This weekend, for the fourth time in Magic's history, the Pro Tour is headed to Hawaii. Honolulu, to be precise. A locale that's as much a part of Magic lore as it is an excuse for the coverage team to work on our tans. We very much look forward to any Pro Tour held in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. And not just because Marshall Sutcliffe is a huge fan of exotic fauna.
Instead, we look forward to it because it seems like something special always happens in Honolulu, starting all the way back in 2006.
The first Pro Tour in Honolulu really set the bar unattainably high. So high the least limber of limbo participants could clear the bar with ease, a hop, a skip, and a jump. So high, the finals of the Pro Tour—which went to Mark Herberholz—is only the second-most remembered thing in that tournament. The first is, easily, this sequence:
The Craig Jones topdeck of Lightning Helix—after sequencing his plays in the only way he could in order to win if he drew exactly this spell—is one of the all-time highlights of the Pro Tour, if not the single-most remembered and called-upon draws in the game's history. Most people seem to recall it happening in the finals, but Jones would actually go on to lose the finals to Herberholz in an equally tight, just-as-memorable five games.
Oh, and that Top 8 also featured both Antoine and Olivier Ruel, two brothers and Hall of Famers, plus Tiago Chan back before he would become the face of Snapcaster Mage.
It was, as they say, nice.
How could you possibly top that?
The winner, Kazuya Mitamura, who made the Pro Tour Top 8 three times, finally took home the trophy that Sunday.
But while Mitamura isn't the force he once was, that Top 8 is notable for just how notable its names were. We'll start with Zac Hill, because Zac is going to be back in Hawaii this year once more...in the commentator's booth! Zac's been on the Pro Tour coverage team for a while now—after a stint in Wizards R&D—but I'm sure it'll come up once or 20 times over the course of the weekend that Zac has been here before—literally (and devastatingly).
But even more impressive are a quartet who were in the Top 8 and are still at the top of the game. Tom Ross, for example, is a recent back-to-back StarCityGames.com Invitational winner and member of the most recent Community Cup team. He also very nearly found another Top 8 at Grand Prix Orlando last weekend, finishing 10th.
Meanwhile, Paul Rietzl lost to Mitamura in the 2009 semifinals, but he returns to Hawaii not just as a player—but as one of the newest inductees into the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame. Rietzl will be inducted Wednesday night just before the tournament gets underway.
Finally, that Top 8 also included Hall of Famer Brian Kibler, who would go on to play a pretty big role in the next Hawaiian
vacation Pro Tour...
That's right, Hawaii has been very good to Kibler, as he bested his first Top 8 in the island state with winning the trophy outright.
That tournament also had its own Lightning Helix-esque moment, as Finkel declined to block the Wolf...(tune in around 1 hour 44 minutes to see the final sequence):
"He didn't block! He didn't block!"
Three trips to Honolulu, three incredible results. With a new format; a fresh Hall of Fame class; and, of course, Honolulu itself, we expect no less this time around.
Coverage begins Friday with three full days, as Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir gets underway. Join us for what's sure to be another historic tournament.