Down And Dirty – The Sanchez Awards

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That’s right folks, it’s the end of another year… and that means it’s time for awards! Today, we have Kyle Sanchez handing out his own personal plaudits and brickbats, for those professional mages that have either excelled or underwhelmed in 2007. Good-natured ribbing is, of course, the order of the day, and Kyle pulls it off with his usual aplomb. Enjoy!

Herbal Poultice Award

Usually when you’re scrolling down the end of the year standings – found here – you will remember events, decks, moments in time where these names were on top, kicking ass and taking names. Every once in awhile you’ll come across a name that you had completely forgot about, a name that you thought had fallen by the wayside and perished into the depths of PT obscurity.

Frank Karsten is that name, and when the hell did he get 37 pro points??

He must have made Top 8 at a Pro Tour or Grand Prix… right?

Nope, not a single pro point acquired from GP or PT Top 8’s.

He’s like the dark figure in the shadows of an alley that always creeps up to the Top 16 and chooses to go no further as to not expose his hideously disfigured face to the shining light of a oddly placed street light. He stalks upon children in the dark when their parents have fallen off to sleep. He sucks cattle’s blood from rancher’s stock in the piercing darkness with no one in sight. He tiptoes down wooded flooring without making the slightest creak, then lifts himself up into the prestigious air vent called the “Pro Players Club,” and infiltrates the edge of one of its deepest levels… “Level 5.”

Okay, so maybe it’s not that dramatic, but we’d have to jump down nine points to Jon Sonne/Rogier Maaten to find the next highest non-Top 8er’s on the list. Quite an impressive feat.

It’s my proud honor to present Frank Karsten with the Herbal Poultice award for being so damn fly-y-y-y-y-y-y.

Eron The Relentless Award

Magic has been around for awhile now, and whenever a pro from the old days comes back and smashes his way through the new crop, people notice. That said, no one has cut down more crops this season from the old guard than Ben Rubin.

The same season Rubin became eligible for the Hall of Fame, he also decided to give it a run at making the Gravy Train the hard way. Ben came flying back from the past when Time Spiral hit the shelves and started hammering his way through PTQs, until he qualified for Geneva at the start of 2007. There he experienced one of the worst travel stories in the history of the Pro Tour, but still earned a 47th final spot, qualifying him for Yokohama.

In the meantime he spent his time grinding it out at the American GPs to bulk up some Pro Points. When Yokohama, hit Rubin was well equipped with a B/R Gargadon deck designed by him and Antonino De Rosa. He improved on his 47th place in Geneva with a 22nd in Yoko, giving him a much needed seven Pro Points. For PT: San Diego, young Rubinstein opted to play with Adam Chambers – instead of picking up a random bum like myself – and together they held hands all the way to a 14th place finish, giving Rubin another 7pts and enough to earn Level 3 status pending an appearance in Valencia.

Ben hasn’t been up to much since then, viciously choosing not to attend Worlds to spite those who didn’t vote him into the Hall of Fame. The fact that he had already attained Level 3 status and doesn’t give a crap about anybody or anything had nothing to do with it.

Rubin is still a bad ass in my book, and quite Relentless, if I do say so myself.

Spire Golem Award

This award is all about a player’s affinity for Islands, and no player exhibited that more than Sir Guillaume Wafo-Tapa.

His first blip on the Decks With Islands Radar was with his immaculate Dralnu deck, premiering at the 2006 World Championships, making it a power player in the Standard arena. When the U/b control deck wasn’t being called Dralnu you would often hear people refering to the deck as “Wafo Tapa.” Seemed like at every tournament people would be talking about losing to “Wafo Tapa.” That’s how you know you’re big time.

His next big finish with Islands occurred at PT: Yokohama, where he kinda won the whole thing with a streamlined Teachings deck of his own design. Although his deck list wasn’t the adopted one in the Top 8, the Teachings centric decks would go on to completely dominate the format from that point on.

His next finishes included big checks at GP: Montreal and GP: Krakow, and Guacamole Waffle Tacos played those lovely Islands affectionately in both. Montreal saw him pair them with Forests and Mountains to support a revolutionary Wild Pair Slivers deck, and he completely demolished the 2006 POY in the elimination rounds in two quick and painless games. For Krakow, on the other hand, he kept it strictly Islands, using Teferi and Guile along with a very healthy portion of countermagic to stop whatever nonsense the opponents had in mind.

Seriously though, for every big finish he was playing Islands, and it got him to Level 6 for the year. Enjoy that Spire Golem.

Makeshift Mannequin Award

Every once in awhile, a pro from the past will make a claim that he will be triumphantly returning to the game, then fall flat on his face and fail to make the Gravy Train. It is truly a sad sight to see, and while I feel sorry for those who can’t quite cut it anymore, I still feel the need to honor Eugene Harvey for falling just short of being a consistent mainstay on the PT again.

Eugenius’s journey is one that was met with many trials and dangers, and despite claiming his fourth Pro Tour Top 8 this season – alongside first time Top 8er John Fiorillo – he came a mere two points short of obtaining his Level 3 goal.

Harvey only needed to gain two points at Worlds this year to reach the lofty heights, and when he failed to get to break the 27-point threshold that would give him the necessary points, he was sighted marching to the Brooklyn Bridge. Fortunately his dear friend Osyp notified him that he was HoF eligible next year, and things could only get better. Unfortunately for Eugene, his friend Osyp will not be able to vote for him since he was apart of an astonishing crowd of PT winners and all-time greats that couldn’t break 20 pro points this season. It really is sad to see people fall off the Train. Faces that you’ve become so accustomed to suddenly vanish into the crowd, never to be seen again. The list is quite staggering this year… just take a look:

Craig Krempels
Geoffrey Siron
Julien Nujiten
Osyp Lebedowicz
Eugene Harvey
Gadiel Szleifer
Masashi Oiso
Pierre Canali
Bram Snepvangers
Itaru Ishida
Tomohiro Kaji
Chris “Strwrskid” Mcdaniel
Billy Moreno
Craig Jones

Those are all premier names that have cemented themselves in Magic History, and are frequent feature matchers at big events, and six of them are Pro Tour winners! Oiso – in his prime – was regarded as the third best Magician that has ever lived! Before Saitou, before Kenji, before Mori and the great Dutch contengent, there was Oiso… and now, as the rest continue to thrive, it brings a tear to my eye that Oiso might have to wait four years until his HoF induction to play some pro-level Magic again.

It’s also pretty astonishing that out of the fourteen names above, eight of them are American*.

Gaidel was heralded to be the last hope for American Magic. This was of course before Cheob/Fobeon, but his absence from future events will definitely leave the U.S. in a bad spot. Bram is the magma-filled core of Dutch Magic. You can’t even begin to fathom the kind of things this guy has done for the Magical community in the Netherlands. I can’t even fathom it, but it seems like whenever his name is mentioned people always voice how big a power player he is overseas, and I for one am not going to doubt it. I’ve no freaking clue what he’s actually done, so don’t ask for any stats or anything, but his Pro Player card definitely says he is a big contributer, so it has to be true.


Jeez, seems like every tournament that I’ve done fantasy picks for this season has had Kaji in it. He was in the first class of Level 6 mages when the Pro Club was spawned and, he has always been one of my favorite people to side draft with at tournaments. His calm and composed demeanor and steady hand in the face of pressure was around well before Guillaume showed us how cool it looks to look… cool.

StrWrs and Billy. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

Two of my very favorite people in the universe. If you’ve ever met them you know the importance of their presence at any tournament, and how big the void will be when they are gone and put to sleep. Billy has assured me that he is quite confident of returning to Magic, and he’s actually already moved back down to the South just this week. I’m gonna go hang out with him tomorrow, actually. StrWrs, though? He’s probably tied up in some foreign country about to be tortured by men in large leather aprons.

And then there’s Craig Jones, the Johnny Cash of Magic, the Professor, Lightning Helix Jones. I didn’t really care much for him in the first place. It’s probably his thick accent and constantly erect nipples.


Craig Jones.


Craig Jones.


Craig Jones.

So anyway, congrats to Eugene Harvey for the Makeshift Mannequin Award, and slops to all you bums who fell off the train. Y’know how much tournaments will suck without you guys?

French Delay Award

This one is going to go out to a handful of Americans, including myself, that think we have a shot at glory in our future. There seems to always be some obstacle in our way that stops us from making the Gravy Train. Inability to qualify for Pro Tours, being unable to attend GPs or PTQ events to qualify for said Pro Tours, whatever. Our pockets might be tight, our colons might be bursting, but for whatever reason we just haven’t got there yet. That said, here’s the list that came close but couldn’t quite make the jump.

Jim Davis – This guy seems like he has been right there for the past couple years. He’s at all the events, all the Pro Tours – qualifying from consecutive PTQs most often – but he is just missing a few points here or there to execute his dream. Poor lad, well deserving of the Delay.

Gerry Thompson – GerryT is a pro in his own right, but ever since he fell off a couple years ago it seems like he’s been waddling back and forth, deciding whether or not he wants to play Pro Magic for a living. He is clearly the most talented player the Midwest has ever seen, well respected far and wide for his almost effortless supremacy over fellow mages, but for whatever reason he keeps ending up in the suspend zone.

Cynic Kim — I don’t know him. He’s from South Korea, right? Is that the dangerous one?

Phu Dao – If you’ve ever entered the drafting arena at an American GP this year, odds are you’ve seen Phu’s phat pharting phass phumbling around. That said, he made a decent shot this season, probably one PT and a GP Day 2 shy of going the distance.

Øyvind Anderson – I’m not quite sure why Norwegians use those crazy looking O’s, but no way am I gonna bag on a guy who has one in his name. It’s just way too cool.

Adam Yurchick – I go forward, you go backward. Somewhere we will meet.

Naoki Shimizu – Co-invented Solar Flare and U/G Tron then never heard from again…

Brandon Scheel – Poor Scheels. He’ll make it eventually and I’ll get to make fun of him until he does. And if he doesn’t… then I’ll probably buy him a large vanilla frappachino from Starbucks as an apology. But seriously, this guy is far too good not to be on the Train. He’s the worst kind of opponent, one of the types that looks smart and is actually smarter than he looks.

Matt “Cheeks” Hansen – To me, he is an ideal opponent. One, he just looks so beatable. Red hair, puffy cheeks, red hair, pale complected skin, and red hair. Something about redheads, you just wanna beat them like a step child who spilt milk and Cheerios all over the already dirty kitchen floor. Despite his reddened appearance, he is quite the mage and has no problem winning PTQs over and over and over and over again.

Zack Hall – I still haven’t forgiven you for your 0-3 performance against Mark Chalice and the two donks at ’06 Nationals. Pitiful.

Zac Hill – Another redhead that I absolutely can’t stand. His cheeks aren’t as puffy as Cheeks, but don’t be too bold to slap this guy around a bit before attacking him with your monsters.

Alex Kim – Think before you speak… I swear to God, if you had red hair I would…

Dane Young – Don’t know Dane, never talked to Dane, and frankly I have no clue what Dane looks like. What I do know is that his name has been in Steve Sadin profile for the past year and a half, and that’s enough to earn a namedrop in my book.

Alex Majlaton – Another one of my favorite types of opponents, as he can be found shuffling up brand new pink sleeves while sporting a worn sweat-stained pink hat. It hurts sooooooo bad when you lose to these guys. It’s like taking a drop of turpentine to the iris.

Shaheen Soorani – Quite possibly the most marketable name in Magic due to the high quality of alliteration in his name. Two catchy words most people have never even processed before combine to make a quaint, easy to say (and remember) title that will leave a lasting impression. Though his accomplishments may be few and far, his name will live on forever. With a name like that, he should really be investing his time in areas other than Magic, like infomercials, or auditions for The Real World.

Oliver Oks – Another extremely alliterate mage. However, I don’t have any juice to spill on him other than his name is one of those you don’t forget, which really skews his performance history when compared to other Magicians. Most people have a few accomplishments here and there before they hit the big time. This guy has never hit the big time, but his name still sounds so familiar.

Enjoy your Delays, fellas. Only a small portion of you will ever get out of the suspend zone.

Sorry for the random Magic pop-culture article. Next week, we’re back to how to cheat properly…

Thanks for reading,


Top 5 Picks (So help me Craig, I will spite you if you change another one of these!) [Hehe, don’t worry. I’ll let you keep your cool credentials this time… — Craig.]

1) Glasspipe – Eliot Lipp
2) Ominous Cloud – Broadcast
3) Granny Diner – Grizzly Bear
4) Yo! Me! Dancing! – Los Camesinos!
5) Supa GFK – Ghostface Killah

* For those counting, there are actually only six actual Americans, but both Julien and Siron are considered Americans due to their American personalities that shine above their European comrades. Just like Jelger. He’ll punch you in the jugular if you tell him he’s not American. No joke.