Hey boys and girls! It’s time for this year’s Magic Invitational! This year, they let me, Ben Bleiweiss, get a vote in the Internet Writer’s Vote category. It’s my solemn duty to uphold the traditions of voting from years past, in which thousands of the great unwashed would vote in players from years past who had not actually played a game of Magic for a full year! Seriously though, this is no Chris Pikula memorial vote – this is a vote for the best and the brightest players and personalities in the game of Magic. I used a scientific method to reach these rankings. Here’s my formula:
A*(B+X) – (C*Y) = Vote Ranking
Luckily, I won’t bore you with the details of what all those letters stand for. Instead, I’ll just hop straight into my ballot!
1st) Osyp Lebedowicz
Osyp has already been voted into the Invitational under the North American slot, but I felt he was also the most deserving of the vote of all the people that we were allowed to vote for. Osyp combines play skill, personality, and Pinocchio to achieve a trifecta of achievement in the Magic playing world. Consummate funny man and frequent Top 8 finisher, Osyp gets along well with all the children of Richard Garfield, writes some of the funniest and most insightful content online, and gives back to the community.
2nd) Tim Aten
I had this conversation with Tim Aten over AIM the other day.
Me: “Tim, you there?”
Tim: *No answer*
Me: *Typing up other articles*
Tim: *15 minutes later* “Sorry, taking a shower.”
Me: “Tim, I wanted to find out a little about you. I message you with random crap all the time, but I haven’t ever really sat down and just talked to you about your life. I don’t’ know anything about you.”
Tim: “Why do you want to know?”
Me: “I just feel like I don’t know you at all. Do you mind talking a little?”
Tim: *Goes Idle. Does not show up again the rest of the night.*
Well Tim, now you know why I wanted to talk to you that night. Tim Aten is a self-loathing man of mystery, master of Magic Lingo, purveyor of all things cool in a game of the uncool, and lord of the geeks. In short, Tim is painfully aware of his place in the Magic World – he is king of the hip in a world dominated by the expressly unhip – and this causes him no end of pain and misery. He’s a big fish in a small pond – but he is also extremely talented (both as a writer and as a player), open with the community, and would bring a very unique perspective to the Invitational. Tim would both love to attend the Invitational and would hate the attention it brought, a dichotomy of personality which would bring a unusual flavor to the Invitational. Tim was easily my second choice after Osyp, because he both gives back to the community and has a way of looking at things that are so different from anyone else in the Magic world that you can’t help but want to see how he would handle finally being recognized as the big-time all-star he has become.
3rd) Masashi Oiso
I remember typing up deck lists for events during the year in which Osio won Magic Rookie of the Year, and he was consistently in the second day of play at every tournament. He has continued his winning ways for going on three years now, and had an impressive number of Pro Tour and Grand Prix top 8’s. American players as a whole are pretty uninformed of the top players from overseas, especially the top players from the non-White regions of the world. I’m here to tell you that Masashi is not only the best player in Asia, but is one of the top three players in the world currently playing Magic. He is innovative, meticulous, and willing to take chances on his deck choices. Even though he has several top finishes in the past, it took until his recent win at Grand Prix Boston (with Aluren, formerly thought to be a dead deck) for Americans to sit up and take notice of this superstar. It will be a shame if Masashi doesn’t make the Invitational this year in one of the slots, as he entirely 100% deserving of being recognized for his achievements.
4th) Neil Reeves
Neil is not the most deserving person that I could have voted for. He tends to keep to his group of friends at events, has never really socialized with the Magic Community through articles, and hasn’t had great finishes over the past year. Neil does have personality in spades, and would appreciate the hell out of being sent to the Invitational. Neil has a drive to win – he used to play competitive Baseball in college – that is probably unmatched by anyone else in Magic. He hates losing. Hates it. He always wants to win. He will fight to win, and if I’m going to send someone to the Invitational, I’m going to want them to lock their jaws on their opponent like a pit bull and not let go until a limb falls off. Neil is that dog, and his tenacity and drive to win puts him 4th on my ballot. Plus, he’s got a personality, and the Invitational is all about both achievement and personality.
5th) Antonino DeRosa
There are two sides to Antonino – the partying fun-loving Antonino, and the off-putting, exclusionary Antonino. Both of these sides of this talented player show up at each event, making for an interesting Jekyll and Hyde scenario. Those who have met Antonino are either terribly amused by his antics or think he’s a huge jerk. I tend towards the former, and that’s why I have Antonino as my 5th pick on this ballot – he’s talented at Magic, and he would make for some interesting Invitational stories. Don’t let him fool you – Antonino is a dirty old man who thrills spectators with his bawdy stories, deprecating humor, and acid-tongued wit. He’s not afraid to laugh at himself, he’s not afraid to point out when the emperor has no clothes, and he would definitely bring a lot of spice to this year’s Invitational.
Good luck to everyone on making the Invitational this year! Everyone I could have voted for was deserving of the slot, but these are just one man’s picks.