The magic community is buzzing about GP San Jose Team event. The reasons are obvious, because as much as magic is an individual sport, the players enjoy three man team side events.
There is no surprise that they play for entertainment”purposes only. The concept of team magic has gone back from the early days of magic. Hence the team I would put together for this event.
Outside of the fact that I would be weak link on the team, I was reviewing some of my podcasts, and thinking who would I put together to take on this situation.
My first pick is William “Baby Huey” Jensen. He’s a no-brainer, considered one of the greatest limited players to ever play the game. In my interview with BDM (http://www.mtgcast.com/?p=24271), he talks in depth on why William Jensen taught him his passion for drafting and how amazing of a limited player he was.
If you look at his lifetime record here are the numbers that back his case.
GP San Diego – limited – 1st place
GP Cannes - Team limited – 4th place
GP Pittsburgh – Team limited – 1st place
GP Detroit – limited – 5th place
PT Chicago – Rochester Draft – 8th place
PT Boston – Team Limited – 1st place
If those numbers don’t jump off the table at you, then nothing will.
When you listen to my interview with William Jensen (http://www.mtgcast.com/?p=20746) you can tell that he cared about the game and people in it. Also, when I talked to him “off air”, we talked about the drafting they still do now. The people he drafts with are the who’s who of that era of magic. If he could take two of the other players off the island with him and bring him to San Jose, I would not be surprised if they didn’t win it all.
If I am building a team I would want a person to be “teacher” of the group to work with myself and the next team mate. William is a special player in magic, and one day I hope he gets rewarded for what he meant to the game by being in the Hall of Fame.
My next choice is really obvious, no it’s not LSV or Paulo or Chapin or Martell (even though any team Tom is in would be a lot of fun). It’s Ben Stark. When you listen to other people talk about Ben he is widely considered the best limited player in the world. When other pros go Ben for advice on the limited format, you know there’s something special about him.
Let us review Ben’s history in draft:
GP Kansas City – Rochester Draft – 3rd
PT San Diego – Booster Draft – 6th
GP Boston – Sealed and Booster Draft – 2nd
GP Toronto – Sealed and Booster Draft – 4th
PT Paris – Standard and Booster Draft – 1st
If you listen to his interview (http://www.mtgcast.com/?p=19683), you can see that he’s proven that when he’s focused and driven to succeed in magic he can win any event he is at. Ben also has a extensive network of fellow pros he works with (outside of team CFB). When I was at worlds he was building decks with a Japanese contingent. He would be the bulldog member of the team: someone that is driven by his ability and desire to win at his best format.
There it is: my dream team for the team format at GP San Jose. Granted, the two pros I would be playing with would be carrying me, but if you are looking at what could make a team great those would be two pieces that would make even a player like me a winner on the GP circuit.
Bonus Section – Who I would like to see as three person teams at GP San Jose
LSV, Paulo, and Paul Cheon – You have that same mix of the leader in LSV, the bulldog in Paulo, with Cheon being LSV’s close friend who put up a top 6 finish at GP Denver, even though he didn’t know the card until days before the tourney.
David Ochoa, Josh Utter-Layton, Owen Turtenwald – Another Team CFB group. PoY Owen, all it seems he does is top 8 every GP (11 lifetime). Josh is who one of players who is on quite a roll this magic season: just look at worlds and PT Philly. David Ochoa, considered the thinker of team CFB and someone whose play is respected within the community.
Tom Martell, Steve OMS, Jon Finkel – Talk about a team that would have personality all over it, plus you are sitting across from two Hall of Famers. Just consider Jon’s desire to play now for platinum status, Tom Martell’s run lately, and OMS’s history with Jon in the team format.
Gerry Thompson, Brad Nelson, and AJ Sacher – This would be a Star City Games team. Maybe again I am looking at the obvious, but these are a lot like Finkel and company in that they would draw crowds to watch!
Sam Black, Reid Duke, Rich Hoaen – They worked together for PT Honolulu. They know each other and Sam has the deck developing creative eye (see lingering souls for Tom Martell). Reid Duke is one of rising stars of the tour, placing at the top of the standings consistently this year. Rich Hoaen is called the canadian draft maestro of magic and in this format he’s a must have.
Matt Sperling, Paul Rietzl, Michael Jacob – another of the PT beach house teams. Matt and Paul are close friends and with Michael’s ability to make decks and challenge a format it could work.
Shuhei Nakamura, Yuuyu Watanabe, Kenji Tsumura – These three have worked together in past. Kenji has very limited ability to play due to school. Let us take a look at Kenji record in limited:
GP Osaka Team limited – 4th
PT Philly Team – 4th
GP Kaula Lumpur limited -1st
GP Toulouse – limited – 1st
GP St. Louis – limited – 3rd
GP Shockholm – limited – 7th
GP Kitakyuushuu – limited – 7th
Most of the team events were with Saito and Kenji. Saito could easily be the other player if Kenji can’t make it.
Martin Juza, Raphael Levy, and Gabriel Nassif – Now, to get Nassif to consider this event with marriage and other interests taking his time, is a stretch. Juza and Levy are the model MtG players that have the passion and desire to play anywhere and in any way.
Brian Kibler, Rob Dougherty, and Justin Gary – Call it Team Ascension. They work together, with both Brian and Rob being very active on the tour. Brian made a stellar comeback and is play better than ever.
Ben Stark, Pat Cox, David Sharfman – This could be a Florida connection. Any team that starts with Ben Stark looks like a winner to me. See the earlier part of the article!
Mike Flores, Zvi, BDM – It would be New York Family coming together for one show. Everyone knows the Flores and BDM relationship, but Zvi the Hall of Famer could come out of retirement for this format. One time Zvi! For those of us that enjoyed your career!
Osyp Lebedowicz, Gerard Fabiano, Antonio DeRosa – First of all, I would like to meet Osyp in person! Secondly, GFabs and Antonio have a great friendship. Add the fact Antonio just won another GP and what else needs be said.
Conley Woods, Tom “The Boss” Ross, Eric Froehlich – Another Team CFB team. This team has the deck doctor and two professional poker players together. Yes, we all saw on twitter and facebook that Tom is coming back. Could this be the one? If you saw Efro’s twitter post he’s excited; why not put these guys together???
Christian Calcano, Ali Aintrazi, Dan Jordan – The young guns of magic. Calcano is the quintessential grinder; Aintrazi takes outside the box deck design to a new level; Dan Jordan is a constant top 32 performer at events, and is a good person to boot.
Ari Lax, Adam Prosak, Todd Anderson – Why not another team StarCityGames. Due to the SCGtour they have played all formats and if they would win, what a great picture to post on the main page of SCG!
Caleb Dunward, Kitt Holland, Craig Wescoe - Caleb is having a great start of the year with his GP top 8’s and PTQ win. This is supposedly a legacy specialist??? Like Caleb, Kitt is from Chicago, and if Matej is going to be there you know Megan will be. To finish the Chicago connection add the player who playing constantly at the top of leaderboards this year! The Chicago mafia heading to SJ!
Marshall Sutcliffe, Jon Loucks, and Ryan Spain (Although Ryan can’t play because he’s a WotC Employee) The Limited Resources team in effect. Substituting for Ryan would be friend and fellow Seattle native Zaiem Beg. BTW, Zaiem is a very underrated player.
Jason Ford, Matthias Hunt, Brandon Nelson – This group already works together to prep for events. All these players were level four in the old system . Each of them is one step away from a breakout performance that will catapult them into the “next level” of magic.
Patrick Chapin, William Jensen, Kai Budde – Call me a dreamer and I doubt this would happen, but these three are starpower and with the legendary status Kai brings to an event, Chapin’s soon to be Hall of Fame status, and see top part of article Baby Huey limited skills. It’s just a thought that would be fun for me to see.
Matej Zatlkaj, Gaudenis Vidugiris, Darwin Kastle – Yes this an odd mix of players, but Matej said he would come, and even though Gaudenis claims he’s not a great limited player the results say differently. Why not round out the team with a Hall of Famer?
Jackie Lee, Mary Jacobson, Melissa DeTora or Carrie Oliver – Melissa will team with her better half at this event, but why not since the trolls on the internet are constantly smashing these three, because “OMG it’s a woman playing magic”. Personally, I am sick of it. Talent is talent doesn’t matter what sex, race, religious preference, etc you are.
Bob Maher, David Williams, Gary Wise – Why not have three magic players from the past come together for this, instead of across the table from each other?
Extras – I couldn’t get a 3rd or are just fun
Kar Yung Tom, Chris Lansdell, and Scott MacCallum (MrScottyMac) – This would be the podcasting group for the event. Between KYT and Chris they are on every other podcast on the MTGCAST network. With ScottyMacs appearance at SCGCIN I saw him play firsthand. I wonder if he would be the captain on this team? Plus, Scotty would have to play for the whole trip!
Matt Marr, Jessie Smith (Smi77y) – these two are deck building and personal friends. Smi77y now is on SCG for his brews and is creator of 60cards.com. Matt has had good success on the tour!
Chris Otwell, Nick Bonham – The man behind mtgcast (Chris) and man who makes Djinn’s Playground podcast go (Nick), plus both are from Denver
Adrian Sullivan, Brian Kowal, – The pros from Madison, WI. This would be a perfect slot for one Sam Black
There are ton more of options out there, but I couldn’t name them all. Hope you enjoy the read!