Today I’m proud to announce the roster for Team CFBUltimateGuard in 2023. This is a partnership we’ve been building for years, and we’re particularly excited about what we’ll be able to bring to the fans this year. The team’s mission is to demonstrate the highest level of competitive MTG; to support the next generation of players; and, of course, to be the best representatives for Ultimate Guard, ChannelFireball, and TCGPlayer that we can be.
Both ChannelFireball and Ultimate Guard like to emphasize community and teambuilding, and Team CFBUG is the result. As we’ve built out the team, we’ve handpicked the players who best represent our values. These include competition, sportsmanship and passion, as well as the desire to both teach and entertain those who seek out our work. We’re thrilled with the roster we’ve been able to put together.
In particular, we’re excited to announce the new addition of Seth Manfield! In my humble opinion, Seth is one of the top 10 players to ever pick up a Magic card, and his name is right at home in a lineup that already includes Gabriel Nassif and Luis Scott-Vargas. Now, allow me to introduce the full team!
Team CFB UG By the Numbers
There’s nothing I love more than singing the praises of my teammates, so this is a particularly fun piece for me to write. With a roster like this, the hardest part of being a hype man is knowing when to stop!
Here are our collected accomplishments, at a glance:
- Six Hall of Famers
- 56 Top Finishes
- $3,807,808 in lifetime prize earnings (we have six of the top 13 players on the list!)
- 105 GP Top 8s with 23 wins
It wouldn’t be right to rank my teammates based on popularity, skill, good looks or any other metrics, so I’ll present the line-up in alphabetical order instead.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Reid&utm_source=Reid
Would you look at that, I wound up being first anyway…
- Magic Online Champion 2011
- Team Series Champion 2018 with the Ultimate Guard Pro Team
- Six Top Finishes
- 24 Grand Prix Top 8’s including six wins
I’m from the United States, I’ve been affiliated with ChannelFireball for nine years, and I’ve been affiliated with Ultimate Guard for six. I was elected to the MTG Hall of Fame in 2019. It’s always been my goal to stand for work ethic and sportsmanship. I believe that winning is a worthwhile goal, but that honest play and a mindset of continuous improvement are more important than any individual result. My specialty is grindy games where resource management matters.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Juza&utm_source=Juza
- Five Top Finishes
- 32 Grand Prix Top 8’s including five wins
Martin Juza is a Czech player who was voted into the Hall of Fame in 2017. With 32 Top 8s, Martin is one of the most successful players ever to play on the Grand Prix circuit, and has become famous and popular worldwide. While amazingly well-rounded, Martin is regarded as one of the best Limited players of all time and is known for bold, aggressive play.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Karsten&utm_source=Karsten
- Three Pro Tour Top 8’s
- Eight Grand Prix Top 8’s
Frank Karsten is a Dutch player who has played in nearly 80 Pro Tours. This makes him one of the top five most experienced players of all time. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009. He has an impeccable reputation for honesty, sportsmanship, kindness and professionalism.
In addition to being a successful competitor, he’s also a prolific writer, and a frequent member of Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage teams. Frank holds a PhD in cooperative game theory and stochastic operations research, and is perhaps best known for applying his mathematical background to Magic-related problems, ranging from mana base construction to metagame analysis. Synergy-driven aggro decks like Modern Affinity are his favorite.
On a personal note, Frank is my favorite Magic author. I’ve read his articles since before I ever made it to the Pro Tour. Some of his best pieces, about mana bases and deck construction, I still keep bookmarked for easy access.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Manfield&utm_source=Manfield
- World Champion 2015
- Pro Tour Ixalan Champion 2017
- Mythic Invitational Champion 2020
- 10 Top Finishes
- 17 Grand Prix Top 8’s including 5 wins
- Third Highest All-Time Money Earner
Seth Manfield is an American pro player who was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2018. While Seth loves Magic, he’s also a family man, and makes sure to prioritize spending time with his kids.
As mentioned, I personally rate Seth among the top 10 players of all time. He has a superhuman competitive drive, and always demands the most from himself. The best thing about watching Seth play is that he’s willing to trust himself, even when it means bucking traditional knowledge. He’s famous for inspired gameplay, interesting deck choices and unconventional mulligan and sideboarding strategies.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Veedeo&utm_source=Veedeo
- Mythic Invitational Champion 2019
- Team Series Champion 2018 with Team Hareruya Sword
- Seven Top Finishes
Andrea Mengucci is an outstanding player from Italy. You wouldn’t think it based on his long list of achievements, but Andrea is the one player on Team CFBUG that’s not (yet) in the Hall of Fame. Mengu really hit his stride from December 2017 through December 2020, at which time he was undeniably one of the best and most successful players in the game. That was a bit too late to catch the 2019 Hall of Fame class, but will make him a strong candidate as soon voting returns from hiatus.
Andrea is famous for his love of older formats like Vintage, Legacy, Modern and Pauper, and beloved for his “veedeos” and his #menguccicuisine. Magic players can sometimes be guilty of taking things too seriously (myself included), and I appreciate Mengu’s unflinching positivity and love for the game.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=Yellowhat&utm_source=Yellowhat
- 2004 Player of the Year
- Pro Tour Atlanta 2005 Champion
- Pro Tour Kyoto 2009 Champion
- 15 Top Finishes
Gabriel Nassif, affectionately known as “Yellowhat,” is from France and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2010. Considered one of the top five players of all time, Nassif stands apart even from other Hall of Famers as a true legend of the game. It’s sometimes forgotten in this modern era of MTG, but Gab is quite possibly the greatest deckbuilder of all time. He excels at all aspects of the game from big picture strategy to deckbuilding, tuning, sideboarding, and gameplay.
Affiliate Link: https://www.tcgplayer.com/?utm_campaign=affiliate&utm_medium=LSV&utm_source=LSV
- Pro Tour Berlin 2008 Champion
- 11 Top Finishes
- 16 Grand Prix Top 8’s with 6 wins.
Luis Scott-Vargas is an American player, and is one of the most decorated in the history of the game. Like Nassif, LSV stands among the legendary top five players, with a list of accomplishments that few will ever hope to match. He was inducted to the Hall of Fame in 2013 with 95.6 percent of the vote, the second highest of any candidate, ever.
Luis is a passionate entertainer and content creator. For many fans, he strikes the perfect balance of playing hard and having fun, and that shines through in his stream, videos, articles and even when you watch him play for the highest possible stakes. He loves any format where Force of Will is legal, including both Vintage and Vintage Cube Draft.
Now you’ve met the team, and I hope you’ll continue to follow us throughout the year. Martin, Seth, Gab, Luis and I are practicing together and will be competing in the upcoming Pro Tour Philadelphia on February 17 to 19. Be sure to check out the coverage and cheer us on!
In the meantime, check out the Ultimate Guard website where you can browse their products and get to know us better through our periodic Blog posts.