by Randy Buehler
110 teams sat down to open up sealed decks at the beginning of Pro Tour New York on Friday morning. Team Rochester has definitely grown as a format since last year's team Pro Tour when there were only 81 teams. Almost every team was excited as the first leafed through the cards they'll use for the first two rounds of this event. Since each team gets two tournament packs and four booster packs worth of cards, there's almost always something worthy of a high five.
Interestingly, Your Move Games was completely silent as they sorted their cards. They were businesslike and completely focused. They are also one of the favorites in this event. The consensus I heard when walking around the room was that there are four teams to keep an eye on: Your Move Games (Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys, Rob Dougherty), Antarctica (Jon Finkel, Steve OMS, Dan OMS), Black Ops (Antoine Ruel, Olivier Ruel, Florent Jeudon), and Huey, Ben and Casey (William "Baby Huey" Jensen, Ben Rubin, and Casey McCarrel). Your Move is the defending champion and the other three each have a Grand Pix win to their credit. The Ruel brothers made a loud statement last weekend at Grand Prix Porto where Antoine beat Olivier in the championship match of the 650-person Masques-block Rochester event. They certainly seem ready.
There is no question about who has the best team name at this event: Matt Linde, Eric Phillips, and Brock Parker are playing as "Being Zvi Mowshowitz." Honorable mention does go to "Aixelsyd maet" (read it backwards). Mike Long attempted to sign up his team (including Pete Leiher and Steve Cowley - Bruce's younger brother) as "Team Deadguy," but the members of Team Deadguy objected so Long and co were forced to change their name.
Other interesting sights during deck construction: "Brothers Parker" consists of 17, 15, and 12-year brothers. After they sorted their cards, two of the brothers sat back while the 12-year old built all their decks! Nate Clark, David Bachmann, and Mark LePine reformed as "ECA" ... Brian Hacker, Gab Tsang, and Igor Frayman are also trying to recapture 4-year old magic (no pun intended) and calling themselves "B.I.G." ... There's no questioning the talent on last year's 2nd place finishers "Game Empire", but Alan Comer, Kurt Burgner, and Brian Selden simply haven't played that much Magic over the course of the last year... How hot are Noah Boeken, Ryan Fuller, and Chris Benafel? Since February they've added a PT 2nd place, a national championship, a national runner-up trophy, a continental championship, a worlds team championship, a worlds team runner-up, and two invitations to the Magic Invitational. They're being sponsored by and playing as "AlphaBetaUnlimited.com."
Team events have so many added dynamics and additional drama. This should be a fun weeken ...