ghitu Encampments from Benefel's opening hand and the rest was history, as Finkel added the Championship crown to his already impressive resume. Jon now leads the US Team, comprised of he, Chris, Frank Hernandez and Aaron Forsythe to World Championships, where they will try to win the Team Championship for the third straight time.