376 Words on Paul Rietzl

Hopefully I’ll have some time to write more regarding the 2014 Magic Hall of Fame and what my ballot looks like, but I wanted to be sure to get this small story about Paul Rietzl out there before others submit their ballots.

I got to see some important moments at a recent Grand Prix Minneapolis involving Paul that I think speak highly of his character and sportsmanship, both of which occurred on Day 2.

I saw Paul go to time in one of his matches against a player I didn’t recognize.  Paul had a completely dominating board presence, and his Courser of Kruphix revealed even more answers on top of his library.  His opponent had no cards in hand and effectively no chance of winning.

Paul calmly and politely explained the situation, something along the lines of: “I’m just going to put my hand on the table here so you can take a look at it.  A draw’s no good for either of us, and I think you’d agree both that I played at a reasonable pace all match and that I’d clearly win this match if it went to its natural conclusion.  Would you be willing to concede?”

The opponent declined (and please understand I’m not trying to get into the ethics of the situation here).

Paul didn’t push him. Paul didn’t get upset. Paul simply said ‘OK’.  They filled out the match slip, and Paul wished his opponent good luck in the later rounds.


Two rounds later, Paul again went to time, only this time, the situation was reversed.  Paul was the one up against the ropes, and it was clear that, if the match played out with more time, he would not win.

Clearly, a professional player is looking for all the points, and all the highest finishes he can get.  And especially after what just happened two rounds earlier, Paul could’ve easily been tilted by his opponent’s lack of concession and used it to (try to) justify not conceding here as well. But Paul didn’t do any of those things.

Paul conceded.

It’s rare to get to see someone on both sides of the situation so closely together, and was a relief to see Paul behave incredibly sporting both times.


My 2013 Magic Hall of Fame Ballot

In what is shaping up to becoming an annual tradition, I’d like to share with you my picks for the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame this year.

And once again, I’d like to remind you of this key piece of the Selection Criteria:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game in general.”

My 2013 Picks:

1. Luis Scott-Vargas


LSV is a lock.  He’s pure class, and has the perfect combination of great tournament finishes and other game and community contributions to boot.  I believe that anyone with a ballot this year who doesn’t cast a vote for LSV is most likely just trying to game the system, rather than voting for the most deserving players.  I’m hoping that number is low, and that LSV gets 98% or more of possible votes.

2. Ben Stark

Ben’s an interesting case to me.  I haven’t had a ton of personal interactions with him, but the ones that we’ve had have ultimately been positive.  For example, nobody likes getting a Game Loss for a minor clerical decklist on Day 2 of a Grand Prix, but Ben accepted his with as much grace as anyone ever could – immediately taking responsibility for and apologizing for the error.

He’s got great numbers, and seems to be a highly respected player in the community.  I’m thinking there’s a very good chance that he’ll get elected here in his first year eligible.

3. William Jensen


At the time of last year’s ballot, I hadn’t yet met Huey, but I voted for him while attempting to cast my vote for what the Magic community wants.  Since then, his return to the game has been nothing but awesome.  I wasn’t 100% confident on last year’s vote, but not only am I confident with awarding him a vote this year – I’m confident he’ll get in.

4. Chris Pikula

He’s got solid (not amazing) numbers. He won an invitational. He’s been playing again, with reasonable success.

However, what really gets Pikula onto my ballot is everything I’ve heard about him helping clean up the Pro Tour, back when cheating was a much larger problem.

And I’m not just representing that opinion because I’m a professional judge.  Rather, I’m a professional judge because of how much I value a community with high integrity.



That’s right. For the first time, I’ll not be using all 5 of my possible votes.

The Pro Tour Hall of Fame is meant to be home to the best of the best, and I have the utmost respect for its members.  I simply don’t believe that any other candidates would do it justice.

My 2012 Magic Hall of Fame Ballot

In what is hopefully becoming an annual tradition, I’d like to share with you my picks for the Pro Tour Hall of Fame this year.

And once again, I’d like to remind you of  the Selection Criteria:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game in general.”

My 2012 Picks:

1. Patrick Chapin

Patrick Chapin

Pat’s a repeat vote from last year, when I said that he’d be on my ballot every year that he’s eligible.

He’s kept up not just his number of events, but also keeps reaching strong finishes and remains heavily involved in writing and other community aspects.  I have a strong feeling that he’ll get voted in this year, which will free up one of my votes in future years!

2. Kenji Tsumura


Kenji’s got a lot of things going for him that make think he’s a pretty easy inductee this year.

First and foremost, is his raw number of PT Top 8s: 6.

Secondly, I love the fact that he acknowledged his weakness in Limited formats – failing to even make Day 2 of a Limited Pro Tour – and made it his real goal to improve.  Not only did he improve, but he became one of the game’s greatest: winning back-to-back limited Grand Prix events and Top 8-ing a limited Pro Tour.

Next comes Kenji’s attitude.  He’s always laughing, smiling, and having a great time.  He was always a real joy to watch play.

On a more personal note, Kenji’s timing lined up very well with my own Magic experiences, Top 8-ing the Pro Tour I played on (Kobe), and putting up big finishes at a lot of the other major events early in my Magic career.  I still remember seeing him for the first time in person at Grand Prix St. Louis and being somewhat starstruck. (He even went on to Top 8 that Grand Prix.)

3. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa


Paulo seems like another lock.  He’s got great numbers, is an active writer, and an all-around fan favorite.

All my interactions with Paulo – both as part of rulings and outside of them – have been very positive.

From the numbers side of things…. NINE PT TOP 8s??  Are you serious?  Get off my ballot and into the Hall of Fame.

3. Antonino De Rosa

Antonino de Rosa

‘Ant’ is another repeat vote from last year.  While I haven’t made the same “gets my vote until he gets in” promise that I’ve made about Mr. Chapin – I still believe he deserves this spot.

For more information on why I’m voting for Antonino, see my post from last year.


5. William Jensen


When I shared my 2011 ballot, a lot of people came back to me with questions along the lines of “How can you have Antonino on your ballot but not Huey?”

The honest answer to that question is that I was at lots of events with Antonino, and he made quite an impression.  At the same time, I couldn’t even say if Huey and I had ever been in the same room together before.  Our paths just never crossed, and I never had the opportunity to get to know him.

I still can’t say that I can speak to any personal experiences with Huey, but I’ve read lots of articles and forums on the situation, and I’m giving this vote to Huey on behalf of the rest of the Magic community who doesn’t have a vote of their own, as I believe it’s what they’d want.

Final Thoughts

This year, I think that Chapin, Tsumura, and Paulo are all basically locks.  If I was a betting man…. well then I’d also still probably be playing competitively, rather than judging professionally, and I wouldn’t even have my vote. 🙂

Patrick Chapin

My 2011 Hall of Fame Ballot

As a Level 4 Magic Judge, I have a ballot in electing the 2011 class of the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame.  I’ve head judged several Grand Prix, have attended numerous Pro Tours (including as a player), and have first-hand experience in many aspects of the Pro Tour.  (Hell, I even won one 3 times in a single day!)

The most important thing to keep in mind about my ballot is the Selection Criteria:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s performances, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, and contributions to the game in general.”

With that, my picks:

1. Patrick Chapin

Patrick Chapin

My first real experience with Patrick was when he approached the main stage of Pro Tour Hollywood to plead for a feature match, arguing that his charisma made up for the fact that he was not having a good day as far as playing was concerned.  Years later, Patrick and I would both end up being aboard the first Magic Cruise– him as a VIP and me as one of two judges.  As a VIP, part of Patrick’s tough job was to talk about Magic with the other players on the cruise.

At this point, I’d been playing Magic for 16 years and had been traveling the world helping run large-scale tournaments for a few years, so I was obviously quite vested in the game.  However, hearing Patrick discuss Magic strategy and theory actually helped give validation to the game I’d dedicated so much of my life too.

While it was Patrick’s job to talk to players on the cruise, it’s something he goes out of his way to do anyway.  I remember seeing someone a few months back post something on his Facebook wall along the lines of “Of all the pros I met at my first Grand Prix and asked to sign my playmat, you were the only one to ask my name. Thank you.”

Throw in his book, music videos, and what he’s helped do to the social scene surrounding Magic events, and he’s earned the #1 spot on my ballot until he gets in.

2. Shuhei Nakamura

Shuhei Nakamura

Shuhei wins a vote from me based on raw numbers.  Over 400 Pro Points?  5 PT Top 8s?  There’s not much more that needs to be said about such a Magic playing powerhouse.  Congratulations on your inevitable induction.

3. Antonino De Rosa

Antonino de Rosa

With 247 lifetime Pro Points, Antonino is certainly up there in terms of the numbers.  A few more Top 8’s would make me feel even better about this vote, but Antonino really has earned this vote in the other criteria.  Having played in almost 50 Pro Tours, Antonino was truly a Pro Tour staple of his era, and he wasn’t one to go unnoticed.  His larger than life personality brought something special to the table was memorable to everybody at those Pro Tours, and he deserves this spot in Pro Tour history.

Some judges who’ve been around through the days of Antonino even still refer to something known as “The Ant Test” when discussing difficult rulings.  “The Ant Test,” quite simply, is “What would Antonino say about that ruling?”

4. Steve O’Mahoney-Schwartz

Steve OMS

Steve’s an impressive player from the first years of the Pro Tour.  I had the pleasure of table judging his match in the finals of the only 2-Headed Giant Grand Prix to take place on American soil, over 10 years after his first PT appearance.  With 237 Pro Points and 3 PT Top 8’s, I’m happy to give a vote to someone who truly earned their spot in the history of the game they gave so much of their life to.

5. Anton Jonsson

Anton Jonsson

Maybe it’s because I’ve never been much for constructed myself, or maybe it’s because his StarCityGame’s author archives page told me to,but I’ll be giving my last vote to Limited powerhouse Anton Jonnson.

Anton is the only player on my ballot that I don’t believe I’ve actually interacted with, but his resume and the opinions from the rest of the Magic community are sufficient enough that I feel comfortable giving him this last spot.

Final Thoughts

Chances are your ballot doesn’t look exactly like mine – and that’s fine.  My experiences have been different, my interactions with the players have been different, and our specific ways of choosing who we vote for are probably different.  Magic has a very rich history with a lot of very skilled players and only a few prized Hall of Fame slots.

I look forward to seeing who the rest of the Selection Committee and the Player Committee cast their votes for, and congratulating the winners in San Francisco at Worlds.