Canali Rises Above to Earn Invite

Posted in Event Coverage on March 2, 2005

This week's ballot features a collection of the game's finest young talent. Over the past 12 months, these players have collectively managed to accomplish just about everything there is to do in this game. We have a JSS winner, a Constructed Pro Tour winner, a Limited Pro Tour winner, a Team Grand Prix winner, multiple individual Grand Prix winners -- in both disciplines -- and plenty of Pro Tour Top 8s as well.

The only thing missing in their collective achievements is an Invitational win. Your vote decides which one of these freshly scrubbed young faces will get the opportunity to play for the right to have that face appear on a Magic card of their own design.

(Profiles by Brian David-Marshall)

WINNER: Pierre Canali (24.1% of vote)

Pierre Canali started the current Pro Tour season as an amateur with nary a Pro Tour point to his name. When he walked away from the tournament site in Columbus, not only was his amateur status a thing of the past but he was the leader in the Player of the Year race. The French salsa instructor remains near the top of the POY heap and has a commanding lead in the Rookie of the Year race as well, putting him a unique position to win both races should he record another performance like the one he posted in Columbus.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 0 | Nagoya Pro Standings: 28 (t-43rd)

Jeff Garza (7.8%)

Jeff Garza did it all last season. He won the JSS Championship in his final shot at the title that had eluded him in previous years. He then moved seamlessly into the Pro ranks with a Top 8 performance at Grand Prix–Orlando and then a win at Grand Prix–New Jersey. His partial season was good enough for a sixth place tie in the Rookie of the Year race. He started the following season with a Top 16 finish in the first Pro Tour of his young Pro career.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 9 (t-207th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 17 (t-88th)

Shu Komuro (12.3%)

Shu Komuro’s name first popped up when he hoisted the championship trophy last season at Grand Prix–Yokohama -- defeating Masashiro Kuroda in the semifinals to do so. He and Kuroda do seem to revolve around each other, as they both showed up again in the Top 8 of Pro Tour–Nagoya where Shu avenged Kuroda’s quarterfinal loss to Anton Jonsson by beating the Swede in the finals to become the second Japanese player to taste Pro Tour victory. Shu currently sits atop the Player of the Year race thanks to his Top 4 appearance at Grand Prix–Osaka.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 12 (t-156th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 36 (t-19th)

Aeo Paquette (20.9%)

All he does is make Top 8s at Pro Tours. Not kidding. Aeo Paquette has played in exactly two Pro Tours and reached the Sunday portion of play both times. Last season it looked like Aeo was the game’s newest breakout star, after his Top 8 in Amsterdam and reaching the finals at the World Championships. If he shows up to play, he has to be the early favorite of any Pro Tour -- but he has to show up. He has been conspicuously absent from both Columbus and Nagoya.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 36 (35th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 24 (t-50th)

Terry Soh (11.5%)

Terry Soh continues his meteoric rise into the Magic stratosphere. After landing in the Top 8 in two APAC region Grand Prix prior to 2004, the 17-year-old Malaysian made his Pro Tour Top 8 debut at Worlds in San Francisco. He then followed that up with a Top 8 at Pro Tour–Nagoya, where he entered Magic lore with a carefully crafted bluff against Frank Karsten in the quarterfinals, showing that there is more to the APAC region than just Japan.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 20 (t-84th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 36 (t-19th)

Gadiel Szleifer (10.9%)

After vying for the Rookie of the Year title last season (and still being of age to compete on the JSS circuit), Gadiel has emerged as one of the top American players on the Pro Tour. After a string of solid money finishes during the previous season, he kicked off the 2005 campaign as the only North American in the Top 8 of Columbus. He was also part of the highest-finishing American team at Pro Tour–Seattle with Tim Aten and John Pelcak. That team (:B) went on to win Grand Prix–Chicago in December and is considered an early favorite going into Pro Tour–Atlanta.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 19 (t-88th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 33 (t-27th)

Nick West (12.5%)

Nick West burst onto the Magic scene this year with Top 4 finish in Columbus -- his first Pro event. Since his debut, West’s painstakingly crafted Scepter Chant deck has become a metagame staple. The amiable British player has become a popular personality in his short time on the professional scene as both a player and writer. His deckbuilding skills were put on display last weekend in Eindhoven when many players chose to give his latest creation -- a hybridization of Scepter-Chant and Draco-Explosion -- a whirl. Like Canali, West is a couple of solid performances away from being able to sweep the Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year races.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 0 | Nagoya Pro Standings: 18 (82nd)

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