Worth Wollpert, Wizards R&D/Former Pro Tour Player
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Like many other voters, I wanted to make sure I gave at least one vote to a player whose impact on the Pro Tour and its lifestyle wasn't solely measured in performance analysis. I voted for Chris last year for this reason, and I'm voting for him this year for the same reason. This isn't to say that Chris's results are anything but exceptional, but to me, the amount he added to the Pro Tour was mostly measured outside of a strict tournament setting. The other guys on team Deadguy made Magic *fun* for me way back in the day, and for many others too. Chris was a HUGE part of that. It doesn't hurt that he's got the coolest Invitational card ever, too.
I was close to voting for Steve last year, I think a lot of what this guy accomplished was overshadowed by his collaboration with Jon Finkel to form two-thirds of the team powerhouse Antarctica. Steve has been feared in Limited circles for almost as long as I can remember, and always seemed to turn up near the top of the standings on Day Two at some point. Steve also was one of the first players to really buy into the Grand Prix country-hopping stuff, he was always turning up in South America and Europe and posting very good finishes to boot. In addition, you will not find a nicer O'Mahoney-Schwartz this side of Dan.
The one absolute no-brainer for me this year. Much has been made of this man's nickname (The Great One), and deservedly so. Bob has done it all in Magic, and his career earnings are expectedly gaudy at 157k+. Part of what impresses me most about Bob though was his struggle with the DCI ratings thing. Kids do stupid stuff. All kids. The ones who've been raised right and/or the ones who have character generally choose to own up to their mistakes, show contrition, and use the experience to become a better adult down the line. Bob did all of this when it would have been pretty easy to join the ranks of the shady characters in our game and just lie and deflect it all. Big props for that.
I think Henry Stern mentioned the 51 Pro Tours thing in his ballot. I wanted to echo that. I toiled with voting for someone partly because I thought they would enjoy the accolade and use the benefits for a while, but in the end, Raffy is every bit as deserving as the next non-French guy. (Just kidding.) On top of being a really nice guy, he always looks like he's having fun at the tables, no matter his record. Fifty-one Pro Tours with 47 consecutive appearances and lifetime money right around 100k. Congratulations, mon ami.
Man...it feels like I could stack the ballot with YMGers if I wanted to. All of those guys seem deserving in their own way. With the addition of Justin Gary this year, I could easily see myself voting for David, Justin, and Rob all at once, but I felt like my other four candidates were just as strong. I was close to voting for Dave (and Rob) last year, and after looking at the stats again this year I just felt like I couldn't leave him out any longer. Five Pro Tour Top 8s, 143k+ in money, a Pro Tour win, it all adds up to someone very deserving. One of the most humble and nicest guys you will ever meet, as well. Now if we can only get him to play a *little* faster. Grats, Hump.