Round 2: Jon Finkel vs. Ryan Fuller

Posted in Event Coverage

By Randy Buehler

The last time Jon Finkel and Ryan Fuller played each other was during the quarterfinals of the Barcelona Masters Series, where Finkel won a very hard fought Go-mar versus Go-mar matchup. They are, quite simply, two of the best players in the game. The brash Fuller has made more than his share of enemies, but he's put up some impressive results lately. Finkel's reign as "consensus best player in the history of the game" is being challenged by Kai Budde, and I for one am very curious to see how Finkel responds to this new challenger over the course of the two big events this weekend.

Finkel celebrated openly when Fuller had to mulligan not once, but twice before their first game. Finkel then composed himself and deadpanned an apology that Fuller knew was a lie. Fuller's draw was quite good for five cards - he used Werebear to power out a turn 4 Beast Attack. Finkel answered with Hallowed Healer and Dreamwinder. Dematerialize sent Dreamwinder back into Finkel's hand and Fuller got to send in his beasts again. On his next turn, Fuller used Refresh kept alive the beast that got blocked by Dreamwinder. With Dematerialize hanging out in Fullers graveyard, available for flashing back as soon as Fuller found one more land, Finkel was forced to leave extra creatures back on defense and proceed very cautiously. Fuller added Nantuko Mentor to his team and made the math even more complicated. Finkel summoned as many potential blockers as he possibly could and started serving in the air with a Windreader. Fuller used Cephalid Looter plus an AEther Burst on Finkel's Windreader to get himself to threshold and when Seton's Desire came down on a beast token, things looked bad for Finkel. Suddenly his only creature was a Hallowed Healer and Fuller had 13-power worth of green fat on the board. Finkel still wasn't out of it - he had Upheaval! Fuller looked shocked that Finkel actually had a way out of the situation, but Fuller had Syncopate mana untapped so they were on to game 2. Fuller announced to his teammates proudly that he had double-mulliganed against Jon Finkel and won.

Fuller played out a Psionic Gift on his Cephalid Looter and used it to kill Finkel's Mystic Visionary. Finkel tried to use Aura Graft to move the Gift onto his own Cephalid Looter, threatening to kill Fuller's Looter, but Fuller had Rites of Refusal ready to save the day. Knowing that Finkel's Broker would assure Finkel of the win if the game went long, Fuller started attacking with his Looter and then his Rabid Elephant. Finkel Peeked at Fuller's hand, baited out the Syncopate with a pro-green flier, and the set his hand up just right for Upheaval. Fuller wound up discarded four lands to Finkel's and Finkel was able to come out on the offense with a (flying) Mystic Visionary on his next turn. A 3/5 flying Zealot came out two turns later. Fuller appeared to stabilize with a Krosan Archer and a Dreamwinder, but Finkel attacked with all his guys and played Deluge before Fuller could block. That tied the match at a game apiece.

It was Finkel's turn to mulligan in game 3 and Fuller's turn to drip with sarcasm while claiming "You know I really don't like to win this way . . . " Finkel's six card hand was good and he churned out a steady stream of fliers. However, Fuller had his Looter again and that found him a pair of Krosan Archers along with a Beast Attack. A timely Psionic Gift that took down a Hallowed Healer the turn after Finkel played it and Fuller also had Nantuko Mentor, which pretty much forced Finkel to chump block Fuller's beast token. Finkel was reduced to serving with his pro-green Treetop Sentinel and trying to hold off Fuller's ground fat for as long as possible. Fuller's Dematerialize, AEther Burst, and flashed back Dematerialize made it impossible for Finkel to block and it only took two attack phases for Fuller to deal 20.

Both players agreed afterwards on why Fuller had won. Fuller bragged "I've never lost with Looter in play, except when my opponent has super-looter." Then after Fuller walked away Finkel complained "he had the *#^%$#@ looter on turn 3 every game."

Final Result: Fuller 2 - Finkel 1

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