Who is the European Invitationalist?

Posted in Event Coverage on March 3, 2006

By Wizards of the Coast

Stand back, this ballot is loaded. Even with European luminaries Olivier Ruel, Antoine Ruel, and Frank Karsten already invited, this ballot has three 2005 Pro Tour champions, the 2004 World Champ, one of the greatest Limited minds on the planet, and a host of others with talent oozing out of every pore.

(Profiles by Brian David-Marshall)

Winner: Gabriel Nassif (29.5% of votes)

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 – that 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: 43 (20th place)

Pierre Canali (9.1%)

Pierre Canali burst onto the Magic scene at the beginning of last season with a victory at Pro Tour-Columbus … and with that victory came enormous expectations. While he did not make another trip to the Sunday stage he did win the Rookie of the Year title. He could not have won that title without a couple of unheralded top 64 finishes in London and Philadelphia.

2005 Pro Points: 46 (17th place)

Bernardo Da Costa Cabral (3.5%)

Shhhh…I am going to tell you a secret.

bernardo da costa cabral

Bernardo had a quietly tremendous year with two Top 16 finishes, one Top 32 finish, and a Top 64 to boot. Throw in a Grand Prix Top 8 and a couple of near misses and you have player on my short list of players to watch in 2006.

2005 Pro Points: 40 (tied for 25th place)

Julien Goron (3.3%)

Also on the short list of players to watch is this Rookie of the Year runner-up. The latest in Pro Tour fashion from France popped on many people’s radar when he took second at Grand Prix-Dortmund last month, but he has been lurking one match out of Sunday all last season. With three Top 32 finishes and one Top 64, he made a late run at snatching the Rookie title from his good friend Pierre.

2005 Pro Points: 36 (tied for 30th place)

Anton Jonsson (7.1%)

Anton is quite simply one of the best two or three Limited players to ever randomize 40 cards. Sweden’s finest showed he had something from both sides of the plate though this past season. In addition to his second-place finish in London, Anton finished in the Top 32 at Worlds which featured two days of 60-card minimum. His Izzet-hued Magnivore deck has become an 8-person queue favorite on MTGO.

2005 Pro Points: 40 (tied for 25th place)

Rogier Maaten (4.4%)

The latest Dutchie to step into the limelight is Rogier Maaten. Three Grand Prix Top 8 finishes helped Rogier tie for the second most Pro Points from his country after Fanatic Frank Karsten. After a Top 16 in London, Rogier ended strong with a Top 20 finish at the World Championships.

2005 Pro Points: 42 (tied for 21st place)

Antti Malin (5.2%)

Antti Malin’s Top 8 at Pro Tour-London was the culmination of a run that saw him post two Top 32’s earlier in the year. Finland’s secret weapon finished 18th in the Player of the Year race and was a consistent money finisher on the Grand Prix circuit. His 2005 season has all the hallmarks of someone poised for bigger and brighter things in the coming year.

2005 Pro Points: 45 (tied for 18th place)

Julien Nuijten (17.6%)

The 2004 Rookie of the Year and World Champion won two Grand Prix titles in his sophomore season along with a Top 32 finish in Columbus. He also finished in the Top 16 twice including a heart-breaking ninth in Salt Lake City. Despite his young age, he already one of the most informative writers in the game -- whether it be in his regular column or providing Grand Prix coverage on those rare occasions he is not playing on Day Two.

2005 Pro Points: 42 (tied for 21st place)

Geoffrey Siron (17.2%)

Two Pro Tour Top 8 appearances, including a historic win in London, put this quiet Belgian into 12th place in the Player of the Year race and gave him Level 5 status to work with in the coming season. Geoffrey became to first player to throw a perfect game on Sunday when he swept through the elimination bracket of Pro Tour-London in nine straight games -- quite possibly nine of the toughest games you could ever hope to play with Masashi Oiso, Johan Sadeghpour, and Tsuyoshi Fujita as his opponents.

2005 Pro Points: 54 (12th place)

Jelger Wiegersma (3.2%)

Jelger gets the job done. He does it quietly and without much fanfare but the man just keeps on winning money. The Dutch star only failed to money in one of the individual Pro Tours last season. In every other event he cashed a check, including two in the Top 32. Jelger was part of the team that won Pro Tour-Seattle two seasons ago and also finished in the money with that squad at Pro Tour Atlanta.

2005 Pro Points: 36 (tied for 30th place)

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