Tradewind Riders

Posted in ARCHIVES - ARTICLES on October 10, 2014

By Brian David-Marshall

Brian David-Marshall is a New York–based game designer who has been involved with Magic since 1994, when he started organizing tournaments and ran a Manhattan game store. Since then, he has been a judge, a player, and one of the longest-tenured columnists on, as he enters his second decade writing for the site. He is also the Pro Tour Historian and one of the commentators for the Pro Tour.

This weekend marks the fourth time the Pro Tour will be played out within walking distance of the beach in Honolulu, Hawaii—almost universally agreed upon in the pro community as the best tournament destination in the history of the Pro Tour. Early in the week, before the players even registered for the event, the newest members of the Magic the Gathering Pro Tour Hall of Fame were inducted at the first-ever Hall of Fame banquet in front of a gathering of existing members of the Hall.

In the past, the Hall of Fame ceremony took place before Round 1 of a Pro Tour, but by creating a special banquet for the induction, it created a somewhat more special atmosphere. I had the opportunity to emcee the event, while my longtime boothmate Rich Hagon got to show off his prodigious musical skills on the piano. You will have the chance to see the video of the ceremony during the lunch break on Sunday during the Top 8 of the Pro Tour.

As we showed each player a montage of his career and presented him with his new hardware, I was struck by how fitting it was to have the ceremony in Honolulu, where all three of the new Hall of Fame members had huge moments that led them to the induction ceremony.

Pro Tour Honolulu 2006

Both Guillaume Wafo-Tapa and Makihito Mihara posted the first significant finishes of their careers in Hawaii, with each of them landing in the Top 16. I still remember writing an article about the players who finished 9th—16th in that event, and both players have gone on to become Pro Tour champions; five-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitors; and now, eight years later, two-thirds of the newest Hall of Fame class.

Guillaume Wafo-Tapa
Makihito Mihara

Greater Good Gifts by Makihito Mihara—Top 16, Pro Tour Honolulu 2006

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Counter Mizzet by Guillaume Wafo-Tapa—Top 16, Pro Tour Honolulu 2006

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There are no shortage of highlights from that tournament. The most-often cited is the topdecked Lightning Helix by Craig Jones, as famously announced by Hall of Famer Randy Buehler and Mike Flores, but it was also the start of the modern playtesting house. Eventual Pro Tour Champion Mark Heberholz spent a month in a beach house preparing for the event with some of the biggest names in the game at that time. But the first breakthrough moments for a pair of eventual Hall of Famers has become my favorite aspect of that event, as they have continued to dominate throughout their careers.

Pro Tour Honolulu 2009

The third member of this year's class of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame is Paul Rietzl, who had been playing Magic for years already and had experienced some success on the Pro Tour. Despite some Top 16 finishes, Rietzl had not yet played on the Sunday stage. He had barely played on any stage for a few years before the Pro Tour returned to Honolulu. After a couple of solid years on the tour during the 2004 and 2005 seasons, he has fallen off and played in just three events between Pro Tour Los Angeles 2005 and the second Hawaii.

Paul Rietzl

Rietzl posted the first Top 8 of his career that weekend and has not missed a Pro Tour since then. Along the way, he won Pro Tour Amsterdam and made the Top 8 of four Pro Tours in total. It was a pretty amazing Pro Tour for Hall of Fame history, as Brian Kibler also came back to high-level play at that tournament—driven in no small part by feeling he had unfinished business by not being part of the Hall of Fame discussion.

Esper Aggro by Paul Rietzl—Top 4, Pro Tour Honolulu 2009

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That tournament was also the first time we met Tom Ross, who finished 8th; Conley Woods, who finished 4th; and Brad Nelson, who just missed the Top 8 in 9th place. In the end, it was Japan's Kazuya Mitamura who emerged holding the trophy, which was a huge relief for him. He had previously lost in the finals of Pro Tour Yokohama to Wafo-Tapa.

Pro Tour Dark Ascension

None of the freshly inducted Pro Tour Hall of Famers were in the mix when the final standings for Pro Tour Dark Ascension were posted, but there was no shortage of Hall of Famers playing that Sunday. Who can forget the epic battle—and the handful of fateful Galvanic Blasts—that propelled Brian Kibler past Jon Finkel in the semifinals of that event? That set Kibler into battle with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in the finals for an all-Hall of Fame match to close out the event. Jelger Wiegersma was also in the Top 8, which brought the Hall of Fame total for the elimination rounds up to four players.

Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir

Whether it will be players starting to make a name for themselves—like Wafo-Tapa, Mihara, Nelson, Ross, and Woods have all done in the past; or players returning to the game to accomplish goals established years ago—like Rietzl and Kibler; or just the game's very best meeting in a titanic finals battle, Honolulu has always delivered.

We will be delivering all the action to you all weekend long from the very first draft pick all the way through to every single game of every match of the Top 8, which will feature the new Standard format, as tackled by the game's best players.