Where do undefeated teams come from? It would be easy to say “the best” and point to a team like Pro Tour Hall of Fame member Luis Scott-Vargas, No. 12-ranked Eric Froehlich, and former US Nationals champion Paul Cheon.
At Grand Prix San Jose at least, they entered the last round playing for it.
Pro Tour Hall of Fame player Luis Scott-Vargas, Paul Cheon, and top ranked Eric Froehlich (left to right) had history together under the Grand Prix spotlight.
The well-documented trio had formed a partnership in team events long before this weekend, and with their continued success as a triumvirate of game greatness they’ll continue as such for the foreseeable future.
Undefeated teams aren’t just the rock stars of the game that take names and shuffle en masse. Opposing the all-stars from Northern California were a group of players… also from Northing California. Animated and thrilled about their record, Jenny He, Jonathan Betts, and Daniel Wong hadn’t expected their position going into the end of Day 1.
Daniel Wong, Jonathan Betts, and Jenny He (left to right) didn’t have to journey far to rise up.
“I’ve never made Day 2 before,” He said with a grin.
“It’s ridiculous. It feels great.” Betts added. So where, exactly, did this troupe come from? “We’re local, and play together down in Berkeley.”
“We saw there was a Grand Prix coming thought it sounds pretty good,” Wong said.
“We’re all experienced,” He added.
“We practiced with the team that made second at Grand Prix Portland,” Betts explained, referring to finalist team Eric Severson, Benjamin Weitz and Josiah Skallerup. It’s likely no coincidence that great players play together.
The top tables are always where the crowds form, and some of the best Magic happens.
The team was excited to have secured a solid start – win or lose – for Day 2. Their adventure into the wilds against the all stars fell short, however, as the mighty trio found themselves on top of the standings for Sunday.
But if you weren’t careful parsing the pairings you’d miss the third team that was aiming for a record without losses: Will Sampson, Andy Lee, and Perry Steever. The three had ended their first round with a tie, but won every one after that through to the ninth round. They, too, were local heroes out for the battle.
Will Sampson, Andy Lee, and Perry Steever (left to right) looked to avoid a loss going into Day 2.
“We’re from Sunnyvale,” Sampson said.
“We met at Game Kastle,” Lee said, “It’s actually right across from Channel Fireball. We started playing together around Innistrad.”
“Scars of Mirrodin,” Steever corrected.
“As we played our group got competitive,” Sampson continued. “We were playing Limited twice a week and we all got good at Sealed. We heard about the Grand Prix and we just had to make a team.”
For them, it wasn’t an ultimate showdown with some of the game’s greatest players but another crew of players just looking for the best record they could find at the end of Day 1. Sampson, Lee, and Steever added a second loss to their opponents’ record, ending the day with a lossless 8-0-1 record.
While Day 2 was still a wide open time for others to catch up, the odds looked good for hometown heroes to rise to the occasion in San Jose.