When perusing the American team members for the 2014 World Magic Cup, you'd be forgiven if you passed over Isaac Sears. Alongside names like Grand Prix Las Vegas Champion Neal Oliver and No. 1–ranked Owen Turtenwald, Sears' name lacks some pedigree. But he's got a plan to change that real quick. And sitting at 10-0 right now at Grand Prix Los Angeles, after scalping Pro Tour Hall of Famer Brian Kibler to become the new King of the Hill, his plan is working pretty well.
Isaac is from Santa Rosa, California, and has been playing for a good ten years now. "This year, by far, has been my best year in Magic." He won a ChannelFireball 5k, and finished in the Top 8 of both an SCG Open and a PTQ. "And that's a lot harder to do now," he said about Pro Tour Qualifiers. "I'm talking over 200 players . . . like a baby Grand Prix," he continued, alluding to the attendances of Grand Prix events in the days of yore. And that's not counting his amazing World Magic Cup qualifier win. At the WMCQ he was piloting a deck he'd never played, "I was pretty sure I was going to go 0-3 drop," he said. You can even see him on coverage looking at copy-pasted sideboarding plans directly from online articles.
About his work at Grand Prix Los Angeles, Isaac says "this is only the second Grand Prix Day 2 I've made. And the first was in 2005 in Salt Lake City. It was like, one of the smallest Grand Prixes ever, or something." (For the record, that Grand Prix was 248 players; probably around the size of the PTQ he Top 8'ed this year.)
Now, sporting his "I Played a Pro Tour Hall of Fame Member" pin as a trophy for defeating Brian Kibler (who was also undefeated), Sears is in a great position to Top 8 his first Grand Prix. With over 1,700 players, he won't be able to explain away his great results as easily as he did his last Day 2. Even if he's playing with an Abzan Aggro list that he'd also never played with before.
"Apparently I'm really good with deck's I've never played," Isaac said. When I asked which finishes, he said, "All of them."
Piloting Mike Sigrist's Top 8 list from Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, Sears has been slaughtering people left and right. "I got the list from Michael Peterson and [Grand Prix Salt Lake City 2014 Champion] Brandon Nelson, but they went with their own list." He added, "Neither of them Day 2'ed, by the way. Can you make sure to add that part in for the extra rub-ins?" A good friend, indeed.
Sears likes the list, but admits that it has some awkward draws. There are a lot of enter-the-battlefield-tapped clauses on the lands. "Sometimes, you play a two-drop on turn three on the draw. That's real slow." Such are the pangs of playing a three-color aggro deck.
Regardless of how he finishes the second day today, he'll be traveling to Nice, France in December for the 2014 World Magic Cup. "Owen will be there already, you know, winning a billion dollars. Then [Neal and I] are going to meet up with him, and we're going to sightsee while playtesting on the trains." He's not sure if that plan's going to work; none of the team members have tried it before. But to me, it sounds like a net win either way. Though Isaac has been to Europe once before, he's very existed to see countries and places he's never visited before.
While interviewing Sears, he started chatting with Pro Tour Hall of Fame member, coverage writer, and Dutchman Frank Karsten to find out the best countries and places to visit from the south of France. The two hashed out ideas and plans, and Sears was getting more excited as they talked. This trip is going to be great.
Isaac Sears is having his first big year in Magic. Not only will competing in France representing the United States alongside Owen Turtenwald, Neal Oliver, and Andrew Baeckstrom, but right now he's on track to Top 8 his first Grand Prix. If he can keep his head on tight, while battling in the King of the Hill seat, he'll be sitting pretty indeed.