Honolulu Hype

Posted in Competitive Gaming on October 8, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

As you're reading this, I'll be on a plane, in the midst of my trip to Honolulu for Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, which begins this Friday. Many of my coverage compatriots, a host of Hall of Fame members, and Pro Tour staff members are already there. Staffers are working hard to set up the grand stage for players to battle on, and Hall of Famers are out in force for the 2014 Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

The Hall of Fame ceremony will be a bit different than previous years. The festivities for the 2014 Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame inductees—Makihito Mihara, Paul Rietzl, and Guillaume Wafo-Tapa—begins on Wednesday evening at a private banquet attended by the inductees, their guests, Hall of Fame members from previous years, and Wizards of the Coast staff.

On Friday, you can read more about the 2014 inductees when their Hall of Fame profiles go live, as the day begins with a nod to the year's inductees. And on Sunday we will be presenting a longer segment highlighting the careers of the three inductees on Twitch during the Day Three break.

If you're going as a player:

  • Be sure to check the Event Information page for info on the tournament as well as registration and hall hours. Registration for the Pro Tour begins tomorrow (Thursday, October 9) from 4 p.m. Hawaii time and ends at 8 p.m. If you aren't able to make it during those times, please let us know as soon as possible.
  • The hall opens each day of the Pro Tour at 8 a.m. Hawaii time.
  • Shirt and shoes required. Hawaii is beautiful, and it brings out the beach style in many, but please refrain from bringing that beach style with you to the Pro Tour center stage. We do expect you to wear shoes and a shirt while playing in the Pro Tour, and will enforce this.
  • You're competing in a Pro Tour, but you're also on a beautiful island, so enjoy it. Honolulu is one of our player-favorite Pro Tour locations for a reason.

If you're going as a spectator:

  • Be sure to check out the spectator article for all the highlights on what you will be able to do at the tournament venue.
  • If you want to join in on one of the public events that features playing Magic with Wizards R&D or the Platinum pros, we advise signing up for those events as soon as you are able to. These specific public events do have an event cap.
  • Don't miss Sunday! It's the day where you have the best chance to meet and chat with the best Magic players from all over the world, and it is also the most exciting day to check out our event coverage.

If you're watching all the action from home:

  • Live coverage starts on Friday at 9 a.m. Hawaii time/12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET/7 p.m. GMT. Those start times also apply to Saturday and Sunday coverage for Day Two and Day Three of the Pro Tour, respectively. Live video coverage will be on Twitch, but you can also find the video coverage here on the Magic website. The coverage page will be going live Thursday night. You'll be able to find links to the official coverage on the Magic homepage as well as the Events and Articles sections, in the banners at the top of the page at that time.
  • If you want the full rundown of all the awesome that is happening this weekend, Rich Hagon's got you covered.
  • This weekend is going to be filled to the brim with great new Standard decks, new Limited strategies, and a whole lot of excellent Magic being played. You won't want to miss a minute of this weekend's video, a word of this weekend's text coverage, or a single tweet from the MagicProTour Twitter. We look forward to seeing you tune in, watching, reading, retweeting, and more.

The Flashback

Last weekend gave us a primer of what's to come in the Pro Tour's Limited rounds. Grand Prix Shanghai and Grand Prix Orlando both debuted the Khans of Tarkir Limited environment in action, each featuring nine rounds of Sealed and three of Booster Drafts in total, over the course of those massive two-day tournaments.


In Shanghai, Pro Tour veteran and coverage reporter Chapman Sim delivered the stories on his own, delivering a ridiculous number of articles, Quick Questions, and more, on each day of the Grand Prix main event. The Top 8 for this 1,192-player event featured four well-known veterans of the Chinese Magic community, including National Champion Han Bing and players Yu Yin, Xu Su, and Liu Yuchen.

Yu Yin

The four players fought in the Top 8 to ensure the Grand Prix trophy remained in its home country, while Zhang Meng Qiu of Hong Kong, Oh Joohyun of South Korea, and Tamada Ryoichi and Hall of Famer Shuhei Nakamura of Japan battled to claim the trophy instead.

In the end, however, it was Yu Yin (who drafted a powerful Abzan deck) who claimed the title.

Full coverage can be found here, but here are a couple of highlight features:

  • Meet Huang Hao Shan: Grand Prix Taipei 2014 Champion Huang Hao Shan has been playing Magic for more than a decade. Chapman Sim sat down to talk to Huang about his career in the game, and to learn a little more about this humble player's beginnings.
  • The Final match: Short and sweet. If you need to see an example of just how powerful Yu Yin's deck was, look no further.


Meanwhile, halfway across the world, Orlando was hosting Florida's largest-ever Grand Prix—the main event drew in 2,277 players. The weekend featured many incredible stories. Where do we begin?

Well, let's start with a name out of old-school Magic history: Sol Malka. The Florida-born Atlanta Magic player is perhaps best remembered for his win at Grand Prix Tampa 2002, where his love of both black-green and the WWE forever married the two together when he aptly nicknamed his GP-winning deck featuring those two colors "The Rock." Good ol' Rock. Nothing beats The Rock.

And if you're wondering why people have a tendency to still call their black-green decks The Rock, well, there you go. A story for the ages. Maybe. Malka's performance in Orlando was also nothing short of story-defining, with his unconventional blue-black draft deck being one of the more head-turning stories of the weekend.

Then there is Melissa DeTora. The Pro Tour Gatecrash quarterfinalist was on fire all weekend, as was TCGPlayer community manager, 2014 Community Cup competitor, and significant other Frank Lepore. The two, in almost storybook fashion, met in the final round of Swiss rounds at 13–1, where the two were able to ID into the Top 8.

And while Lepore's story ended after the quarterfinals, DeTora's continued on with a powerful Temur deck featuring Temur Ascendancy. However, her story came to an end against Eugene Hwang, whose brutally efficient Mardu deck ultimately let him take the trophy in a final match that came down to three games.

Eugene Hwang

You can catch all the coverage here, but here are a couple of quick highlights:

  • Man vs. Land: It's not often you get Rich Hagon writing the stories instead of talking about them on camera, but here we are, with Hagon covering longtime Magic professional Matt Costa's first draft during Day Two of GP Orlando. Here, the story is clear: just where do you prioritize that mana, why, and how strongly can discipline win out?
  • More on Mana in Khans: The story theme, as you may gather, is mana. It's sort of important in a format based on three-color archetypes. In this feature, reporter Adam Styborski talks to Hall of Famer, part-time coverage team member, and resident number-cruncher Frank Karsten about the importance of drafting your mana in the Khans of Tarkir Limited format.

The GPs last weekend are the perfect primer for studying up on what you can expect at the start of Day One and Day Two of the Pro Tour this weekend. Speaking of, are you ready for three days of incredible Magic in action?

One thing's for certain about the Pro Tour: it's going to be one hell of a great weekend.

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