Welcome to our first look at the 2014 Magic Top 25 Pro Rankings. With Grand Prix Prague set to open the 2014 premier play calendar, there's been little movement to report over the festive season. However, there's still the small matter of Grand Prix Shizuoka to discuss, which ended 2013 with a bang. While no ranked players from outside Japan attended—even inveterate Grand Prix globetrotter Christian Calcano stayed at home—there was still time at this last event of the year for a big-time pro to make a mark.
That man was 2006 Player of the Year Shota Yasooka, who marched his way to a seventeenth—yes, you read that right, a seventeenth—Grand Prix Top 8, before falling in the semifinals. His reward was a place in the Top 25, entering the chart at No. 23. That pushes David Sharfman, and the aforementioned Calcano, down a slot, meaning Canada's Jon Stern once again falls off our list of current movers and shakers.
Yasooka wasn't the only big name to put in a big-time performance in Shizuoka—the final Grand Prix of 2013 also saw a welcome return by 2011 World Champion Jun'ya Iyanaga. Outside commitments mean that he's rarely seen at events, but he's clearly still got what it takes, finally being eliminated in the quarterfinals.
So, as 2014 begins, it's as-you-were at the top of the leaderboard, with Ben Stark headlining a clutch of Americans ahead of the Japanese pair of Shuhei Nakamura and Yuuya Watanabe, neither of whom could gain any ground on home soil in Shizuoka. Now, Prague sets the 2014 ball rolling, with the likes of World Champion Shahar Shenhar, Pro Tour Theros Champion Jérémy Dezani, and the Czech pair of Stanislav Cifka and Martin Juza all looking to start the year with a standout performance.
Join us next week for another look at the Magic Top 25 Pro Rankings.
Dropped from rankings: Jon Stern