2016 Players’ Championship Preview!

Cap off 2016 on the SCG Tour with an #SCGPC Preview! Get to know all sixteen competitors in this handy viewing guide for the big weekend! Which competitor will you root for?

28 Opens, four Invitationals, and three Regional Championships weekends all culminate this weekend as the 2016 Players’ Championship caps off an exciting year on the SCG Tour. Sixteen players converge on the Star City Game Center in Roanoke, VA as the Players’ Championship brings together the strongest players on the SCG Tour to battle in the year’s last tournament. $50,000 is up for grabs with $20,000 going to first place as Invitational champions, seasonal points leaders, and top yearly point earners clash in a two-day, multi-format event.

The action begins at 10 AM Eastern time on Saturday with Day 1 consisting of Legacy and Modern group play. Championship Sunday follows with a single-elimination bracket where Standard is the name of the game until the finals, where two players will play best-of-three-matches (using all three formats). Cedric Phillips, Patrick Sullivan, Matthias Hunt, and Ryan Overturf will call all the action in one of the most viewer-friendly tournaments on twitch.tv/SCGLive.

Check out the tournament structure here and enjoy the show all weekend long! Learn more about the sixteen players below.

Jim Davis

The reigning Players’ Champion made up for his poor performance in the first Players’ Championship in 2014 by winning the whole thing in 2015. This year, Davis isn’t looking for redemption, but for a repeat of last year where his choice of G/R Eldrazi powered him through the Standard portion of Sunday, eliminating Tom Ross, Brad Nelson, and Todd Anderson on his way to the title.

Davis had a strong year captaining Team MetaGameGurus.com, winning his second Open in Baltimore with Bant Company, and ending the year with a Top 4 finish in the Season Three Invitational in Atlanta. Davis will be joined by teammates Kevin Jones and Andrew Jessup in the Players’ Championship as the team looks to take home the final SCG Tour event of 2016.

Jeff Hoogland

Hoogland qualified for his second Players’ Championship by winning the Season One points race, locking up his invite early on in the year. Hoogland had a rough go of it in the first Players’ Championship in 2014, but is back after a year off and with a great year of work behind him. Hoogland led the pack in the Player of the Year race for the majority of the year, but fell to Tom Ross in the final months. Despite not taking the title, Hoogland had a very strong year, tallying five Open Top 8s, four Classic Top 8s, and one Classic win.

Hoogland has shown he is more than just a brewer, putting up results in all three formats supported by the SCG Tour, relying on Kiki Chord in Modern, Mono-Red Sneak Attack in Legacy, and a plethora of decks in Standard. One thing still missing from Hoogland’s resume is a premier win, but this weekend could be a chance for him to take down the most-stacked event of the year.

Gerry Thompson

Few players have accomplished close to what Thompson has done in his time on the SCG Tour. GerryT was the original SCG Tour superstar, making his name crushing event after event while setting records that wouldn’t be matched until the rise of Tom Ross. Thompson was the only player to win back-to-back Opens when each weekend held a Standard and Legacy event. Thompson was also the first to win multiple Invitationals and is one of eight players to have five or more Open wins.

This will be the first Players’ Championship for Thompson (qualifying as a Season One points leader) following his return to the SCG Tour after his internship with Wizards of the Coast. On top of qualifying for the Players’ Championship, Thompson became the only player to finish undefeated in the Swiss of an Open, going 15-0 at the Atlanta Standard Open back in June – another SCG Tour first.

Andrew Tenjum

Tenjum has been a longtime grinder of the SCG Tour and found a groove early this year, earning his invite to the Players’ Championship as a Season One points leader. Tenjum is one of two members of Team Cardhoarder to make the Players’ Championship and is known as the team’s main deck builder.

Many of Tenjum’s creations took down events this year, including Standard Open wins for Devin Koepke and Chris VanMeter in fresh Standard formats. Tenjum was also behind the U/W Eldrazi build that became the go-to build for Modern Eldrazi before the banning of Eye of Ugin. Tenjum found the build of Naya Aetherworks Jacob Baugh won the Season Three Invitational with two weeks ago in Atlanta. Now that Tenjum is in the Players’ Championship, can the designer perform with his own creations?

Max McVety

One of the two relative unknowns in the 2016 Players’ Championship field, McVety made his name by winning the Season One Invitational in Columbus. McVety cut through the Swiss rounds with Infect in Modern and Mono-White Humans in Standard. Once in the Top 8, McVety defeated Jameson Perdue on U/R Control in the quarterfinals, Andrew Maine on G/W Tokens in the semifinals, and Craig Krempels on Bant Company in the finals. For his effort, McVety chose to become the Clue token after using Thraben Inspector and friends to claim the title.

McVety has shown favoritism to Infect, playing it in Modern and Legacy events on the SCG Tour, and leans toward aggressive decks in Standard. McVety followed up his Invitational win with a Top 8 at Grand Prix Minneapolis with the same Standard deck.

Liam Lonergan

Lonergan is the most mysterious player making the 2016 Players’ Championship with a unique path to the year-end tournament. Lonergan qualified for the Season Two Invitational by winning a Modern IQ with Elves and turned that invite to an Invitational title and a ticket to the Players’ Championship. Lonergan stayed with Modern Elves and opted for Bant Company in Standard, riding his Modern results to make the Top 8.

Once in the Top 8, Lonergan continued to perform in Modern and finished the event undefeated with his Elvish army. Lonergan eliminated Tom Ross on Dredge in the quarterfinals, Michael Majors on Abzan in the semifinals, and Jadine Klomparens on Jund in the finals to punch his ticket to the Players’ Championship. Lonergan chose to become a 1/1 Elf Warrior token for winning the Invitational and will most likely get to sport it in the Players’ Championship as it is the only deck spectators can assume the unknown will be playing.

Tom Ross

The Boss had a great year in 2014 on the SCG Tour, making three straight Invitational Top 8s, winning the Columbus and New Jersey Invitationals back to back. He had a decent year in 2015 with a Legacy Open win and a Top 8 finish in the Players’ Championship. But it all pales in comparison to 2016, where Ross claimed the title of Player of the Year, winning a stunning three Opens on the year, including back-to-back Standard Open wins with W/R Humans in Atlanta and Orlando.

Ross had eight Open Top 8s on the year and an Invitational Top 8 to go along with a Classic Top 8, leading Ross to earn 302 SCG Points, winning the Player of the Title over Jeff Hoogland by 15 points. Despite all that success, the Boss still would like to add a Players’ Championship trophy to his collection of hardware. This will be Ross’ third straight Players’ Championship and is always a threat to take down the event.

Andrew Jessup

Jessup watched his brother, Danny, play in the 2015 Players’ Championship last year, but will get to play in his first this year along with Team MetaGameGurus.com teammates Jim Davis and Kevin Jones. Jessup qualified for the Players’ Championship as a Season Two points leader, using two runner-up finishes in Modern Opens with Infect to boost his seasonal point total. Each finals loss came to a Team MGG teammate, first to Pete Ingram and then Kevin Jones in Indianapolis and Dallas, respectively.

While his teammates rib him for being the only member without a trophy, they are to blame in two of those instances and the younger of the Jessup brothers has shown an exceptional skillset with Modern Infect. Jessup also has a Legacy Open runner-up with Elves, the other deck he is known to play in Eternal formats. The big question will be what he shows up to the Players’ Championship with in Standard. Could Jessup’s first trophy come on the SCG Tour’s biggest stage?

Kevin Jones

Jones was an underdog in the first two Players’ Championships, but this year, The “Daddy” has to be considered a threat to take down the whole thing. Jones has put in considerable work and joined forces with Team MGG to reinforce his love of the game. Jones qualified for his third straight Players’ Championship as a Season Two points leader, earning a bunch of points from his Modern Open win in Dallas with Grixis Delver – a deck he threw together the night before the event after almost missing his flight to the event.

Of course, travel mishaps turned out to be a boon for Jones in 2016, with his Open win being a precursor to winning a WMCQ on a weekend where he missed his flight to an Open. Jones showed the power of Grixis Delver at the World Magic Cup alongside Owen Turtenwald, Lee Marino, and Paul Yeem. Now Jones will look to improve on his Top 4 finish at the 2015 Players’ Championship as he looks to follow in his teammate Jim Davis’ footsteps as a Players’ Champion.

Jacob Baugh

Baugh stepped up his play for Season Three and it was on full display at the Atlanta Invitational where the Team Cardhoarder player took down the whole thing. Baugh was in the running for an invite to the Players’ Championship as a Season Three points leader and needed a strong finish at the Invitational to complete his goal of making the year-end tournament.

Baugh did that and some, crushing the Invitational with Naya Aetherworks and Dredge. Baugh took down Joe Bernal on B/G Delirium in the quarterfinals, Jim Davis on Esper Aggro in the semifinals, and Ben Freidman on Naya Aetherworks in the finals. Baugh’s build of Naya Aetherworks loaded with Nahiri and Chandra proved to be the right combination as he swept Friedman 3-0 to cruise into the Players’ Championship in fashion along with a custom Energy token as part of winning the Invitational. The Invitational win goes along with his Standard Open win in Columbus early in Season One with Four-Color Rally. Can Baugh carry the momentum at his first Players’ Championship?

Brad Nelson

The 2014 Players’ Champion wanted another shot at becoming the only repeat champion following his Top 4 loss in the 2015 tournament and found a way to qualify for this year’s event at the last minute. Nelson called the Season Two Invitational in New Jersey a “PCQ” and saw it as his best shot to return to the Players’ Championship as he made the Top 8. But Nelson’s run came to an end in the semifinals, losing to Jadine Klomparens, leaving him with a decent payday and enough SCG Points to try to qualify as a Season Three points leader. Nelson had to miss out on some points for a Pro Tour and the World Championship, but hit the final three Opens with the goal of grinding into the Players’ Championship.

After two rough events in Legacy and Modern, Nelson put in work in preparation for the final Standard Open in Knoxville. The work paid off as Nelson destroyed the competition, putting on a clinic with B/G Delirium as he took home his second Open win and gave himself a shot to earn his Players’ Championship invite at the Season Three Invitational. Nelson took care of business in Atlanta, securing a Top 32 finish to qualify as a Season Three points leader, meaning one of the most feared names in Magic would be back in the mix at the sixteen-person tournament.

Todd Anderson

The 2015 Players’ Championship runner-up had the biggest sweat of anyone to make it back this year. When Anderson barely missed out on a Top 16 finish at the Season Three Invitational, narrowly missing the Players’ Championship as a yearly pointer leader, his fate fell in the hands of Jacob Baugh. If Baugh could win the Invitational, Anderson would qualify as a Season Three points leader after Baugh’s invite would move from a Season Three points leader to Invitational winner.

Anderson was glued to coverage on his trip home from Atlanta and was able to celebrate simultaneously with Baugh as he defeated Ben Friedman in the finals. With the sweat out of the way, Anderson returns to his second Players’ Championship with his sights set on a better finish by one spot. The man with the most Open Top 8s of all time (30) will be working with Brad Nelson to attempt to return the title of Players’ Champion back to Roanoke.

Brad Carpenter

Carpenter had a strong first season on the SCG Tour, but took some time off in Season Two, leaving the third and final season for him to lock up an invite to the Players’ Championship. Carpenter didn’t hesitate, using a flurry of strong finishes to take a massive lead in the Season Three points race. Carpenter made the Top 32 at the Season Two Invitational and a Top 16 at the Richmond Standard Open to start off with a decent point total.

From there, Carpenter hit his stride by winning the Orlando Modern Open with Infect, the Indianapolis Modern Classic with the same deck, and finally the Milwaukee Standard Classic with W/U Flash. Three titles in three events was all Carpenter needed as he rode out Season Three to qualify for the Players’ Championship as the Season Three points leader. Carpenter will now represent Team Next Ridge Nexus at the Players’ Championship.

Joe Lossett

Lossett is back in his third Players’ Championship after qualifying as top three points leader for the year. Lossett might still be considered a Legacy specialist, but he has put in a ton of work in other formats this year, making Top 8s in Modern and Standard. While the Miracle Man won two Standard Opens last year with various builds of Heroic aggro decks, Lossett came up empty in trophies this year despite plenty of success on the SCG Tour as well as the professional circuit. Lossett made four Open Top 8s with two finals appearances, an Invitational Top 8, four Classic Top 8s (with two Legacy Classic wins), and two Grand Prix Top 8s.

Lossett continues to be the only West Coast-based player to make the Players’ Championship and has made the second day of competition at both previous Players’ Championships. Lossett has done most of his work this year with Miracles in Legacy and Tron in Modern, but his Standard weapon of choice has fluctuated between varying control decks. Will Lossett stick to his guns or will he switch it up like he has shown the willingness to do at previous Players’ Championships?

Todd Stevens

The best-dressed man on the SCG Tour started making a name for himself in 2015, but gave 2016 his all with the goal to make the Players’ Championship. Stevens has come a long way in that time, going from an unknown to a leaderboard mainstay in 2016. Stevens had four Open Top 8s, including back-to-back Modern Open Top 8s with Naya Company in Season One, and ended the year with a Modern Classic win in Knoxville with W/R Prison.

Stevens was one of four players on the SCG Tour to make the Top 8 of at least one Standard, Modern, and Legacy Open this year (joining Tom Ross, Joe Lossett, and Jeff Hoogland to do so). Stevens has also shown the ability to brew and change decks while keeping up with the Standard and Modern metagames. Now that the Denton, TX resident reached his goal of making the Players’ Championship as a top three points leader for the year, how far can he go in the year-end tournament?

Caleb Scherer

Scherer used one of the craziest runs in SCG Tour history to make the Players’ Championship in 2015, starting 3-3 in the final Invitational of the year and winning every round after that to take the title and qualify for the Players’ Championship. This year, Scherer went for a much more consistent run, hitting every Open weekend and using each SCG Point to qualify via a top three points leader for the year. Though Scherer needed a decent finish at the Season Three Invitational in Atlanta to stave off the competition, Scherer did just that with a Top 64 finish to qualify once again at the final event of the year.

Scherer earned a majority of his points with Storm in Legacy, but showed a lot of growth in Modern, branching out from Affinity to play Infect and Dredge, the latter resulting in a Classic win at the Season Three Invitational. You can count on Scherer to play Storm in Legacy – he did make himself the Storm token following his Invitational win in 2015 – but his Standard choice is anyone’s guess. Scherer made the Top 8 of the 2015 Players’ Championship and would like to do better this year.