The second day of Pro Tour Eldritch Moon was huge for No. 2-ranked Owen Turtenwald—who, starting next week, will be referred to as "No. 1-ranked." He clinched a fourth Pro Tour Top 8 berth; it was announced that he was elected into the Hall of Fame; and in the final moments of the day, he clinched Player of the Year for the second time.
"It doesn't surprise me," teammate, friend, confidante, Pro Tour Hall of Fame member, and recently re-locked Platinum pro William "Huey" Jensen said of the accolades. He said what—as crazy as it is—a lot of us were thinking.
Since Turtenwald first won Player of the Year in 2011, he has basically only gone up in his Magic-career trajectory. But even if this second Player of the Year title for Owen didn't surprise us, it's still a lot to take in—even for Owen.
Jensen relayed the story right after Round 16. "There's so much going on at this tournament—[Owen] was hoping to get into the Hall of Fame, he was hoping to do well in the Pro Tour. In fact, after he locked Top 8, he walked over and everyone was congratulating him on his Top 8 and what not. And someone was like 'Oh, and you won Player of the Year!' And he was like, 'Oh yeah, I totally forgot!'"
An ecstatic Owen Turtenwald is congratulated by Huey Jensen after winning his Round 16 match.
"And that doesn't mean he didn't care," Jensen qualified. "He did care, a lot. He talked about it a lot. There's just so much stuff happening." And it's all great stuff.
For Jensen, someone who's been around the game for a long time, the honor of two-time Player of the Year—and five years apart no less—is quite a feat. "There's a small handful of people who have won Player of the Year twice. I think only Yuuya [Watanabe] and Kai [Budde]. That's pretty elite company." He continued, "I know Owen respects both of those guys a lot. Kai is a friend and a teammate. And everyone respects Yuuya. He's very proud to be in that sort of company."
Owen Turtenwald has built his entire Magic career off trying to be the best in every aspect. This drive surely factored in this year especially, with No. 1-ranked Seth Manfield leading the pack seemingly all season.
"I think when people whom you respect are telling you that you're the best player, or they think you're the best player, and then all of a sudden someone else—whether it's Seth in this case, or another great player—just blows it up for a year, and people say, 'Well maybe you're not the best player...." Jensen said, "I think that, when you're super competitive...that can light a fire under you. Like, 'No, that's not true. I wanna prove that I'm the best player.'"
Turtenwald has battled through many complicated board states at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon and throughout his career.
And he did; Owen did.
You can see his pride in his accomplishments through his demeanor, his tone, his sly smirks, and even his Top 8 player profile—where under "Previous Magic Accomplishments" he wrote, "4 Pro Tour Top 8s, two-time Player of the Year." He's pumped.
"When you do something so much, and you try to do something at the highest level, you almost have to have that attitude," Jensen said. This drive to be the best was what pushed the greats like Jon Finkel and Kai Budde to set the benchmark for people like Owen, No. 15-ranked Reid Duke, No. 5-ranked Luis Scott-Vargas—all in the Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Top 8—to strive to beat.
After talking about those pinnacle players with Jensen, I asked if just like we all looked up to Jon and Kai, does he think the players of this and next generation are looking to Owen. Newly minted Rookie of the Year and Pro Tour Constructed Master Olivier Tiu has already said as much.
Jensen responded, "I've said it before: I think Owen is a good person, and I think emulating Owen's attitude in terms of trying to succeed at anything is a positive thing for any fifteen- or seventeen-year old to look up to."
Owen Turtenwald's drive to be the best at all things Magic has once again proven successful. Your Hall of Fame–elect, Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Top 8, and now two-time Player of the Year, Owen Turtenwald!
2015–16 Player of the Year Owen Turtenwald