Team AlphaBetaUnlimited.com weren't qualified for the Team Masters Series when they arrived in Tokyo. However, the team entered the Gateway tournament and after five rounds of play, they emerged victorious, earning that one last spot in the Masters Series. But the team didn't want to stop there. In the first round of the Masters, they defeated the previously undefeated Potato Nation, and nothing but a victory will be good enough for the ambitious team. "Seriously, we came to win," Chris Benafel says.
AlphaBetaUnlimited.com consists of three very solid players. Chris Benafel (18) of the United States, Ryan Fuller (21) of Canada and Noah Boeken (20) of the Netherlands have been playing together since last year's Team Pro Tour in New York. Individually, they have had enormous success lately. This season alone they have eleven Grand Prix Top 8 performances between them, three of which are victories. Boeken won Grand Prix Helsinki. Benafel won Grand Prix Amsterdam, and last week, Fuller went all the way to the top in Grand Prix Prague. In fact, Fuller has lost only one single match out of the last 32 matches he has played. "Some girl asked me to win a few tournaments for her, so I did," he smirks.
The three of them figure that their individual skills are part of what makes them such a good team. "We are three really good players, and we don't have a weak link," Fuller explains. "You may say that Black Ops may have a weak link perhaps," Benafel suggests, referring to their semifinals opponent of the Masters. Black Ops from France has been one of the leading teams for a long while, and in the Team Pro Tour in New York, that was the team who beat AlphaBetaUnlimited.com in the very last round, knocking them down to a 13th place overall. "It would be okay to get revenge now," Benafel admits. "It's payback time," Fuller grins.
The team name comes from the name of the team sponsor, the AlphaBetaUnlimited.com website, but in addition to the sponsor shirts, the team members all wear caps in different colors, almost like Huey, Dewey and Louie. Benafel has a black one, Fuller has a red one and Boeken has a blue one. "They match our sleeves. It's completely random, but they do. It's a little fun fact," Chris smiles.
While many other teams have one team leader that makes most of the decisions, AlphaBetaUnlimited.com doesn't really have a leader. But Noah is sort of in charge of the draft in the Invasion Block format. "We pick on Noah a little," Ryan admits. "He's our weak link when it comes to getting along," Chris grins. So normally, the other two players wouldn't let Noah be in charge. But they both think Boeken knows the format well, so they ended up letting him make decisions. At least theoretically. During the drafts, they all gesture a lot, and Noah doesn't always get it the way he wants it.
AlphaBetaUnlimited.com didn't practice a lot before going to Tokyo. However, five rounds of single elimination gave them plenty of practice before the Masters Series, and the strategy they developed was that they don't have a strategy. "We just gotta win," Benafel says, confident though that the team will go all the way. They didn't find it surprising at all that they beat the Pro Tour Champions from New York, Potato Nation. "We already knew that we are better than Potato Nation, so it wasn't really a shock when we won," Fuller claims.
Now, the goal is to make it to the top of the Masters Series. "I had a dream the night before the Grinder that we'd win the Gateway," Benafel reveals, and he got it right. Now he's waiting for another dream. Regardless, at 6-0 this weekend, AlphaBetaUnlimited.com feel that 8-0 would be a great place to end. "We're at a plateau, just kind of sustaining," Benafel explains while the other two teammates merely laugh at the pompous words. "We're on a long journey, we've gone a certain amount of the way. Now we have to get to the destination, win 20, 000 dollars and get a nice trophy to boot. I really like to bring home trophies. It makes me happy, he says. "And my mom likes them. She has them all on the mantle."