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Magic: The Gathering Invitational 2000
Finals Recap - Standard

by Randy Buehler

As soon as Chris Pikula sat down for his championship match with Jon Finkel, he announced "Do not let me start Type I without getting my Vampiric Tutor out of Jon's Type 2 deck." Just another indication of the informal, friendly nature of this event. Nonetheless, both players really wanted to win. Chris kept talking about the "impossible dream" and Finkel was speculated about what his card could be called. "Hand of lekniF" was the leading suggestion.

Dave Humpherys admitted that he really didn't think his deal with Pikula was actually going to be relevant, but he still spent much of last night trying to teach Pikula how to Solomon draft. (When Chris was desperate for Type 1 and Standard decks Friday night, he promised to fly Humpherys to next year's Invitational if Dave would give him decks this year and if those decks allowed Chris to win this year's event. Humpherys was tied for 3rd with Chris at the time, but he thought that was a fair deal.)

Finkel won the flip and decided to keep a hand with Grim Monolith, two Voltaic Keys, and land. He knew Chris was playing a white weenie deck and so Jon felt he had several turns to draw any one of Yawgmoth's Bargain, Vampiric Tutor, or Academy Rector. Chris mulliganed away a Mother of Runes, Masticore, and 5 land. His new hand had those same two creatures plus a Disenchant. Chris Disenchant Jon's Monolith, but Jon still had all the mana he needed if he could just draw a business spell. Chris played out a Masticore on turn 4 and then a second one on turn 5 so he could deal more damage, more quickly. All Finkel ever drew were 2 Skirge Familiars and 2 Soul Feasts. Pikula was surprised that his Masticore beatdown plan worked, but it did.

If there's any flaw with the Bargain deck, it's that you get the draw Jon got too often. All the mana acceleration in the world doesn't help if you don't have anything to do with it. But the odds of getting a better 6-card hand are less than the odds of top-decking a business spell. It's a very frustrating scenario and good players never like being forced to trust the top of their deck.

Finkel's draw in game 2 was significantly better. He played a turn 1 Swamp and used Vampiric Tutor to go get Academy Rector. On Jon's third turn he used Dark Ritual to cast Academy rector and then sacrificed it to Phyrexian Tower for two black mana. All Chris had in play was a longbow Archer. With a full complement of 20 life, Jon had no trouble finding Skirge familiar and the mana to cast it. That gave him all the mana he needed to cast Soul feats three times and then cast Yawgmoth's Will to cast them again. Bargain with a good draw is awfully hard to beat.

Chris kept a hand for game 3 with Thran Foundry, some weenies, and some land. Finkel played turn 1 Remote farm and turn 2 peat Bog. His initial hand had only a Vampiric Tutor and Phyrexian Tower as relevant cards, but he drew an Academy rector before his third turn. However, Chris played turn 3 Thran Foundry and thus spoiled Jon's plans. Jon played out his rector anyway and used it to block a Steadfast Guard. Chris shuffled it back in to prevent Jon from getting a Bargain, but Jon just untapped and played another one. Chris had a Disenchant by now and so he Disenchanted Jon's Bargain at the first available opportunity. However, Jon had "a lot of responses." Finkel drew 15 cards and Vampiric tutored for Dark Ritual. That was enough cards to let him cast grim monolith, Grim Monolith, Voltaic Key, and Skirge familiar. He discarded most of the rest of his hand to cast one Soul feasts and another copy of Yawgmoth's Bargain. His new 4 cards didn't help, but Finkel did have a Renounce so he sacrificed 5 permanents to gain 10 life and those next 10 cards were all he needed to win.

Finkel - 2
Pikula - 1
Finkel leads the overall series 1-0 (best 3 of 5 formats)

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