It's one week until Pro Tour Magic 2015, meaning that this is the penultimate weekend for pro players to collect pro points for the season. Players need 35 pro points in order become gold level pros and 45 pro points to become platinum level pros. With many players on the edge of one level or another, many came out to Grand Prix Boston-Worcester this weekend in order to acquire as many points as possible before the Pro Tour.
The way players receive pro points from Grand Prix this season changed since the previous season. This season, only a player's best 5 Grand Prix performances count toward pro level. For this reason, many pros in attendance this weekend are only aided by having a big finish--a top eight, for instance.
I caught up with four players on the hunt for additional points this weekend.
The Pro Tour Hall of Famer is sitting on 40 points heading into this Grand Prix and is on the hunt for enough points to get him platinum. Unlike many other players, Raphael is in need of only a top 32 or top 16 performance to improve on his worst Grand Prix performance--a top 64. All players at the Pro Tour receive 3 points, so with a top 16 here at Grand Prix Boston-Worcester, he will get 2 additional points, locking up platinum for him regardless of his result at the Pro Tour. With a top 32 performance, Raphael will receive one additional point, needing only a top 100 performance next weekend in Portland to lock up Platinum. Without a result today Raphael needs to place in the top 75.
This weekend Raphael is playing Burn. While other players around him laughed at his answer, he quipped back "Why are people laughing at me--Don't you know that I top eight-ed a Pro Tour with burn?!" After arriving in the Providence to test for the Pro Tour, and not playing a game of Modern since Pro Tour Born of the Gods, he was told by some local New England players that the deck was particularly strong. Outside of having many good results in Magic Online tournaments, it recently won a PTQ in New England.
Martin Juza, known to be one of the most successful Grand Prix players of all time only has 31 pro points this season. Being a platinum pro for many years, Juza would not be happy with simply getting Gold this year. In order to get platinum without a result this weekend, Juza needs to top 8 the Pro Tour. The only results this weekend that change things for him are a top 8 or a win. With a top 8 he gets 1 additional point meaning he would need to top 16 the Pro Tour; with a win he would get 5 additional points meaning he would only need top 25.
This weekend Juza is playing Merfolk. "I wanted to play jund," Juza mentioned, "but everyone knows everything about the deck already. With [Deathrite] Shaman being banned, the deck has awkward mana." Juza really likes Merfolk, he feels that people likely are not familiar playing against it and feels that people underestimate the power of Merfolk Reejery and Lord of Atlantis allowing for early kills. On top of that, Juza mentioned, "Master of Waves is amazing and it is difficult for the deck to get mana flooded with Mutavaults."
Despite having 30 Pro Points this season, Neal Oliver is in a different position than many other players; he is not currently qualified for Pro Tour Magic 2015. In order to qualify he needs to top 4 this tournament. If he does Neal will become Gold regardless of how he does at the Pro Tour--a top four qualifies him for the next 5 Pro Tours.
Neal is playing Melira Pod this weekend. Having played the deck for over a year he mentioned that he feels very confident with it. He is playing some interesting cards, including a Phyrexian Metamorph main deck over Restoration Angel. In his sideboard he is playing Sigarda, Host of Herons, which is "really good against Jund and W/U/R Control." He considered playing Eidolon of Rhetoric to deal with Storm, but ended up concluding it wouldn't be a major threat this weekend. In closing, Neal mentioned, "I think Melira is really good; a lot of people started cutting it for Archangel, Spike Feeder, etc, but Melira is good on its own and so is Viscera Seer."
Pro Tour Dragon's Maze competitor Matej Zatlkaj is sitting on 36 pro points coming into this weekend--a mere 9 shy of hitting platinum. The worst of his five Grand Prix performances is a top 32, so any result above that will give him more of a margin of error at Pro Tour Magic 2015. Without a result this weekend, he would need a top 25 finish at the Pro Tour to obtain platinum, but, he could lock it up this season if he makes it to the finals this weekend..
Matej is playing Junk (W/B/G) this weekend and excited to play Slaughter Pact. He relays, "the deck is really powerful, it has a quick clock, good matchups and is very resilient." Lingering Souls gives him an edge in the mirror match and he plays Garruk Wildspeaker because it's "sweet."