Mike Flores is the Resident Genius!

Posted in Event Coverage on February 10, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast

What becomes a Resident Genius best? A Pro Tour trophy? How about designing decks for the Player of the Year? How about designing decks for the rest of the World and defining formats? Going rogue? Success in multiple formats? Building and playing your own decks to Top 8 success? Here are your candidates...let the arguing begin.

(Profiles by Brian David-Marshall)

Winner: Mike Flores (28.0% of votes)

What is MichaelJ doing among this crowd of Hall of Famers, Pro Tour winners, and Grand Prix champions? The man who once designed Jon Finkel’s Nationals-winning deck has always been the man behind the man. He has been at the forefront of Constructed deck design for the past two seasons, literally setting the Standard. His green-white control deck carried Brian Kibler to a Top 8 at U.S. Nationals 2004. In 2005, Josh Ravitz took Mike’s Kuroda-style Red into the single-elimination portion of the same tournament. Mike’s Wildfire Gifts deck was one match away from putting Josh into the Top 8 at Worlds as well. Add in Mike’s mono-blue control deck and Critical Mass that did so well at Champs, and it is no wonder that Osyp Lebedowicz has joined the growing list of top players drinking Mike’s Kool-Aid. Expect Mike's Standard designs to be out in full force in Hawaii.

2005 Pro Points: 2 (tied for 796th place)

Akira Asahara (9.8%)

Akira Asahara marches to the beat of a different drummer. While almost every other Top Japanese Pro at 2005 Worlds played GhaziGlare in Standard, Asahara played Enduring Ideal – and did so to the tune of a Top 4 finish. While everyone around him at GP-Kitakyushu's Extended field was playing either Tog, CAL, or Scepter Chant, he battled with Balancing Tings into what is considered to be one of the best Top 8s ever. Japan's personal deck doctor, Asahara's rise from deckbuilder to top player echoed his nation's rise to Magic superpower.

2005 Pro Points: 51 (13th place)

Alan Comer (5.0%)

Alan Comer is the prototype for the Resident Genius category. When he was elected into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame with the inaugural class, many voters cited Alan’s deck-building resume – which includes some of the more memorable decks in the game’s history. Turbo-Xerox, Godzilla, and Miracle-Gro would all go into the Hall of Fame if there were a wing for 60-card creations. Alan recently left his position at Wizards and wasted no time cashing in his lifetime qualification at Worlds, where he played a completely rogue blue-black Eye of the Storm deck.

2005 Pro Points: 2 (tied for 796th place)

Tsuyoshi Fujita (14.9%)

It is hard to imagine an argument about the world’s best deck designers not starting with Tsuyoshi Fujita. The reigning Resident Genius reached the finals of last year’s Invitational where he chose to wade into a formidable established Standard metagame with a rareless Rat deck. Fujita has been one of the most successful deck designers on the planet for two seasons running. His run began with the stunning debut of the winning Goblin Bidding deck at Grand Prix-Bangkok and carried through last season when his decks – from Columbus’ RDW through Los Angeles’ Boros Deck Wins – put up multiple Top 8s in both his and Shuhei Nakamura’s hands. And let's not forget Shuhei’s ninth-place finish in Philly with Honor-Worn Shaku or Tsuyoshi’s unexpected Sneak Attack deck from the Top 8 of Grand Prix-Seattle.

2005 Pro Points: 61 (tied for 8th place)

Itaru Ishida (2.8%)

If we're talking about the man behind the man, Itaru Ishida deserves a fair bit of credit for this year's Player of the Year. Kenji Tsumura made a point to thank Ishida (and Katsuhiro Mori) for designing his Constructed decks, and Ishida's Myojin creation for Pro Tour-Philadelphia and Dredgatog at Los Angeles powered the Player of the Year to two Top 4 finishes. Proving that he still has some playing chops, Ishida won Grand Prix-Singapore with his tricked-out Gush-a-Tog build. Ishida has always been a formidable team captain – regarded as one of the very best Team Rochester drafters – and with Team Constructed on the horizon, there is sure to be a queue of potential teammates at his door.

2005 Pro Points: 42 (21st place)

Frank Karsten (18.3%)

People started paying attention to Frank Karsten when he showed the world at Grand Prix-Zurich that despite the banning of Skullclamp, Affinity was far from dead. He held that attention this past season with two Constructed Grand Prix Top 8s and two Pro Tour Top 8s – one Constructed and one Limited. A Limited Pro Tour may seem like an unlikely event to cement your Resident Genius status, but that is just what Karsten did with “The List” – a card-by-card power ranking of Champions of Kamigawa. He closed 2005 playing a Greater Good deck at Worlds – one of only two such decks out of the entire field – which he had written about in his weekly column prior to the event. He swept Day One with the deck and it carried him through to the finals.

2005 Pro Points: 61 (tied for 8th place)

Gabriel Nassif (21.1%)

Gabriel Nassif had a stretch of four consecutive Constructed Pro Tour Top 8s that included the debut of Tooth and Nail – then called TwelvePost – at Pro Tour-Kobe and culminated with an unconventional blue-white control deck for the 2004 World Championships and a Player of the Year title. During that stretch, Nassif was inarguably the best Constructed player on the planet yet the taste of victory eluded him. In 2005 Nassif led a three-player team – which included two semi-retired wingmen in Gab Tsang and David Rood – to victory at Pro Tour-Atlanta, finally winning a Pro Tour in his sixth Sunday appearance.

2005 Pro Points: 42 (20th place)

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