Dominia Dominance

Justice, Finkel, Buehler, Long, Maher – the list of Magic Players who owned the Pro Tour in the past is a nice short one. Right now, only one man rules the Pro Tour and everyone knows his name: Kai Budde.

Justice, Finkel, Buehler, Long, Maher – the list of Magic Players who owned the Pro Tour in the past is a nice short one. Right now, only one man rules the Pro Tour and everyone knows his name.

Kai Budde.

It isn’t close and it isn’t debatable. He wins, and wins, and wins. All Kai does is win Pro Tours. He has six Pro Tour wins. He has more Grand Prix wins – six – than anybody else without ever leaving Europe for a Grand Prix. His composite rating is 2042. putting him 16th in the world.

His team Limited rating with Phoenix Foundation is 2044 – not only putting them 1st in the world, but 140 points ahead of second place and 240 points ahead of twentieth.

The teams Kai plays on don’t lose. Ever. After going 4-2 Day One in Boston Kai, Dirk and Marco won a cool seven matches in a row to take home the championship. They beat all comers, and I would be surprised if it was close.

Eugene Harvey and I have a pretty steady five-dollar bet of whether or not Kai makes Top Eight. One-to-one odds. Nobody else on the Pro Tour could come close to making that a fair bet, but Kai does.

You would have to be a fool to bet against the Kai machine. I am that fool. About the time of Worlds this past year, Kai and I were talking on Magic Online. I was guaranteeing American victory, while Kai was sure that the Germans would rule the World.

I, of course, wouldn’t have any of this hogwash and decided to put my "money" where my mouth is. I bet that the U.S. would win Worlds versus Kai who bet that the Germans would. The stakes: The loser would write an article proclaiming the other country’s dominance.

Harvey and the boys took us for a ride, beating Germany in the Team Draft portion on their way to a 5-0 Swiss… But the Germans powered their way through the rest of the world to get revenge and defeat the Americans in the finals.

So this is Germany’s year. Ziegner’s strong individual performance along with Kai’s amazing draft skills put Germany on top. The Germans had made it to the finals before, but their first win comes at the peak of German Magic.

Consider that the three players with the most Pro Tour wins are all Germans. People might belittle this fact, countering it by saying that two of Dirk’s wins and all of Marco’s are with Phoenix Foundation. But don’t listen to that. From my experience, a team needs all three players to win to be successful… And without Dirk and Marco’s strong play, Phoenix Foundation wouldn’t be "lifetime undefeated."

The Germans have won the last four Pro Tour level team events in a row. This excerpt from Sideboard.com coverage of last year’s team Masters illustrates the German dominance.

"After the first four games of the series went to the Japanese, it seemed like it was over. Blume was eliminated. Either Ishida or Momose had to win just ONE of their next four games. What followed was an object lesson in not counting Phoenix Foundation out. Budde battled back to take his match. Baberowski evened his match. It all came down to one game. Kai doesn’t lose on Sundays. His first Masters finals appearance was no exception. Baberowski deftly ousted Ishida, giving the Foundation the title."

The Japanese couldn’t take one game in four. Each down 0-1, Baberowski and Budde both came back to make sure that Phoenix Foundation remained on top.

The sick thing is that they make it look easy. What people don’t see is all of the work that goes on behind the scenes. They look and they see Kai ripping Morphling off the top in New Orleans and cry,”luck!” The easy way out is to whimper about luck. Kai puts himself in a position to win, every game, no matter what. He doesn’t give up and he doesn’t let go. To beat Kai there is always a battle that his opponents often aren’t prepared for. He beats everybody.

His attitude and work ethic are unshakable. Some people think Kai is cocky for being the best and knowing it, but acting the dominator makes Kai win more. Magic doesn’t always revolve around the cards in play, but the people playing the cards – and Kai knows this. He uses all aspects of Magic to win his matches. This is the reason he sits in the winner circle more than anybody else.

Patrick Mello, an excellent German player, once told me about a plane ride he and Kai shared. On the plane, Patrick was playing Magic for a long time versus Kai before he had played enough and fell asleep. When he woke, he looked over and saw that Kai was now playing Apprentice versus himself to test a match up that he was concerned about.

The fact that Kai plays more than twenty-four seven makes him the best. He has always been very good, but the work he puts into becoming awesome at Magic has paid big dividends. His success comes for the same reason that Nick Eisel has done so well recently. They have one thought: Magic.

So what lesson have we learned today? Not just that Kai is the best but why he is the best. That is the most important thing to take away. If you aren’t where you want to be, then work harder. Get a positive attitude. Those actions will lead to success. Bring America back to the top of the world. The rest of the world is working harder than the U.S. at Magic right now. It is no surprise that we aren’t the best anymore.

Mike Turian