David Ochoa is known for many things. Not only is he an obviously accomplished Magic player with six Grand Prix Top 8 appearances to go with one Pro Tour Top 8, but his wealth of cuisine knowledge is famed on the professional circuit. As much as anyone wants to avoid the player affectionately known as “Web” or “Ocho” sitting down across from them in the tournament, they’re equally as thrilled to see him outside of the battlefield.
After Grand Prix Detroit, Ochoa will add one more thing onto his list of accomplishments: veteran of exactly 100 Grand Prix.
The Modern tilt was Ochoa’s 100th appearance on the Grand Prix stage, a scene he arrived on with a bang more than a decade ago. Ochoa’s first Grand Prix was Anaheim 2003, where he finished ninth on tiebreaks, missing the Top 8 but making his mark on the game.
There were 272 players in that event. Nearly 10 times that many sat down Saturday morning to play in Detroit.
Magic has grown and changed in many ways since Ochoa first made waves back in 2003 - but in many ways it hasn’t. Take, for example, the Top 8 in that even. Ben Rubin — not yet a Hall of Famer — won the event and is also competing in Detroit, and prominent cards featured were Grim Lavamancer, Chalice of the Void and Meddling Mage, all still key cards for Modern in 2016.
David Ochoa at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica.
In the 99 Grand Prix he’s played in since Anaheim, Ochoa has had his fair share of success. Six Top 8 appearances solidify his legacy as one of the most consistent players of the past decade (though, he notes, he’s yet to win a game once in the Top 8). After his near-miss in 2003, Ochoa continued to find success on the local and regional level, and had his first major breakthrough at Grand Prix Minneapolis in 2009, which was followed up three years later by a Pro Tour Top 8 during Return to Ravnica.
While the number of players may be nearly an entire order of magnitude larger, the same thing that attracted Ochoa to Grand Prix back then still brings him to events across the world.
“It’s harder now that events are larger, but tournaments are still fun because they’re a combination of hanging out with friends plus high level competition,” he said. “Traveling with friends has always been one of the biggest appeals of Grand Prix.”
Now a veteran of 100 Grand Prix, Ochoa is feeling pretty relaxed at these tournaments.
Ochoa has been playing Magic since the release of Mercadian Masques, and the game hasn’t lost its appeal, nor has competing at the highest levels of competition. It will take a monster performance, but will Detroit be where Ochoa breaks his Top 8 losing streak? The first step is making it to the final rounds, and that begins with a strong Day 1. Through four rounds Ochoa is doing his part, winning every match to stay undefeated and near the top of the leaderboard.