This story will also appear in a future issue of Serra.
As SERRA was given a vote in the Writers' ballot, I tried to adjust my votes to the next criteria: Best combination of talent and personality. With a lot of nice candidates, it was not an easy task, but my list ended like this:
5) Masashi Oiso. I don't know him very well, but I have no doubt that in the talent criteria he deserves a spot here. He's one of the strongest Japanese players, and in Magic that means being one of the strongest players in the world. Also, he is polite and sportsmanlike, as most of his countrymen.
4) Osyp Lebedowicz. He's done fine at the professional circuit, which says a lot about his talent, but what gets Osyp to my list is his personality. He's quite a fun guy, you can see him playing a feature match for a Top 8 spot and he will be joking and having fun. I have witnesed that time in PT New Orleans when his young opponent Goblin Charbelchered him to dead in one shot... Of course, without ordering his library before. He got crazy! But then he was on the street going bar after bar and making everybody laugh with him. Then, you can read his reports, as the one of that tournament in New Orleans, and confirm that this guy is a must in this list.
3) Jeff Cunningham. Although it seems he doesn't play that often, Jeff represents well the voting criteria. He's a great player with a great talent. It takes courage to play Madness event after event. And it takes talent to play it well and have decent results. Also, you can read some of his articles and find that he is fun and knows everything about Magic. I wish he had kept writing Week in Review.
2) Sam Gomersall. This Englishman deserved a win, and he got it in Hasselt. He is a Limited specialist, playing online almost every day, and his talent is among the best in Europe right know. Also, he is sportsmanlike whether he wins or loses, which makes him an ideal opponent (imho): great player and nice guy. You can learn from the games you play with him without having to ask for forgiveness if you topdeck. He's fun when a laugh is needed, and he is quiet when calm is a request.
1) Tomi Walamies. From the list I was given, Tomi was in the Top 5 given the tournament results. And, although personality is subjective, I think he is number one here. Well, he is a professional, isn't he? He was a professional in Magic, he is a professional in humour. I played with him at PT Venice and he was a nice opponent. He beat me easily but made me feel good about that. In his report from that event, you can see how fun he can be. I will quote these lines: "Random note: Did you know that there is a village in Spain that has an ass-squashing day once a year? During this day, the fattest man of the village rides an ass until the animal dies. If this sounds weird, then I will not tell you of the Spanish village where they throw a goat from the church tower once a year."*
*I'd like to clarify one point about his writing (years later), as I am a Spaniard. Recently, as ass are protected, we were forced to mix the two traditions. First, the fattest man of the village rides a goat to death. Then, we throw it from the church tower. What's wrong with this? It's already dead! And the animal still goes to heaven... Of course we are careful not to hit anybody with the corpse.