SCG Daily – Ask Joe Black: 2005-2006 and Beyond

Osyp rounds off his daily series in fine style, bringing us up to date with his own Pro Tour journey, and sharing his Top 8 predictions for the upcoming Pro Tour Prague.


This event marked the beginning of a new Wizards strategy to make the Pro Tour more exciting and exotic, to appeal to a larger audience. The bad news is that there will be fewer events per season; the good news is that all of the events will be in classier locales and should be much more enjoyable. I think Wizards did an excellent job putting the event together, and I think everyone had a really great time.

I finished fifth, losing in the Top 8 to the eventual champion Mark Herberholz. Both Olivier and Antoine Ruel made yet another Sunday appearance… sickening, isn’t it? Dutch powerhouse Ruud Warmenhoven finally managed to move beyond a Top 16 and made his first Top 8. Even though Herberholz won the Pro Tour, I think the match people remember the most was the one between Olivier and eventual finalist Craig Jones. Craig finally managed to follow up an impressive Day 1 finish with a Top 8, and he made it all the way to game 5 of the finals. Along the way, he made what many are calling “the greatest topdeck of all time” by ripping a Lightning Helix on the last possible turn to dispatch Olivier Ruel.

Dear Osyp,

Remember when there was a Fantasy Pro Tour before each event, where fans could choose a fantasy Pro team and have a chance at winning a booster box? What made them put an end to that?

Sara J. from St. Paul

Dear Sara,

Yes, I do remember those days. I was a big fan. The Fantasy challenge always seemed like a good idea to me, and I don’t really know why they stopped running it. However, in the spirit of your question, and with a PT on the horizon, I figure why not share my Top 8 predictions for Prague.

Pick # 1: Billy Moreno

This pick is pretty much the dark horse of the group. Many people are familiar with Billy’s Constructed expertise, as well as his love of vintage clothing, but I think Billy is going to surprise a lot of people next weekend. I know for a fact that he’s been doing a lot of drafts at Neutral Ground preparing for the event, and people are telling me that there’s an intensity in his eyes that they’ve never seen before.

Pick # 2: Helmut Summersburger

Helmut has been on a tear lately on the European GP circuit, and I don’t see him slowing down anytime soon. He’s already proven he knows how to draft Ravnica and Guildpact; Dissension will surely come naturally to him as well. Expect to see Helmut playing on Sunday.

Pick #3: Chris “Star Wars Kid” McDaniel

Chris is probably the best American player right now, and he’s coming off of a Top 4 from GP Wisconsin so his confidence level has to be high. His best finish at a Limited Pro Tour was at London, when he skipped the Pro Tour and saved himself the cost of a flight, but I have it on good information that Chris spent hundreds of dollars on draft sets and has been drafting constantly. Star Wars Kid will be playing on Sunday.

Pick #4: Rich Hoaen

This pick is probably not a surprise to anyone. Rich is considered one of the strongest Limited players on the planet, and that, coupled with his strong work habit, makes him a threat at any Pro Tour. The fact that Dissension won’t be available on MTGO could hurt Richie slightly, but he will likely be drafting in real life with some contingent of professionals.

Pick #5: David Grant

If you don’t play regularly on the Pro Tour, or don’t live in England, you might not be familiar with David Grant. David is an incredibly nice guy and has long been considered a classier version of Sam Gomersall. I expect David to have his breakout tournament any day now, and Prague seems like the perfect place for him to show the World what he can do.

Pick #6: Anton Johnson

From what I hear around the grapevine, Anton stinks at this format, losing countless times online. Nevertheless, Anton and Richie have always been fighting for the title of Best Limited Player in the World, and to not have Anton on your Fantasy team for a Limited Pro Tour would just be foolish. Expect Anton to be playing on Sunday, looking like he just crawled out of bed.

Pick #7: Bram Snapplevangerbottoms

With so many excellent Dutch professionals, it’s hard to find a standout… but Bram has to be it. Bram has long been considered the best player to come out of the Netherlands, and he further proved that fact in Barcelona with his 11th place finish at one of the largest limited GP’s of all time. Bram will be at Julien Nuijten house prior to Prague, drafting with a high-powered group of Pros. Look for Bram’s name at the top of the standings at the Pro Tour.

Pick #8: Masashi Oiso

Masashi isn’t a master of any format in particular; he’s just a master, pure and simple. Masashi is easily the best player in the World, and I can’t imagine an event without him in the Top 8. The Japanese have so much talent so their practice drafts will surely prove to be quite fruitful, and Masashi is a giant among them so he will be the standout player. Masashi has to be the odds-on favorite to not only make Top , but win the whole event.

So, that’s my Top 8. Gabe Walls and I have a small bet going to see whose team will do better. Gabe’s roster includes…

Tomohiro Kaji
Olivier Ruel
Raphael Levy
Kenji Tsumura
Mashiko Morita
Jelger Wiegersma
Adam Chambers
Katsuhiro Mori

I don’t really think anyone has a clear advantage.

This concludes my weekly article series. I wish today’s article could’ve been longer, but there was only one Pro Tour this season and I couldn’t think of anything else to write about. I promise my invitational report will be massive, and it’s only two weeks away…

Until next time…

Osyp “Joe Black” Lebedowicz