Osyp Wins North American Ballot

Posted in Event Coverage on February 15, 2005

This week's ballot puts to bed the myth about the demise of North American Magic. Canada is on fire with a player who has posted Top 8s in two of last three Pro Tours and another player who can make a legitimate claim as one of the best Limited players in the world.

As for the death of American Magic, there is still plenty of red, white, and blue blood pulsing through that artery. Four TOGIT players continue to do what TOGIT players have done for the past few years -- win. YMG is not what it once was but one of their graduates continues to rack up Pro Points while staying below the radar. Finally, there is the reluctant "future of American Magic" rounding out a ballot of players who are not giving up their Pro Points until you pry them from their cold, dead fingers.

(Profiles by Brian David-Marshall)

WINNER: Osyp Lebedowicz (48.7%)

Osyp Lebedowicz burst onto the professional Magic scene during the 2001-2002 season with 17th- and 36th-place finishes in his first two Pro Tours before landing an elusive Top 8 berth at Pro Tour-Osaka. The New Jersey-based player stepped up the next season at Pro Tour-Venice, when he defeated Tomi Walamies in the finals -- possibly the funniest heads-up pairing you could imagine in the game. Osyp is as well known for his humorous antics -- whether they be provocative forum posts under colorful pseudonyms, his “Ask Joe Black” column, or publicly tearing up a counter-drafted white card in Nagoya --as he is for his high-level play.

Murray Evans (14.9%)

Murray has been playing this game since he was 10 years old. At that young age he defeated Olle Rade and was forever after labeled “The Mauler.” The Canadian player has turned his game up in the past year, starting with a berth on the Canadian National team. He parlayed that into a Top 8 finish at Worlds and recently followed up with a Top 4 finish at Pro Tour Nagoya -- his second PT Top 8 in three tries. In Japan he demonstrated a willingness to go against the stream of popular picks and made the most of oft-dismissed cards such as Battle-Mad Ronin and Psychic Puppetry.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 18 (96th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 32 (t-31st)

Eugene Harvey (15.3%)

Eugene’s face first appeared in the Tournament Center as an unknown member of the U.S. National team in 2001 that went on to take the Team event that year at Worlds. He led the U.S. National team the following year. The New Jersey native attended college at CMU, where he forged an alliance between the old-school powerhouse and the group of up-and-coming players at his local store "The Only Game in Town," otherwise known as TOGIT. Eugene is widely recognized as having one of the best minds for the game on the planet and is easily the best player in the game without a Pro Tour trophy -- although he does have three Top 8s (including two -- Boston and New Orleans -- to kick off the 2003-04 season).

2003-2004 Pro Points: 60 (7th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 32 (t-31st)

Rich Hoaen (4.6%)

Over the past three seasons, Hoaen’s worst Limited finish was 22nd in Chicago back in the 2002-03 season. Since then, he has finished 8th in Yokohama, 10th in Amsterdam, 12th in San Diego, and 11th in Nagoya. On top of that, he has not posted a record worse than 5-1 during the Limited portion of Canadian Nationals over the past three seasons. It is a remarkable streak that gets Rich onto the short list of top Limited players in the world -- to be mentioned in the same breath as Anton Jonsson and Nicolai Herzog. Rich perfects his Limited game tirelessly on MTGO and boasts to having done more online drafts than just about anyone to click a mouse.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 33 (t-41st) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 27 (t-45th)

Craig Krempels (2.1%)

Craig is the latest in a long line of TOGIT players to emerge from New Jersey and play at a high level on the World stage. His Rookie of the Year race -- usually an afterthought to the Player of the Year race -- with eventual winner Masashi Oiso a couple of seasons back was one of the more compelling in recent memory. Since then, Craig has followed in Eugene Harvey’s footsteps to become the U.S. National champion in 2004, along with numerous money finishes (albeit without that elusive Top 8 appearance). He is on the short list whenever the argument of the best player without a Top 8 arises.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 25 (t-64th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 30 (36th)

2003-2004 Pro Points: 38 (t-33rd) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 38 (18th)

Paul Rietzl (2.9%)

Paul is another player who lurks just below the surface of the Pro Tour Top 8, yet consistently finishes in the money. Paul came up through the ranks of Your Move Games -- picking up the nickname Little Darwin -- when they were a dominant force on the world Magic scene. Paul has since moved west to attend college and has shed his nickname, coming into his own with multiple Grand Prix Top 8 appearances last year (along with a top Pro Tour finish of 14th at Kobe). Despite the absence of Sunday play on his resume, he sits high in the Nagoya standings -- ahead of many players who have accomplished that goal in the past 12 months. Like Krempels, Paul’s name has to be thrown into the mix when the question of the best player without a Top 8 is raised.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 33 (t-41st) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 33 (t-27th)

Jon Sonne (2.9%)

Jon quietly puts up money finish after money finish on the Pro Tour. His only Sunday Top 8 appearance was at Pro Tour-Boston last season with Slay Pillage Gerard, but he regularly cashes Hasbro checks. Jon is one of the game’s most deliberate and thoughtful players, a characteristic that he is often ribbed about by his more gregarious TOGIT teammates. Jon won Grand Prix-Austin in October of 2004, and has to be looking forward to Pro Tour-Atlanta and the strategy-intensive Team Rochester format that most rewards his thoughtful style.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 34 (40th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 35 (t-24th)

Gadiel Szleifer (8.6%)

After vying for the Rookie of the Year title last season (and still being of age to compete on the JSS circuit), Gadiel has emerged as one of the top American players on the Pro Tour. After a string of solid money finishes during the previous season, he kicked off the 2005 campaign as the only North American in the Top 8 of Columbus. He was also part of the highest-finishing American team at Pro Tour Seattle with Tim Aten and John Pelcak. That team (:B) went on to win Grand Prix-Chicago in December and is considered an early favorite going into Pro Tour-Atlanta.

2003-2004 Pro Points: 19 (t-88th) | Nagoya Pro Standings: 33 (t-27th)

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