Dear Hall of Fame selection committee voter,
Here is your official ballot for the 2014 Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame election.
That is the greeting to the ballots that were just sent out to the newly consolidated selection committee that is made up of commentators, tournament officials, key Wizards personnel, and all Magic players in good standing with more than 150 lifetime Pro Points. This year's ballot, which is the first to use the new threshold of 150 lifetime points to be eligible for induction, is considerably smaller than it was last season.
I am going to walk through the ballot year by year and give you a brief overview of the careers of these Hall of Fame–eligible players. I will start with players new to the ballot, meaning their Pro Tour careers began during the 2003–2004 season, and I will work backwards year by year to discuss players who remain on the ballot from previous seasons. If a player has appeared on fewer than 10% of the ballots for three years, the player removed from future ballots. Players can reactivate their eligibility by acquiring 4 Pro Points in the season leading up to a ballot.
David Ochoa—232 Lifetime Pro Points
David Ochoa is an American player from the Bay Area who plays for Team ChannelFireball. He writes and records videos about the game regularly and is the career Pro Point leader for the incoming candidates. He only has one Pro Tour Top 8, which came at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica in Seattle. He has abundant money finishes with two more Top 16s and a total of nine finishes inside the Top 64 in just 24 Pro Tour attempts. He has played in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix five times and was a member of the US National team in 2010. Over the past two seasons, he has earned an exclusive seat at the Players Championship and World Championship.
Yuuta Takahashi—183 Lifetime Pro Points
Yuuta Takahashi is a Japanese player who made his splash on the Pro Tour with his finals finish in the Two-Headed Giant Pro Tour San Diego alongside Kentaro Yamamoto. Takahashi has nine career finishes inside the Top 64, including one more Top 16, in 27 Pro Tour appearances. On the Grand Prix circuit, Takahashi has posted eight Top 8 finishes, including wins at GP Kobe and GP Shizuoka in 2008, when he was considered to be the best Faeries player in the game. Takahashi has been working with the Team Hareruya and recently traveled to GP Chicago where he placed in the Top 4.
Marcio Carvalho—169 Lifetime Pro Points
Marcio Carvalho is a Portuguese player with two Pro Tour Top 8 finishes on his resume, including the 2005 World Championship. In 20 lifetime Pro Tour appearances he has placed in the Top 64 eleven times. At the Grand Prix level, the Portuguese player has six Top 8s, including a win at GP Lisbon in 2005. He most recently made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Milan just this past weekend. He was suspended by the DCI for six months in 2009.
Shingou Kurihara—167 Lifetime Pro Points
Shingou Kurihara is a Japanese player whose lone Pro Tour Top 8 finish came in 2007 at Pro Tour Geneva. He has played on the Pro Tour 21 times in his career and been inside the Top 64 a total of seven times, including a two more Top 16 finishes. As a Grand Prix competitor, he has played in the Top 8 five times, highlighted by his win at GP Bangkok in 2007.
Adam Yurchick—160 Lifetime Pro Points
Adam Yurchick is an American player who is high on the list of competitors with the most Pro Points without a Pro Tour Top 8 finish. He has finished inside the Top 64 a total of sven times in 26 attempts, including a pair of Top 16s. At the Grand Prix level, he has made the Top 8 six times, highlighted by his 2010 win at GP Houston. He writes and records video content about competitive Magic on a regular basis.
Robert van Medevoort—154 Lifetime Pro Points
Hailing from the Netherlands, Robert van Medevoort stands right behind Yurchick on the list of Pro players without a Pro Tour Top 8. In his 27 Pro Tour appearances, van Medevoort has appeared in the Top 64 twelve times, including a pair of Top 32 finishes. In 2006, he was a member of the Dutch National team that defeated Japan in the finals of the Worlds Team Competition. At the Grand Prix level, he has a trio of Top 8 finishes.
Martin Juza—352 Lifetime Pro Points
Hailing from the Czech Republic, Martin Juza has the third-highest Pro Point total of anyone on the ballot this year. To amass those points, he has made the Top 8 of a Pro Tour twice, with a total of twelve finishes inside the top 64 in 31 PT qualifications. At the Grand Prix level, he has a gaudy 18 Top 8 finishes with four wins—most recently GP Bochum in 2012. He has placed as high as 3rd in the Player of the Year race twice and has qualified to play in the Players Championship and World Championship the past two seasons.
Marijn Lybaert—203 Lifetime Pro Points
Belgium's Marijn Lybaert has made the Top 8 of a Pro Tour four times—tied with a handful of players for the second-highest total on this year's ballot. In his 30 Pro Tour appearances, he has finished inside the Top 64 nearly half the time, with a total of fourteen, including another pair of Top 16 finishes. Lybaert has three Grand Prix Top 8s in his career but can be found most recently covering Grand Prix as part of the European video coverage team.
Nico Bohny—174 Lifetime Pro Points
Nico Bohny was a member of the Swiss National team that won the Team Competition at the 2007 World Championships in New York. On the Pro Tour, he has finished in the Top 8 twice. In his 24 Pro Tour appearances he has finished in the Top 64 a third of the time, including two more Top 16 finishes. At the Grand Prix level, he has just two Top 8 finishes, with the most recent coming just this last weekend in Milan, where he placed 2nd.
Kenny Oberg—172 Lifetime Pro Points
Sweden's Kenny Oberg is known as The Tezzerator for the one Pro Tour Top 8 finish of his career playing a rogue deck that harnessed the power of Tezzeret in a field full of Elves during PT Berlin. In 29 PT appearances Oberg has placed inside the Top 64 ten times, including two more Top 16 finishes. He has made the Top 8 of a Grand Prix three times, including his win at GP Gothenburg in 2010, when he had to fend off a pair of Hall of Famers and fellow nominee Lybaert in his elimination rounds.
Ivan Floch—167 Lifetime Pro Points
Ivan Floch was a member of the Slovakian National Team that won the Team Competition at the 2010 World Championships in Chiba, Japan. Despite nine Top 64 finishes in 20 Pro Tour appearances—including one Top 16—Floch does not have a Pro Tour Top 8. He has finished in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix four times, most recently this past weekend in Milan. He hoisted the trophy at GP Lisbon in 2012.
Michael Jacob—154 Lifetime Pro Points
Michael Jacob has played on the US National team twice. It was in 2008, with Jacob as the National Champion, that the team won the Team Competition at the World Championships in Memphis. At the Pro Tour, Jacob has been a competitor 25 times, with one Top 8 and another Top 16 among six Top 64 finishes. Jacob has become one of the most visible Magic streamers in the game.
Tomohiro Kaji—152 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Tomohiro Kaji is a Pro Tour Champion, winning PT Charleston alongside Tomoharu Saito and Shouta Yasooka. He has two more Top 8 finishes to go along with that win and in just 23 Pro Tour appearances has placed inside the Top 64 more than half the time, with a dozen such finishes. He has three more Top 16 finishes to show for his trio of Top 8s. Kaji has transitioned into being a commentator for the game and is a fixture on the NicoNico stream that broadcasts Grand Prix and Pro Tour coverage to the Japanese community.
Makihito Mihara—315 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Makihito Mihara has won both the individual and team portions of the World Championships in a career that has seen him make the Top 8 of a Pro Tour five times—tied with several others for the most such finishes on the ballot. The best finish is the aforementioned World Championship win in 2006, in Paris. In 2011, in San Francisco, he won the last Team Worlds competition and was on the National team five times. During his career, which has spanned 37 Pro Tours, he has finished in the Top 64 fifteen times, which includes two more Top 16 finishes to go with those five Top 8s. His most recent Top 8 came this season at Pro Tour Theros.
Gerry Thompson—222 Lifetime Pro Points
The United States's Gerry Thompson earned his first Pro Tour Top 8 at PT Gatecrash. In his 35 PT appearances, he has placed in the Top 64 eleven times, with one more Top 16 finish. At the Grand Prix level, Thompson has made the Top 8 nine times, highlighted by wins in Nashville and Denver. He is one of the most influential content creators in the game, with his week-to-week tweaks on metagame staples devoured greedily by Pro Tour aspirants. Thompson stepped away from high-level play for a while to take a position at Wizards of the Coast, but will be back in the trenches before too long.
Terry Soh—159 Lifetime Pro Points
Malaysia's Terry Soh is an Invitational winner who has had his likeness commemorated on the Magic card Rakdos Augermage. He has three Pro Tour Top 8 appearances in a career that has seen 22 Pro Tour appearances. In those appearances, he has finished inside the Top 64 exactly half the time, including three more Top 16 finishes. At the Grand Prix level, he has made the Top 8 three times.
Matej Zatlkaj—154 Lifetime Pro Points
Matej Zatelkaj of the Slovak Republic has two career Pro Tour Top 8s among his 20 PT appearances—most famously making the finals of PT Berlin. He has six Top 64 finishes with a pair of Top 16s to complement them. Zatlkaj has just one Grand Prix Top 8 but has become a fixture on the coverage of European Grand Prix as a member of the video commentary team. He was the Slovak National Champion in 2003.
Andre Mueller—151 Lifetime Pro Points
Germany's Andre Mueller is a two-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor who has competed at that level 31 times. All totaled, he has reached the Top 64 a dozen times. He has three Grand Prix Top 8 finishes over the course of his career.
Paul Rietzl—298 Lifetime Pro Points
America's Paul Rietzl is a Pro Tour Champion, winning Pro Tour Amsterdam in 2010. He has four Top 8 finishes in his career, including his most recent this past season at Pro Tour Theros. Rietzl has played in 37 Pro Tours and placed within the Top 64 sixteen times. That includes three more Top 16 finishes to go with his Top 8s. Rietzl has nine Grand Prix Top 8s in his career, highlighted by a pair of wins—the team GP in San Jose and GP Mexico City. Rietzl is one of the few players to maintain a high level of success at the game while fostering a career outside of the game.
Gerard Fabiano—266 Lifetime Pro Points
American Gerard Fabiano has the second most Pro Tour appearances of anyone on the ballot with 48. Over those many events, he has placed within the Top 64 eighteen times. He only has one career Top 8 finish but has finished inside the Top 16 another five times during that span. Fabiano has seven Grand Prix Top 8 appearances, including wins in Philadelphia during the 2008 season and Montreal earlier this year.
Osyp Lebedowicz—230 Lifetime Pro Points
America's Osyp Lebedowicz was the Pro Tour Venice Champion—the highlight of three Pro Tour Top 8 finishes. He was a consistent money finisher on the Pro Tour with 21 Top 64 showings in 37 appearances—going deep into Day Two better than half the time. In addition to his Top 8s, he placed inside the Top 16 another four times. Lebedowicz has four Grand Prix Top 8s, highlighted by his win at GP Orlando during the 2003–2004 season. An immensely popular writer at various points in his career, he now does commentary for the Open Series organized by StarCityGames.
Mark Herberholz—198 Lifetime Pro Points
American Mark Herberholz was the Pro Tour Honolulu Champion in 2006 and has three more Top 8 finishes to show for a career that has spanned 35 Pro Tours. During that career, he has made the Top 64 sixteen times. As a Grand Prix competitor, he has four Top 8 finishes in his career.
Tomoharu Saito—390 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Tomoharu Saito has more Pro Points than any other player on the ballot this year. He was actually elected into the Hall of Fame during his first year of eligibility but was not inducted due to getting suspended from the DCI that same season. He was suspended in 2001 for 18 months and again in 2011 for 18 months. Saito is tied for the most Pro Tour Top 8 finishes on the ballot with five and is a Pro Tour Champion, playing alongside Shota Yasooka and Tomohiro Kaji at Pro Tour Charleston. He is one of two players on this year's ballot to have won the Player of the Year title—he was also a runner-up for the title in 2009. Saito has a staggering nineteen Grand Prix Top 8 finishes with four wins. Even when not playing on the PT, his deck-building prowess has warped metagames. Since his return to the Pro Tour he has been a focal point for the Japanese Pro community with his Team Hareruya.
Shota Yasooka—353 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Shota Yasooka has only one Pro Tour Top 8 in his career but it was a win alongside Saito and Kaji at PT Charleston. He would go onto to win the Player of the Year title that season and is one of only two players on the ballot to do so. Despite the lack of Top 8s, he has made the Top 64 in just a fraction less than half of his 39 PT appearances with nineteen. Included in that number are another five Top 16 finishes. Yasooka has made the Top 8 of a Grand Prix eighteen times, with his win at GP Kobe being his best finish. Yasooka also finished 2nd at the inaugural Players Championship. He has the second-highest Pro Point total of anyone on the ballot.
Katsuhiro Mori—293 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Katsuhiro Mori was the first Japanese Player to win Rookie of the Year and has three Pro Tour Top 8 finishes in his career, highlighted by his win at the 2005 World Championship. he has seventeen Top 64 showings in his 36 Pro Tour appearances. Mori has made the Top 8 of a Grand Prix fifteen times with four wins, including two in team competition. He would also go on to win the Team Masters Series in Venice alongside Masashiro Kuroda and Masahiko Morita and has been the Japanese National Champion. He was suspended from the DCI in 2007 for six months.
Guillaume Wafo-Tapa—258 Lifetime Pro Points
France's Guillaume Wafo-Tapa was the Pro Tour Yokohama Champion and is considered to be one of the greatest control players and deck builders in the game. He has five career Top 8s, including his win and has thirteen total Top 64 finishes. That includes four more Top 16 finishes during his career. At the Grand Prix level, he has seven Top 8 finishes. He was suspended for 17 months in 2011.
Willy Edel—238 Lifetime Pro Points
Brazil's Willy Edel added the fourth Pro Tour Top 8 to his resume with his finish at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica. Over the 27 Pro Tour appearances in his career he has finished in the Top 64 eight times. His win at Grand Prix Montreal in 2012 is the best finish of six GP Top 8s. Edel has become an elder statesman of the Brazilian Magic community, providing an open door to players who qualify for the PT to join him in playtesting for the event.
Richard Hoaen—225 Lifetime Pro Points
Canadian Richard Hoaen reigned as one of the best Limited players in the game, and when Kenji Tsumura needed to improve his 40-card play, it was Hoaen he turned to. While Hoaen only has one PT Top 8 on his resume, he finished in the Top 64 more than half the time he played—nineteen times in 37 appearances. That includes another five Top 16 finishes to go with the Top 8. At the GP level, he has seven Top 8s and has won three times—including his recent team win in Kyoto with Mike Hron and Alexander Hayne.
Tzu-Ching Kuo—217 Lifetime Pro Points
Tzu-Ching Kuo was the captain of the Chinese Taipei team that won the inaugural World Magic Cup, but at 217 lifetime Pro Points, he sits atop the list of players with the most such points with a PT Top 8 finish. In two dozen Pro Tour appearances, he has posted four Top 64 finishes, with one Top 16 among them. He has ten Grand Prix Top 8 appearances in his career. Kuo was suspended in 2009 for six months.
Tom Martell—212 Lifetime Pro Points
America's Tom Martell became a Pro Tour Champion in his second career Top 8 when he won PT Gatecrash. Martell has been a dominant player for the past few seasons—and, like Rietzl, with a full time job—posting a three-year median of 16th to lead this ballot in that category. The next best is more than 10 places worse. Martell has only played in seventeen Pro Tours but has placed in the Top 64 ten times, with four more Top 16s to add to his pair of Top 8s. At the Grand Prix level, Martell has five Top 8s with a pair of wins—Indianapolis, and the recent Sacramento. He writes and records videos about Magic on a regular basis.
Eric Froehlich—279 Lifetime Pro Points
American Eric Froehlich earned the third Pro Tour Top 8 of his career at PT Gatecrash. Froehlich, whose 26.5 three-year median is the third best on this ballot, has placed in the Top 64 at more than half of his 37 Pro Tour appearances. He has nineteen Top 64s, which includes six more Top 16s on top of his three Sunday appearances. In addition to qualifying for the 2013 World Championship, Froehlich finished Top 4 of the Masters Series in Houston and has placed in the Top 8 of ten Grand Prix. His nine Top 16 finishes are tied with Wafo-Tapa for the most on this ballot.
Craig Wescoe—196 Lifetime Pro Points
American Craig Wescoe has gotten stronger as his career progressed. He has three Pro Tour Top 8s over the last half a decade, including his win at Pro Tour Dragon's Maze. In a 30-Pro Tour career, he has placed inside the Top 64 eight times. At the Grand Prix level, Wescoe has four Top 8s. Known for his tendency to play white-based aggro decks, Wescoe creates weekly content about Magic and played in the 2013 World Championship.
Brock Parker—193 Lifetime Pro Points
American Brock Parker won the only Pro Tour he made a Top 8 appearance in, alongside teammates William Jensen and Matt Linde, at Boston 2003. Over the course of a 32-appearance career, Parker has placed in the Top 64 fifteen times, with two more Top 16s to go with that win. He has made the Top 8 of a Grand Prix seven times, with two wins, including a team event in Turin and, most recently, GP Pittsburgh.
Tsuyoshi Ikeda—313 Lifetime Pro Points
Japan's Tsuyoshi Ikeda leads this ballot with just shy of 60 Pro Tour appearances. Of those 59 appearances, he finished in the Top 8 four times. He placed in the Top 64 eighteen times and had an additional four Top 16s to go with those Top 8s. Ikeda was a pillar of the Japanese Magic community long before that country's players were dominating the game. His store was a focal point for the burgeoning community and he was far from the only player there to experience success. Six Grand Prix Top 8 finishes are capped by his win at GP Niigata in 2009.
Robert Jurkovic—191 Lifetime Pro Points
Robert Jurkovic was the Slovak Republic's National Champion the year that nation won the Team Competition at the World Championships. In 30 Pro Tour appearances he has yet to place inside the Top 8, but he does have ten Top 64 finishes, including five heartbreaking Top 16s. He has appeared in the Top 8 of a Grand Prix twice, including his 3rd-place finish this season in Vienna.
Jamie Parke—161 Lifetime Pro Points
With his recent Top 8 finish at Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, American Jamie Parke became the fourth or fifth player with a Top 8 in three different decades, depending on where your definition of decade ends—the other four were Patrick Chapin, Kai Budde, Brian Kibler, and Jon Finkel, all currently in the Hall of Fame. Parke has played on the Pro Tour intermittently in his career, but when he does he has performed well. In 29 appearances, he has made the Top 64 fourteen times, with one more Top 16 to go with his three Top 8s. Parke has three Grand Prix Top 8s, including his recent finish at GP Richmond.
Justin Gary—252 Lifetime Pro Points
American Justin Gary has been gaining Hall of Fame momentum as the years have progressed and people look deeper than just Top 8s. Gary has three Top 8s, including his win at Pro Tour Houston, which is as many—or more—than some members of the Hall of Fame. Over the course of his 44 Pro Tour appearances, Gary posted the second-best three-year median at 25th, and had 24 Top 64 finishes, which is more than anyone else on the ballot. His eight Top 16s are second best only to Wafo-Tapa and Froehlich on the ballot. In Grand Prix competition, he has three Top 8s, including a win as Illuminati with teammates Zvi Mowshowitz and Alex Shvartsman. He also finished second in the Masters Series in Nice.
Andrew Cuneo—154 Lifetime Pro Points
Andrew Cuneo is an American player with a pair of Pro Tour Top 8s on his resume. He went back to back in Madison Square Garden as a member of Car Acrobatic Team alongside Andrew Johnson and Aaron Forsythe. Cuneo's career is spread across 25 Pro Tour appearances and he has made the Top 64 a total of ten times—three of those finishes were Top 16s, to go along with his two Top 8s. Cuneo also appeared in the Top 4 of the Tokyo Masters Series with the same team as his two Top 8s. At the GP level, he has a pair of Top 8s.
Scott Johns—164 Lifetime Pro Points
American Scott Johns is the last remaining candidate from the inaugural ballot for the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Johns is a Pro Tour Champion as a member of Potato Nation, alongside Mike Turian and Gary Wise, and has appeared in the Top 8 a total of five times—tied for the most on this ballot. He finished in the Top 64 more than half the time he played over 27 appearances, with seventeen. He had two Grand Prix Top 8 finishes without a win. After his playing days, Johns ran multiple Magic websites and eventually was the first editor-in-chief for DailyMTG.com.
June's Magic Player of the Month—#MTGPoM
While the members of the selection committee grapple with the nearly 40 people on this year's Hall of Fame ballot, I need your help to sort out who will win the title of June Magic Player of the Month. You can use the hashtag #MTGPoM on Twitter and Facebook to discuss who you think should be the winner. You can pick from the candidates below or write one in who you feel has been overlooked. Feel free to direct your comments to me at @Top8Games or @MagicProTour. I will announce the winner in next week's column.
Grand Prix Manchester saw Fabizio Anteri make the fourth Grand Prix Top 8 over the last two seasons. It also saw the Venezuelan, living abroad in Europe, win his second Grand Prix in as many tries. The format for the event was Block Constructed and Anteri exploited the knowledge from Pro Tour Journey into Nyx to win with his BUG Control deck.
If it feels like Standard has gotten a little hotter over the back half of June, that is in no small part due to Igor Gorbunov setting the GP Moscow field afire with his Boros Burn deck.
Canadian Tyler Blum won the Rat Race of Grand Prix Chicago playing mirror matches centered around Pack Rat in the quarters, semis, and even the finals.
Mike Sigrist has been playing Magic along the East Coast of the US for a long time and there was a huge cheer when the PTQ grinder won the first GP trophy of his long career.
It would take nothing less than a win for France's Jérémy Dezani to pass Reid Duke in the race for Player of the Year. The Pro Tour Theros winner had already capped out on strong GP finishes, but he mustered a win at Grand Prix Milan—pushing past three players in the Top 4 who are all on the Hall of Fame ballot this year to do so.
Tom Ross fanned the flames of Standard with his winning Boss Sligh list from the StarCityGames Invitational. His lean, mean, red machine ran only 17 Mountains and did not dally around with white mana. Rubblebelt Maaka and Blinding Flare are just the kinds of unexpected cards we have come to expect from Ross.
Rookie of the Year frontrunner Jared Boettcher had a pretty sweet month of June, with a Top 8 finish at Grand Prix Chicago—putting a little more distance between himself and the rookie field—and also finished in the Top 4 of the SCG Invitational.