Semifinals Feature Match - Jon Finkel vs. Frank Hernandez
by Michael Flores
Jon Finkel is running the mono-black Vampiric Tutor deck, while Hernandez came off a 3-1 win against Mike Long with small green creatures. This matchup heavily favors Finkel, who has both Perish and Engineered Plague in his main deck; Vicious Hunger and Yawgmoth's Will are also very dangerous for green.
Hernandez opens with a Vine Dryad and Wild Dogs. Jon Duresses a Giant Growth.
After analyzing the board, knowing his opponent's hand, Finkel goes with a very unorthodox play in this matchup: going beatdown with Phyrexian Negator. Usually the Negators are in the deck only for control and combination decks, as creature combat forces the deck to lose many permanents. From this position, though, Finkel is able to beat harder, and steal the Wild Dogs.
Frank then tries to slow the game down with Tangle Wire. Frank attempts to recover the board, but a Finkel Vampiric Tutor garners a 5-for-1 Perish.
Finkel 1, Hernandez 0.
Hernandez opens up with a Pouncing Jaguar and a Thran Foundry. Finkel gets 2-for-1 with Stupor, 2-for-1 with Massacre, and then successfully blocks a Wild Dogs with a Spawning Pool.
Finkel, way ahead this game, goes for the throat with a Vampiric Tutor for Thrashing Wumpus. In a rare Finkel misplay, this allows Hernandez to effectively counter the Vampiric Tutor with his Thran Foundary and empty Finkel's graveyard at the same time.
Finkel, however, is too far ahead. He Persecutes for four cards and then uses a number of Massacre and Yawgmoth's Will tricks to kill a pari of dangerous Albino Trolls.
Thrashing Wumpus finishes the game.
Finkel 2, Hernandez 0.
Hernandez has a strong opening, with Vine Dryad, Thran Foundry, and Meekstone! Meekstone will stop each and every creature left in Finkel's deck, making this a tough game.
Finkel gets out, then blocks with, a pair of Skittering Skirges, but gets rid of many of Frank's creatures with Eradicate.
Frank puts up a good offense with a couple of Treetop Villages and the Vine Dryad, but Finkel stabilizes with lots of creature kill, a pair of Rishadan Ports, and a Skittering Horror. Frank eventually has to drop an Uktabi Orangutan on his own Meekstone to keep Rancor effective, but a Finkle Skittering Skirge ends it.
Finkel 3, Hernandez 0.