16 Jonathan Hobbs (Average: 15.7, Highest: 15)
What a year it’s been for Jonathan Hobbs. A complete unknown 12 months ago, Jon took an early pair of Standard Top 8s in Season One of the SCG Tour and never looked back as he narrowly edged SCG Tour mainstay Ross Merriam out for the final spot in the field this weekend.
Jonathan is an exciting player in this field because more than any other competitor, he is still on the rise. Because he tends to be one of the quieter players it’s easy to miss the season he’s had this year with five Open Top 8s and an Invitational Top 8 as well.
Despite his great year, Jon is one of the underdogs in the field this weekend and that says a lot more about the field than it does about Hobbs. Over the course of the season, Jon’s formula for success has been very straightforward: stick to the top tier of decks and avoid making large mistakes.
Will that be enough this weekend? I’m unsure. In a field of this strength you often need to play aggressively into your opponent to force more mistakes rather than waiting for them to come to you. I haven’t seen this yet from Hobbs but then again it might only be a matter of time.
15. Chris Barone (Average: 14.3, Highest: 14)
Chris Barone is the wild card coming into this event. When he cemented himself as a fixture at the top of the Season Two Invitational, I had the same question as everyone else – who the heck is this guy?
If you’ve been around Magic long enough though, you know exactly who Chris Barone is. He’s that player that never commits to the game, but everyone in their hometown knows them as a stone-cold killer. Sure enough, after Chris’s Invitational win, MPL member Mike Sigrist made known that Chris Barone had been on his radar for years, and he was entirely unsurprised to see Chris take down the event.
Chris is going to be towards the bottom of nearly everyone’s power rankings and I think that’s fair. There’s just not enough tape on the guy to truly know what he’s capable of yet. But if he finds the same ice-cold demeanor and razor-sharp focus that he leveraged en route to not only winning, but straight-up dominating the SCG Invitational, he just might be hoisting the trophy again.
14. Harlan Firer (Average: 12.7, Highest: 11)
Before he’d helped captain Team Nova, won a Modern Open with Urza, and Top 8’d seven more, Harlan was already a household name on the SCG Tour.
With a total of three Open titles to his name, Harlan is also tied for the fifth highest number two-day Open Top 8s of all time. Most of his strength comes from the color blue, but it’s ultimately his ability to assess his role within a given matchup that gives Harlan such an edge over the rest of the competition.
What we can expect from Firer at the Players’ Championship are decks closer to the middle of things, strategically. Be it a tempo or midrange strategy, Harlan’s most comfortable when he can adapt his strategy to what the opponent is doing.
Rather than leaning into metagame calls or coming out ahead on the decklist sheet, Firer will be trying to engage with what the opponent is doing and beating them on his terms.
13. Abe Corrigan (Average: 12, Highest: 5)
Having qualified for the Player’s Championship in Season One of the SCG Tour, Abe was free to turn his focus elsewhere during Season Two.
You could whip up a narrative about Abe being a bit out of practice for this event, but he showed up at GP Richmond only a few weeks back and won the whole thing, taking down none other than Reid Duke in the finals.
That bodes well for his chances against top-tier competition. Normally, you’d expect an equally talented opponent to have a 50/50 chance of winning against Abe. But he’s a genetic freak and not normal. The way I see it, his opponents have a 25% chance AT BEST.
12. Jeremy Bertarioni (Average: 10.7, Highest: 7)
Jeremy likes to register good cards.
That sentence is true of everyone in the Players’ Championship (well… maybe not Dom) but Jeremy has shown in 2019 that he’s very comfortable piloting a wide range of “good stuff decks” to top results.
He has six Top 8s on the Tour this year in Opens and Classics with six different archetypes spanning all five colors. Not one to mess around too much with a combo deck, his style reminds me a lot of a player like Brian Braun-Duin or Kyle Boggemes, who will play anything as long as it’s full of powerful Magic cards. Fortunately for Jeremy, Throne of Eldraine has a lot of powerful Magic cards and most of them are still legal.
11. Drake Sasser (Average: 10.3, Highest: 6)
If there were a single word to define Drake Sasser, it would be consistent.
Finishing in the money at over half of the SCG Tour stops this year is no easy feat. A founding member of Team Nova, Drake started this year with Players’ Championship aspirations.
After winning a Legacy Open at the height of Grixis Delver’s dominance, Drake has made a name for himself with finish after finish on the SCG Tour. With four total playoffs appearances this year, Drake capped his year off with a victory, taking down October’s Modern Open in Indianapolis with Gifts Storm.
Drake’s path to victory at the Players’ Championship will be via his ability to master an archetype.
In 2018, he navigated Delver mirror after Delver mirror in Legacy, and in 2019 he put those skills to use with Izzet Phoenix. Drake has a propensity to squeeze every last percentage point out of seemingly stock decklists, by outmaneuvering his opponents at every opportunity.
His lists may lack the flare of some of his competitors, but his chops on the battlefield are second-to-none.
10. Zach Allen (Average: 10, Highest: 9)
Zach Allen might be the highest variance pick in this tournament.
There are two situations where Zach completely excels. The first is when control is a viable option. Presently, I don’t believe this to be the case. The other scenario is when Zach comes up with something off the wall that nobody in the field is expecting. I think some of this edge is given up in a small field with open decklists, and that why Zach sits lower in the power rankings than you might expect.
Despite this fact, I wouldn’t count Zach out. He has the potential to break any field wide open, and I will be anxiously awaiting his deck choices.
9. Collins Mullen (Average: 9.3, Highest: 7)
Collins is a great player though I have him lower in my rankings this weekend than I would at a regular SCG Tour weekend.
As a player who dives deep into an archetype, Collins tends to find his success on the deck registration sheet as much as he does on the battlefield. This has given him a few big finishes in 2019, the most notable of which was an Invitational Top 8 with Simic Mass Manipulation but can also result in some misses.
My concern for the Players’ Championship is that Lotus Box has been successful enough that Collins won’t be able to catch the field off-guard.
Hopefully he can find his own deck this weekend because I think his chances are better there than they would be on a team deck. Collins would rather have the event be about which player can put together the best sideboard plan than have it be about which player can get the extra 5% in a 75-card mirror.
7 (Tie). Zan Syed (Average: 7, Highest: 4)
I believe this PC has the potential to be Lotus Box’s tournament. They have consistently been delivering top tier decks and results and I see no reason why that should slow down this weekend. Of the members of the team, Zan is set up to have a great weekend and a lot of that comes down the tournament itself.
The Players’ Championship is a unique tournament in that it’s a marathon of high-pressure matches.
Over the course of the weekend, players slowly get eliminated until only one remains and I think this plays into the strengths of the 2019 Player of the Year.
In addition to being great at reading metagames, Zan has shown strength this year in high-pressure matches. He has only lost once this year in a Top 8 match and impressively bounces back from losses when they do happen.
This sort of mental game is exactly what you need to have for an event like this and I wouldn’t be surprised for Zan to make a deep run.
7 (Tie). Dominic Harvey (Average: 7, Highest: 4)
Dominic Harvey perfectly encapsulates two things: the most impressive rookie year we’ve ever seen on the SCG Tour, and a laundry list of reasons that he’s anything but a rookie.
After bursting onto the scene with a runner-up finish at this year’s first Open in Columbus, Dom one-upped himself the following weekend, winning the Modern Open in Worcester.
Both events featured Dom playing known decks, Ironworks and Amulet Titan, with his own twists. Acquiring a taste for victory, the Team Nova member proceeded to win two more Opens, a pair of Classics, and Modern Regionals. In a year.
5 (Tie). Joe Lossett (Average: 6.7, Highest: 6)
After a long break from the SCG Tour, Joe Lossett makes his return this weekend to defend his Players’ Championship trophy from 2016 and while the Tour has changed, Joe’s playstyle has stayed the same.
Joe is a juggernaut of preparedness, sticking with the same deck for months at a time until he learns every matchup extensively. It’s a great asset to his game and it’s led him to be a foremost innovator and pilot of multiple decks including Miracles, Mono-Green Tron, and (back in the day) Heroic.
This approach has long been underrated and while I do think that Joe will in the mix, there’s cause for concern.
Modern Horizons and Throne of Eldraine have been some of the most powerful sets we’ve ever seen and since their releases every format has changed significantly. Joe will likely have to audible more than he’s used to and that will be something to watch for this weekend.
5 (Tie). Dylan Donegan (Average: 6.7, Highest: 3)
Dylan Donegan occasionally feels overshadowed by his Lotus Box teammates, but I can’t really tell you why that’s the case.
Every bit as capable as the other members of the team, Donegan might have some of the broadest range in the tournament. I’ve seen him play everything aggro, control, and everything in between to equal levels of mastery.
Those kinds of chops can pay huge dividends in a small field tournament if you think the player groups will have exploitable tendencies. However, as a member of the large Lotus Box contingent at the Players’ Championship, is there actually room for Donegan to break from his teammates?
It remains to be seen, but regardless of the deck that ends up in Donegan’s hands, you can trust he will play it with impressive competence.
4. Collin Rountree (Average: 6, Highest: 3)
There’s a lot to like about Collin Rountree.
Being Texas-based means that instead of qualifying for the Players’ Championship on points, he did it another way: winning the Season One Invitational.
Collin’s Standard successes on the SCG Tour date all the way back to 2014, when he won a Standard Open with Mono-Blue Devotion. The Invitational isn’t the only tournament success that he’s experienced this year – with a Modern SCG Regionals title to his name and a finals berth at a Legacy Grand Prix.
The biggest things that Collin has going for him is his versatility. He’s played everything from synergy-based aggro decks, to Legacy control decks, and has the ability to succeed with all of it.
Given his success this year, he’s obviously able to read a metagame and adjust accordingly. I’d expect to see the one-two punch of great deck choices and tight technical play at the Players’ Championship.
3. Matthew Dilks (Average: 3.7, Highest: 2)
Matthew Dilks is likely the tightest technical player in the entire Players’ Championship.
Punching his ticket to the Players’ Championship at the first opportunity this year, Dilks racked up 129 SCG Points during Season One. One third of the AmuLIT squad, Dilks is known for his prowess with the Amulet Titan strategy, bringing in over $3,500 in winnings with the deck in the first season alone.
His mastery of all things lands doesn’t stop there – Dilks is also comfortable navigating Legacy with his takes on Golgari Depths. With an Open win and seven other Top 8s this year, we can expect great things from this absolute titan.
Dilks approach to Magic is by solving puzzles. Amulet Titan, Golgari Depths, and other decision-intensive land decks live and die by their ability to solve a gamestate and optimize its own actions accordingly.
With Dilks’ experience in this department, the Players’ Championship is just one more needle for him to thread.
2. Edgar Magalhaes (Average: 3, Highest: 2)
Some players can make a career out of being a great deck designer while most tend to find success on the back of their playskill.
Edgar is one of the few players at any level who legitimately does both. As an innovator of ramp strategies, Edgar is known for Amulet Titan but has found more success this year playing Standard, where his innovation for high-resource green decks has been right at home.
Edgar is one of the few players in the event who can challenge Oliver Tomajko in tactical play and while I gave Oliver the nod for the top spot, that’s only because of the recent shift in the post-ban metagames toward tempo plays.
Edgar is the best player in the field when it comes to macro-level decisions, recognizing what’s important in a game turns before his opponent catches on. He’s easily one of the favorites to win the tournament.
1. Oliver Tomajko (Average: 1, Highest: 1)
Oliver Tomajko is the best Magic player in this field.
I have been watching him play since he was an actual small child. He was damn good then and he’s only gotten better. If there is a point of weakness for Tomajko, it could be the lack of Team Mythicos teammates in this tournament, but I have no doubt he’ll be able to cobble together a competent unit to help him prepare. The odds-on favorite, and deservedly so.
How the Panel Voted
|Bryan Gottlieb||Emma Handy||Matthias Hunt|
|1||Oliver Tomajko||Oliver Tomajko||Oliver Tomajko|
|2||Edgar Magalhaes||Matthew Dilks||Edgar Magalhaes|
|3||Collin Rountree||Collin Rountree||Dylan Donegan|
|4||Matthew Dilks||Dominic Harvey||Zan Syed|
|5||Abe Corrigan||Edgar Magalhaes||Matthew Dilks|
|6||Joe Lossett||Joe Lossett||Drake Sasser|
|7||Dominic Harvey||Collins Mullen||Jeremy Bertarioni|
|8||Zan Syed||Dylan Donegan||Joe Lossett|
|9||Dylan Donegan||Zan Syed||Zach Allen|
|10||Collins Mullen||Zach Allen||Dominic Harvey|
|11||Zach Allen||Harlan Firer||Collins Mullen|
|12||Jeremy Bertarioni||Drake Sasser||Collin Rountree|
|13||Drake Sasser||Jeremy Bertarioni||Harlan Firer|
|14||Harlan Firer||Chris Barone||Chris Barone|
|15||Chris Barone||Abe Corrigan||Jonathan Hobbs|
|16||Jonathan Hobbs||Jonathan Hobbs||Abe Corrigan|