Welcome to Organized Play, your weekly look into the Magic premier play tournaments that took place the weekend before and a look forward at what's coming in the near future. My name's Mike Rosenberg, organized play content specialist at Wizards. Before that, I was part of the text coverage team for Grand Prix as well as Pro Tours, where I was tasked with following the big stories at each event, along with long-term stories such as players' pursuits of Player of the Year titles, World Championship seats, and more.
In fact, that's still one of my tasks. The goal of this column is to look back and highlight the key events of GPs and PTs that took place during the previous weekend. What were the key stories? Who was the victor? On top of that, what stories will be the highlights when we look forward to the next premier-play tournament?
Let's take a look at the last Pro Tour, and then we'll take a look at what's coming up this weekend and beyond.
Last weekend was the culmination of the 2013–2014 Premier Play season, as 358 players from all around the world gathered in Portland, Oregon, to compete in Pro Tour Magic 2015. As the fourth and final Pro Tour of the 2013–2014 Premier Play season, the pressure was on for many players who were competing for a whole lot more than the Pro Tour trophy.
What were some of those stories?
Player of the Year Race
One of the key stories going into the weekend was the Player of the Year race between Reid Duke and Jérémy Dezani. The race has been neck and neck since Duke took the lead at Pro Tour Journey into Nyx, but at Grand Prix Milan, Dezani managed to claim the title. By doing so, he took a 1-point lead over Duke going into this event.
However, Duke's hope of overtaking Dezani in the race came to a quick end when he was unable to make it to Day Two, succumbing in the eighth round with a 3–5 record.
A tight Pro Points race between a bevy of players sitting on the standings ensured that Dezani's Player of the Year status was not locked, despite having a commanding lead. But this changed when the final standings locked Dezani in 9th place, ensuring that his closest rival by the end of Saturday—No. 5 Owen Turtenwald—had no chance of passing him with a win.
Rookie of the Year Race
Rookie of the Year race leader Jared Boettcher sweated a potential upset in the race he led, with Dmitriy Butakov being in Top 8 contention through the weekend. A finals appearance from Butakov would have allowed him to take the Rookie of the Year race from Boettcher.
However, when Butakov was knocked out of contention, Boettcher's solid lead in this race became a clinch, giving the 2013–2014 Rookie of the Year a seat at the World Championship. The chances of Boettcher losing the race was incredibly low, given that he was already Platinum status in the Pro Tour Players Club, but when the slim chance of it happening was finally quashed, Boettcher was able to rest easy.
World Championship Race
The race for World Championship seats remained close throughout the weekend, with plenty of shuffling and last-minute leaps. You can check out the full story, along with who locked up invitations to the 2014 World Championship, in Josh Bennett's World Championship race wrap-up.
Ivan Floch, Pro Tour Magic 2015 Champion
Ivan Floch Immortalized
Ivan Floch has a storied history in Magic, with 167 Pro Points. However, despite being a consistent player for years, he had not managed to earn his first Pro Tour Top 8. At least, not until Pro Tour Magic 2015, where he not only shed the reputation as one of the world's best Magic players without a Pro Tour Top 8, but he also won the whole thing!
Full coverage can be found here, but here are a couple of highlighted stories from the weekend:
The Garruk Live-Art Project—Adam Styborski talks with Eric Deschamps and Cynthia Sheppard, two Magic artists who were part of one of the Pro Tour's main spectator events: the Garruk Live Art Project. The two worked together on a piece of art throughout the weekend, and every few hours, a wheel was spun to determine elements that the two talents had to either add or remove from the art piece. In the end, a few lucky visitors won a raffle and will be receiving a very limited playmat featuring the end result of the art project.
The Final Match—Take a look at the final match of Pro Tour Magic 2015, featuring Ivan Floch and Jackson Cunninham. It's a match that many on Twitter dubbed as a total bleat-down!
With the 2013–2014 season now behind us, the 2014–2015 premier play season is getting started right away with two Grand Prix this weekend.
In Europe, players will bring their best Standard decks to Utrecht to compete in the first Grand Prix of the season. A new season means all players are at 0 Pro Points, meaning many will be looking to get a head start on achieving top Pro Players Club levels for the next year.
In North America, Portland will once again host a major Magic event with Grand Prix Portland. This Team Sealed tournament will not only test trios of players in their ability to build the best decks from twelve packs of Magic 2014, but it will have a little something for everyone. Portland side events start tomorrow and run for four days, until the end of Sunday, while the main event kicks off Saturday morning.
As a reminder, Grand Prix Salt Lake City is just four weeks away. If you're planning on attending, it is best to start booking your travel now if you intend to fly in.
With a packed schedule of events, the 2014–2015 Premier Play season is bound to be even more exciting than the 2013–2014 season. We hope to see you at the upcoming Grand Prix and Pro Tours, and if you can't make it, be sure to tune in for live coverage of what's going on in Magic's big events!