While much of the attention was rightfully focused on those competing for the Top 8 of Grand Prix Washington D.C., there were a number of players fighting their own battles farther down in the standings. Namely, a handful of notable players were closing in on critical thresholds in the Pro Players Club, seeking to eke out a few more points in D.C. before the season wraps up at Pro Tour Magic 2015 in Portland on Aug. 1-3.
The Pro Players Club rewards those who consistently do well at Magic's highest levels, and is calculated by the number of Pro Points competitors earn in a given season. The key levels to remember are Silver at 20 Pro Points, Gold at 35 and Platinum at 45. Heading into the final round in D.C., several players were playing for a chance to level up.
One of those was Ari Lax, who ended Day 1 at 8-1 and had a chance to Top 8 the tournament after going 2-1 in the first draft of the day. But a loss in Round 15 meant that he needed a victory in the last round to earn a place in the top 16 and the three Pro Points that come with it.
And he would get it, becoming the first player of the weekend to level up. With the win, Lax raised his season total to 32 points. Given the three points he's guaranteed when he competes at Pro Tour Magic 2015 in August, he's a lock for Gold.
And he won't be alone. Joining him will be Christian Calcano, who officially hit Gold with his Top 8 appearance and may have his eyes on Platinum before things are said and done. Also virtually locked are David Ochoa, who moved to 32 points with his 11-4 finish, and Sam Pardee, who sits at 34 points after a 16th-place finish. Both will pass the threshold when they compete in the Pro Tour.
Several other players remain close, though a few failed to add to their point totals on Sunday. Neal Oliver and David Sharfman both narrowly missed the Top 64, leaving Oliver with 30 points and Sharfman with 27. Joining Sharfman at 27 points after his top 32 performance is Raymond Perez Jr., the second-place contender in the Rookie of the Year race who has a pair of Top 50 Pro Tour performances under his belt.
For those still seeking points, there is just one opportunity remaining before the Pro Tour concludes the season. Grand Prix Boston, on July 25-27, is sure to be filled with drama as players continue to chase the train.