Hall of Fame: One Man's Ballot

Monty Ashley, Managing Producer, Magicthegathering.com

Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame

Editor's note: Over the course of the voting, we will occasionally be posting ballots of voters who wish to make their choices public, along with any additional analysis they used to come to their decisions. If other Selection Committee members wish to provide analysis and explanation of their votes for publication, click here.

I've decided to vote for people that I'm confident stand up in all five categories (performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, contributions to the game).

The most important category for me is "Performances," which I interpret as "Pro Tour Performances." "Playing Ability" is almost the same thing, but it also affects people's results off the Pro Tour. For example, Mike Long has historically done very well at U.S. Nationals; that's not, strictly speaking, the Pro Tour, but it does show a high level of playing ability. The same goes for, say, Jon Finkel's Top 8 at the first Junior Pro Tour, or Scott Johns's win at the Type I Pro Tour at Dallas.

To determine who had the best Pro Tour performances, I had to decide which mattered more: peak performance or career. For example, Shawn "Hammer" Regnier is widely considered to have been dominant in the first year or so on the Tour. Is that more or less impressive than being around for a long time?

In the end, I decided to strictly compare finishes. Hammer has a win, a Top 8, a Top 32, and five Top 64s. That's very impressive. But in the end, it's not as impressive as, say, Michael Pustilnik, who has a win, two Top 8s, three Top 32s, and eight Top 64s. It's true that Pustilnik has had a longer career in which to get those results, but, well, those are the breaks. I'm not distinguishing between why people stopped playing; whether they got jobs that didn't allow them to travel as much (like Chris Pikula), got jobs at Wizards of the Coast (Johns and Alan Comer), or just stopped playing, I'm strictly interested (for the purposes of determining "Performances") in how well people did on the Pro Tour.

I didn't want to just rank the players by Lifetime Pro Points, so I generated a lot of different statistics. As it happens, though, the top of all of the lists was pretty much the same. Eleven of the top 12 in lifetime winnings are also the top 11 in lifetime Pro Points. If you look at Average Pro Points per Event (which divides Total Pro Points by Number of PTs Attended to roughly determine "how many events did it take this person to get these numbers" on the theory that maybe the people with very high Pro Points got there just by going to a lot of events), those 11 people are all in the top 14. The leader in that last stat, by the way, is Olle Rade, whose 18 PT appearances is tied with Mark Justice for least among this class -- making it more impressive that Olle is 15th out of 28 in terms of Lifetime Pro Points.

I was also a little worried that maybe this system undervalued people from the early years of the Pro Tour, since the system for Pro Points and winnings has changed since then. So I determined what everyone's points and winnings would have been if we'd always had today's system. It's a little flawed in that it doesn't count GPs, but aside from moving Justice and Rade higher on the winnings list (but not, interestingly, on the points list), it doesn't really change things that much.

So, when it comes down to it, it's the 11 names that keep coming up that represent my first cut. These are the people whose Pro Tour Performances are easily good enough to qualify them for the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame:

Jon Finkel
Darwin Kastle
David Humpherys
Steven O'Mahoney-Schwartz
Robert Dougherty
Tommi Hovi
Michael Pustilnik
Alan Comer
Michael Long
Scott Johns.

Finkel and Kastle are the top two in both winnings and Pro Points, and they're so far ahead of everybody else (and Finkel's so far ahead of Kastle, with almost double his lifetime winnings) that I feel comfortable putting them on the ballot based solely on that.

Now I skip down to Rob Dougherty. Not only has he done very well on the Pro Tour, but as a tournament organizer, he's been essential to the health of the game in Boston. In fact, one could argue that a couple of the people on the short list owe their careers to Dougherty's help.

Next, Alan Comer is, for many people, the embodiment of sportsmanship and integrity. I've never heard anyone even imply that he was a cheater or that he didn't play the game "the right way." And those five PT Top 8s don't hurt either. Oh, and there's also a little thing called Magic Online to consider.

Scott Johns has been editor of the following websites in his time: Mindripper, Brainburst, magicthegathering.com. He's written a book on Magic. He's won a pro tour (and the Type I Pro Tour at Dallas, which doesn't officially count but it's good to remind people about). He, too, has five PT Top 8s, including three straight. For a top-level pro, it's astonishing how much of his time he's spent building the internet Magic community.

So that's my five. There are (a very few) people with more Pro Points or winnings than them, but when I factor in their contributions and integrity, I'm very happy with this list.

  • Jon Finkel

  • Darwin Kastle

  • Robert Dougherty

  • Alan Comer

  • Scott Johns
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