Clash of Titans - Jon Finkel (Four Color Cryptolith) vs. Brad Nelson (Bant Company)

Posted in Event Coverage on May 7, 2016

By Jacob Van Lunen

Jacob Van Lunen began playing Magic in 1995. He has participated in organized play at every level of competition and was a member of the winning team at Pro Tour San Diego in 2007, thanks to an innovative draft strategy. As a writer, Van Lunen has had more than three hundred Magic strategy pieces published

Two weekends ago, at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad, Jon Finkel and (10) Brad Nelson were absolutely crushing all of their opponents on the game's biggest stage. Both of these players, two of the very best in the game, added on to their already impressive resumes with another Pro Tour Top 8.

Jon Finkel has more Pro Tour Top 8s than anyone else else ever. Sixteen. No one else has more than ten! Finkel has won more prize money from Magic than anyone else ever. It's no surprise that the man is widely regarded as the greatest Magic player to ever play the game. Finkel lives in New York and this weekend is an opportunity for the greatest of all time to defend his home turf.

Brad Nelson is currently ranked tenth in the world. He has three Pro Tour Top 8s and a host of other solid performances throughout his career. Many of the game's greatest players consider Nelson to be the best Standard player alive.

Both of these players came into Grand Prix New York with three byes. The fourth round would be their first match of Magic.

Head Judge Damian Hiller picked up his microphone, “Feature matches for round four! Brad Nelson vs. Jon Finkel...”


Brad Nelson

The entire hall murmured and the two giants of the game made their way to the feature match.

Nelson made it through fifteen rounds at Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad only losing (twice) to Jon Finkel. This was a chance for revenge against the game's greatest.

Unfortunately for Nelson, Finkel was playing a four-color Collected Company deck that used Cryptolith Rite and Eldrazi Displacer. Nelson, who was playing a more traditional Bant Collected Company deck, regarded Four Color Cryptolith as his worst matchup.

Nelson won the roll and tried to apply pressure but Finkel's Reflector Mage into Collected Company quickly established board control.

Things seemed stagnant for the next few turns, but the combination of Eldrazi Displacer and Brood Monitor with Cryptolith Rite on the table soon meant that Finkel would be able to produce a massive army and repeatedly bounce Nelson's entire army. Nelson picked up his cards and was ready for a second game.


Jon Finkel

The second game seemed to be a bit closer, but soon Eldrazi Displacer came to the party for Finkel and things got awkward again. Nelson tried to manuever his way to victory and was even able to counter a Collected Company with Dispel.

It wasn't enough, though. Finkel eventually had enough creatures that he felt comfortable enough to activate Westvale Abbey to start attacking with Ormendahl, Profane Prince. Nelson couldn't find an answer and the match ended in two quick attacks.

So far, so good for Jonny Magic as he tries to defend New York and add to the game's greatest resume!

Jon Finkel defeats Brad Nelson in two games!

Brad Nelson - Bant Company

Jon Finkel - Four Color Cryptolith

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