by Randy Buehler
John Yoo led with Saprazzan Skeey in game 1, much to Jon Finkel's surprise. The Skeey led to a turn 2 Balloon Peddler and a turn 3 Coastal Piracy. However, Finkel drafted a very aggressive white weenie deck, and he had plenty of 2/2 creature sin play to prevent Yoo from taking advantage of that burst of speed. Of course, all Finkel really has is a bunch of 2/2 creatures in his deck so when Yoo drew into Stinging Barrier and Waterfront Bouncer, Finkel couldn't really compete. Finkel tried swarming with 5 creatures, but he could only get Yoo down to 5. For several turns, Finkel sat with one Swamp in play and Sever Soul in his hand. The second Swamp would have allowed him to kill the Wall and continue his weenie swarm, but he never drew it. Finkel sounded both bored and depressed as he drew cards and said "done." He couldn't deal with Skulking Fugitive, much less Stinging barrier. Finkel played flawlessly, but he didn't have a lot to work with. Finkel's last chance was a Charmed Griffin, but Yoo had drawn into a Sever Soul thanks to his Coastal Piracy/Bog Smugglers combination and Yoo's card quality won out over Finkel's weenie rush.
After game 1, Finkel commenting on the Saprazzan Skeey and Yoo defending himself by explaining that he's only ever done 5 drafts in this format. The "Daddy" was once one of the most feared limited players in the world and finished 3rd at PT - LA 2. In recent years he's been distracted by real life and only plays Magic occasionally, but he still had enough skills to make the top 8 of Grand Prix San Diego (the first time he ever played with mercadian masques cards) and thus qualify for another tournament on the Boat.
Finkel's opening hand for game 2 was 5 land, a Sergeant, and a Commander. Ba-roken (in his deck)! Yoo played a turn 3 Drake hatchling to try to hold off the growing swarms of grizzly bears, but Finkel Snuffed in Out and then dropped a Charmed Griffin. Yoo got to put Coastal Piracy into play for free, but it didn't help. Yoo was forced to block with Waterfront Bouncer and lose it in combat so he would "only" take five damage per turn. Two turns later, the fast bloody game was over and the match was even at one game apiece.
Yoo once again led with Saprazzan Skerry in game 3. Turn 2 Skulking Fugitive is pretty aggressive, but Finkel had the answer. He played Cho-Arrim Legate (for free) and the pro-black 1/2 held off Yoo's beast. Finkel only had two land so he wouldn't even have been able to cast it without the alternative casting cost and I'm sure he was glad he decided to sideboard it back in after taking it out for game 2. Finkel stayed at two land for several turns, but his deck has plenty to do at that mana level. He used Last Breath on a Waterfront Bouncer and played out some weenies.
The game looked to be leaning in favor of Yoo when he used Scandalmonger to strip all the cards out of Finkel's hand before Finkel ever drew his first Swamp. Finkel did draw lands #3 and #4, which allowed him to fetch all the Rebels out of his deck and he killed off one Skulking Fugitive and the Scandalmonger in combat (while losing all his creatures too). A second Skulking Fugitive was playing defense for Yoo when Finkel drew "the nuts" -- Wishmonger. Wishmonger allowed him to target the Skulking Fugitive and destroy a Dehydration (by giving his own creature protection form blue). Meanwhile Yoo drew land number 12. Finkel also top-decked a Charmed Griffin, but he didn't need it. Yoo drew Stinging Barrier, but by this point Finkel had enough land to shut it down with Wishmonger too. Five turns of beatdown reduced Yoo's sc to zero in a game that was all about the Mongers.
Yoo - 1
Finkel - 2