When the last player in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Magic 2015 was announced, all eyes turned to the whooping crowd celebrating for No. 5 Ranked Player Owen Turtenwald. In the shadow of this spectacle, No. 2 Ranked Player Jeremy Dezani literally dropped to his knees in anguish. He had won his last round, and according to best guesses, the right combination of wins and losses had come up to get him into Sunday. Unfortunately, when the fuzzy math was sharpened he was just a fraction of a percent short on tiebreakers.
"It is the worst feeling, and there is nothing you can do. It is just the math. Trying for Top 8 in Dublin it was different. You know I was something like 13-1, so I knew with rounds to go that I was in. Here I had four losses early and had to run the tables... and then I did! So it was all this stress. Today was better. Actually even later that night was better. We went out and had a big celebration."
That's the thing about chasing the Player of the Year title: It's not like you can do anything you wouldn't normally do. You prepare and you practice for each tournament, and you bring your A-game and try to win. That passion to win is what drives the best players, and to come so close to a second Top 8 this season and miss was a dagger in Dezani's heart. At that moment, the Player of the Year title was cold comfort, even though it was something Dezani had taken very seriously.
"It was definitely a goal for me. After Valencia, I think, when I was first in the Top 25 Ranked Players I thought 'I'm going to try to do this.' Now that I won it... it is a significant honor. You look at the players who have done this, they are some of the very best. It was hard too, because Owen and Cifka both were doing so well, and I know they are very good players, either one could Top 8. So I knew I had to do well too."
I asked Dezani what it was like to go from his last season to this whirlwind. "Actually, I had a big change in my life this year - for a year I would have no obligations, I could focus only on Magic. So it was not that, you know, after Valencia I chose to go to more tournaments. I already wanted to play in as many tournaments as I could. Now I need a break. I will play the Team GP next weekend. That will be less stress, fun with friends, but still... three tournaments in a row is a lot. After next weekend I will take a break."
On the subject of the upcoming World Championship, "I am very much looking forward to it. It is the most prestigious tournament, and the level of competition is the highest. All the best players."
Lastly I asked if he wanted to thank anyone.
"First I have to thank Raph (Hall of Famer Raphael Levy). He is like my big brother, you know? He's done everything before. He knows the Pro Tour. He knows big tournaments, how to deal with the pressure. He has helped me so much.
"Also, for this tournament I have to thank my teammates Brad Nelson and Tom Ross for building my deck. This is the only time in eight PTs that I played someone else's deck. I don't even like beatdown. I prefer midrange or control, but this deck was so good, I had to play it."