Like previous Hall of Fame articles, I will be covering the players I am choosing to vote for this year. It is an honor to vote for the Hall of Fame, and I appreciate how seriously the voters take it. Everyone has slightly (or drastically) different criteria, and I’ll do my best to explain why I’m voting for each person on my ballot.
I put a high premium on mastery, and every candidate on my ballot is someone I consider a true master. Yuuya is undoubtedly one of the most skilled players of the last 10 years, and has multiple Player of the Year titles to back that up. His 3 Pro Tour Top 8s and 0 Pro Tour Top 16s (I see Top 16 PT finishes as more important than most people) are on the low end, but his consistent level of success makes up for that.
Yuuya crushes metrics at the GP level, and has multiple great finishes at the new World Championships (along with being the only player to participate in all of them so far). I don’t weight GP and Worlds finishes as highly as Pro Tour success, but they aren’t meaningless by any stretch, and do demonstrate Yuuya’s high level of play.
I may not have liked his first-pick Deadbridge Shaman at last year’s Worlds, but if bad draft picks stopped you from getting into the Hall of Fame, I certainly would never have been inducted.
I am voting for Yuuya Watanabe.
Speaking of mastery, I’ve said that Owen is the best Magic player in the world for over a year now, and I’m not the only person. Back when we tested together as members of Team ChannelFireball, I thought Owen was very good and demonstrated great technical prowess. Some time over the last couple years, he really leveled up, and went from a player who played technically well to a player who played technically well and was able to make next-level plays. He’s the player I fear playing against the most, and being at the top of the game for as long as he has means a lot to me.
His stats back that up. 3 Pro Tour Top 8s is close to the line, but an additional 3 Pro Tour Top 16s help cement his Pro Tour finishes. Like Yuuya, he has a lot of Grand Prix success, which helps round out his resume and shows dedication to the game (I see sustained GP success as a function of dedication more than just skill, but dedication is a relevant metric).
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Owen can be acerbic. I believe he has matured over the last few years, and I know we’ve personally had our ups and downs in the past. I do consider Owen one of my closest friends today, and a big part of the reason for that is how his attitude has changed. He can still be blunt, but he truly does value being sporting and playing the game by the rules very highly.
I am voting for Owen Turtenwald.
As I have the past 5 or 6 years, I would like to make a case for Mark Herberholz. He was one of the best players as I entered the Pro Tour scene, and as I mentioned before, I value mastery very highly. I’ve played against Mark enough that I can attest to how skilled he is, with the level of technical prowess combined with cunning that yields true greatness.
His stats are good as well—4 Pro Tour Top 8s along with a win. In the 2004-2007 seasons, Mark racked up a lot of finishes, and was one of the most feared players of the era.
He is also an accomplished deck builder, creating or having had a hand in many successful decks (RG Beatdown in Honolulu, Martyr/Tron at Worlds 2006, Dragonstorm at Worlds 2007, Puresteel Paladin in 2011, and more).
I am voting for Mark Herberholz.
My 2016 Hall of Fame Ballot:
- Yuuya Watanabe
- Owen Turtenwald
- Mark Herberholz