Photo Essay: Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch

Posted in Magic Lifestyle on February 12, 2016

By Corbin Hosler

Special thanks to Pro Tour photographer Craig Gibson for his contributions to the photo essay.

Players from across the world gathered in Atlanta to take the oath and compete for the title at Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch. Nearly 400 competitors were in attendance to battle each other in the Modern format.

Ryan Kurz was one of 127 players making their first appearances at the Pro Tour. For Kurz, playing at Magic's highest level wasn't his only new experience—he had never drafted before beginning his preparations for this event last week.

One of the highlights of Oath of the Gatewatch Draft is the opportunity to draft Zendikar Expeditions, rare lands that can help supercharge a draft. Hall of Famer Bram Snepvangers was fortunate enough to finish his draft with two.

It takes more than players to make a Pro Tour happen—it takes a veritable army of staff and judges.

As the day dawned on Friday, hopes ran high for everyone in the room. Two days and sixteen rounds stood between each of them and a possible berth in Sunday's Top 8.

As it always does, the Pro Tour started with three rounds of Draft, in this case Oath of the Gatewatch. A player's success was determined not just by their Modern prowess, but also by their ability to navigate the tricky new Draft format.

Hall of Famer and eventual Top 8 competitor Luis Scott-Vargas was all business this weekend, but that doesn't mean he didn't have time to share a laugh with teammate and friend Paul Cheon, who also made a deep run and narrowly missed the Top 8.

Team East West Bowl was one of many superteams to compete at the Pro Tour. Pascal Maynard and Andrew Brown carried their flag all the way to the Top 8, while Jiachen Tao did even better.

Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch was more than just a great event—it was the 20th anniversary of the Pro Tour itself. Five recognizable faces that played in that event were also competing this weekend.

The crowd was just a little excited when Scott-Vargas's name was announced for the Top 8.

Eight players, from seasoned Hall of Famers to Pro Tour first-timers, advanced to Sunday's Top 8 to compete for the title.

The Top 8 of the Pro Tour was intense from start to finish, and there was a large crowd on hand to watch the action play out.

After taking down Hall of Famer Shuhei Nakamura in the quarterfinals, Jiachen Tao tore through a murderer's row in the Top 8, defeating Luis Scott-Vargas in the semis before knocking off another former Pro Tour Champion in Ivan Floch to claim the title.

Jiachen Tao, your Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Champion.

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