Feature: Kenji Tsumura, Player of the Year

Posted in Event Coverage on December 2, 2005

By Ted Knutson

The 2005 Magic Player of the Year weighs little more than 100 pounds, but he can usually be found in any crowd by searching for the tuft of spiky, multicolored hair atop his head. Even though he lost his last round here at 2005 Worlds, Kenji Tsumura had just enough points to surpass good friend Olivier Ruel and lock up the Player of the Year title by one whole point.

We sat down with Kenji, the very first Japanese player to win the coveted award, and asked him a few questions about his year and his success.

Kenji Tsumura, the 2005 Player of the Year.

Q: How do you feel right now?
POY: I feel so ecstatic.

Q: Were you ever worried in your battle with Olivier and Masashi Oiso?
POY: They are both great players and have posted excellent results recently, so I was always worried. I lost to Ruel twice in Beijing, once with the Top 8 on the line and once in the Top 8 itself, and at that point it seemed like winning the title would be impossible. I was up until 4 a.m. last night because I couldn't sleep - my head was filled with Extended decks because I really wanted to make sure I had the best deck possible for today.

Q: Did this final grueling stretch of travel affect your play at all?
POY: I was so tired from the final few events, but I can finally sleep in my own bed.

Q: What is your favorite memory from your travels this year?
POY: I had my first Pro Tour Top 8 in Atlanta, and I was very happy to share the success with my teammates - that felt very important to me. Atlanta was actually part of a three-week travel stint to Seattle, then Atlanta, then Singapore, so it was tough, but the results were very pleasing.

Q: What are the secrets to your success?
POY: It is all because of the great decks that I got from Katsu Mori and Itaru Ishida.

Q: That can't be true - your play dazzles almost everyone who watches you, and even Mori hasn't had the same success as you have with his decks.
POY: No, no, it was all because of the decks. Before, Mori was thought of as a genius player, but he has only recently come to prominence as a genius deck designer as well and I am very happy to play his decks and help others realize just how good he is.

Tsumura and Ruel dueled down to the final point on the final day of swiss.

Q: Tell me your thoughts about Japan's success on the Pro Tour…
POY: I think it is excellent for Japan. Every Pro Tour someone got to the Top 8, and it's very good for the whole Japanese Magic community. When I talk to Tsuyoshi Fujita, one of the things we have discussed was how to spread out experience to the rest of the Japanese Magic players that are not as good right now. We are very interested in making the bottom of the skill pyramid here wider and helping the next generation of Japanese players.

Q: You mentioned Tsuyoshi. Who have been your Magic idols?
POY: Masashi Oiso, Mori, and Morita have all been my idols and my friends.

Q: What will you do now?
POY: I will work on staying on the gravy train next year. I would also like to make Day Two of a Limited Pro Tour, which I have yet to do. I only went 3-3 yesterday in Limited, so it's clear that I still have plenty of room for improvement.

Q: Is there anyone in specific you would like to thank?
POY: I would like to thank all of my Magic friends around me and my parents.

Q: How does it feel to you to be the next Japanese Magic idol, and have young players everywhere look up to you?
POY: I am very happy, though I may have to try very hard to keep how bad I am a secret.

Congratulations, Kenji Tsumura!

Date Event Finish Prize Cum. Prize Pro Points Cum. Points Deck Played Designer
2004 Oct PT Columbus (Extended) 21 2250 $2,250 7 7 Black Desire Mori
2004 Nov GP Yokohama (Booster Draft) 420 0 $2,250 0 7    
2005 Jan GP Osaka (Team Limited) 4 667 $2,917 2 9    
2005 Jan PT Nagoya (Rochester Draft) 177 0 $2,917 2 11    
2005 Feb GP Boston (Extended) 27 250 $3,167 1 12 ScepterChant Tsumura
2005 Mar GP Seattle (Extended) 62 0 $3,167 0 12 Black Desire Mori
2005 Mar PT Atlanta (Team Limited) 4 5400 $8,567 12 24    
2005 Mar GP Singapore (Extended) 54 0 $8,567 0 24 Black Desire Mori
2005 May PT Philadelphia 2 12275 $20,842 20 44 Myojin Deck Ishida
2005 May GP Matsuyama (Booster Draft) 19 250 $21,092 1 45    
2005 July PT London (Booster Draft) 160 0 $21,092 2 47    
2005 July GP Niigata (Kamigawa Block) 6 800 $21,892 3 50 Godo Gifts Mori
2005 Oct GP Taipei (Kamigawa Block) 14 500 $22,392 2 52 Godo Gifts Mori
2005 Oct GP Salt Lake City (Kamigawa Block) 3 1200 $23,592 4 56 Godo Gifts Mori
2005 Nov PT Las Angeles (Extended) 3 15000 $38,592 16 72 Dredatog Ishida
2005 Nov GP Kitakyushu (Extended) 12 500 $39,092 2 74 ScepterChant Mori
2005 Nov GP Beijin (Extended) 8 800 $39,892 3 77 Dredatog Ishida
2005 Nov-Dec Worlds (Standard/Draft/Extended) 21 2250 $42,142 7 84 Glare/Dredgatog Mori/Ishida
2005 Dec 2005 Player of the Year Prize ! 1 12000 $54,142 7 84    

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