Profiles by Brian David-Marshall
The Magic Invitational balloting finishes its regional portion of its jaunt around the globe on the continent where Magic began many years ago. In the game's early days the battle for Magic dominance was almost solely between players from North America, with Canadians and Americans vying for bragging rights. As the game has gone global the balance of power has swung overseas but these five players are jumping on the scale and looking to reestablish North America as a bastion of Magic. They have some shiny new trophies to show for their efforts.
Note: Mark Herberholz will not be able to attend the Invitational. His invite passes down to Rich Hoaen, the second-place finisher on the North American ballot.
Winner: Mark Herberholz (47.2% of votes)
Another season, another Pro Tour Top 8... That's how the Pro Tour has gone for Mark Herberholz since his breakthrough performance in San Diego four seasons ago. While that first event was Limited he has emerged as a Constructed juggernaut with one Constructed Top 8 in each of the next three seasons including his trophy-hoisting performance on Heezy Street in Hawaii. Early on in his career, Mark tried to perpetuate an image of a hard partying goofball but as he continues to rack up Top 8 finishes the only thing people are talking about is where Mark will rank all-time when his career is over.
Paul Cheon (15.8%)
Since bursting onto the scene as the U.S. National Champion last season with his Standard take on Solar Flare, Paul was able to cash in that Worlds invite for a 12th-place finish and get to Level 3 for the current season. Despite that success he still found himself with only 12 points for the coming season but faces no such shortfall for 2008 with more than 32 points under his belt. A pair of PT money finishes guaranteed he got more than the courtesy points for showing up but the bulk of his work has occurred on the Grand Prix circuit with a pair of finals appearances in Dallas and Montreal along with a Top 16 at the Legacy GP in Columbus.
Mike Hron (3.4%)
Coming into Pro Tour–Geneva's Time Spiral/Planar Chaos Booster Draft format, the conventional wisdom was that black was by far the worst color to draft. When Mike Hron passed Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir to pick Tendrils of Corruption it was clear that he did not subscribe to The Conventional Wisdom Newsletter. That is not to say that players would not draft black if it were the color they were stuck with, but Mike was the rare bird who wanted to be black-x, as he stated in his Top 8 profile. Even after two full days of drafting, other Top 8 competitors were still hoping to dodge black if at all possible. Ironically, the Top 8 of that event was rich in black cards including five Phthisis—none of which ended up in Mike's stack of Pro Tour-winning draft picks.
Luis Scott-Vargas (14.4%)
So you want to know what to play in a Standard tournament? In Extended? Why not check out what "LSV" is playing on Magic Online. Luis—a member of last year's U.S. National team—is one of the most influential online deck designers and players on Magic Online. While his name and face may not have turned heads when he landed on the National team the first time, nobody was surprised this year when he piloted the unconventional blue-green-white OmniChord deck to return to the U.S. National team – this time as the Champion.
Rich Hoaen (19.2%)
Richie has always been a model of consistency and a fixture at the top tables of any Limited Pro Tour. With the promise of the Players Club dangling in front of him he decided to see just how far he could go last season and began racking up the frequent flier miles with trips ranging from Tom's River, New Jersey to Yamagata, Japan resulting in Grand Prix Top 8 finishes in both cities. He amassed 42 Pro Points to reach Level 5 status, which should tell you something about his steady performances since that left him only two points behind Mark Herberholz despite Mark's win in Hawaii earlier that year.
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