SCG Daily – Ask Joe Black: 2002-2003 Season

Joe Black continues his excellent odyssey through his personal Pro Tour history. Feisty, fact-filled, and fun.


The team Pro Tour moved from NY to this awful city for the first time in 2002. This was the first Team Limited event I was qualified for, so I was quite excited, especially considering my teammates were Eugene Harvey and Mike Turian. Despite their talent, and a Sealed deck that contained two Aboshans and two Call of the Herds, we were not able to make Day 2. Although my performance was terrible, the event itself was still very memorable for me because I got to go out drinking with Jon Finkel and Sveend Geersten. I’m sure everyone knows who Jon is, but Sveend is an old school Danish pro that can hold his alcohol as well as he can play Magic. To sum up that evening I’ll just use a quote from my old PT Boston report…

“All of the girls in Boston must have been Black or Artifact creatures, because Johnny Magic just couldn’t get through to them.”

In terms of Magic history, I would say that this event marked the peak of Kai’s career. I think this picture and the quote pretty accurately describe the period of German dominance.

Don't mention the War Elemental

“One of the all time greats sums up the sentiment of the era. These guys we were losing to… they were just so German, i.e. such classic enemies. (Their expressions are not only alien, but alien in a way that irks us, as if a community of foreign Dave Prices.) That made it so much worse.”

Jeff Cunningham


After a miserable performance in Boston I was determined to do well here. Extended was not an easy format for me back then, because I wasn’t really familiar with cards pre-Invasion. Knowing that, I decided to put my faith in the hands of a man called Chris Leather, a local who had qualified out of Boston and was convinced he had broken the format wide open. He told us that he built a Reanimator deck that splashed Blue for Wonder. Alright, that sounded cool enough, anything else? It also ran Zombie Infestation and Squee Goblin Nabob. Oh… really?

At this point I was a bit skeptical as to how good the deck was, especially considering I knew reanimator was nothing new and would in all likelihood be very popular. He then told me he had some killer tech for the mirror match.

“Oh yeah, what is it?”
Skittering Skirge. The mirror can’t really deal with it”

This was the actually conversation we had, and in hindsight it is obviously ludicrous, but at the time the only thing I could think was, “yeah, I guess that makes sense”.

The majority of team TOGIT played this deck, and needless to say none of us made money. Adam Horvath fared so badly with the deck that after he went 0-3 he walked to an empty room nearby and simply wept for a good half an hour. Historically, this was the first time a team (YMG) completely dominated a Pro Tour and placed three of its members into the Top 8. This PT was also the peak of Jeroen Remie‘s relationship with the Rock; the two have been sailing rough waters ever since.


4-0, 3-0, 0-4, 3-0

Despite starting 7-0 I pull a Kamiel in the first draft of Day 2, and have to win out to make Top 16. Once again Kai won, beating Nico Herzog in the finals, but the match in that Top 8 that stood out in everyone’s minds was Kai’s Top 4 match versus Finkel. The match was as exciting as you would expect it to be, and there was even an adorable moment when Kai actually Shocked a Voidmage Prodigy.


I won this Pro Tour so… you know.

Some highlights:

Dave Williams and I met in a feature match, and Mark Rosewater commented:

“Wow, I don’t think we’ve ever had two of you in a feature match.”
“Two of you… what does that mean?” – Dave
“Umm, uh, what? I mean, who said what now?” – Rosewater

Ryan Fuller made his PT debut after a one year suspension, and then proceeded to get banned once again two rounds in.

I met Luca Chiera’s sister for the first time. Those of you who have also met her understand why this is a highlight.

Jordan Berkowitz became a PT superstar.


Performance-wise, this was an average PT for me, finishing in the Top 48. I think the most memorable thing about this Pro Tour was the fact that Mattias Jorstetd made his third Top 8 of the season, and finally ended up winning one. Mattias is a great player and another person who I wish still attended Pro Tours consistently. I think the best thing about Mattias is that he showed us all Swedish people don’t dress like AntonJ.

One of my favorite moments from this event was when myself, Antonio De Rosa, and some Italians were walking around the red light district of Yokohama, drinking and having a good time, when all of a sudden we ran into a Magic Hall of Famer all by himself. I won’t reveal who it was, but if you look at who was in attendance at the PT, I think you can narrow it down.


Once again, I was unable to attend Worlds because of work, so I don’t have much to report from this event. Daniel “Excuse me miss” Zink won the Pro Tour, and two other Germans made the Top 8, showing the World that the Germans will be a force to be reckoned with for some time (Maximillian Brachtwurst). Jeroen Remie made Top 8 once again, alongside BFF Gabrial Wallington. GWalls was running hot around this time in his career. His Worlds Top 8 was coming off of his impressive Nationals performance, where he lost in the finals to Josh Wagner, of all people, who was actually playing a really good match up for Gabe, but nevertheless Gabe couldn’t pull out a win and is now resigned to the history books as the man who actually lost to Josh Wagner in the finals of US Nationals.

Next time on . . . Ask Joe Black
A Japanese person wins a Pro Tour? It happened.
An Interview with Ben Stark
Kamiel helps two randoms win a Pro Tour

All this and more!
Osyp “Joe Black” Lebedowicz