Class of: 2014
Hometown: Boston, MA
Debut: Pro Tour Osaka 2002
Lifetime Pro Points: 307
2010 Pro Tour Amsterdam victory with White Weenie in Extended highlight his four career PT Top 8s ... His Pro Tour Amsterdam tournament report is considered the modern height of the form ... All of his Top 8s have come since his return to the Pro Tour in 2009 after several years away ... Ten Grand Prix Top 8s, including two wins ... Was still competing for Top 8 of a Grand Prix while simultaneously playing in the Top 8 of Pro Tour Paris ... Most closely identified with beatdown strategies like Boros.
Paul Rietzl's life in Magic can be broken up into two sections. The start of his career dates back to the halcyon days of one of the game's first super teams, Your Move Games. Known as YMG, the Boston-area team already has four other players who have worn the iconic YMG shirt in the Hall of Fame, including Rob Dougherty, Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys, and Zvi Mowshowitz.
When those players were at the very top of their game, Rietzl was just getting started as a promising young kid who had to hold his own against the toughest local tournament scene you could ever imagine.
"I've said it before—if I grew up anywhere but Boston, I never would have seen the success I've had in Magic," said Rietzl about the foundations of what has turned into a Hall of Fame career. "Darwin Kastle, Robert Dougherty, Dave Humpherys, Justin Gary, and other lesser-known names like Chad Ellis, Chris Manning, Bruce Cowley, Danny Mandel, Chris Senhouse, and others had a huge influence on me. It was a brutal crucible to survive the local tournament circuit in the Northeast when I was a kid, but it made me the player I am today."
Rietzl began his pro career by winning an Extended PTQ for Pro Tour Osaka at the Brighton Knights of Columbus outside Boston—one of the tougher tournament venues to emerge from holding the proverbial blue envelope. He went into the Pro Tour without expectations but also did not want to have to go back for another round at that dreaded Knights of Columbus Hall.
"I used to both anticipate and dread coverage of Pro Tours," he recalled. "I loved watching the superstars, but hated that another opportunity to play had passed me by. I just wanted to be a part of the PT and hoped it wouldn't be my last shot."
It would be far from his last shot. Rietzl's second act began, fittingly enough, in the same city as his Hall of Fame induction ceremony. At Pro Tour Honolulu in 2009, he made the first Top 8 of his career. Since then, he has made the Top 8 three more times, including his win at Pro Tour Amsterdam 2010 with an aggro deck that has been his signature play style throughout his career.
He has become something of the patron saint for aggro players, with an affinity for decks that attack early and often and put his opponents under pressure right out of the gate, such as the Boros deck he used to Top 8 Pro Tour Paris—on the same Sunday he was playing for a slot in the Top 8 of a Limited Grand Prix held in conjunction with the Pro Tour.
It was a singular event in the history of the Pro Tour, with the big event starting on Thursday and concluding the Swiss rounds on Friday, with a day off before the Top 8 on Sunday. On Saturday, there was a Limited Grand Prix that the Pro Tour competitors could compete in, with Day Two running concurrent with the Top 8 of the PT. Despite knowing he was in the Top 8 on Sunday, Rietzl could not resist an opportunity to play more high-level Magic and went 9–1 (including his three byes) on Day One of the GP. Rietzl explained that he thought his quarterfinal matchup against Patrick Chapin in the Pro Tour was lousy for him and he expected to be dispatched quickly. He pleaded to be allowed to continue playing in the GP on Sunday.
The Grand Prix began before the Top 8 and Rietzl was able to draft his deck before having to report to his match against future Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin. He had to take a match loss in the first round of the Grand Prix while he was busy dispatching Chapin in three quick games. He would continue to play Grand Prix matches sandwiched around his semifinals and the Feature Match area was modified so he could play in both events on camera. He missed out on the Top 8 for the Grand Prix—that match loss while playing in the Top 8 of the Pro Tour was the culprit—but he made it as far as the finals of the PT before losing to another eventual Hall of Famer in Ben Stark. On the weekend, Rietzl played in 31 rounds of tournament Magic and posted a 24–6–1 record.
"The craziest, most exhausting, exhilarating week of gaming in my life," was how he described the event. "I just wish I had mana-screwed Ben Stark two more games."
Coming into the 2012–13 season, he had already been eligible for the Hall of Fame, but it was not until he earned his fourth Top 8 at Pro Tour Theros in Dublin that the electorate rallied to include him on their ballots in sufficient concentration.
"I thought I had a shot. I had a huge advantage in that some of my closest friends in Magic are respected pillars of the community with large megaphones," said Rietzl of the many people advocating for voters to include him on their ballots. Of course, the Pro Tour Theros Top 8 competitor let his results do the talking for him. "Since last year, I've made one PT Top 8, one GP Top 8, and one PT Top 16. I think a lot of my friends were looking for an excuse to include me on their ballots, and this helped them justify it."
Rietzl has maintained a Platinum membership in the Pro Tour Players Club and will continue to pursue that level of play for the foreseeable future. Despite that, knowing he is qualified for any and all upcoming Pro Tours is a relief for the Pro Tour Amsterdam champion, who already struggles to balance playing the game at a high level with his full-time job.
"As I move into the 'buying a house and raising a family' portion of my life, it's awesome to know I'll always be able to come back and pop in on a Pro Tour from time to time and crack some jokes and packs," he said.
Rietzl was humbled by the honor—one that he was not certain he was worthy of.
"I can play pretty well sometimes, I think, but I've obviously run significantly above expectation in some high-leverage situations throughout my career. The one thing I learned throughout this voting process was that everything you do has meaning. The things I've done throughout my life in Magic, whether positive or negative, have all been remembered by someone. They've all had an impact. If anything, I'm reminded to keep treating people with respect and appreciating every day. I'm a lucky guy."
When given the opportunity to offer thanks, Rietzl named his parents, who always supported his hobby and would not only drive him to events as a kid but even sometimes flew with him.
"I'd like to thank my girlfriend Kat, of course, who is so supportive and understanding when I have to be away," he continued. "But I also want to thank my two grandfathers. My grandpa Cameron has advanced degrees in mathematics and strategy and is a man of impeccable integrity and with an incredible sense of humor. And my Opa is a man with a lifelong love of games, especially cards. He taught me to live life with joy every day and that how you do something is more important than winning or losing. I hope I've made them proud."
Sorcery (4)4 Thoughtseize
Land (24)5 Forest 1 Island 1 Mana Confluence 5 Swamp 4 Temple of Deceit 4 Temple of Malady 4 Temple of Mystery
Sideboard (15)1 Bile Blight 1 Dissolve 1 Silence the Believers 1 Dark Betrayal 3 Drown in Sorrow 1 Erebos, God of the Dead 2 Gainsay 1 Mistcutter Hydra 1 Psychic Intrusion 1 Read the Bones 2 Feast of Dreams
Black (23)3 Bile Blight 4 Hero's Downfall 4 Silence the Believers 4 Thoughtseize 1 Dark Betrayal 3 Drown in Sorrow 1 Erebos, God of the Dead 1 Read the Bones 2 Feast of Dreams
Colorless (24)5 Forest 1 Island 1 Mana Confluence 5 Swamp 4 Temple of Deceit 4 Temple of Malady 4 Temple of Mystery
3 (18)4 Courser of Kruphix 4 Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver 2 Dissolve 4 Hero's Downfall 3 Drown in Sorrow 1 Read the Bones
Uncommon (13)3 Bile Blight 2 Dissolve 2 Unravel the Æther 1 Dark Betrayal 3 Drown in Sorrow 2 Gainsay
Rare (39)1 Mana Confluence 4 Temple of Deceit 4 Temple of Malady 4 Temple of Mystery 4 Courser of Kruphix 4 Prognostic Sphinx 4 Sylvan Caryatid 4 Hero's Downfall 4 Silence the Believers 4 Thoughtseize 1 Mistcutter Hydra 1 Psychic Intrusion
Planeswalker (1)1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Creature (18)1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa 4 Desecration Demon 3 Obzedat, Ghost Council 4 Precinct Captain 4 Soldier of the Pantheon 2 Sin Collector
Artifact (1)1 Whip of Erebos
Sideboard (15)1 Blood Baron of Vizkopa 2 Sin Collector 1 Doom Blade 1 Devour Flesh 3 Fiendslayer Paladin 1 Last Breath 2 Lifebane Zombie 1 Pithing Needle 1 Underworld Connections 1 Elspeth, Sun's Champion 1 Pharika's Cure
White (14)4 Precinct Captain 4 Soldier of the Pantheon 3 Fiendslayer Paladin 1 Last Breath 2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Black (25)4 Desecration Demon 4 Doom Blade 4 Thoughtseize 3 Read the Bones 1 Whip of Erebos 4 Hero's Downfall 1 Devour Flesh 2 Lifebane Zombie 1 Underworld Connections 1 Pharika's Cure
Colorless (27)4 Godless Shrine 4 Temple of Silence 1 Mutavault 4 Orzhov Guildgate 7 Plains 6 Swamp 1 Pithing Needle
3 (17)4 Sin Collector 3 Read the Bones 4 Hero's Downfall 3 Fiendslayer Paladin 2 Lifebane Zombie 1 Underworld Connections
6 (2)2 Elspeth, Sun's Champion
Common (23)4 Orzhov Guildgate 7 Plains 6 Swamp 3 Read the Bones 1 Devour Flesh 1 Last Breath 1 Pharika's Cure
Rare (37)4 Godless Shrine 4 Temple of Silence 1 Mutavault 4 Desecration Demon 4 Precinct Captain 4 Soldier of the Pantheon 4 Thoughtseize 1 Whip of Erebos 4 Hero's Downfall 3 Fiendslayer Paladin 2 Lifebane Zombie 1 Pithing Needle 1 Underworld Connections
Planeswalker (1)1 Koth of the Hammer
Creature (24)4 Steppe Lynx 4 Goblin Guide 4 Plated Geopede 4 Squadron Hawk 3 Stoneforge Mystic 2 Mirran Crusader 2 Hero of Oxid Ridge 1 Spikeshot Elder
Instant (3)3 Lightning Bolt
Enchantment (2)2 Journey to Nowhere
Land (26)4 Scalding Tarn 4 Marsh Flats 4 Arid Mesa 3 Evolving Wilds 5 Plains 5 Mountain 1 Teetering Peaks
Sideboard (15)1 Mirran Crusader 1 Koth of the Hammer 4 Cunning Sparkmage 4 Arc Trail 3 Kor Firewalker 1 Basilisk Collar 1 Mark of Mutiny
White (19)4 Steppe Lynx 4 Squadron Hawk 3 Stoneforge Mystic 3 Mirran Crusader 2 Journey to Nowhere 3 Kor Firewalker
Red (25)4 Goblin Guide 4 Plated Geopede 2 Hero of Oxid Ridge 1 Spikeshot Elder 3 Lightning Bolt 2 Koth of the Hammer 4 Cunning Sparkmage 4 Arc Trail 1 Mark of Mutiny
Colorless (31)4 Scalding Tarn 4 Marsh Flats 4 Arid Mesa 3 Evolving Wilds 5 Plains 5 Mountain 1 Teetering Peaks 2 Adventuring Gear 1 Sword of Body and Mind 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 1 Basilisk Collar
1 (15)4 Steppe Lynx 4 Goblin Guide 1 Spikeshot Elder 3 Lightning Bolt 2 Adventuring Gear 1 Basilisk Collar
2 (20)4 Plated Geopede 4 Squadron Hawk 3 Stoneforge Mystic 2 Journey to Nowhere 4 Arc Trail 3 Kor Firewalker
3 (10)3 Mirran Crusader 1 Sword of Body and Mind 1 Sword of Feast and Famine 4 Cunning Sparkmage 1 Mark of Mutiny
Common (33)3 Evolving Wilds 5 Plains 5 Mountain 1 Teetering Peaks 4 Steppe Lynx 4 Plated Geopede 4 Squadron Hawk 3 Lightning Bolt 2 Adventuring Gear 2 Journey to Nowhere
Rare (24)4 Scalding Tarn 4 Marsh Flats 4 Arid Mesa 4 Goblin Guide 3 Stoneforge Mystic 3 Mirran Crusader 1 Spikeshot Elder 1 Basilisk Collar
Mythic (6)2 Hero of Oxid Ridge 2 Koth of the Hammer 1 Sword of Body and Mind 1 Sword of Feast and Famine
Creature (22)4 Student of Warfare 4 Steppe Lynx 4 Figure of Destiny 4 Knight of the White Orchid 4 Ethersworn Canonist 2 Ranger of Eos
Sorcery (4)4 Spectral Procession
Enchantment (4)4 Honor of the Pure
Sideboard (15)3 Path to Exile 4 Relic of Progenitus 3 Burrenton Forge-Tender 2 Rule of Law 1 Celestial Purge 1 Lapse of Certainty 1 Angel's Grace
White (44)4 Student of Warfare 4 Steppe Lynx 4 Knight of the White Orchid 4 Ethersworn Canonist 2 Ranger of Eos 4 Honor of the Pure 4 Spectral Procession 4 Brave the Elements 2 Mana Tithe 4 Path to Exile 3 Burrenton Forge-Tender 2 Rule of Law 1 Celestial Purge 1 Lapse of Certainty 1 Angel's Grace
Multi colored (4)4 Figure of Destiny
Colorless (27)4 Marsh Flats 4 Arid Mesa 4 Flagstones of Trokair 1 Horizon Canopy 10 Plains 4 Relic of Progenitus
1 (30)4 Student of Warfare 4 Steppe Lynx 4 Figure of Destiny 4 Brave the Elements 2 Mana Tithe 4 Path to Exile 4 Relic of Progenitus 3 Burrenton Forge-Tender 1 Angel's Grace
4 (2)2 Ranger of Eos
6 (4)4 Spectral Procession
Uncommon (22)4 Spectral Procession 4 Brave the Elements 4 Path to Exile 4 Relic of Progenitus 3 Burrenton Forge-Tender 2 Rule of Law 1 Celestial Purge
Rare (36)4 Marsh Flats 4 Arid Mesa 4 Flagstones of Trokair 1 Horizon Canopy 4 Student of Warfare 4 Figure of Destiny 4 Knight of the White Orchid 4 Ethersworn Canonist 2 Ranger of Eos 4 Honor of the Pure 1 Angel's Grace
Planeswalker (2)2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
Creature (29)4 Esper Stormblade 4 Glaze Fiend 4 Vedalken Outlander 4 Ethersworn Canonist 4 Tidehollow Sculler 4 Master of Etherium 1 Ethersworn Shieldmage 4 Court Homunculus
Sideboard (15)2 Soul Manipulation 4 Sanctum Gargoyle 3 Path to Exile 3 Zombie Outlander 3 Countersquall
White (17)4 Ethersworn Canonist 4 Court Homunculus 2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant 4 Sanctum Gargoyle 3 Path to Exile
Blue (4)4 Master of Etherium
Black (4)4 Glaze Fiend
Multi colored (33)4 Esper Stormblade 4 Vedalken Outlander 4 Tidehollow Sculler 1 Ethersworn Shieldmage 4 Thopter Foundry 4 Fieldmist Borderpost 4 Mistvein Borderpost 2 Soul Manipulation 3 Zombie Outlander 3 Countersquall
2 (30)4 Esper Stormblade 4 Glaze Fiend 4 Vedalken Outlander 4 Ethersworn Canonist 4 Tidehollow Sculler 4 Thopter Foundry 3 Zombie Outlander 3 Countersquall
3 (15)4 Master of Etherium 1 Ethersworn Shieldmage 4 Fieldmist Borderpost 4 Mistvein Borderpost 2 Soul Manipulation
Common (47)4 Swamp 6 Plains 3 Island 4 Esper Stormblade 4 Glaze Fiend 4 Vedalken Outlander 1 Ethersworn Shieldmage 4 Court Homunculus 4 Fieldmist Borderpost 4 Mistvein Borderpost 2 Soul Manipulation 4 Sanctum Gargoyle 3 Zombie Outlander
Uncommon (18)4 Arcane Sanctum 4 Tidehollow Sculler 4 Thopter Foundry 3 Path to Exile 3 Countersquall
Mythic (2)2 Elspeth, Knight-Errant
PAUL RIETZL CAREER STATISTICS
BY EVENT TYPE
Note: All statistics are current as of this player's Hall of Fame induction ceremony the week of October 6, 2014