Grand Prix Kyoto 2017 – together with Grand Prix Toronto 2017 - was the final Grand Prix of the 2016 – 17 season, which meant that it was the last chance for the Pros to score the Pro Points they needed before heading to the fourth and final Pro Tour of this season.
It is there that the Player of the Year will be determined, as well as the invitation list of the upcoming 2017 World Championship, and also determines which two teams will attend the Pro Tour Team Series playoffs.
At the moment, Team Musashi (Kentaro Yamamoto (captain), Yuuya Watanabe, Ken Yukuhiro, Yuuki Ichikawa, Teruya Kakumae, Shota Yasooka) has a seemingly-insurmountable 25 point lead on the Pro Tour Team Series Leaderboard , and the public opinion was that everyone else could only be gunning for second place.
Let's have a chat with some of the team captains of five prominent teams, to further understand their expectations for the upcoming Pro Tour Hour of Devastation and how they feel about the Pro Tour Team Series as a whole.
Team MTG Mint Card's Lee Shi Tian
(10) Lee Shi Tian is known for creating Team MTG Mint Card, an Asian power team which has since expanded its roster to include players from all around the world. As the captain, he has always been a beacon of light and source of inspiration for his peers.
Team MTG Mint Card first shocked the world by finishing at the top of the Leaderboard at Pro Tour Aether Revolt. Together with Jason Chung, Huang Hao-Shan, (7) Kelvin Chew, (17) Eduardo Sajgalik and Nam Sung Wook, they crushed the competition with a stellar performance. At Pro Tour Amonkhet, Nam was unqualified, but the other five did well enough to maintain within the Top 4, which meant their collective efforts qualified Nam for Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, making it one of the greatest success stories to date.
Lee Shi Tian
“Our team's goal is to finish in the Top 2, so that we can head to the playoffs at the World Championship. In terms of results, I hope to do well enough such that I can compete in the individual portion of the World Championship. More importantly, I have an even greater desire to help Huang Hao-Shan and Simon Nielsen maintain Gold level. They are great friends and great Magic players and I will definitely work extra hard this coming week."
Team Puzzle Quest's Reid Duke
When the Pro Tour Team Series was first announced, the team which attracted the most attention was Team Puzzle Quest. Led by (2) Reid Duke, the power team consisted of the biggest names in Magic, namely (5) Owen Turtenwald, William Jensen, Jon Finkel, Andrew Cuneo, and Paul Rietzl. After seeing these names, it will not be unreasonable to call them a superstar team.
On the topic of the Pro Tour Team Series, Duke shared that nothing has changed significantly in terms of their internal team dynamics.
“We did not change the way we playtest and neither did we change playtesting partners. We are a group of good friends to this day and we continue to work together just like before."
If anything, Duke felt like their friendship grew stronger. Indeed, through this contest for greatness, it allowed players to taste victory with their closest people, as long as they stuck to each other through thick and thin.
Currently in 5th place on the Leaderboard, Duke has set an expectation for his team. “If one or two of us can break into the Top 8, we have a great chance to advance to the Team Series finals," Duke said, “even if we don't make it, I'm glad that the Team Series generated lots of interest for the entire Magic community."
Team Face to Face Games's Alexander Hayne
Currently ranked 9th, Team Face to Face Games is comprised of Team CaptainAlexander Hayne, Samuel Pardee, Steve Rubin, Jacob Wilson, Ivan Floch, Oliver Tiu. Despite trailing a little, Hayne is confident that they have a chance to break the Top 2.
“My personal goal is to place at least Top 16 of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation to maintain my Platinum status, but it is my hope that Team Face to Face Games can do well to reach 2nd place of the Pro Tour Team Series. It won't be easy but it is a good goal to aim for."
Before the Pro Tour Team Series, teams already existed, but it was a little more “loosey goosey”. It was always possible for players to come and go, vary the numbers a little, and it wasn't as organized as it is now. With the current program, teams are now more well-defined and yet still retain its original character. In a sense, the bonds between the six players have become stronger than ever before.
“I think that the Pro Tour Team Series is an excellent program. It encourages teamwork and fosters friendship. We can get better results if we are united. Without the Pro Tour Team Series, I would be on my own and I could play what ever deck I liked, even the bad ones. But I have my teammates to consider now and if I do not want to let them down, I have to make sure I am making the correct choices. Besides, they will also try to stop me from using strange decks!"
Well, that's one more upside of being part of a closely-knitted team!
Team Massdrop East's Pascal Maynard
Pascal Maynard leads Team Massdrop, which is comprised of Jarvis Yu, Ricky Chin, Timothy Wu, Eric Severson, Jon Stern. At 11th place on the Leaderboard,
Maynard feels that the Team Series is an important step for Magic: The Gathering tournaments to become even more large scale than it is now. Like other e-Sports, we not only need support from the fans but also support from sponsors. For example, he really liked it that Magic: Puzzle Quest has taken the lead in sponsoring Team Puzzle Quest, trailblazing the way for more opportunities for the entire community.
“As individuals, we want to reach Platinum. For myself, I need a Top 8 next week. However, if you ask me about my team's goals, we'll still try our very best to reach the Top 2. It would require a lot of hard work, chemistry and synergy between the six of us."
Team DEX Army's Thiago Saporito
(22) Thiago Saporito is fresh off a win at Grand Prix Las Vegas Limited and is one of the most important pillars of Team DEX Army. Since the team captain, Willy Edel, wasn't around, we took a moment to check in with Saporito to understand DEX Army's goals and dreams. Together with Márcio Carvalho, Carlos Romão, Luis Salvatto and Antonio Del Moral León, they're looking to improve upon their current 12th place finish.
“We started off well at Pro Tour Aether Revolt because Márcio made the Top 8, but we did poorly at Pro Tour Amonkhet. I was the highest finisher at 10-6, so you can imagine how much we slid down the rankings. It will not be easy to break the Top 4 of the leaderboard, but my personal goal is to go X-5 for Platinum or X-4 to perhaps qualify for the World Championship."
On the topic of the Pro Tour Team Series, Saporito was all in favor of this exciting initiative.
“I love the Team Series because I truly enjoy team events. I get to travel with my friends and have a great time together. It's also important because sometimes I don't see the correct play but my teammates do. The best part is winning together, because we get to share the joy together."
Saporito might not have won a Team Event, but it is certainly one of his eventual goals. DEX Army's members might be separated by the Atlantic Ocean but they are united as one, and that is the true camaraderie!
See you guys at Pro Tour Hour of Devastation next week! It's going to be a really, really exciting weekend so don't miss out on all the action!