Going for the Gold - The Hall of Fame
It’s one of my favourite times of the year, it's the time where the community is able to vote exemplars of the Magic community into the Hall of Fame. Being a member of the Hall of Fame comes with many benefits which include, but are not limited to:
- Invitation to every Pro Tour.
- Airfare and $1500 appearance fee to every Pro Tour that has a HoF induction ceremony.
- Three byes at every individual Grand Prix.
These benefits are definitely worth it, but being forever enshrined in the history of Magic is a far more prestigious honour. Most of us who have chosen to dedicate our lives to the game have been changed forever by it and the people we have met. The Hall of Fame gives every aspiring player an end goal to work toward, even after they've gotten into the elimination rounds of Grand Prix and Pro Tours.
Since the Hall's inaugural induction ceremony, there have been many policy changes and, just recently, more stringent criteria were put into place to ensure that too many people weren't being voted in every year. The biggest change is that you now require 60% of the ballot in order to be elected into the Hall of Fame. A few individuals were on the precipice of being voted in before when the threshold was 40%, so this boost to the threshold will most likely dash any hopes that they had left of making it.
In order to make it on the ballot, a player must have:
- At least 150 lifetime pro points as of May 14, 2017.
- Any two since 2012: Individual Pro Tour Top 8, Team Pro Tour Top 4, World Championship Top 4.
- Have played their first Pro Tour at least 10 seasons prior.
- Be eligible to play DCI run tournaments.
On the flipside, in order to vote you must be part of the Selection Committee. This list includes luminaries, reporters, commentators, high level judges, key Wizards employees, and DCI officials. From the traditional player pool this would include members of the Hall of Fame and any player who have obtained at least 150 pro points during their magic career as of May 14, 2017.
This is hopefully the last year that I will be unable to vote for the Hall of Fame, as I'm currently sitting at 118 pro points. With a minimum finish at Pro Tour Kyoto, that means that I'll have 121 points, just 29 short from being able to have a vote. Who cares right? As an active member of the magic community, it would be a great privilege to have my vote worth approximately 0.5% of the ballot.
There has been a lot of discussion on social media for the last few weeks on voting and players who have made cases for their friends or peers. I'm going to give my take and show you what my ballot would look like if I had my vote this year.
1. Josh Utter Leyton – Josh is the only slam dunk in this year’s class. His stats are pretty ridiculous when you consider everything else. He has five Pro Tour Top 8s without a win, and nine Grand Prix Top 8s with one win. He's even won Player of the Year and was the USA national champion twice (which used to be considered the extra Pro Tour of the year). He most recently came back to the game to win the Magic Online Championship and a Grand Prix in back-to-back weekends and has locked up Platinum. Unlike some Hall of Famers, his Magic career continues to grow at an incredible clip. I think that Josh is the only unanimous vote for this year’s class.
2. Mark Herberholz – Mark Herberholz reminds me of that player that I used to be. He was a long time grinder of the PTQ circuit, before finally breaking out onto the Pro Tour. Mark has made the Top 8 of four Pro Tours (with one win), and made the Top 8 of four Grand Prix. His win in Honolulu 2006 was incredible; I still remember watching it live when he beat Craig Jones in a Gruul versus Zoo matchup. It was at a time when I first got into competitive magic, and watching him play inspired me to get better. They say that the best leaders inspire others to lead, and that’s exactly what Mark has done for me.
Beyond his skill in the game, he was one of the best writers and was probably the most innovative deck-builder of his time. He just had a way about him, he could captivate you with his words or his in-depth understanding of the game. He even made it onto the Price is Right and shadowboxed while knocking holes into tissue to win $5000 in cash.
3. Martin Juza – Juza is a modern day professional magic player. He has three Pro Tour Top 8s, with one coming recently this season. Martin has also made the Top 8 of Grand Prix an astonishing 24 times. I know that a lot of people don't put much weight into Grand Prix results, but you cannot discount 24 Top 8s with four wins. He also embodies the mantra of Magic, “Play the game, and see the world”. This guy is a workhorse and has really led the charge of Magic in the Czech Republic community, which has had many new faces in the Pro community in the recent years. I don’t think that Martin has anywhere near the resume of Josh, but that shouldn’t be a strike against him because his is a career that most regulars on the Pro Tour would only dream of.
4. Chris Pikula – Chris is the weakest player on my ballot but I think he has made some of the most significant contributions to the game. He played in an era where cheating ran rampant and was often just considered a part of the game. Due to his large voice and advocacy, we have gotten to a safe environment for magic players where skill and luck are able to influence match results rather than having to worry about being cheated at every turn. If it wasn’t for this, there's no way I would have stuck around as long as I have in Magic, and I owe that to Chris.
But make no mistake, Chris also has some great career stats. Maybe not ones that are typical of a Hall of Famer, but I'm willing to look past this due to his contributions to the game. Chris has three Pro Tour Top 8s without a win (although one was a World Championship Top 8). He also has five Grand Prix Top 8s without a win, and has won the Magic Invitational, which is where Meddling Mage got its origins. He even came one vote short of being elected into the Hall of Fame one year, what a dagger!
So there you have my ballot, what would yours have been? Post it in the comments below or tweet at me (@SammyTMTG). And, if you want to keep up with my articles and happenings, please make sure you hit the follow button on Twitter. I’ll see you next week and until then, have a great weekend!