R&D was watching pretty closely as all the Invitational votes came in, and we were pretty impressed as the fans kept voting for most of the same people we would have. About halfway through we thought the Ruel brothers were the two most deserving players who hadn't gotten in yet. We figured Olivier would probably get the Road Warrior vote, and then we figured we would be the ones to send Antoine to E3.
When the first day's results from the Fan Favorites came in, Antoine had a clear lead and we had to reopen our conversation. Our next choice was Tim Aten . . . we felt his dedication to the game deserved to be rewarded and he had missed the Writer's Vote by just a single vote. (Of course, if Aten had gotten that then we would have been making similar arguments for Jeroen Remie.) But then Aten's "get out the vote" campaign kicked in and suddenly he was in line for the second spot. We were again impressed that the fans seemed to "get it right," but that didn't help make our selection any easier.
At this point we started looking for people who we felt had been unjustly excluded. We actually considered using our pick to write a historical wrong and put in the player who most deserved to go but had never gotten to. The problem was that both of the obvious candidates for that title now work for Wizards of the Coast -- Alan Comer and Michael Turian. After briefly considering sending an R&D member as the R&D pick, we turned out attention back to this year.
Looking at the ballots, there was actually one where we thought the wrong person won. No offense to Pierre Canali, but we thought Terry Soh was a better pick for Rising Star. Two Top 8's is more impressive, in our opinion, that one Pro Tour win. Both players seem to be "living the life" -- traveling the world and having fun playing a card game -- but Soh has also been giving back to the community by writing articles and developing his persona. On top of everything else, Soh has very publicly credited Magic Online for helping to turn him into a great player, so we figured Soh could be someone the MTGO audience could cheer for as well.
For all these reasons, the R&D Pick for this year's Magic Invitational is Terry Soh.