There'll be plenty of eyes on No. 21 Paul Rietzl. He's joining David Williams and Matt Sperling in a bid to defend the team title they won in San Jose back in 2012. Rietzl, one of the most devoted sports fans out there, must be serious, if he's planning on spending his Sunday evening winning a trophy, rather than watching his beloved New England Patriots claim theirs in the Super Bowl.
—This column, last week.
Well, Grand Prix San Jose turned out to be simply breathtaking, with Paul Rietzl and Co. falling one win short of retaining the title, and it took the combined might of No. 11 Eric Froehlich, Hall of Famer Luis Scott-Vargas, and longtime star Paul Cheon to stop them. Rietzl's Patriots won the Super Bowl in his absence, and his reward for a superb 2nd place is a massive leap up the rankings, from No. 21 up to No. 14, just a fraction behind a Modern Pro Tour champion in Stanislav Cifka. It was a weekend for the stars to shine—also making it to the final four in San Jose were No. 9 Ari Lax and No. 21 Craig Wescoe, who teamed up with Limited expert Chris Fennell. When a team with two Grand Prix champions (Robert Smith and Tyler Blum teamed up with Sean Gifford) are giant underdogs, you're witnessing some special kind of Magic that team play delivers.
Lost amid the high-octane entertainment in San Jose, there was every bit as much intrigue and excitement going on in Mexico City, where the Top 8 delivered an outstanding lineup that included Chapman Sim, Pascal Maynard (the champion), Brazil's Eduardo dos Santos Vieira, and Martin Juza, whose Grand Prix record is one of the finest in the history of the game. As a result of yet another final-table finish, Juza rejoins the Rankings as the sole new entry at No. 25, just in time for Pro Tour Fate Reforged in Washington, DC.
Owen Turtenwald remains No. 1, and with a healthy lead over his rivals. Will we be able to say the same in seven days? Join us next week to find out.
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Dropped from rankings: Andrew Cuneo