Class of: 2005 Hometown: New York City, New York Debut: Worlds 1996 Career winnings: $291,869 Lifetime Pro Points: 380
- Known as 'Jonny Magic'
- No. 2 all-time money winner
- Participated in a record 11 Pro Tour Top 8s, also has two Juniors Top 8s
- Won the 2000 Magic Invitational and was immortalized as the Shadowmage Infiltrator
- Player of the Year for the ‘97-98 season
- Won both the Individual and Team Championships at Worlds 2000
Jon Finkel is simply one of the all-time greatest players the game of Magic has ever seen. He was winning tournaments before there was anything called a Pro Tour. Once the Pro Tour set up shop in the Puck Building one blustery weekend during February of 1996, Jon Finkel began winning there as well. In addition to his unprecedented – and still unmatched – career with 11 Pro Tour Top 8 finishes, Jon racked up two Junior Pro Tour Top 8s during that first season. That means Jon has played on Sunday of a Pro Tour a staggering 13 times, just one of several reasons why he was the top vote-getter among eligible players.
"It's a great honor to be elected to the Pro Tour Hall of Fame," Finkel said. "Playing Magic was one of the best experiences of my life and prepared me for everything else I have done since. I am very happy to be recognized by the Magic community for my accomplishments in this game. "
Toward the end of that first Pro Tour season, Finkel had built up the confidence to get in the ring with the big boys. He swept through the Standard portion of U.S. Nationals 1996 with Blue-white Control – an archetype that would become his calling card – although he failed to make the Top 8. At Worlds that year (the event that put made him eligible for the first Hall of Fame ballot), he finished ninth playing a modified Turbo Stasis.
The following season was a quiet one for Jonny Magic with "only" three Top 16 finishes to show for his efforts on the senior circuit. He did make the Top 8 at U.S. Nationals but lost out in his bid to be on the National team.
The 1997-98 season was Jon's breakout year. He finally broke through to Sunday in Chicago. He posted two Top 32 finishes at the next two Pro Tours before winning a Pro Tour in New York. The Top 8 there included two players with whom he came up through the ranks – David Bachmann and John Chinnock. His victory over Bachmann in the semifinals – and the securing of that first trophy by defeating Dominic Crapuchettes – seemed to mark an important moment in Jon's career as he drifted from being one of the "Jersey kids" to developing a lasting relationship with the Deadguys: Dave Price, Chris Pikula, Worth Wollpert, and Tony Tsai. Jon also made the U.S. National team that year. The U.S. won the team event at Worlds, Jon finished third in the individual competition, and won the title of Player of the Year. Players began to get the sneaking suspicion Finkel was the best player in the game.
By Jon's own admission, he had accomplished everything he had set out to do in Magic and his motivation level declined after the '98 season, which is hard to believe when you consider the accolades and trophies that he had yet to win.
That drop in motivation did nothing to dispel the legend, though. It may have only served to build it up as Jon continued to breeze his way through the Pro Tour with seemingly little preparation, displaying an ease that has never been matched. He made two more Top 8s the next season, losing to his good friend Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals of Los Angeles. That was also the year he passed off the title of Player of the Year to Kai Budde and set the stage for countless debates of "Jon vs. Kai" as to who was the greatest player ever to sling a spell.
Jon joined forces with Steve OMS and Steve's brother Dan to form Antarctica, one of the greatest three-person teams in history. They finished third at the inaugural Team Pro Tour in Washington, D.C. (losing to Your Move Games and fellow Hall of Famer Darwin Kastle in the semis), and in an exhibition tournament for ESPN2 reached the finals against Black Ops (a squad featuring a pair of up-and-coming players in Olivier and Antoine Ruel). Later that year he was the U.S. National champion and went on to defeat Bob Maher, Jr. in the finals of the World Championships for his second and final Pro Tour title. To top it all off, he lead the U.S. National team to victory in the team competition as well – winning more than $40,000 of his lifetime $291,896 winnings in that one weekend.
Jon's win at the 2000 Magic Invitational immortalized him as the Shadowmage Infiltrator. Jon reached the Top 8 four more times over the next three seasons – he had two during the 2000-01 season and two more during 2002-03 – with his last such appearance being in the Top 8 of Pro Tour-Yokohama 2003.
In Yokohama, his play against Benjamin Caumes in that final Top 8 showed just what made Jon such a great player over the course of his career. Jon had a Sparksmith on the board without another Goblin in sight and was not holding one either – he actually had very few in his deck. Ben had played Wirewood Herald which threatened to fetch one of Caumes' Timberwatch Elf – a card that could be disastrous for Jon. So what did Jon do? He shot the Herald allowing Ben to put the Timberwatch from his deck into hand. Caumes assumed that Jon had to be holding another Goblin or he never would have shot the Herald in the first place, and refused to play the pumping elf until it was too late. From his first Pro Tour Top 8 in the Junior division of New York to the Top 8 of Yokohama, Jon exemplified the mental aspects of the game like no other player.
Asked for the person he would most likely thank for his Pro Tour career and the honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame, Jon had an unexpectedly sweet answer.
"It is clearly my Dad," he said. "The reason I was able to become the best Magic player in the world was clearly my Dad. He bought me my first computer in 1981 and played games with me my whole life."
By Event Type
|Pro Tour-New York (Juniors)||2/17/1996||Top 8||5||3||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Columbus (Juniors)||7/6/1996||Top 4||n/a||n/a||0||-|
|1996 World Championships||8/18/1996||9||13||5||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Dallas - Type I||11/22/1996||116||2||3||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Dallas - Type II||11/23/1996||n/a||4||4||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||3/1/1997||13||7||2||3||-|
|Grand Prix-Washington D.C.||4/26/1997||16||6||4||1||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||5/30/1997||15||8||3||1||-|
|1997 World Championships||8/15/1997||13||13||7||1||-|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||3/6/1998||23||9||4||1||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/17/1998||1||13||1||1||-|
|1998 World Championships||8/15/1998||3||17||5||1||-|
|Grand Prix-San Francisco||1/23/1999||18||6||3||1||3|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||2/26/1999||2||12||3||2||-|
|Grand Prix-Kansas City||3/27/1999||5||8||1||1||3|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/30/1999||88||6||7||0||-|
|Grand Prix-Washington DC||6/18/1999||11||7||3||0||3|
|1999 U.S. Nationals||7/3/1999||60||5||4||0||-|
|1999 World Championships||8/13/1999||10||12||5||1||-|
|Pro Tour-Washington D.C. (Team)||9/5/1999||3|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||2/4/2000||251||2||3||0||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/14/2000||85||6||7||0||-|
|2000 U.S. Nationals||6/10/2000||1||12||1||2||-|
|2000 World Championships||8/4/2000||1||17||3||1||-|
|Pro Tour-New York (Team)||10/1/2000||27||-|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||2/2/2001||4||12||4||0||-|
|2001 U.S. Nationals||6/2/2001||9||9||3||0||-|
|2001 World Championships||8/10/2001||17||12||6||0||-|
|Pro Tour-New York (Team)||9/9/2001||80|
|Pro Tour-New Orleans||11/2/2001||65||8||6||0||-|
|Pro Tour-San Diego||1/11/2002||112||4||6||1||-|
|2002 U.S. Nationals||6/1/2002||16||8||3||1||-|
|2002 World Championships||8/16/2002||99||9||8||1||-|
|Pro Tour-Boston (Team)||9/29/2002||58|
|2003 U.S. Nationals||6/29/2003||7||9||3||1||-|
|2003 World Championship||8/8/2003||80||10||8||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Boston (Team)||9/14/2003||52|
|Pro Tour-New Orleans||10/31/2003||225||2||4||0||-|
|Pro Tour-San Diego||5/14/2004||165||3||3||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Seattle (Team)||7/11/2004||68|
|2004 World Championship||9/3/2004||63||11||7||0||-|
- Jon debuted in the Junior division of the Pro Tour at the very first event in New York and reached the Top 8.
- Pro Tour Columbus 1996 was the last time Jon would compete as a Junior. He ended that brief chapter of his career with a Top 4 finish. The format was Ice-Age Alliances Constructed and Jon trumped the Outpost-heavy field with his Kjeldoran Outpost deck that touched red for Stone Rain and Pyroclasm.
- Jon 'ground' into U.S. Nationals in 1996 and went 6-0 in the Limited portion of the competition.
- Although Jon did not make the Top 8 of a Senior circuit event until the third season of the Pro Tour, he finished ninth at the 1996 World Championships – his first official Pro Tour event.
- Jon took a year to break through into the Top 8 ranks although he did finish in the top 16 three times in the second year of the Pro Tour. He played a prison deck at the first Extended Pro Tour in Chicago 1997-98 and took third place.
- Jon's first victory was in New York 1997-98, where he had to get past a Top 8 that included longtime friends John Chinnock and David Bachmann. He took the best rares that Tempest had to offer in the draft and dominated Sunday with Tradewind Rider and Grave Pact.
- After three Top 16s in the previous season, Jon followed with three Top 8s in 1997-98. That season-long dominance earned him the Player of the Year award. He closed out the year with a third-place finish at the World Championships, and he also won the Team Championship as a member of the U.S. National team.
- Chicago continued to be a nice place for Jon to visit when he finished fifth drafting red-white in the Windy City's 1998-99 Pro Tour.
- Jon became the second player with five Top 8s when he lost to his good friend Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals of Pro Tour Los Angeles. His prowess as a Limited player began to overshadow his early success in Constructed.
- In addition to his outstanding Pro Tour resume, Jon has reached the Top 8 of nine Grand Prix events, with two individual wins and one team win. He took first in Rio de Janeiro defeating Steve O'Mahoney-Schwartz in the finals. He also took down Randy Buehler in the finals of Grand Prix-Boston 1998 with a well-timed Lobotomy on Randy's Shard Phoenixes.
- Jon teamed up with Steve OMS and his brother Dan to form one of the original powerhouse three-person teams – Antarctica. They reached the Top 4 of Pro Tour Washington D.C. at the inaugural team event and also won Grand Prix-St. Louis, with a Top 4 in Grand Prix-Pittsburgh as well.
- The 1999-00 season saw Jon return to take the U.S. National Championship playing the notorious monoblack Napster deck. He went on to lead the U.S. National team to victory in the team competition and also won the World Championships over Bob Maher in an exciting Tinker mirror match.
- Jon made his third Top 8 in the city of Chicago during the 2000-01 season with his Fires of Yavimaya deck. The Top 8 from that event is arguably the most formidable of all time, with Kai Budde, Kamiel Cornelissen, Brian Kibler, Rob Dougherty, Mike Pustilnik, Zvi Mowshowitz, and Jay Elarar joining Jon on Sunday.
- Jon, Kamiel, and Mikey P all made back-to-back Top 8's in 2000-01 when they followed up their Constructed Chicago showing with a Limited event in Los Angeles.
- Jon’s dominant run on the Pro Tour inlcuded a win over Ben Rubin at the Magic Invitational in Sydney, Australia. His original card Wrath of Leknif was rejected as too powerful. One of Jon’s favorite cards of wasOphidian and that was reflected in his second submission, which became Shadowmage Infiltrator.
- Rubin exacted some small measure of revenge two weeks later when the two met in the finals of the second Masters Series event in Chicago – the format was Booster Draft. Jon lost in the Top 4 of the Masters Series to Rubin in Barcelona later that season, too.
- The 2001-02 season snapped four-year stretch where Jon made at least one Top 8 each season.
- Jon returned to form in 2002-03. He could hardly miss a Top 8 in Chicago and 2003 stayed true to form, when he finished third. In true Chicago fashion it was one of the toughest Top 8 drafts in memory, with Kai Budde, Nicolai Herzog, Dustin Stern, Eugene Harvey, Fabio Reinhardt, Bram Snepvangers, and William Jensen making up the Sunday field.
- Pro Tour-Yokohama was Jon's most recent Top 8 appearance – a record-extending ninth Sunday for the man also known as Finkeltron. The event brought Jon's lifetime winnings to almost $300,000, twice as much as anyone else in the inaugural Hall of Fame Class and second all-time to Budde.
- "Jonny Magic and the Card Shark Kids", a 2005 Random House book by David Kushner, detailed Finkel's rise from social outcast to the best Magic player in the world, along with Finkel's exploits after leaving the Pro Tour.