Pro Tour-Chicago 1999
In what will go down as one of the great Finals in Pro Tour history, hometown favorite Bob Mahar Jr. defeated first time Pro Tour attendee Brian Davis in a 3-2 victory which took both players to their very limits.
Maher's start didn't look so good as Davis, playing a Necro deck designed by online playtesting partner Craig Wescoe came out strong with Unmask, followed by Dark Ritual for a Necropotence. Davis proceeded to force Maher to discard his entire hand, making him play off the top of his deck. Just when all seemed lost however, Mahar roared back by topdecking Ivory Mask. When Davis tried to rid himself of the problem by casting a Nevinyrral's Disk, Mahar Enlightened Tutored for a Null Rod, and Brian scooped.
Game two was just as close. After Davis started the game off with a mulligan, he kept a six card hand which again allowed him to cast a first turn Necropotence. Despite huge card advantage, Davis started running out of resources, and when he tried to Drain Life Maher for the final four points of damage, Maher, who'd sided out all of his creatures but Morphling, Swords to Plowshares-ed a Treetop Villiage in response, gaining enough life to stay alive, and Davis conceded the game.
The third game seemed to cue Davis' comeback. In a game totally dominated by the Necrodeck's discard, Davis eventually built up to six mana at which point he Drained and Corrupted Mahar out. Game four was a fight over Maher's Ivory Mask. After he cast it, Davis cast 2 Disks and a Dystopia before finally getting rid of the pesky enchantment. He then rode his Drains to victory amidst commentators Randy Buehler and Brian Hacker's songs of praise.
In the most exciting game of the tournament, Maher, playing first, watched as Davis, who'd mulliganed to six cards, Unmasked Maher and followed that up with yet another first turn Ritual Necro. Sitting without mana, Maher could only watch as Wasteland after Wasteland came out of Davis' deck. Giving Maher a little time in building up mana, Davis started trying to Drain Maher so as to gain life at seven lands, but Maher had built his hand so much that he was able to counter every drain or Corrupt Davis cast. Finally, sitting at one life, Davis could only watch as Maher responded to his last Corrupt by discarding a Brainstorm to Force of Will. Davis threw down and conceded.
Maher, the home town hero, emerged moments later in the players gallery to a huge round of applause from observers and a passionate embrace from his fiance. One of the warmest moments in Pro Tour history, it's one this reporter will never forget.