Grand Prix Dallas/Fort Worth marks the final Grand Prix that is taking place in 2013. While the 2013-2014 season is in progress, the end of a year represents a good time for reflection on previous accomplishments, big wins, or exciting moments over the last twelve months.
I got a chance to talk to a few players on the tournament floor early in the event. For many, where 2013 represented a big year in their Magic careers, the answer was easy. For others, the answer proved a little more challenging. Regardless, it a was a momentous year for the players that managed to arrive in time for the event.
No. 4 Ranked Player Shahar Shenhar
It was not surprising to hear from Shahar Shenhar what his favorite personal moment from Magic in 2013 was. When asked the question, he quickly answered. "When I won the 2013 Magic World Championship," he said with a smile.
Indeed, the 2013 Magic World Championship was a big moment for Shenhar. While the Platinum level pro and renowned globetrotter won his third Grand Prix title in Houston earlier in the year, the third trophy couldn't compare to winning the highly coveted title of Magic World Champion. The journey to his win was not an easy one either. The 2013 Magic World Championship highlighted sixteen of the best players in the game all competing over three days in four different formats. And when he battled his way to the finals against No. 3 Ranked Player Reid Duke, even Shenhar himself would tell you that the odds of him winning were low. He was facing down a matchup against Bogles, a deck that aimed to suit up a Slippery Bogle or another hexproof creature with an assortment of auras, which had overwhelming odds at winning against Shenhar's deck of choice, Blue-White-Red Control. However, Shenhar found a game plan that could earn him the three wins he needed, and after starting out with two losses in the best-of-five final match, Shenhar battled his way back, ultimately earning his win when Duke's deck failed to produce a hand that he could keep in the final game.
Perhaps the cherry on top of the whole week for Shenhar was being able to win the title of Magic World Champion with his family in the audience.
Pro Tour Gatecrash Quarterfinalist Melissa DeTora
Another player that had a big year was Melissa DeTora. While Melissa has been playing the game and had played in a dozen Pro Tour events, with Pro Tour Gatecrash being her twelfth, it was that twelfth Pro Tour that marked her big break. For DeTora, the answer to her biggest moment in 2013 was simple."It was probably when I Top 8'd Pro Tour Gatecrash. It had to be the best thing," she answered.
That event was more than just DeTora's big break into the Pro Tour, a finish that helped propel her into Gold level status for the 2013-2014 season. It was also the first time a female player to Top 8 a Pro Tour. While it is not something DeTora wishes to define her career in Magic, it is hard to ignore the impact her finish in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Gatecrash had for female Magic players ever. As said in her interview with Brian-David Marshall earlier in the year:
"I got a lot of messages from female players who said I was an inspiration to them, and they were scared to play in GPs and PTQs before but are no longer scared," she continued. "I also got messages from guys/dads who said that their girlfriends/daughters were so excited that there was a female player doing well and couldn't stop watching the coverage all weekend, and they never cared about PT coverage before. A female player even approached me at GP Charlotte the next week and said that I was her hero. It definitely feels good to be someone's hero, and it feels amazing that something that I did was an inspiration to other female players."
DeTora's team that she prepared with, Team Revolution (consisting of Hall of Famer Raphael Levy, herself, Pro Tour Theros Quarterfinalist Guillaume Wafo-Tapa, and a slew of other great American and French players) also had some success later in the year at Pro Tour Theros, a moment DeTora mentioned was also very big for her in 2013. "The other thing was Dublin because our team [Team Revolution] worked so well together and we had three in the Top 8. Overall, we did really well, so it was a really good moment for the team," she said.
DeTora's biggest moment in 2013, her Top 8 in Pro Tour Gatecrash, was not only a huge point in her Magic career. It was one of Magic's biggest moments overall in 2013.
No. 12 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald
Speaking of players that have had big years in Magic, No. 12 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald had had many moments to choose from as his biggest moment in 2013. The former Player of the Year has been consistently doing well at the highest levels of the game for years, but there were two things that eluded him coming into 2013.
The first major achievement that eluded Turtenwald was a Pro Tour Top 8 finish, a monkey he was finally able to get off of his back at Pro Tour Gatecrash (alongside Gerry Thompson, both being people who were considered the best players without a Pro Tour Top 8). After playing for as long as Turtenwald has, you'd think that his first Pro Tour Top 8 would be his biggest moment in Magic this year. And if you asked him which moment was his biggest a month ago, you may have been correct.
However, that wasn't Turtenwald's biggest moment in his mind. Turtenwald's answer, if you've been following the Grand Prix coverage for the last month, isn't surprising. "[My biggest moment was] two or three weeks ago when I won two Grand Prix trophies," he said.
The other big achievement that eluded Turtenwald going into 2013 was a Grand Prix victory. Coming into the year, Turtenwald had an incredible twelve Grand Prix Top 8s to his name. However, he had not earned a win in any of them.
This was all until Grand Prix Washington D.C concluded. It was there that Turtenwald finally battled his way through two days of well over a thousand other players to earn his first Grand Prix title.
Then, he did it again the next week in Albuquerque, scoring his second Grand Prix title and becoming the sixth player to ever win consecutive Grand Prix titles. He is also the first American player to ever achieve consecutive Grand Prix victories.
Turtenwald's back-to-back Grand Prix wins were his biggest moment in Magic in 2013. However, Turtenwald's 2013 finishes also put him in the spotlight as one of the biggest players of 2013. Considering he followed up his win in Albuquerque with a Top 16 finish at Grand Prix Toronto, it is clear that Turtenwald is ready to keep playing, and keep winning.
Magic has had a huge year in 2013 with many monumental moments for the players not only in attendance this weekend, but for the big players in the game. What big moments will 2014 hold? We'll find out, as Magic has a great line-up of events set for next year!