fter sixteen rounds of Mirrodin
Block constructed, the Top 8 is set for tomorrow. Italy will be all over the lights and cameras, as they put an amazing three players into Sunday. Luigi Sbrozzi, Raffaele Lo Moro and Stefano Fiori all played Big Red to advance to advance to the top 8, marking a milestone for the country in competitive Magic. France placed two players, Gabriel Nassif and Alexandre Peset. Anyone who follows competitive Magic knows what a great year Nassif has been having. He made the Top 8 of Pro Tour New Orleans, and today's finish gives him a second Top 8 in a Constructed Pro Tour this season. He's emerged as one of Magic's biggest stars, and could further solidify that reputation tomorrow.
By contrast, this Top 8 means something completely different for Peset. A French Magic website has a page that keeps track of how many PTQs people lose in a row without qualifying, and Peset had set the record at 59. In that time, he had made the Top 8 25 times, but couldn't win. He played in day two at three different GPs and couldn't qualify that way, and played in French Nationals but lost in the Quarterfinals. Finally, he qualified for this weekend's event. It's been a long, hard road for Peset to make it to his first Pro Tour, but all the effort has been worth it. This weekend, he also played the Big Red deck, while Nassif played the much talked about TwelvePost deck that uses mana acceleration and Tooth and Nail to put monsters like Darksteel Colossus and Platinum Angel into play. The other European rounding out at the Top 8 is Jelger Weigersama, who is playing in front of the cameras for the second time in his career.
The lone American player in the Top 8 is Ben Stark. Considered by many to be the best player in the United States at the moment, he now has the Pro Tour finish to back up his Grand Prix success. Finally, the lone Japanese player is Team Masters Champion Masashiro Kuroda. Kuroda had been stigmatized as a player who couldn't handle the day two pressure, as he went undefeated in multiple major tournaments before failing to make Top 8. It seemed he would be headed down the same path after going undefeated day one and starting today at 2-3, but he bounced back and now finds himself in his first Pro Tour Top 8.
Right below Kuroda missing on tiebreakers are current and former rookie sensations Kazumasa Shiki and Katsuhiro Mori. Shiki missed Top 8 of New Orleans this season by one match, which has to make missing on tiebreakers this time around an even tougher. Shiki won Grand Prix Okayama last month, and declared that his goal for this season was to win Rookie of the Year. With a ninth place finish added to his accomplishments, that seems very likely to happen. A Japanese player who has held that title, Katsuhiro Mori, came back from retirement in a big way to come in tenth this weekend, also missing Top 8 on tiebreakers.
But the Japanese crowd will still have one of their own to cheer on tomorrow. Will Kuroda finally bring Japan a Pro Tour Championship, or will that piece of history have to wait longer to be fulfilled? Will Ben Stark hold up the banner of American Magic? Can Gabriel Nassif put the cap on a great season, and mark his career with a Pro Tour Championship? Will Italy follow up a huge event by seeing one of its players win it all? Check out our live streaming coverage tomorrow as we find out!