As the curtains close in Kyoto, we'd like to refresh your memories on the top stories of the weekend. As the final Pro Tour of the 2016–17 season, there were numerous moments worth keeping in the books! With some help from Marc Calderaro, we assembled the most exciting ones for your reading pleasure!
The Dominance of Red
There had never been a better time to play red, and nearly a quarter of all Pro Tour competitors agreed. Thanks to new additions from Hour of Devastation like Abrade, Earthshaker Khenra, and Ramunap Ruins, the road ahead was paved for red. Falkenrath Gorger, Bomat Courier, Village Messenger, and Kari Zev, Skyship Raider looked great in a vacuum, but never experienced heavy play until now. Combined with Ahn-Crop Crasher, Sunscorched Desert, Hazoret the Fervent, and other forgotten gems, Ramunap Red solidified itself as the top deck of the weekend.
In Day One , Ramunap Red occupied 24.8 percent of the field. After the Day Two cut , that percentage rose to 29.2. Last but not least, the most-played card this weekend was a red one, Abrade, with nearly 300 players out of 463 playing it.
The only permanence is change, and change is the nature of the Magic metagame, which is what makes this game ever evolving and eternally exciting. Often red is overlooked at the Pro Tour, but this weekend, it was red's time to shine.
MTG Bent Card's Relentless Chase
Before this weekend, team MTG Bent Card entered the fray at 10th place on the Pro Tour Team Series leaderboard. An underdog in this race, they surprised everyone by propelling themselves into the Top 4 before the Sunday playoffs.
Team MTG Bent Card might not have put any of its players in the Top 8, but three of them made the Top 16. This contributed 45 points towards the leaderboard. In addition, Christian Calcano and Javier Dominguez secured the 12-4 records they required to both hit Platinum and secure a spot at the World Championship, while Mengucci decorated his resume with yet another Top 16 finish.
While they had no chance to make the Top 2, they were on the edges of the Top 4 all throughout the Sunday playoffs. As the Top 4 teams become qualified for the next Pro Tour, it was important to team members Anthony Lee and Michael Bonde, who were not Gold (the sixth member, Corey Baumeister was. To maintain their spot, they needed Samuel Black lose in the semifinals, or team Mutiny would leapfrog them. Likewise, if Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa or Samuel Pardee won, then ChannelFireball Ice or Face to Face Games would pass them as well by nature of tiebreakers. Ultimately, it was Damo da Rosa that won, and ChannelFireball Ice ended in 4th place, breaking the tie with Bent Card by nature of having more Pro Tour Top 8s.
Regardless, this was one of the most interesting narratives that arose from the Pro Tour Team Series, and we will be seeing team Musashi and team Genesis face off at the finals, held at the 2017 World Championship.
A Mental Misstep and its Butterfly Effect
One of the biggest incidents during the playoffs hugely determined the results of several outcomes. In fact, it shaped the entire conclusion of the 2016–17 season.
In the semifinals between (7) Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Yam Wing Chun, both players were tied at two games apiece. As the rubber game progressed, it was unclear who would emerge victorious. Yam was down to 4 life, while Damo da Rosa was at 11. If Yam did not win that turn, it was highly likely he would be finished for the weekend. At that point, Yam controlled Hazoret the Fervent, while Damo da Rosa had no untapped blockers. He held a single card, Collective Defiance, and had five mana available. He needed to top-deck or be eliminated with certainty.
And he did!
However, in the midst of his over-excitement, something in his mind derailed for a moment. The usually careful and masterful Mono-Red player Yam rushed in to take the win, declaring Hazoret the Fervent as an attacker as he turned the red God sideways. This elicited a calm response from Damo da Rosa.
"You have two cards in your hand, so Hazoret cannot attack."
Suddenly realizing his enormous blunder, Yam saw that he had just thrown the game and match away. Unable to return to his main phase since he had already declared attackers, all Damo da Rosa had to do was sacrifice Ramunap Ruins to reduce Yam down to 2, and then cast Chandra, Torch of Defiance to reverse the outcome.
If Yam had performed the actions in the correct order, Damo da Rosa would not have advanced to the finals. First-ranked Márcio Carvalho would have been crowned the Player of the Year. If Yam had advanced, he might have become a Pro Tour Champion himself, or (21) Pardee could have won it all. And if Yam had won the Pro Tour, he would have qualified for the World Championship, denying (16) Eric Froehlich the last empty slot.
This is an example of how a single split second could impact the lives of so many around us. One tiny little moment can lead to large consequences. Nobody knows how things would have turned out, so it will remain a mystery.
Jůza's Big Weekend
While many awards and accolades were handed out, it was a big weekend for (10) Martin Jůza.
And it was not difficult to understand why!
Not only was he elected into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame this Friday, he also edged out Makis Matsoukas and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa after winning Round 12 to secure the Draft Master title! To learn more about Jůza's exciting race and chase, check out Marc Calderaro's story here.
Damo da Rosa Does It Again
Prior to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, (1) Márcio Carvalho looked like he had an insurmountable lead. Thirteen Pro Points ahead of his nearest competitor, only twelve other players threatened this supreme lead. For example, (2) Shota Yasooka and (4) Yuuya Watanabe could have given chase if they made Top 8, but that possibility vanished when they crashed out. As the rounds progressed, the shortlist of potential Player of the Year candidates became shorter and shorter, leaving only Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.
His 11-0 streak, coupled with a win in Round 13, made him the first player to secure a berth in the Top 8. Even then, Damo da Rosa needed to finish at least second place to tie Carvalho, or win the Pro Tour and claim the Player of the Year title outright.
Damo da Rosa's relentless run to the finals was heartbreaking for Carvalho, for he had been at the top of the leaderboard for over six months. Against all odds, Damo da Rosa had achieved the impossible, which was amazing considering how much he had already accomplished in this game.
Not only did Damo da Rosa net his twelfth Pro Tour Top 8 this weekend, he also won his second Pro Tour, and the Player of the Year title for the very first time.