Hall of Fame voting season is upon us, a time to reflect on the achievements of some of the game's greatest players. This year forty players are on the ballot and discussion online is already heating up. Admission is no small honor, and brings with it a lifetime qualification for the Pro Tour. I took a moment with three reigning Hall of Famers to get their thoughts on this year's class, and asked each to make the case for one of the players they would be voting for.
First I caught up with William Jensen, currently ranked fifteenth on the Top 25 Players list. I expected short, no-nonsense answers from the big man, and wasn't disappointed. "I'm definitely voting for Efro, and it might be just Efro." Eric Froehlich, as he's less-colloquially known, sits at the top of a lot of voters' ballots. In fact, both of the other HoF'ers I talked to had Froehlich their list. To Jensen, the case for his induction is obvious. "He has the best stats of the field by a country mile." He's been on a hot streak lately, too. He came close to notching his fifth Top 8 at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir. His winning ways have him ranked #1 in the world.
Globetrotter Shuhei Nakamura was still shaking off the cobwebs after riding a red-eye into Montreal this morning. He woke up enough to build his sealed deck and I grabbed him before tiredness could take hold. Topping his ballot is the stone-cold assassin, Shota Yasooka. "I have voted for Yasooka every year he has been eligible. People say he doesn't have enough Top 8's... I think if he had one more he would get in." Yasooka has long been considered one of the game's strongest players, but his resume is short on elite finishes. He only put up his second Top 8 at Brussels this year. "Also, he has a lot of accomplishments not on the stats page. Player of the Year. Magic Online Player of the Year. He's the only one with both."
Last on my list was Jelger Wiegersma, elected to the Hall in 2008. Soft-spoken and wary of hyperbole, Wiegersma is a tough man to get a sound bite out of. The second name on his ballot is a dark horse candidate, but one with a lot of high-profile backers: Mark Herberholz. "You know, four Top 8's with a win... pretty good." That's definitely one way of putting it. When I pushed for more, Wiegersma simply added "He was one of the really good players." Sometimes it's that nebulous spark of greatness that means the most, even if it doesn't show up on a list of accomplishments.
Who would you vote for? Check out the stats on all the candidates here.