by Randy Buehler
Mike Long sat down trying to play the role of spoiler in his 15th round match against Jon Finkel. It's an unfamiliar role for Long, who had never played an Invitational match while out of contention in any of his four previous Invitationals, but Long has struggled this weekend. Finkel has not struggled; in fact, the reigning world champion could clinch the Top Two with a win, but would need some help if he lost this match.
Both players were running control decks - a style they've each been playing in Type 1 for 6 or 7 years now. Long played a Mox and a land on his first turn and then decided to tap out to Demonic Tutor for Ancestral Recall (rather than leave up Mana Drain) because what could Finkel do on his first turn? Well, Finkel had his own Ancestral in his opening draw and got to play it and then Disenchant Long's Mox Sapphire.
Long's own Ancestral found him his Library of Alexandria and as a result Finkel Balanced them both down to 5 cards. Long spent the rest of the game trying to build back up to 7 cards in hand so he could use his Library. Long chose not to Pyroblast a Stroke for 3 and he even let Morphling resolve. He probably would have lost he counter battle over Morphling anyway because it turned out Finkel was prepared to defend it with both Mana Drain and Force of Will, but when Long's Library showed him nothing but more permission spells, he scooped and started shuffling for game 2.
Finkel played Dwarven Miners on each of his first two turns in game 2 and the second one actually resolved. Long did have an Island and a Fellwar Stone in his draw, so the Miner didn't shut him down completely, but it certainly wasn't good. A lot of what control on control matches come down to is mana advantage, and Finkel had plenty. Long, however, managed to accumulate a hand full of cards thanks to Ancestral Recall and a pair of Fact or Fictions. (Long said in an aside to me that he thinks the DCI should restrict Fact or Fiction in Type 1 - it's that good.)
Finkel let Long do all the card drawing he wanted and then tried to Mind Twist. Long fended off the Twist, but he had to use one of his Force of Wills to do it. He then used the other to stop Gorilla Shaman from coming into play, because it could have eaten most of Long's mana, including the Fellwar Stone that was Long's MVP this game. Eventually Finkel Mystical Tutored for Yawgmoth's Will and set up one of the most degenerate combos the worlds has ever seen: first he cast OBLITERATE, the uncounterable spell from Invasion that blows up all lands, creatures, and artifacts. Then he played out the two Moxes and Black Lotus he was saving and used them to cast YAWGMOTH'S WILL. The Will allowed him to put the other 3 Moxes plus the Lotus back into play and then he played Tolarian Academy from his graveyard. With all that mana he used Mind Twist to knock Long's entire hand away and then Stroked himself for five. Surprise, surprise, Finkel was able to win from that position.
Final Result: Finkel wins 2-1. Finkel clinches a spot in the finals.