Six months ago most people had written off Jon Finkel. He was no longer the most feared player in the game and many people felt the game had passed him by. Sure his talent was unquestioned, but he wasn't doing the preparation work that's necessary to stay on top and he had turned into some bizarre sort of sideshow. "Hey everybody, look, it's the Finkel. Remember back when he was god-like? Better watch him now before he disappears forever." Finkel (who has played in more Pro Tours (all of them) than anyone else in the game) fell under the 20-Pro Tour point threshold that's necessary to get automatically invited. He picked up at invitation to Houston thanks to his participation in the Magic Invitational and he got into Chicago based on his rating.
Budde has been widely considered the best player in the game for a couple of years now, and his results are so much better than everyone else's that they've become almost boring. The German Juggernaut comes across as somewhere between smug and arrogant and despite his justification for that attitude, a lot of spectators would really enjoy watching some rival evolve that could wipe that grin off of his face every once in a while. How much fun would it be if "Jonny Magic" was the guy who did it?
Finkel lost that match in Chicago, and Budde went on to win his record-extending 7th Pro Tour, but this week in Yokohama things have been different. Budde was eliminated from the event on day 1 while Finkel posted an impressive 6-1 record. Finkel also won his first round Saturday morning before sitting down to this feature match against Dutchman Frank Karsten...
Finkel once again missed his third land drop in game 2. This time he didn't find a third land until Karsten already had a Gustcloak Harrier, a Lowland Tracker, and a doubly-amplified Daru Stinger. As if that wasn't challenging enough, Karsten had his Rorix on turn 6 again. As soon as the dragon hit the board, Finkel just extended his hand and Karsten felt obligated to apologize as he shook it.
Final Result: Finkel – 0 (now 7-2); Karsten – 2 (now 8-1)