Round 9: Jon Finkel vs. Kai Budde U/R vs. B/R

Posted in Feature

By Randy Buehler

Perhaps the best feature match of the tournament happened in round 9 when 1998 Player of the Year Jon Finkel faced off against 1999 Player of the Year (and reigning world champion) Kai Budde. Finkel drafted a solid blue/red deck while Budde drafted black/red and somehow upset Zvi Mowshowitz in round 8. Zvi's blue/white deck was outstanding, but Budde beat him with unblockable Fen Stalkers and reusable removal like Plague Witch.

Finkel played turn 2 Waterfront Bouncer in game 1 while Budde led with Spur Grappler. Finkel really wanted a second Swamp so he could use Vicious Hunger to kill the Grappler, but he didn't have one and just had to say "done". Budde followed up with Shock Troops and Finkel used his Withdraw to try to buy some time. Budde sacrificed his Shock Troops to kill the Bouncer, but that's just was Finkel wanted him to do since he had a second Bouncer in his hand. With no creatures in play on his side, however, Budde had the perfect opportunity to play Death Pit Offering. Budde then played land 6 on turn 6 and started dropping two creatures per turn. Finkel and his Bouncer were never able to stabilize the board, especially with all Budde's creatures gaining +2/+2 from the Offering. Finkel's Saprazzan Outrigger just wasn't enough.

After the game Budde bragged about getting Death Pit Offering 7th while Finkel complained about not having that second Swamp at the beginning and thus being forced into a number of suboptimal plays.

Finkel played another early Bouncer in game 2, but Budde had a Plague Witch. This time Finkel had the second Swamp for Vicious Hunger and the Witch went away. Budde tried to apply pressure with Wild Jhovall and Agent of Shauku, but Finkel stabilized the ground with a Saprazzan Outrigger. Budde didn't need to attack any more, though, because he had Kyren Negotiations. Finkel didn't panic and started playing fliers as quickly as he could in an effort to race the Negotiations. Finkel's position looked good when his second Vicious Hunger killed Fen Stalker and gained him some life. However, Budde then returned the Witch and Stalker to his hand with Soul Strings. Both players had 15 life to play with at this point and the race was on. Finkel added Battlefield to his Air Force and then used Noxious Field to kill two of Budde's creatures. He had to bounce his own Bouncer to save it from the field, but it was worth it to permanently remove two of Budde's creatures from play. Eventually, Finkel maneuvered the game into a situation where Budde had to chump block when he attacked with Saprazzan Outrigger and Finkel looked like he could win the race. Then Finkel drew Withdraw off the top of his deck and ended the race even quicker.

Game 3 was a savage, savage beating. Finkel played out Waterfront Bouncer and a pair of Chilling Apparitions. It took him a little while to clear a path through Budde's initial blockers, but once he did Budde was basically locked. Finkel could bounce whatever creature Budde played and then attack and make him discard his cards. Alexi's Cloak made it impossible for Budde to kill the Bouncer and Finkel soon won the game and thus the match.

Finkel 2 (now 8-1)

Budde 1 (now 5-3)

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