My Invitational Votes

Posted in Event Coverage on March 10, 2006

By Bennie Smith, for Scrye Magazine

This story will also appear in issue #96 of Scrye Magazine, on sale March 29.

For this year's Magic Invitational, Wizards of the Coast included a voting category that allows a select group of Internet and magazine writers to pick one of the players. Scrye has been given one vote, and as Contributing Editor covering Magic, I was given the honor of determining our vote.

The voting criteria is "Best combination of talent and personality," and we were given a pool of 15 pro players to pick from. I decided to rate these players by the following measures:

Gut Check — as someone who's played the game and read about it for over a decade, how do these players hit my radar in terms of name recognition and personality? I also asked my friend Ken Krouner, a pro player who's plugged into the pro community, what he thought of these guys.

Lifetime Pro Points — all are talented or else they wouldn't be pros and wouldn't be on the list to begin with, but I had to figure out a way to rate them relative to one another in terms of raw skill. This seemed like the most straightforward approach. Search Hits—Pro Tours and Grand Prix are covered on Wizards' website, and between the interviews, feature matches, and reporter blogs, I figured this would be one way to see who has attracted the most attention.

Google Search Hits—some of these guys show up on other websites by writing or being written about, so I widened the search to the entirety of the Internet.

I ranked the nominees by each measure, giving them 15 if they were at the top of the list, on down to 1 point if they were on the bottom. I then totaled each player's ranking points for each measure and ranked them from highest points to lowest.*

I realize that these measures aren't exactly scientifically accurate, but when the imperfect calculus was done, I was very pleased with my Top 5 list. Following are Scrye's picks for the Magic Invitational, along with Ken Krouner's thoughts on each one.

#1 Jeff Cunningham
Krouner: "Jeff is likely the most clever person to ever play on the PT in both humor and skill. Jeff won with unconventional draft picks and unexpected constructed tech. He's one of the few North American pros who's at the top of the game in both limited and constructed."

#2 Antonino De Rosa
Krouner: "Antonino likes to put on the loveable buffoon act, but the boy can play. He's not only a great technical player; he's good at reading his opponents and inducing errors. On top of all this, he's a brilliant constructed theorist and excels at draft. Most important, there are few better at putting a smile on your face."

#3 Neil Reeves
Krouner: "Neil is most likely the smartest man in the game today. I'd also wager that at this moment in time, he's the best player in the U.S. Neil isn't exactly a student of the game, but that's because he doesn't have to be. If you hand Neil a deck he likes, he'll probably Top 8 with it. He spends a lot of time drafting, and you'll always find him looking for a team draft after Day One regardless of his performance."

#4 Osyp Lebedowicz
Krouner: "While he isn't putting up the numbers he once did, Osyp is a great player with an amazing resume. Few consummate pros who don't live in Japan put the kind of work into constructed that he does. Think what you will of his humor, he definitely has an audience. Sound bites from Osyp often make PTs worth following."

#5 Tsuyoshi Fujita
Krouner: "Fujita has been around for a long time and has really earned his stripes as a true constructed mastermind and juggernaut, almost always coming to tournaments with inventive decks, or at a minimum, decks that people let fall off the radar."

*Reeves, Lebedowicz, and Fujita were all tied in Cumulative Rating Points. I broke the tie this way: Reeves got #3 because the other two went last year and I decided I'd go in favor of new blood. Lebedowicz got #4 because he scored higher on my Gut Check than Fujita. Osyp's well known for having a larger-than-life personality, but I haven't heard much about Fujita outside of being a fantastic Magic player.

NameGut Check RatingLifetime Pro PointsLifetime PP RatingWizards Search HitsWizards Search Hits RatingGoogle HitsGoogle Hits RatingCumulative Rating Points
Jeff Cunningham1012894771448,9001548
Antonino De Rosa13163123881119,5001046
Neil Reeves151237362935,0001445
Osyp Lebedowicz14154114741315,600745
Tsuyoshi Fujita3244155221524,5001245
Jeroen Remie9154104021216,100839
Masashi Oiso217514350820,8001135
Sam Gomersall11946341714,800630
Tomi Walamies816513279510,200329
Gerard Fabiano612483721013,000529
Tim Aten12531153234,0001328
Gabe Walls7925314617,300927
Craig Krempels58842394774114
Mark Herberholz47431753893212
Tomoharu Saitou166269111,10048

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