Magic the Gathering: Top 8 Pro Tour Testing Teams

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Posted February 1, 2017 by Jean-Luc Botbyl in Nerdy Bits

With the Pro Tour team series officially kicking off its test run at Pro Tour Aether Revolt this weekend, We the Nerdy writers Jean-Luc and Abdullah got together to compose their picks for the top 8 teams.

Honorable Mention: Last Samurai

Last Samurai is certainly one of the most fascinating teams on the Pro Tour. It consists of a lot of old school pros – Mihara, Oiso, Fujita, Saito – with up and coming Japanese players in Takimura and Tamada. It’s an interesting line up, and if they’re all 100% committed, they could very well be the best team. I could see every member of the team putting up a Top 8 this season, if commitment isn’t an issue. But we do have concerns about that, considering that most members of the team can’t devote as much time to Magic as they used to.

Still, it would be a mistake to ignore their incredible resumes. At the end of this season, we could see this team on the top of the world and it wouldn’t surprise either of us. But for now, we have our reservations.

8. Top Level

Underestimating a team with Patrick Chapin on it would be a major mistake. He comes at Magic in a way no other pro does, and it gives him an edge over the competition. Especially if he’s able to accurately predict the metagame. But Team Top Level isn’t only Patrick Chapin – he’s got the support of Brian Braun-Duin, Raph Levy, Mike Hron, Craig Wescoe, and Dan Lanthier. Their resumes are impressive – Levy’s median Pro Tour finish especially stands out. And BBD is one of, of not the, best pro player without a PT top 8 at this point.

Top Level definitely is an off the wall make up of players – one that I did not expect, to be honest. But they have a lot of potential, and if it all comes together… well if it all comes together for them, they’ll be dominant.

7. Hareruya

Hareruya, much like Top Level, does have an odd make up. It’s a solid group of players, headlined by Hall of Famer Shuhei Nakamura and 5 time Pro Tour top 8 competitor Tomoharu Saito. Interestingly, this isn’t actually a team that’s testing together. I doubt that will have much of an impact, but the lack of cohesion could negatively impact them. Like, what happens if Shuhei helps Face to Face/CFB Fire break the format? He could win the PT while the rest of his team fails to make day two.

Even then, it’s impossible to deny the incredible resumes of the team. Petr Sochurek is one of the best young Magic players right now. That trio has multiple top 8’s in their future. Jeremy Dezani boasts a Pro Tour win, and has gone deep at a few PTs since. Oliver Polak-Rottman is another player itching for a top 8, and after his success last season, it could be in his future. Takahashi’s recent success is similar, and he’s a player that could have a lot more success in the coming season.

6. Genesis

Seth Manfield was almost Player of the Year last year, and yet I still feel like he’s underrated. He’s had incredible results in the last two years, really proving himself to be one of the best players right now. And he may not even be the best player on Genesis! Brad Nelson has an incredible mind for Standard, and his Limited success recently has propelled him into the upper echelon of players. Martin Muller, until last season, was probably the best player without a Top 8. He has one now, and I find it hard to believe he doesn’t have many more in his future. That powerhouse trio is backed up by three solid players who are likely to go nowhere but upwards in the remainder of this season.

Martin Dang boasts a Pro Tour win, and multiple other successes. There could definitely be more of that in his future. After a solid Worlds performance and a Pro Tour win, Lukas Blohon could be looking at an incredible season. And Michael Majors… well, he won a Grand Prix with Sphinx’s Tutelage. That says a lot about him as a player, and with a spot on this team, he’s definitely a player to watch.

5. LSV’s Friends (ChannelFireball Fire)

Perhaps it’s a little reductive to refer to this team as “LSV’s Friends.” But seriously, some of LSV’s best friends are on this team! It’s kind of ridiculous, actually. Really, we just wanted to talk about LSV in this article, and since he’s not on a team, well… this was the best place to do it.

But in all seriousness, ChannelFireball Fire is an incredible team. Wrapter is a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame. Along with Matt Nass, this team might have the best deck-building core in the game. Put their decks in the hands of the likes of Pat Cox, Corey Burkhart, Paul Cheon, and Martin Juza – that’s a formula for success, right there. Cheon and Burkhart are both incredible players itching for their first top 8’s, and they could both debut on the Sunday stage within this season. And they already have solid resumes.

The rest of the team is actually pretty underrated. Cox and Juza have exceptional resumes, each boasting multiple PT and GP Top 8’s, along with excellent median finishes at the PT. Josh Utter-Leyton’s five PT top 8’s speak for themselves, and Matt Nass’ success at the GP level along with his top 8 at Pro Tour Kaladesh makes him truly a player to be respected.

4. Face to Face

Face to Face was one of the most successful teams on the Pro Tour last year. And honestly, what we think sets them apart from the rest of the competition is the young talent. Steve Rubin and Oliver Tiu are both relatively new players, and they have both already had incredible seasons. Their median Pro Tour finish is stupid, and they have great futures ahead of them. Rubin already has a win at the PT level, and Tiu put up a top 4 at his first Worlds appearance – which happened in his first season, by the way.

The other four members of the team have incredible resumes as well. Hayne, the team captain, boasts a PT win and multiple deep runs since. Ivan Floch has three top 8’s with a win, and has largely flown under the radar. Sam Pardee is coming off his first top 8 at Eldritch Moon, and likely has more in his future. Despite his nearly assured chronic depression since losing the Modern PT, Jacob Wilson still remains a phenomenal Magic player that must have multiple Top 8’s in his future. I feel comfortable saying that about everyone on this team, actually, which earns them their spot here with ease.

3. ChannelFireball: Ice

This is where the list starts getting especially tight. The top three teams are all phenomenal, boasting incredible line ups across the board. ChannelFireball: Ice is most definitely among them. Team captain Paulo Vitor Damo Da Rosa has more Top 8’s than most teams, and the rest of his stats are just as phenomenal. Backing PV up are Hall of Famers Ben Stark and Eric Froehlich, each with four top 8’s to their name and incredible Limited skill.

Speaking of Limited skill, ChannelFireball: Ice also has Mike Sigrist, widely recognized as one of the best Limited players in the world. From Europe, the team also gets Joel Larsson and Ondrej Strasky, both of whom boast multiple Sunday appearances at the Pro Tour. What is striking about this team is their consistency – they all have incredible average finishes, and that will help make them one of the best teams this season.

2. Musashi

Musashi is home to two of the three best players in the game right now; Yuuya Watanabe and Shota Yasooka. Coming off his second Pro Tour win, Yasooka is on fire right now. He may very well be the best technical player the game has seen, and Yuuya is not far behind. The two Hall of Famers are definitely the highlight of this team. But the incredible roster doesn’t end with those two, who are likely to continue their domination.

Yuuki Ichikawa is a player that had a 100% conversion rate to the Sunday stage at one point. He’s put up strong performances since, but has been unable to match that success. With the support of this team, he definitely could. Kentaro Yamamoto and Ken Yukuhiro both boast multiple recent top 8’s and success elsewhere. Teruya Kakumae is a bit of a wild card, but he definitely has raw talent, having already put up multiple GP top 8’s. Under the tutelage of the powerhouse names on this team, he could definitely put up some impressive results this year.

1. Puzzle Quest

I don’t know that anything really needs to be said about Puzzle Quest. The roster is kind of unfair. Jon Finkel, the best player ever. Owen Turtenwald, one of, maybe the best, player right now. Reid Duke, right up there with Turtenwald. William “Huey” Jensen, a player that Yuuya Watanabe feared playing at Worlds. Andrew Cuneo, one of the best control deck builders ever. And Paul Rietzl, who has quietly assembled an impressive career including a slot in the Hall of Fame along with four Top 8’s.

Let that sink in. This team has four Hall of Famers, and Reid Duke isn’t even eligible yet. If he gets another top 8 or two, he’ll be a lock to get in this year. Puzzle Quest’s stats are ridiculous, and consistent. If you don’t have them in the top slot, I think there may be something wrong with how you’ve evaluated these teams.

Also Reid Duke’s hair you guys. His fucking hair. Just look at it!


About the Author

Jean-Luc Botbyl

Jean-Luc is a grizzled veteran of We the Nerdy. Most days, he just wonders why he hasn't been formally fired. Follow him on Twitter at @J_LFett to make him feel validated.