Lebron James is the greatest basketball player of all time. I grew up in awe of Lebron. I watched his early days of being drafted to Cleveland, revitalizing an entire city, leaving his team for the beautiful Miami weather, winning some rings, coming back to the city he loves and grew up in, and finally (in the most poetic way) getting the World Championship title that his city so desperately needed. To me, Lebron James is the GOAT.
To my boss, Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time. My boss grew up in that generation of basketball where Jordan inspired an entire country to, “Just do it” and inspired players like the great Kobe Bryant to push themselves to be as great as Mike.
To our warehouse manager, Larry Bird is the greatest player of all time (He’s wrong! But that’s not the point). Larry was his hero growing up as a Celtics fan in the 80’s. To him, Larry is the GOAT.
At the highest level of every competitive endeavor, there will always eternally be this debate. For me, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa is the greatest Magic player of all time.
I started playing Magic at my local FNM in the early 2000’s after having played kitchen table Magic since around 1995. I learned about the Pro Tour around 2005 and in 2007, after watching Brazil’s inspiring run in the team Pro Tour in Charleston, I decided I wanted to try for the Pro Tour.
Due to aspects of my life needing more focus (work, college) I had people close to me tell me that I shouldn’t go for it. It wasn’t until 2012, that I decided to go for an invite to the Pro Tour.
I watched every Pro Tour and World Champs during that period of time between 2005 and 2012. I was entranced with the competition, the skill of the players, and the idea of traveling the world to compete at the highest level. All those years, I rooted for these players and watched as story lines were made, pros came and went, and Paulo was one of those players that was always there, always in contention, a mainstay of my childhood dreams. Paulo winning 2020 World Champs is like Lebron James winning another one. It’s a celebration of greatness that even non-Magic players can appreciate.
Magic: The Gathering is still in its competitive infancy. We only have around 25 years of play to judge greatness, and all these players are still competing at events. The exciting part about growing up with this is to watch it all unfold before my eyes. Paulo, Jon, Kai, LSV, and many more will enter this debate over the next years, or decades.
Like Paulo stated in his Worlds interview last weekend, the eras of Magic were so different, and the metrics of comparing “who is the best” is such a gray area that it’s amazingly difficult to pin point exact reasons why Paulo is the greatest player of all time. But, here’s a breakdown of career highlights for Paulo:
Debut – 2003 World Championships in Berlin
658-337-24 GP Record
576-360-4 Professional Record
Pro Tour wins: 2 (12 top 8’s)
Grand Prix wins: 2 (19 top 8’s)
2-time Brazilian National Champion
5-time Worlds Competitor, winner of World Championships 2020
Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame class of 2012
17 “top finishes” to his name – tied in first place with Jon Finkel's 17
Top money earnings in the history of Professional Magic: The Gathering play - $696,260
Signed to one of the largest esports teams, Tempo Storm.
Inspired an entire generation of South American and Latin American players and helped grow the game internationally.
This week at Inked, we are celebrating Paulo’s historic run in the World Championships. Looking back over his career, one of the most important things that stand out to me is that he was just another PTQ grinder back in the mid 2000’s – just like any other kid with competitive aspirations. Qualifying for these tournaments was great for him, and he made the most of it with each of his opportunities. Being from Brazil, Paulo was at a competitive disadvantage, due to many GPs being too expensive for him to travel to, but this didn’t stop him.
Despite being somewhat geographically locked from many opportunities to gain pro points and have more ways to re-qualify for the PT, he instead took that as a challenge and made the most of his Pro Tour opportunities when he had them. His consistent play in the early days allowed him to make a career out of his dream.
Paulo’s story is inspiring. A story that can inspire you to go for whatever your goal or dream is in life. A World Championships trophy 17 years in the making is a perfect capstone to what many will look back and say, was the greatest career for any Magic: The Gathering player in the history of the game. But, knowing Paulo, he’s probably not done yet. Tune in next premier event and check the top of the standings. You’ll more than likely see Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa making another one of his legendary tournament runs.
Be sure to follow competitive Magic coverage over at: Magic.gg
Until next time, I’ll see you on ladder. Or at an MCQ. Or maybe a GP. I’m coming for you, Paulo!
Images courtesy of Wizards of the Coast and NBA.com.