"I'm going to beat your ass like a little girl" - Jon Finkel
With these brave words, Jon seemed ready to take on everyone's favourite player - Dave Price. And unlike most times where this phrase is used, in this case it's actually been proven through repeated Invitational votes. Long-time friends, the two players bantered back and forth easily as Dave indicated that he was fighting to not be in last place. They discussed some of the other decks and their opinions as to their builds as they shuffled.
"I've never lost to him in a tournament" - Dave Price
With these even braver words, Dave Price chose to go first. He also deemed fit to mention that Jon would never be so mean as to beat him on his 26th birthday. Dave's Llanowar Elves agreed as they rushed out to help on the first turn, but they were used only to attack as an un-kicked Kavu Titan joined them on turn two. Finkel played a Meddling Mage naming Flametongue Kavu, fully realizing how powerful it is in the early game for Dave's momentum.
A Fire removed the Mage from play, and John followed up with a Spectral Lynx. But Dave had reached the magical five-mana threshold and kicked up a Skizzik to trample through for five. The next turn he attempted a Call of the Herd that Finkel Absorbed, and as predicted by Finkel, followed up with a Fire to the Spectral Lynx and attacked for much damage. Finkel drew and conceded.
Price - 1
Finkel - 0
Finkel is the only player here who actually published his deck before the tournament. The most recent issue of the paper Sideboard features an article by the esteemed Mr. Finkel that includes the deck he is playing today, with a slightly modified sideboard. Dave developed his deck alongside Chris Pikula, who is playing a similar variant.
In: 4 Spellbane Centaur, 1 Tahngarth, Talruum Hero and 4 Scorching Lava
Out: 4 Raging Kavu, 1 Shivan Wurm and 4 Fire/Ice
In: 2 Lashknife Barrier
Out: 2 Fact or Fiction
Dave's second game was not as fast as he had no turn one play. Finkel again played a Meddling Mage naming Flametongue Kavu. He followed this up with a Lashknife Barrier to help hold off the Kavu Titan. But it couldn't do much against Urza's Rage and the Mage went to the graveyard. Finkel just called up a Shadowmage Infiltrator in its place and Dave was left looking at the Lashknife Barrier for a previously un-revealed weakness that would allow him to get around its effects.
Weakness or no, Flametongue Kavu certainly solved the Infiltrator problem, if a turn late, allowing Jon to draw one extra card. As creatures and kill were traded back and forth, Dave ended up with the advantage of an Elf and two Titans (one kicked) versus no creatures. That drastically changed as Finkel played Dromar to take back control of the board.
At least, it seemed like he had control of the board. Dave menacingly asked, "so you're at 10 life?" and then played a kicked Skizzik and attacked for eight, losing the Skizzik to the mighty Dragon. Finkel calmly attacked back and returned all green creatures to their owner's hand, leaving Dave with few options outside of direct damage and another Skizzik. At least, that's how it would be before Odyssey!
Dave played a Spellbane Centaur and all of sudden things looked a bit different from before. Finkel couldn't counter the Centaur without risking direct damage, but the Centaur was certainly going to be a problem, as it would not be affected by Dromar's ability!
It's interesting to watch Finkel play as he not only looks at the board, he also constantly scans his opponent's face and reactions. One wonders if a clues to his great skills are related to his ability to read his opponents?
Being able to read Dave didn't matter though as Dave decided to test whether Finkel really did have a Counterspell by attempting to Scorching Lava him to death. Finkel just sighed and revealed his hand as Dave again maintained his undefeated streak. I'm sure he's grateful for the birthday gift!
Afterwards Jon commented that Dave only won because they had practiced earlier and Dave had changed his deck to beat Jon's. Dave countered that the reason he changed his deck was because it had sucked, not just because it lost to Jon.
Final Result: Dave Price 2 - Jon Finkel - 0