by Kim Eikefet
If there is a man who doesn't need any introduction in Magic, it's Jon Finkel. The 22-year old player from New Brunswick, New Jersey has done most of what there is to do in Magic. He got one of the missing pieces when he won the Magic Invitational in Sydney. Now he's on to the one missing piece, winning Masters, and at the same time, he may pass Tommi Hovi on Pro Tour wins - Finkel took his Fires deck all the way to the Top 8 of 2000 Pro Tour Chicago. "It feels good," Finkel says, calm as ever.
During the first rounds of 2000 Pro Tour Chicago, Finkel didn't know which decks were good matchups for his deck and which ones were bad ones. It took him a good while to figure it out, too - the Magic legend won nine games in a row before then losing three in a row. "I thought I'd give up like the French in the war, but then I won the last two - including drawing an Earthquake off the top in the last match," Finkel says.
While the World Champion engages in signing some cards for a few admirers, he reveals that most of the time, it was his draws that determined whether he'd lost or win more than his opponents' draws. More admirers flock around Finkel to get their cards signed. The 22-year old is popular, and he doesn't let his fans down, they all get their hero's signature on Urza's Rages, Fact or Fictions, foil cards. Anything goes.
"I think I have a pretty good chance of winning Masters," Finkel says. He's less confident in winning the Pro Tour itself, although he likes his first matchup. In the quarterfinals, he is paired up against Kamiel Cornelissen from Holland, and Finkel crushed Kamiel's CounterRebel deck in the swiss. "Kibler will probably beat me more often than not, but I won't play him until the finals," Finkel continues.
In fact, Jon beat all the players on his side of the Top 8 bracket in the swiss with the Fires deck that originally was designed by his former Deadguy teammate, Chris Pikula. The deck is a pretty ordinary Fires deck that contains Fires of Yavimaya, creatures, Urza's Rages, Wax/Wane and Rith, the Awakener. "I have Obliterates in the sideboard, it's mostly good against control, but I never drew one," Finkel says.
He thinks it is a pretty strong Top 8 with a lot of Karplusan Forests. "And there may be 32 Ports," he adds, before admitting that the odds are against him in the playoff. Still, he figures he has a decent chance to win. And even after making eight Top 8s, he still thinks it's fun and he hopes that he will keep on doing well. However, his bet for the playoff is not on himself. "I will win Masters, and Kibler will win the Pro Tour," he thinks, a result that he will be very satisfied with.