Head Judge Sheldon Menery hands the trophy to Rich Hoaen.

The man widely considered to be North America's best Limited player now has a Grand Prix trophy to put on his mantle.

Rich Hoaen fought off competitors from Japan, South America, Canada, the United States and the class of 1997 in order to win his first title, and he did it against a Top 8 field that was stacked with excellent players. Eugene Harvey, an opponent who Hoaen said he never beats, proved no match for the Canadian's controlling Black-Green-White deck. Adam Chambers fared a bit better in the semifinals, sending things to a third game before falling to fatties like Golgari Rotwurm and Drooling Groodion.

On the other side of the bracket, Jon Sonne defeated Michael Pinnegar in 3 games in the quarters, courtesy of some mana screw for his opponent and Tolsimir Wolfblood. That same legendary creature again helped put Sonne over the top in the semis, taking down first-time Top 8 member John Fiorillo, and setting up an epic battle between two players near the top of their games. The finals were a back-and-forth affair with the players splitting the first two games before Sonne eventually fell to a slow draw and a lack of Green mana.

In other news, the Japanese came, they saw, and they did not conquer, while vast numbers of retired Magicians came out to greet Guildpact here in Richmond, including the OMS brothers, Mark Lepine, Matt Vienneau, and Jamie Parke -- who finished 10th. In the end, however, none of them were able to stop the Canadian curmudgeon. Congratulations to Rich Hoaen, the winner of Grand Prix-Richmond!

top 8 bracket


Richard Hoaen

Eugene Harvey

Taylor Webb

Adam Chambers

John Fiorillo

Gerry Thompson

Michael Pinnegar

Jonathan Sonne


Richard Hoaen, 2-0

Adam Chambers, 2-1

John Fiorillo, 2-0

Jonathan Sonne, 2-0


Richard Hoaen, 2-1

Jonathan Sonne, 2-0


Richard Hoaen, 2-1


  • Blog - 11:56 p.m.: Finals: Jon Sonne vs. Rich Hoaen
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 10:33 p.m.: Semifinals: Rich Hoaen vs. Adam Chambers
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 9:41 p.m.: Quarterfinals Roundup
    by Ted Knutson
  • Blog - 8:52 p.m.: Inside the Top 8 Draft
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Blog - 8:03 p.m.: Top 8 Decklists
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 2 Blog Archive: Day 1 Undefeated Decklists, Draft Coverage, Top Pro Play, and Much More!
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Round 12: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Round 9: Pods
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Day 2 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Day 1 Blog Archive: Deckbuilding, Bennie vs. The World, Top Pro Play, and Much More!
    by Brian David-Marshall
  • Info: Day 1 Player List
    by Event Coverage Staff
  • Info: Fact Sheet
    by Event Coverage Staff


1. Rich Hoaen $2,400
2. Jon Sonne $1,700
3. Adam Chambers $1,200
4. John Fiorillo $1,000
5. Eugene Harvey $800
6. Taylor Webb $800
7. Gerry Thomspon $800
8. Michael Pinnegar $800

pairings, results, standings


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


14 13 12 11 10 9

8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1


Sunday, Feb. 5: 8:03 p.m. - Top 8 Decklists

Taylor Webb


Michael Pinnegar


John Fiorillo


Richard Hoaen


Eugene Harvey


Adam Chambers


Gerry Thompson


Jonathan Sonne

Sunday, Feb. 5: 8:52 p.m. - Inside the Top 8 Draft

Taylor Webb

This was a pretty hot Top 8 draft. There were only two players who were not Pro Tour regulars - Taylor Webb and Michael Pinnegar. Pinnegar is a PTQ regular from Columbus, Ohio with some Pro Tour experience. He considers himself more of a Constructed specialist but continues to work on his Limited game. You may remember his name from early on in the pre-rotated Extended season when his Teen Titans deck took home the blue envelope.

Taylor Webb and his trademark Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles hoodie finally reached the Top 8 after coming tantalizing close to doing so at U.S. Nationals last season. At that tournament he was in the lead for much of the weekend and needed only to 3-0 his final set of matches to get a crack at making the team - he went 0-3. He was nervous about a similar finish here as he went 8-0 on Day One but he just kept on winning - or at least not losing - to finish the day with an 11-0-3 record.

Eugene Harvey

Eugene Harvey is a three time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor and has been on multiple U.S. National teams. He made the Top 4 of Pro Tour Boston alongside teammates Gary Wise and Mike Turian and has Top 8s in Chicago and New Orleans. Eugene's best finish this past season came in London when he finished ninth.

Adam Chambers is an up and coming player from Upstate New York. As a member of We Add with Don Smith and Andrew Pacifico he made the Top 8 of Pro Tour Atlanta. He is considered one of the better Limited players in the U.S. despite unorthodox card choices and a willingness to draw first.

Adam Chambers

John Fiorillo is a member of 7 Kings which used to be TOGIT but might not be 7 Kings anymore either - who can keep track anymore? He pals around with Osyp Lebedowicz and Gerard Fabiano - or maybe he doesn't. I honestly can't keep track. He may or may not be the editor of Brainburst.com - nobody tells me anything around here.

Jon Sonne was a member of the U.S. National team this past season and also won two Grand Prix. His first win came in Austin at the beginning of the Champions limited PTQ season. He also won the first ever Legacy GP in Philadelphia when he defeated Chris Pikula's homebrew with Goblins despite a first turn Engineered Plague in the deciding game.

Gerry Thompson is another player who has been posting solid results and seems poised to have a breakout year on the Tour. This is the fourth Top 8 of his Grand Prix career including a couple of Top 4's. He writes a regular column for Brainburst and was the player I picked to win the event on Friday when we were all handicapping the event.

John Fiorillo

Rich Hoaen is perhaps the best drafter in this hemisphere. You might even be able to make a case for him on a larger scale but you don't want to go up against Anton Jonsson in anything involving Limited play - but Anton's about it. Rich has monied at some ridiculous string of Limited Pro Tours and is a fixture on MTGO.

Top 8 Draft: Rich Hoaen and Gerry Thompson

I sat down between Gerry and Richie to watch them draft. During the Swiss rounds I was struck by how little communication there seemed to be between neighboring players in terms of the cards passed. More than once I saw neighboring players end up in the same three colors because the player passing left in two packs drifted into colors that he had earlier signaled strongly to be open.

Jon Sonne

Gerry opened up a pack that offered Belltower Sphinx, Drooling Groodion, and Viashino Fangtail. He took the pinger and sent the Groodion into the waiting arms of a happy Rich Hoaen. Rich had first picked Golgari Rotwurm over Conclave Equenaut and Oathsworn Giant.

Gerry was pleased to double up on Fangtails over a Snapping Drake although he did move into blue when he picked up Compulsive Research in the next pack - passing Last Gasp and Blazing Archon. Rich had picked up a third pick Golgari Signet and seemed boggled by the existence of a fourth pick Last Gasp.

The two players got along really well throughout the pack. Even though Gerry passed a lot of early blue Rich did not go that route and stuck to black-green. Thompson had a solid start for an Izzet deck with double Fangtail and a Tidewater Minion. He even had a Vedalken Entrancer as an alternate win condition.

Gerry Thompson

Hoaen frowned at his opens in pack two which basically came down to Mossdog or Transluminant. He even considered taking a Signet or Mindmoil but settled on a grunt instead. Gerry found the pack similarly unexciting - perhaps less so since he could not use the Transluminant - and took the Mindmoil. Hoaen picked up a pair of Brainspoils sandwiched around Civic Wayfinder. Gerry wasn't getting many creatures this pack but still had quality picks with Compulsive Research and Peel from Reality. He did manage a very late Snapping Drake.

Both decks developed very nicely next to one another throughout. Rich was in a position to splash either white or red in his third pack. He even had a couple of odd blue cards should he get something juicy along the way. Gerry's deck looked very solid - largely based on the two first pack Fangtails - and if the Izzets came a calling in the third pack he would be fine. He was definitely missing some of the key cards in the blue-red archetype though without any removal outside of the two Fangtails.

Rich Hoaen

Neither player seemed very happy with how the third pack worked out for them. Richie picked up an army of five-drops with some Repeals thrown in along the way. There seemed to be an amazing Orzhov deck that nobody was drafting. Ghost Council went all the way around the table to be picked tenth with a Teysa trailing closely behind. Gerry picked up two Ogre Savants but there were none of the Steamcore Weirds or Pyromatics that he was hoping for.

While neither player felt their deck was exceptional; they both felt there was little they could have done differently beyond their first picks. One concern for Rich was the lack of double-mana lands in his deck.

"I had four bounce lands in my first draft and five in the second. I wasn't able to get any in this draft which should say something about the quality of these drafters."

Sunday, Feb. 5: 9:41 p.m. - Quarterfinals Roundup

Gerry Thompson vs. John Fiorillo
Welcome to the matchup of the sloooow decks. Thompson drafted an interesting U/R deck, except it lacks most of the usual Izzet trappings you would see from such a deck. It's almost as if Gerry drafted U/R in triple Ravnica and then tossed in a couple of Ogre Savants and Trains of Thought for fun. Fiorillo also mentioned the fact that his deck is actually designed to be slow during deckbuilding, since he was simply hoping to gain a bunch of card advantage off of Plague Boiler and some draw spells while his Blue/Black/Green deck controlled the board.

Game 1 went exactly as predicted, with both decks coming out slow. Fiorillo had problems finding Green mana, leaving him a step behind Thompson for the entirety. Viashino Fangtail and Vedalken Dismisser kept Fiorillo on his heels, and just when he though he could stabilize with Plague Boiler clearing the board, Thompson used Repeal on the Golgari Disk, putting him up 1-0.

Game 2 in this match was the reverse of game 1, with Thompson having color problems, despite only playing two colors in his deck. Shambling Shell and Dimir Infiltrator made for a very ugly combination against Thompson, who struggled to deal with the ever-growing unblockable beats. In fact, the struggle turned into death with Thompson one untap away from turning the game his way.

Thompson's deck again came out slow in game 3 and Fiorillo got to be the aggressor, putting him in excellent position to whittle away Thompson's life total while taking little damage in return. Thompson had to push further and further to try and even things up, which put him in perfect position to lose to Plague Boiler followed by Helldozer.

Fiorillo wins 2-1

Jonathan Sonne vs. Michael Pinnegar
Sonne fell to Pinnegar's Boros swarm in game 1, as Pinnegar had both mana and spells, something that would prove elusive for him for the rest of the match. Game 2 saw Pinnegar make some clever plays with Leap of Flame, but all of those were made while Tolsimir Wolfblood on Sonne's side of the board, and Tolsimir has a gift for making clever irrelevant, whether it be in draft or in sealed. A bout of mana screw for the Teen Titans creator did not help, and Sonne evened the match.

Pinnegar kept a two-lander for game 3 and was soon discarding again, a fate made all the worse by the fact that Sonne's first play was literally making a token with Vitu-Ghazi, the City-Tree. Tolsimir followed close behind, however, and it wasn't close after that.

Sonne wins 2-1

Adam Chambers vs. Taylor Webb
Chambers looked thoroughly in control of game 1 in his match until Webb cast Brightflame, gaining 36 life from damage dealt to Green creatures. Now, if you gained an extra 36 life in a Limited match, you'd figure to win that game, right? In fact, the life gain was practically irrelevant here, as Chambers lost a total of one creature to the Flame, using tricks to save two more, and then completely sealed the board using Selesnya Evangels and Sandsower plus backup with Oathsword Giant.

Game 2 looked like it would go down just like the first until Webb cast Blazing Archon, a card that Chambers stared at briefly before noting that his deck didn't have any ways left to deal with it, and sent the match to game 3.

The rubber game of this exciting match was just as strange as the first two. Chambers started off with two Selesnya Evangels, but Webb was developing well too, again promoting a creature stall. Webb looked like he was ready to exploit the advantage he could get from a 6/6 first striking Siege Wurm, in spite of Oathsworn Giant and a host of tokens (again) for Chambers. That was until Baby Chamby cast Djinn Illuminatus and then copied a Lightning Helix three times on his own turn, ending a marathon match with another exciting combination of cards.

Rich Hoaen vs. Eugene Harvey
Harvey was not happy with his deck coming out of the draft, and he wasn't happy with how it performed in the first game of his match against Hoaen either. Rich was able to weather the early storm of undersized beaters and use Golgari Rotwurm and Greater Mossdog to stabilize the board before removing any remaining relevant threats and letting the boom booms take it home.

Game 2 was more of the same from both players, though Drooling Groodion helped Hoaen just maul Eugenius this time, putting the best North American Limited player into the semis.

Hoaen wins 2-0

Sunday, Feb. 5: 10:33 p.m. - Semifinals: Rich Hoaen vs. Adam Chambers

Adam won the roll and chose to draw. While they shuffled Richie looked over at the other semifinal match between Fiorillo and two-time GP winner Jon Sonne and smiled. "I'll be honest. I am rooting for Fiorillo."

Sonne cracked a rare elimination bracket grin and came right back. "I'll be honest too. I am rooting for Chambers."

Rich chose to draw and the first game was over in less time than it took for the preceding exchange. Rich stuck on two lands and a signet while Adam dumped his weenies onto the table via Selesnya Evangel. Rich just stared at the Rolling Spoil sitting in his hand but could never cast it. When Adam cast Djinn Illuminatus he conceded.

Game 2

Adam came out of the gate fast in Game 2 with caregiver and Courier Hawk. The double land he played on turn two was Rolling Spoiled and he was set turns behind. He regrouped with Izzet Boilerworks which prompted Rich to comment, "You chose to draw first?"

Richie made Orzhov Guildmage and Civic Wayfinder followed up with Drooling Groodion. Adam killed it with Helix but Rich was holding Vigor Mortis so it was going to be back. Adam conceded shortly thereafter.

Game 3

Adam led with his Ledgewalker and Rich made a turn 3 Mossdog. Carven Carytid threatened to hold it at bay and Rich had to decide if he wanted to Brainspoil it or play two guys? He opted to stay back and drop Mourning Thrull Centaur Safegaurd

Jon continued to erect fences between himself and Rich's guys with a Droning Bureaucrat. Rich just kept on coming and attacked with everything. Chambers tried to figure out the trick. He just put the wall in front of the Safeguard. The answer to the question was Wildsize.

Adam trotted a Streetbreaker Wurm out there and continued to peck away with Ledgewalker. Rich flew over, recouped a point of life with his Thrull, and played Golgari Rotwurm.

Adam dropped Sunhome, Fortress of Legion and attacked with his Streetbreaker. Rich decided he could bear the brunt of the double strike and declared no blocks. But Rich only went to twelve as Adam wanted his mana to cast Dowsing Shaman.

Richie thought for a long time about how to play the next turn and finally sent everyone into the red zone. Adam tried to decide how to block and ultimately put the Bureaucrats in front of the Centaur and the Shaman in the path of the Mossdog. Rich put damage on the stack and then shot his Mourning Thrull at Adam's dome. Rolling Spoil devastated Adam's board. Rich had Brainspoil backup for Adam's next creature and Chambers extended his hand and congratulated Rich on his trip to the finals.

Sunday, Feb. 5: 11:56 p.m. - Finals: Jon Sonne vs. Rich Hoaen

Jon Sonne put up a great fight and took second

Jon mulliganed on the play keeping a hand with Sagittars, the white Magemark and four lands that featured all three of his deck's colors. He had to keep it but he did not need to be happy about it.

Rich had a turn three Mortipede while Jon had a Ghost Warden on his third turn. Rich considered saving his removal spell for half a second and then thought better of it. Last Gasp cleared the way and Jon took four. Golgari Brownscale made a second main phase appearance.

Jon laid a Vitu-Ghazi, the City Tree but made no play. Rich did not want to trade his Mortipede for a token and only sent in his Brownscale. He played Ivy Dancer and Orzhov Guildmage later. Jon made a guy, untapped and played Selesnya Sagittars.

Rich made a Forestwalking Mortipede - the first time I have ever seen that. Dimir House Guard was enough to prompt the concession.

Rich - 1 Jon - 0

Game 2

Jon Sonne's turn two Watchwolf was met with Last Gasp and Jon had no follow-up play. Rich's Safeguard Centaur got in for three a turn later and Rich sheepishly played a sideboarded Restless Bones.

Jon's fifth mana with no play could only mean one thing. Rich left his Restless Bones back and gave his Centaur Swampwalk after Jon Scattered the Seeds. Jon played his sixth mana but appeared reticent to commit Tolsmir Wolfsblood to the board. Instead he played a Sagittars and convoked Conclave Phalanx to go up to 19. The Phalanx stepped in the path of Centaur Safeguard which got Wildsized.

Tolsmir Wolfsblood appeared a turn later and Rich took six. Centaur Safeguard came in and Jon considered blocking. Rich just stared at him. Jon tried his luck. Rich did not have the Rolling Spoil and just put his Centaur in the yard. He played Drooling Groodion which tussled with a token on Jon's next attack. Sonne had the Gather Courage and added Conclave Equenaut.

Rich revived his Groodion with Vigor Mortis and also played Mortipede but he was too far behind and conceded once a Shambling Shell was added to the equation.

Game 3

Rich sent his opening hand back and Jon didn't bother to wait for the results to send his back.

"That's very kind of you," said a startled Richie.

"Just like two pals playing Magic across the kitchen table," broadcast Patrick Sullivan into an imaginary microphone.

There was no second land for Rich and he slumped in his chair. Jon's hand needed a few more lands to get going but he did muster a turn two Mourning Thrull. Rich found land number two a turn later and played Orzhov Guildmage.

After Jon played Ghost Warden several spectators wondered if Rich had been sandbagging about being mana-screwed for some inexplicable reason. (He was not.) Rich played a Signet, dropped a land, and Last Gasped the Warden.

Jon missed his fourth land drop but played Guardian's Magemark on the Thrull. Rich just swung back to tread water and added Dimir House Guard to the board. The two players traded blows for a turn. Rich Transmuted Brainspoil for Golgari Rotwurm. Jon took a turn off from attacking to convoke Phalanx into play.

That trophy will hold a lot of Fruity Pebbles!

Rich attacked with the House Guard and played the Rotwurm. Sonne was scuffling for green mana - any mana really - but kept on swinging. Rich put his Rotwurm in the path of the Phalanx and Sonne finished it off with Orzhov Euthanist.

Rich untapped and played Drooling Groodion. Sonne finally found a green source but it was going to take a turn to get the Sanctuary into the upright position. Rich stepped up his pace of play and swung with everyone. Jon considered his blocks and decided against making any. Rich Wildsized his Guildmage and got in for ten. After combat he traded in his Guildmage for the Thrull with Groodion with the Steal Strength ability.

Jon tried to slow Rich down with Phytohydra but Rich had the Brainspoil in hand.

Jon looked at the board and saw there was not going to be a way out. "Good game Richie!"

Final Result: Rich Hoaen is the Grand Prix Richmond Champion!

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