My 2018 Pro Tour Hall of Fame Ballot

by Eduardo Sajgalik on 22 August 2018, Wednesday

Eduardo Sajgalik

 

My 2018 Pro Tour Hall of Fame Ballot

Foreward

 

I'll just copy this from last year's article, but with a major addition – community contributions now weigh much more heavily on who I want to vote for the Hall of Fame. If a candidate is a clear legend or master, that is sufficient for me – someone on the fence would need strong community contributions for me to vote for them.

 

"Here is the personal criteria I am considering to vote for someone – to me, the player is a legend of the game. What that means to each person is different, but each player I vote for has either inspired me to go to the next level, made me understand that the game is more profound than it seems or is just awe-inspiring.

This is why the stats I mention in the article will look at the dominance criteria mainly (Top 8s, Pro Tour Top 16s, wins, 3-year medians). I am not particularly interested in lower level finishes than Top 16s at Pro Tours – I feel the Pro Tour win rate tells a lot of the story there anyways.

I won't be going through each candidate, but instead on the ones I am voting for and additional ones I wish to focus on. Ultimately, this is a personal take on the Hall of Fame ballot. I'll note that I give on average less weight to results in the 90s / early 2000s, as Pro Tours had half the attendance and the average player levels were lower – this is also a time when I did not play Magic, so it's a lot harder to feel a connection to these players."

 

I want to make it extremely clear from the get-go that Lee Shi Tian and Seth Manfield are a level above any other choice as a combination of fantastic results, community contributions, and personal thank you to them. I would vote twice for each of them and have a 3rd person with one vote if I could.



 

Top 2 Candidates

 

Lee Shi Tian

 

 

  • 60.9% win Percentage at Pro Tours

  • 3 year Median: 45.5

  • Median Finish: 70

  • 5 Pro Tour Top 8s / 5 top 16s

  • 10 Grand Prix Top 8s (1 win)

 

 

MTG Mint Card as a team would not exist without Lee Shi Tian. It's likely you wouldn't be reading the article on this website right now. Or any of these:

  • Reading Zen Takahashi's great articles.

  • You also wouldn't have seen me make Top 4 of Pro Tour Aether Revolt.

  • Christian Calcano's emotion-charged first PT Top 8 at Amonkhet.

  • Or Yam Wing Chun's even more absurd Hazoret moment at the top 4 of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation.

  • Having two members of the team make the top 4 of Worlds 2017 in Javier Dominguez & Kelvin Chew.

  • Two of Andrea Mengucci's PT Top 8s (both in 8th place on the nose).

 


 

He has helped to build, mentor and defend an APAC pro community that despite their regional disadvantage, keep coming and performing on the Pro Tour. The insane 2016-2017 year is on the back of many years trying to build directly from the region, slowly but surely getting players with potential onboard and having everyone improve along the way. I had the pleasure to be on one of the most "location-agnostic" teams taking people not just from the APAC region, but also from Europe and North America.

 

Christian Calcano wrote more here:

 

 

 

 

 

It's worth mentioning that his results are incredible with a very high Pro Tour win rate and 5 Top 8s all during the Modern Pro Tour era over a span of 4 calendar years.


He is a dominant player on the circuit and built a pro player community from the ground up. I am delighted to be able to vote for him this year.

 

 

 

Seth Manfield

 

 

  • 63.6% win Percentage at Pro Tours

  • 3 year Median: 43

  • Median Finish: 59

  • 4 Pro Tour Top 8s / 6 top 16s (1 win, 1 World Championship title)

  • 15 Grand Prix Top 8s (5 wins)

I wrote this last year on Seth -

"Because his success is a lot more recent, he tends to go under the radar. However, he has an absurdly high median for someone competing mainly on recent Pro Tours (which are double in size compared to older ones) and continues to dominate, while being a father of two. Being a World Champion is nothing to sneeze at either.

 

Honestly, he may be worth voting in the Hall right now, but I want to see how much more he can accomplish first."

 

 

Let's see – he made Top 8 of a PT and won the one right after since my article last year?!?! Well then...

I think Seth's results are astonishing, at 4 PT Top 8s including a win, a World Championship title and one of the most absurd Pro Tour win rates. I have played against Seth twice in limited – twice, I felt that I really gave it my all to win these matches and yet it wasn't enough. I was outclassed and lost to an incredible player.

 

 

Two mentions about Seth, one bad and one good but personally bittersweet.


The bad out of the way - Seth is a slow player. I think this is widely accepted at this point. However, I believe this to be in the same vein as Gabriel Nassif: he is playing slowly because he is really thinking deeply at every single moment and going far beyond what most players would. This is what makes him a world-class player, as he goes really deep in thought – but it isn't exactly fair when Seth's opponent gets less time to think and act.

 

As someone moving towards coverage, moments like Seth versus Owen in the 2015 World Championship where Seth takes far more time than Owen are something that as a community we have to alter. I had some very interesting chats at Grand Prix Providence on the topic of slow play, and I think it's time as a community that we get better at consistency in this area. It also wouldn't be the 1st time Seth changed tournament rules – it's thanks to him you can only pile shuffle once.

 

I don't think that Seth playing slowly is at all a reason to not vote for him. It's just important to highlight that it may have to change as he is at the top of the game and it's not behavior that we want aspiring players to emulate.

 

The 2nd mention is an extremely difficult one because it involves a bittersweet moment with Fabrizio Anteri – he is a friend of mine, helped me Q for the Pro Tour and is a great player but took winning too much to heart. To bring you up to speed, Fabrizio was dominating on the Grand Prix circuit with multiple wins. Leading up to the moment in 2016 where he got caught for stacking his deck and suspended for 18 months (GP Manchester, round 4).

Here's Seth Manfield side of the story:

I watched him a few times playing as I do with most pros. I observed how he was sideboarding. Specifically, he would pretend to be sideboarding, but instead simply be weaving the contents of his deck. Then he would do very little shuffling. The weave was a ratio of lands to spells. Then if the opponent didn't shuffle much, he would always have a keepable hand.

 

I alerted a judge, and then one of the next GPs he ended up being banned

 

Though I didn't attend the actual GP, the ban happened.

 

 

Specifically, he was caught in his first round of play at Grand Prix in Manchester – meaning to me that the judges were in the alert.

 

Now, why does this matter?

  • Fabrizio got removed from the English Captaincy race for that season (it also freed a World Championship slot for someone).

  • That meant that I had a reason to pursue pro points and went to a ton of GPs.

  • I stayed with MTG Mint Card members at one of them (Chapman Sim and Hao-Shan Huang) and talked about my desire to join a testing team as well as writing content.

  • I ended up clinching English captaincy (missing gold by a bit).

  • I got on team MTG Mint Card as part of this connection and Lee's trust that I would grow and develop – going as far as to put me on the team series.

  • The team got me a Pro Tour top 4 at Aether Revolt.

  • The World Magic Cup I was a part of helping me move my affairs from England to Canada and aim towards a new life.

  • I hit Platinum thanks to these WMC points.

 

In essence – if it weren't for Seth's attention, I would not have been close to my dominant professional season, almost made Worlds or made the friends I did on MTG Mint Card.

 

I would not have been a professional player.

 

Seth Manfield easily gets my vote for Hall of Fame.

 

 

 

 

Other Candidates

 

Tsuyoshi Ikeda

 

53.6% win Percentage at Pro Tours – This comes from 49 Pro Tours

3 year Median: 123

Median Finish: 67

4 Pro Tour Top 8s / 8 top 16s

6 Grand Prix Top 8s (1 win)

 

I have gotten to understand lately that Ikeda has helped grow the Japanese Magic community at a critical point in its history on top of his 4 Top 8s. I supported Marjin Lybert last year for a similar history in the Belgian community, and I wanted to shift my vote towards Ikeda this year to recognize helping with growth at a time when players from Asia were not given as much respect as they should have had.

It's worth noting Ikeda's win percentage is far lower than other players I am considering because he played a ton of Pro Tours, including ones where he was far past his prime or before reaching it. 8 Pro Tour top 16s is quite a large number – only a little more luck may have been sufficient to convert to the magic 5 PT Top 8s.

 

 

Brad Nelson

 

61.8% win Percentage at Pro Tours

3 year Median: 29

Median Finish: 57

3 Pro Tour Top 8s / 6 top 16s

18 Grand Prix Top 8s (3 wins)

 

 

This is quite a funny one – a year ago, I thought Brad would be overrated by most people voting for Hall of Fame and that too much attention would be given to him because he has a very large community presence as a content creator and key figure. To be clear – I think he's an exceptional player, but too many people would "slam dunk" him rather than consider, reflect and then vote.

Instead, he's getting very little attention, which shocks me – he is a polarized player regarding format, but in any three week+ rotation Standard, there is no player I would dread to face more than him. He just gets that format, consistently, over and over. It's just insane to me how good he is.

His PT median is 57, all during the large attendance Modern PT era, easily one of the highest and best of all time – even when not as his best, he still performs very well at the Pro Tour. I also don't look too much at GP Top 8s for Hall of Fame, but 18 is the highest number of anyone on this ballot not named Saito.
His win rate is also beyond absurd.

 

I wasn't sure about this, but I will be voting for Brad this year due to his incredible and consistent results over a long period, along with his trademark dominance of Standard.



Ken Yukuhiro

 

61% win Percentage at Pro Tours

3 year Median: 40.5

Median Finish: 71

4 Pro Tour Top 8s / 6 top 16s

9 Grand Prix Top 8s (1 win)

 

Another underrated player, he has quietly accumulated some very nice pro tour results. This year has an incredible quantity of very high win rate players coming through on the ballot. He specializes in GB decks, making him appear in deck style and play like the Japanese Willy Edel.
For now, Ken Yukuhiro is the highest on my 5
th vote list, although I haven't decided yet. I think he will keep delivering fantastic results.

 

Tomaharu Saito / Marjin Lybert / Ivan Floch

 

I wrote about the above candidates last year - http://www.mtgmintcard.com/articles/writers/eduardo-sajgalik/my-hall-of-fame-ballot

I am unsure if I will repeat my vote for them –

 

  • Ivan suffers from not improving his resume this year.

  • Marjin Lybert is similar to Ikeda, and I decided to change my vote this year.

  • Saito is more complicated – Saito's results are from the past, his community / loveable stance is from the present. It's a shame that these two did not reconcile into one character. I think what hurts me the most is that Saito got into the Hall of Fame, but squandered the opportunity. I wish Saito were in the Hall, but with the 60% voting criteria, I just don't see it happening anymore.

 

Chris Pikula

 

Resume - Irrelevant

I not listing Pikula's statistics at the Pro Tour since they are irrelevant to voting for him. They are clearly far below any other candidate.

It boils down to one question – did Pikula through his actions make the Pro Tour a better place?

And, from what I gathered, stance was more what Pikula was about rather than actions. I think it's great to bring the attitude that cheaters do not belong on the Pro Tour, and make it clear, but for me, it was the judge community shifting perspective and policy over 2003-2012 that has heavily changed the way the game is played and stopped some of the most egregious cheaters in competitive play.

 

Enough people will write about Pikula that I will read about him and make my own decision in time. I am only interested though in specific actions, results, and changes that occurred as a result of his presence on the Tour – ie. Stories.

 

I will likely vote for one of the above players, but I'm uncertain at this point which one.

Players I won't vote for but wanted to mention

 

Marcio Carvalho needs a clean 5 Pro Tour Top 8s that originate from after his ban before consideration because of the community damage created from his actions in the past. I know however that he actively elevates the level of the whole Hareyuya Latin team and is just an incredible player.
Putting it another way – Marcio is not a Hall of Fame candidate, he is an active player on the tour building around the best years of his career.

Gerry Thompson got another Pro Tour Top 8 this year and is building up to be a good Hall of Fame candidate in the future. I love the fact that he has reformed his attitude towards others and the game and cannot wait to see how he develops.

 

Mark Herberholz suffers from the fact that I value Marjin Lybert & Tsuyoshi Ikeda with similar resumes more highly due to their community contributions in regions where it is more difficult to be dedicated to professional Magic. That said, he did win a PTQ recently and is back on the Tour, so time to see how good he is once again.

 

Javier Dominguez is also building his resume these years – don't sleep on him, who is one of the "unluckiest" players on tour with 1 Pro Tour Top 8 and 5 top 16s overall. His 2nd place finish at Worlds is sign of even more to come.

 

 

My Personal 2018 Ballot

My ballot will look like this -

 

Lee Shi Tian

Seth Manfield

Tsuyoshi Ikeda

Brad Nelson

Free Slot (Yukuhiro, Lybert, Floch, Saito, Pikula)

 

I am going to keeping a Free Slot for one of the candidates, seeing what stories come out of each player.



Parting Words – Disappointment

 

My professional profile and the consultancy I am trying to build centers around a community, how to grow it implicitly and make sure the right emotional state is put from the get-go on how to best make it develop. I'm trying to wrap my head around what is going on with Magic's professional (and aspiring) community right now and aiming to avoid the place we are now at for other projects.

 

I was incredibly disappointed by the communities' reaction to the Hall of Fame ballot announcement. Twitter from last Wednesday felt like a toxic cesspool of accusations, whether that was attacking candidates or blindly supporting others by coercing votes. Strangely enough, this is all coming out now rather than after the discovery of the acts themselves.

 

If you want to compare the difference between people trying to assassinate someone's character rather than outing cheaters from the game, just look at the outburst around Alex Bertonchi's Top 8 at Grand Prix Los Angeles – it's immediate, visceral and without forgiveness. That's the type of attitude and reaction when someone is cheating that you would expect. When you attack people on a Hall of Fame ballot, your aims are more towards knocking down their character, not cleaning up the game.

 

One angle I got given is that quite a few professional players feel powerless due to a perceived view of judges not actively pursuing these players and that this is their best opportunity to create damage towards people they feel wronged them. And that I can get – it's easier to come out with stories when others do.

If this is the fundamental issue, then maybe it is time to help change the community and discuss with judges how to better find these players and remove them (the 2003-2008 era saw an incredible series of "clean up" steps take place).

One difference in Magic and why just shouting on Social Media is not the answer – because players are in Grand Prix and Pro Tours, they are under the public eye and scrutiny often enough that if someone is causing issues, they will get caught. This isn't happening behind closed doors. The story I shared about Seth shows what can happen when you watch.

 

Zen Takahashi wrote a much more in-depth piece around the issues I mentioned above which you can find here: Racism in the professional Magic community by Zen Takahashi.

 

Thank you for reading,

 

Eduardo

 




Articles you might be also interested

Without Lee Shi Tian, I would not have become the Magic player I am today.
Zen Takahashi to Lee, It has been an absolute pleasure seeing you become a legend of the game.
Terry Soh tells everyone why he is voting Lee Shi Tian for the Hall of Fame, without a doubt.

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