Pro Tour Ixalan in Albuquerque is finally here! Team Metagame Gurus is fielding two teams starting with this tournament and we couldn’t be more excited here at Inked. As many of you know, Inked Gaming has been in a partnership with Team MGG for the better part of the last two years, supporting their endeavors on the Starcitygames circuit. Now, they are rolling with the big (bigger?) dogs and fielding their first pro tour team! Having been a fan of the pro tour for the last 15 or so years, I am familiar with many of these fresh faces being added to the new Metagame Gurus squads. I decided to do a little research and outline the players that I (and hopefully all of you) will be supporting this weekend!
Team Metagame Gurus Sun
Ben Friedman @40cardfriedman
Ben made his PT debut at Pro Tour San Juan in 2010. If you have checked out his streams, it’s very apparent that he’s been playing for quite a long time and most “next level” plays come as second nature to him (his “next level” hats may have something to do with that). Ben has an impressive 22 Pro tours under his belt and has been a mainstay on Team Metagame Gurus SCG team over the course of the last year. His two best finishes at a Pro tour were back to back 10th and 11th places in 2014. If you’ve been paying attention, Ben has fully embraced the pirate’s life and has a great chance of making his first top 8 this weekend. Good luck to Team MGG Sun’s team captain!
Josh Cho @jcho18
Josh took a remarkable 3rd place in his first ever Pro Tour in 2012 at Pro tour Avacyn restored. Back then, he was an SCG grinder that had spiked a Starcitygames PTQ. Now, he’s one of the most established pros in the game.
Gerry Thompson @g3rryt
Where to start with Gerry? Arguably the best Starcitygames player of all time, Pro Tour champion, and as it turns out, most likely wins the honor of nicest human to ever grace our game (see this reddit thread). Gerry recently took second at US nationals in these same limited and constructed formats (qualifying for worlds) and it looks like he’s poised for another great finish.
Oliver Tiu @thetiutangclan
The 2015-2016 Rookie of the year, Oliver might be the one player on the Pro Tour with the highest “untapped” potential. He already has 62k lifetime winnings since his debut in only 8 pro tours. His 3rd place finish at Worlds in 2016 during PAX West Seattle indicates he already has the mental game to hang with players of Worlds caliber competition.
Matt Severa @mattsevera
Matt is a longtime pro dating back to his first ever finish of 43rd in Rochester draft in the 1999 Pro Tour Los Angeles. A product of the Wisconsin competitive Magic scene, Matt has become a limited mastermind. Looking at the rest of this squad of limited giants, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a few of the 6-0 day one drafters coming from this team.
Ondřej Stráský @ondrejstrasky
Ondřej is best known for top 8’ing two pro tours during the 2014-2015 season and claiming a smooth $23,500 in Pro Tour winnings on his taxes that year. A product of the flourishing Czech scene, Ondřej looks hungry for another 10k plus prize payout soon. Why can’t it be here?
Team Metagame Gurus Moon
Jacob Wilson @jacobwilson95
My first memory of Jacob was at a legacy tournament a long time ago. I had never heard of Jacob, but I just randomly started watching one of his matches because he was playing delver. I had an interest in maybe picking the deck up, so I was just walking around the room trying to watch as much gameplay as I could. I think I was 0 for 5 on what I thought were 50/50 decisions Jacob ran into, missing on the correct line 5 times in a row. He gracefully executed plays that I thought weird at the time, but they won him the match. Dejected, I quickly proceeded to sell the beginnings of my delver list to a vendor and picked up burn soon after. Jacob has always been on another level with tempo decks. With how swingy and tempo oriented Ixalan limited is, he may be a dark horse to pay attention to at this PT.
Brandon Ayers is a name that you used to hear quite a bit on the SCG Tour. He has recently made his way into the top 8 of a few grand prix, the most recent being a top 8 of Grand Prix New Jersey 2017 with the powerful Mardu Vehicles deck. With his experience on Team Fire Squad last season and the latest support from Metagame Gurus, he looks to make the big jump to the top echelon of players this year.
Travis Woo @traviswizard
Woo’s contributions to the Magic community over the years have been invaluable. His daily streams were one of a kind, providing a fun but competitive take on Magic the Gathering. He now runs a MTG coaching website as well as consistent YouTube content going beyond the game of Magic. With two grand prix top 8’s under his belt and many years of competitive play experience, it’s only a matter of time before Woo top 8’s one of these things.
Nathan Smith @pandabeast24
Nathan has been seen cashing at every team limited grand prix with his teammates Ayers and Rolph (both now MGG teammates). Much of limited is preference, card evaluation, and practice. Having people working this closely is exactly what you need for success at one of these PT’s. MGG Moon has laid out all the recipes for success. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team does way better than what most people are giving them credit for. With Nathan’s above 100 career pro points and many competitive tournaments under his belt (he was the NA Planesalker points leader the last time I checked) he’s another player to have on your radar (plus, I’ve been smashed by Pandabeast24 more times than I can count online, much respect).
The Omaha, Nebraska native John has seen much success recently with his friends and teammates, Smith and Ayers. The 28-year-old placed top 8 at Grand Prix Denver as well as Grand Prix Cleveland in 2017. If these results are any indication, John will be a mainstay on the PT scene for many years to come.
Mattia Rizzi @tia_rizzi93
Your 2017 GP Copenhagen champion has been on a tear recently including a second place at Italian Nationals a few weeks ago. Which means he’ll be representing the Italian national team at worlds AND he obviously has a grasp on both these limited and constructed format, much like Gerry. From the looks of it, he’ll most likely be playing his Temur Energy deck he had success with at nationals, which is always an excellent choice. As circulated on the Twittersphere recently, Temur Energy is the new Jund. Jund em’ out Mattia!
It looks like this year is going to be an exciting one for Team Metagame Gurus at the Pro Tour level! Inked Gaming is glad that we could be a part of this exciting time in Magic.