Sullivan Library – The Hall of Fame and the Magic Community

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Friday, August 15th – Today’s Sullivan Library comes in two parts. First, Adrian talks about the Magic Hall of Fame, and his spot on this year’s selection committee… and opens the floor to your suggestions. Second, Adrian looks at the new Quick n’ Toast decks from Grand Prix: Denver, and brings us a little bit of White Weenie action too…

The Magic Hall of Fame. I think for some of us, the idea of it holds a kind of mystique, in and of itself. These are the players whose mark upon the game is indelible. One of the things that I’ve loved about what seems to be all of those who have won a place in the Hall of Fame is that view that selection as a deep honor. I can tell you without reservation that each and every one of the people that is a part of the Hall of Fame is someone I’m glad to see there. I’ve known nearly all of them from the years in the deep past, and a quick glance at their names calls up tons of memories, even for those that I don’t know personally.

• Kai Budde
• Randy Buehler
• Alan Comer
• Rob Dougherty
• Jon Finkel
• Tsuyoshi Fujita
• Nicolai Herzog
• Tomi Hovi
• David Humpherys
• RaphaÔl Lévy
• Darwin Kastle
• Bob Maher
• Zvi Mowshowitz
• Olle Råde
• Gary Wise

These players have left a mark in the Pro Tour. Every single one of them stands out in its history as someone that has collected stories and (dare I say) myths about them. Of them all, I have the most memories, of course, of Bob Maher. Bob came to Madison so many years ago, and though he doesn’t play much Magic any more, I still remember my favorite moment in Magic’s Pro Tour history. It wasn’t just that Bob had won the Pro Tour that year, it was everything surrounding it. I sat with Courtney, translating the game going on for her so that she could understand it, hoping to ease her nervousness. When he won, the hometown crowd went wild. I’ve never seen a Pro Tour win like this — the crowd was ecstatic and spinning around him. It parted slightly, and Courtney walked into Bob’s arms and they kissed, spinning around each other, while the crowd let up an even louder roar.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. I’ve forgotten most of the details of my own Pro Tour experience from that weekend, but that moment, Bob’s moment, is one that I’ll always remember.

That’s what the Hall of Fame is about, for me. These players who are so core to the game that you remember their experiences as vividly as you do some of your own.

I’m proud to have worked on decks with even a handful of these gentleman. But I’m even more proud that this year, I’ve been selected to be a part of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee. While I don’t know everyone else that is involved in the process, I know that I’m taking my role in helping to choose the next round of inductees into the Hall of Fame as a great honor.

I wasn’t sure how much of the selection process I’m going through, I wanted to take to the public. The rules themselves are at Wizards of the Coast’s mother ship. I know that it’s a big task, and I’m going to be looking for all of the advice that I can get, and I think it is important to make sure that I’m getting as much input from the community as I can get. What I might remember might not be as significant to the rest of the world.

Take the people that have been removed from the ballot this year. While I’m sad that my friend Matt Vienneau is being removed, I understand it. On the other hand, as a deckbuilder, it pains me to see Satoshi Nakamura removed from the ballot. He was an early inspiration to me as a deckbuilder, and I loved to see what he would come up with next. Still, while he would almost certainly have been on my ballot, I recognize that he doesn’t hold the same kind of draw for just anyone.

The ballot is a long one. Sixty-six players. Wow. Let’s show them all, with the amount of Pro Tour wins and Top 8s that they’ve accumulated:

Pro Tour Wins (of Pro Tour Top 8s)

Ryuuichi Arita – 0 (4)
Dirk Baberowski – 3 (5)
Chris Benafel – 0 (2)
Trevor Blackwell – 1 (1)
Marco Blume – 2 (3)
Noah Boeken – 0 (0)
David Brucker – 0 (0)
Franck Canu – 0 (0)
Patrick Chapin – 0 (3)
Daniel Clegg – 0 (2)
Sigurd Eskeland – 1 (1)
Igor Frayman – 0 (0)
Osamu Fujita – 0 (1)
Ryan Fuller – 0 (2)
Donald Gallitz – 0 (2)
Justin Gary – 1 (3)
Gerardo Godinez Estrada – 0 (0)
Brian Hacker – 0 (2)
Yann Hamon – 0 (1)
Masami Ibamoto – 0 (1)
Tsuyoshi Ikeda – 0 (2)
Itaru Ishida – 0 (1)
William Jensen – 1 (4)
Scott Johns – 1 (6)
Craig Jones – 0 (1)
Mattias Jorstedt – 0 (3)
Mark Justice – 0 (4)
Brian Kibler – 0 (1)
Benedikt Klauser – 0 (4)
Andr̩ Konstanczer Р0 (1)
Janosch Kühn – 0 (2)
Masashiro Kuroda – 1 (2)
Nicolas Labarre – 0 (4)
John Larkin – 0 (3)
Mark Le Pine – 0 (3)
Matt Linde – 1 (2)
Raffaele Lo Moro – 0 (2)
Michael Long – 1 (4)
Pierre Malherbaud – 0 (0)
Casey McCarrel – 1 (3)
Patrick Mello – 0 (2)
Eivind Nitter – 1 (1)
Steven O’Mahoney-Schwartz – 1 (3)
Daniel O'Mahoney-Schwartz – 0 (0)
Jin Okamoto – 0 (2)
Wessel Oomens – 0 (0)
Brock Parker – 1 (1)
Chris Pikula – 0 (3)
David Price – 1 (1)
Michael Pustilnik – 1 (3)
Neil Reeves – 0 (2)
Carlos Roṃo Р1 (1)
Kyle Rose – 1 (4)
Ben Rubin – 0 (4)
Olivier Ruel – 0 (5)
Brian Selden – 1 (3)
Alex Shvartsman – 0 (1)
Jakub Slemr – 1 (3)
Bram Snepvangers – 0 (3)
Mike Thompson – 0 (0)
Michael Turian – 1 (5)
Trey Van Cleave – 0 (0)
Tom van de Logt – 1 (2)
Tomi Walamies – 0 (3)
Jelger Wiegersma – 1 (3)
David Williams – 0 (1)

How do we cut into this? This is a lot of people! At first, I’m inclined to just chop out all of the people that have less than three or four Pro Tour Day 3s or a win. This would cut the list down to a far more manageable twenty-seven people. But if you do that, though, you cut off Itaru Ishida with seventeen Grand Prix Top 8s and Alex Shvartsman with twenty-one. Gah! This would cut out plenty of other wonderful players as well. One, Bram Snepvangers, for example, has the highest number of Pro Tours of anyone being nominated. Clearly the stats aren’t the only thing to examine, but at least they are there to peruse.

Wizards provides some awesome stats to those of us who care. Clearly stats like those held by Scott Johns, Mike Turian, Oliver Ruel, and Dirk Baberowski are worth paying attention to; each of these players have five Pro Tour Top 8s. While not on that page, Dirk himself holds three Pro Tour wins. Even if you are one of those naysayers that discounts Team Pro Tours (a foolish position, in my humble opinion), you still have to admit that Dirk’s finishes are damned impressive.

Stats has to count for something, right?

Still, it can’t count for everything. Dave Price is very low on the statistic “Average Points,” a marker of the average number of Pro Points earned per Pro Tour attended. At the same time, Dave Price is the kind of luminary I want to see on the Hall of Fame. He’s the King of the Qualifiers, damn it! Here is a man that would drive across the country again and again, hunting down the Blue Envelope, and getting it, again and again. Here is a man that was the caretaker of the Magic community during his stint as editor of The Dojo, that grand old institution that I’m proud to be a part of. Dave is the Everyman of Magic. He is the guy that put in the time, put in the effort, and just made it happen. His victory at Pro Tour: Los Angeles, way back in 1998, well, it was a victory for all of us.

What is that “it” that makes someone worthy of the Hall of Fame? There is a certain je ne sais quoi, isn’t there? Everyone on the Hall of Fame today has it. I know that I want to be a part of maintaining that legacy for the Hall of Fame, and so I’m asking every single one of you that cares about it to let me know what you think. Speak up for those players that are low on the totem pole, and let me know why you think they deserve to be considered. I don’t care to hear about people like Dirk Baberowski — he’s someone I’ll definitely be considering. I want to hear about Mattias Jorstedt. Ryuuichi Arita. Dave Price. I want to hear about these people that statistically might be underdogs compared to the rest of the people in their class, but they have that je ne sais quoi to carry the torch for all of us.

I’ll be waiting to hear from you…

Adrian Sullivan

Special Bonus Strategy Section!

A hearty congratulations to Gerry Thompson on his victory in Grand Prix: Denver. The cards finally came back around, and his beloved baby Vivid/Pool has come to the top of the heap. Great work, and great deck too. I don’t know how much of it breaks out to whose contributions, but it is always exciting to see something like this come out. Kudos to Chapin and anyone else that had a hand in the deck.

There were two interesting things that I noted about the deck. First, it is eight cards different in the sideboard. Second, its manabase is wildly different than Antonino De Rosa’s version of the deck. Nine cards different. This suggests to me that there is a lot of room for play in the deck. While a lot of people bemoaned the lack of options in Time Spiral Constructed, I always begged to differ. Even a few cards different often made huge strategic differences. Gerry ended up adopting my Baron-style Gaea’s Blessing plan (via intermediary Sam Black), and it was clear to him that it gave Teachings mirrors wide edges in the matchup. As this archetype is explored, it seems to me that the same kind of thing can be done.

Gerry’s version of the list is running two cards that are nowhere to be seen in Antonino’s version: Oona’s Grace and Runed Halo. Antonino, on the other hand, is more interested in maxing out certain elements of the deck: a full complement of Mannequins and Ambitions going hand in hand with a third Archon of Justice. These are small differences, to be sure. Clearly, archetypically, these are one and the same deck. But in terms of play, these two decks have different behaviors, indeed.

Antonino’s deck is probably more capable of becoming aggressive. From time-to-time, I’m sure that it will be able to grasp an aggro-control role, clocking the opponent while their life total ticks down, and just ending games. There is something to be said for the ability to do this. Gerry’s deck, on the other hand, has more resilience in a protracted game. Runed Halo is a card that can accomplish some frustrating things. Oona, for example, is a massively problematic creature. Even activated once, it can turn games entirely around. Halo doesn’t just stop the attack from Oona, but it stops the targeted activated ability. Again and again, if you read the coverage of Gerry’s games, Runed Halo accomplishes strange things that probably couldn’t have been accomplished by another card. Its low cost factors in here, as well.

As for card advantage, Antonino will have access to the extra Mannequined Mulldrifters, sure. But Oona’s Grace, in some ways, trumps it. How worth it is it to counter an Oona’s Grace? It’s constant potential reusability is a huge boon, unmatched by anything in Antonino’s version, even if the extra potential Mulldrifters might represent something more immediately powerful.

While Gerry did win the event, it is worth noting that this doesn’t necessarily make his exact version the particular right call for the next tournament. You can absolutely expect to see this deck cropping up at your PTQs. I imagine that a hybrid of his and Antonino’s might be better equipped to deal with the near-mirror. Being able to grasp the aggro-control position in this matchup could be critical. Alternately, simply being the better control deck might be the call.

If you’re planning on playing a variant of this deck, the first thing I would recommend doing is actually playing these two lists against each other. Find the cards that are the less potent ones, and sculpt your list to take advantage of the weaknesses you perceive in each. Justice Toast is the new deck to gun for. If you’ll be picking it up, you should be prepared to fight the mirror.

My gut says that you’ll want to be the control deck. But we’ll just see, won’t we.

From the PTQ side of things, Wizards has left us a gaping hole of information, with their broken links for August 2nd and 3rd’s Top 8 lists. I want to know what Jeff “Pikachu” Fung qualified with! C’mon, someone, get on that! We do have some interesting information, though. The Tulsa information was already in, but now we get to add to that Anaheim, California’s Top 8.

Once again, we have a Kithkin list winning, although this one chooses to run Mutavault where the list from Tulsa ran no Mutavaults. It’s pretty retro, so to speak, and worth remembering that the deck can just be built to play out like a traditional White Weenie, with Figure and Stalwart leading the charge. For those of you who missed it, here’s his list:

Alex Partasnky — Anaheim, 1st

4 Mutavault
14 Plains
4 Rustic Clachan
4 Windbrisk Heights

4 Forge[/author]-Tender”]Burrenton [author name="Forge"]Forge[/author]-Tender
4 Cloudgoat Ranger
4 Figure of Destiny
4 Goldmeadow Stalwart
4 Knight of Meadowgrain
3 Thistledown Liege
4 Wizened Cenn
3 Mirrorweave
4 Spectral Procession

2 Ajani Goldmane
4 Oblivion Ring
3 Reveillark
3 Stillmoon Cavalier
3 Unmake

Personally, I think that this deck could probably be a bit ¬less retro, and give it a lower curve to take advantage of the beats that a Figure of Destiny can hand out… perhaps something closer to Grand Prix: Birmingham Champion Lee Shin Tian’s list, with some Surges and the like. Overall, I think there is a lot of room for exploration here.

Good luck this week, everyone. I’m skipping GenCon, but I’ll be back in Indiana soon thereafter, and I’ll be hopping up to Detroit for a quick visit, as well. I hope to see you, and I look forward to any comments you have about the Hall of Fame in the forums.

Adrian Sullivan