GUILLAUME WAFO-TAPA

Class of: 2014
Hometown: Nantes, France
Debut: Pro Tour Barcelona 2001
Lifetime Pro Points: 262

Five career Pro Tour Top 8s, including his Mystical Teachings-fueled win at Pro Tour Yokohama ... Despite reputation as Constructed player, he made Top 8 of Limited Pro Tour Kuala Lumpur ... Invariably plays a control deck in nearly every Constructed Event ... Seven career Grand Prix Top 8 finishes ... Carefully curates his deck with foil and foreign language cards for each Pro Tour.

The French player from the small town on Nantes first made a name for himself as one of the people credited with working on Pierre Canali's Pro Tour–winning deck from Pro Tour Columbus, but he established himself as a deck designer and a master of control strategies soon thereafter. Ask any control player today to name their favorite Magic player, and the name Guillaume Wafo-Tapa will invariably come up.

It was during Pro Tour Honolulu 2006—the same location as his Hall of Fame induction—that the words "Wafo-Tapa" became an adjective used to describe a particular type of control deck.

"It's difficult to pick the best but I would say my first time in Hawaii," said Wafo-Tapa of his favorite Pro Tour memories. "All the qualified French players stayed in the same hostel and the team spirit was really high. The location was also tops with the beach nearby. I loved my deck and it was my first Day Two—and Top 16—on the PT. The Ruel brothers also both Top 8ed. Definitely good times."

While Wafo-Tapa is known largely for his Constructed prowess and deck-building, it was the Limited format that paved the way to the Pro Tour for him.

"I won my first Limited PTQ. I remember it very well because on the way back—we had a four-hour drive—our car broke down and we ended up getting back home early in the morning. The others were pretty annoyed, especially because some of them had to go to work right away, but I couldn't care less. I had just won a PTQ!"

Wafo-Tapa is very particular about the cards he plays. He almost always has his decks tricked out with foreign-language premium foil editions. When he first got to the Pro Tour he had to teach himself not to be too distracted by the shiny objects.

"At that point I knew I was nowhere near as good as players I looked up to like Kai Budde and Zvi Mowshovitz," recalled Wafo-Tapa of attending that first Pro Tour. "Besides, I had almost no Limited experience. So I thought making Day Two would be pretty good already. I ended up not making Day Two, even getting a game loss because I was late making a trade on some sweet Chinese Absorbs."

He is also very particular about the specific cards that go into each deck he builds and expanded on the philosophy that has carried him into the Top 8 of a Pro Tour five different times. That includes his epic win at Pro Tour Yokohama with a Mystical Teachings deck that seemed able to squirm out of any trouble his opponents managed to get him into. It is not uncommon to see Wafo-Tapa and opponent still sitting at a match table long after everyone around them has filled out their result slips, while Wafo-Tapa waits for precisely the right moment to win the game.

One of the most archetypical Wafo-Tapa wins came during the Swiss rounds of Grand Prix Rimini. The format was Lorwyn Block Constructed and both players were piloting five-color control decks when they met in Round 7 of Day One. After an early mana stumble from eventual Hall of Famer Patrick Chapin, Wafo-Tapa found himself on his heels as Chapin played a series of Cryptic Commands to bounce the French player's land, which allowed Chapin to resolve a key card in the matchup—River Kelpie.

Chapin was way ahead on cards and managed to get Wafo-Tapa down to 2 life, but Wafo-Tapa kept struggling away from the killing blow. Clash was one of the mechanics during that block and Wafo-Tapa had been paying attention to what few remaining cards had been clashed on the bottom of Chapin's deck. He had maneuvered the game perfectly so that when Chapin attempted to cast Cloudthresher for the final 2 points of damage, not only did Broken Ambitions counter the spell but Wafo-Tapa knew that he would win the clash. He milled the last cards of Chapin's deck away and won the game on decking.

"I would say the most relevant attribute of a good deck is its consistency. And consistency goes hand in hand with each card in your deck standing well on its own rather than synergy. I think that is reflected in my deck building," he said simply when asked about his deck-building philosophy.

Wafo-Tapa came into the last Pro Tour season sitting on four career Pro Tour Top 8s and added the critical fifth finish with a Sunday showing at Pro Tour Theros—just like his Hall of Fame classmates. Wafo-Tapa knew there was a chance he would get elected into the Hall of Fame this year but was not fully prepared for the emotional impact once he found out that he would be joining the likes of the aforementioned Budde and Mowshowitz in the Hall. He was testing for Pro Tour Magic 2015 in the lobby of a Boston hotel when he got the call.

"It's difficult to explain the feeling. There's a sentiment of achievement but at the same time I can't help but look back on everything I could have done better and wonder if I really belong here. So it's kind of bittersweet I would say. I guess it gives me an incentive to try and do better but I always try my best anyway," he said. "It means a lot. It feels weird being up there next to people I used to look up to. It's certainly an honor and it's very cool."

When given a chance to thank anyone who helped him along the way, Wafo-Tapa time traveled back to that car, stuck by the side of the road with a blue envelope clutched his hand.

"I would like to thank all the players from Nantes who are or were part of our local group at some point over the years, with whom I went to many PTQs and spent many hours playing Magic. In particular, I would like to thank Erwan Maisonneuve, who is the guy I have played the most Magic with."

GUILLAUME WAFO-TAPA CAREER STATISTICS

BY FORMAT

Format W L D Matches Win %
Limited 248 164 10 422 60.20%
Constructed 277 148 25 450 65.20%
Total 525 312 35 872 62.70%

BY EVENT TYPE

Event W L D Matches Win %
Pro Tour 238 143 16 297 62.50%
Grand Prix 287 169 19 525 64.40%
Total 525 312 30 872 62.70%

Note: All statistics are current as of this player's Hall of Fame induction ceremony the week of October 6, 2014

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