I didn’t realize how much I missed daily columns before this week. Granted the subject matter is very important to me, but there is something heartwarming about seeing my handsome mug on the front page everyday. This installment will bring my week to a close. I hope you all enjoyed the series. Of course I am going to tell you who my five votes would have gone to were it not for the scuffle between Mr. Turian and me, but first I shine my spotlight on one of the greatest fan favorites of all time.
A while back (years and years ago), I wrote an article called “Heart.” This article meant a lot to me, because heart is a value that I hold in the highest regard when it comes to anything. Magic is no exception. This person made my list, and perhaps exhibited the most heart of anyone to ever play the game, until his eventual retirement.
David Price had the rare combination of love of the game and drive to succeed that is rarely, if ever seen these days. When they announced the first Pro Tour, Dave was on the phone faster than you could say “I wish it were this easy to qualify for the Pro Tour today.” Starting with that very first Pro Tour, Dave went on an impressive run of playing in every Pro Tour (except for one Worlds I believe) until Pro Tour: Venice. Dave was still qualified at that point, but had lost the drive to play. You might say his heart gave out.
Dave only had one truly impressive PT performance, defeating powerhouse Ben Rubin in the finals of PT: LA in March of 1998. He won with an aggressive Red deck powered by Cursed Scroll, Jackal Pup, and Giant Strength. I don’t know if Dave knew it at the time, but this would be the start of a legend known as the King of Beatdown. Dave would play aggressive decks at all but a handful of Constructed events over the course of his career. Aggro-Red, Suicide Black/Hatred, and Stompy were all decks Dave had in his usual arsenal.
Beatdown wasn’t the only kingdom David had under his rule. Dave managed to play on all those Pro Tours, but rarely was he on the gravy train. The vast majority of his qualifications came via PTQs. From this he was dubbed the King of the Qualifiers. Few players ever gain one kingdom in this game. Dave had two.
While Dave only had one PT Top 8, he did manage to make Top 8 in 3 GPs. He also Top 8’d US Nationals twice, but never made the team. Dave and I only crossed paths three times in tournament Magic. The first time I played against him was the first time I left Albany, NY to compete. It was a sealed deck at Neutral Ground that found us with two started decks of 4th Edition with which to build our decks. Dave defeated me easily. We wouldn’t meet again until Worlds 2002. Dave was unlucky enough to find himself in the middle of my 12 match winning streak, but I’ll tell you this, nobody played as well against me that weekend as Dave did. Our final meeting was the last round of day one of GP:LA, where we intentionally drew into Day 2. My deck was awesome, and we were both in win, lose, or draw, but Dave was less confident. He asked me for the draw, and Dave is a man I just couldn’t say no to. I made Top 8 there too. That information had nothing to do with Dave, I just want to get my self-promotion in while I can.
Paul Sottosanti recalled playing in a PTQ where the top 8 players could all draw into Top 8. Dave and Paul were in 9th and 10th. Dave stood up and walked to the top tables and gave a 5-10 minute long impassioned speech about how they were all wussies and they came to play. Sadly, he was unable to appeal to their sense of sport and they all drew in.
Dave was as humble a player as you’d ever meet on the PT. Another fond memory of Dave was standing on the balcony of some hotel room, smoking a cigarette (Don’t Do It Kids!) with Dave and former U.S. National Champion Matt Linde, talking about how we were most likely the three worst players to have ever been on the gravy train. This statement was clearly false, but it was fun to laugh about.
Dave may never see the Hall, but that is a tragedy that can be avoided voters! Dave is someone who should definitely be enshrined in some way.
So now the moment of truth. Who is on KK’s Ballot? Well here it is:
Jon Finkel – The best. Period.
Darwin Kastle – People can debate it all they like, this guy has the 3rd best resume in the history of the game, has been playing since PT 1, and is still seen at PTQs today with a drive to return to his former glory. I see no problem with giving him a free pass to do so, despite past personal issues.
Alan Comer – Looking at the five subjective criteria laid out by Wizards of the Coast, Alan may have the highest average score. As far as I am concerned, he deserves this as much as the first two.
Brian Hacker – Maybe he doesn’t have the numbers, but to me he runs away with the intangibles.
My last spot was hard to fill. I am still not positive on this, but here it is.
Chris Pikula – This is likely my most controversial pick. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I am a bit biased here. Chris is the person I am closest with on this ballot. Not that I am best friends with him or anything, but I have known Chris since before there was a DCI. Chris is one of the finniest, nicest, most outspoken, honest players you will ever meet. He has 3 PT and 3 GP Top 8’s to his name, and did most of it in a time where honest Magic was the exception rather than the rule. Chris has taken a step back from the game over the last few years, but he still plays and is still making the cut. Together with Josh Ravitz and Igor Frayman, he made Top 4 of GP: Chicago. Chris has given a lot to this game, with most of his contributions to the community coming before he was paid for it.
That’s all from me for a while. Take care everyone!