|Pro Tour 25th Anniversary|
|Date||3–5 August 2018|
|Location||Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States|
|Attendance||495 (165 teams)|
|Format||Team Trios Constructed: Standard, Modern, and Legacy|
Allen Wu |
Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was the fourth and final Pro Tour of the 2017–18 season. It took place on 3–5 August 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States. As its name suggests, it was a special event celebrating the 25th anniversary of Magic, and for the first time since Pro Tour Charleston 2006, featured Team Trios Constructed. Also for the first time since Pro Tour Berlin 2008, the event didn't feature a Booster draft portion at all; instead, all rounds were Team Constructed, with one team member playing Standard, another playing Modern, and the third playing Legacy. The event was won by the team of Allen Wu (playing Death and Taxes in Legacy), Ben Hull (playing Hollow One in Modern), and Gregory Orange (playing WU Control in Standard) after a finals win against the ChannelFireball team Josh Utter-Leyton, Ben Stark, and Martin Jůza.
The exact prize purse of the event was $850,000, with $150,000 being awarded to the winning team ($50,000 for each player on the winning team). In addition, Pro Tour 25th Anniversary coincided with a special exhibition event, called The Silver Showcase, featuring Beta, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends Rochester Draft, with a $150,000 price purse ($35,000 for the winner). In total, the prize purse of these two events was $1,000,000.
Due to the unusual format of the event, the methods of qualification were also quite different. Players could qualify individually, forming teams with other qualified players, or as a team, which in most cases required the team to be the same as the team that qualified together.
Notably, this Pro Tour excluded the possibility of qualifying via Magic Online.
To qualify as a team:
- Being a part of one of the top 16 teams in the Magic Pro Tour Team Series after Pro Tour Dominaria.
- Originally tiebreakers of team members were taken into account in this qualification; however, it was dropped in revision on 6 June 2018 after WotC decided tiebreakers based on individual results was not suitable for determining qualified teams for this event: Any teams that got the same number of team points as the 16th place team were also awarded the qualification regardless of a tiebreaker. Two additional teams were qualified after this revision; these were Final Last Samurai and Massdrop East.
- Players could form two teams of three as they choose from each Pro Tour team.
- Finishing in either the top 4 or 12–2 or better in the Swiss, at a Team Grand Prix between 6 January and 20 May 2018.
- Winning a Pro Tour Qualifier at a Team Grand Prix between 6 January and 20 May 2018.
- Finishing in the top 2 of a Regional Pro Tour Qualifier for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
In cases where a player was holding multiple team qualifications that have different members, the player could choose which team they participate with (the exception being that the player still had to team up with Pro Tour Team Series team members). In this case, only, teams only having two players remaining could choose any qualified individual to fill the void. If only one player was remaining afterward, that player was considered to be qualified as an individual.
To qualify as an individual:
- The player held no team qualification and fulfilled at least one of the requirements below:
- Having earned 33 or more match points at Pro Tour Dominaria.
- Being a Gold or Platinum member of the Pro Players Club.
- Being a Silver member of the Pro Players Club without having spent the Pro Tour invite earlier in the season.
- Being a member of the Hall of Fame who did not participate in a PTQ or an RPTQ for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
- For this event only, Hall of Famers were allowed to participate PTQ or RPTQ like normal players; however, they lost the HoF Individual invitation for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary if they did so.
- The player held one or more team qualifications. However, all teammates held multiple team qualifications, and each of them opted to (or were subjected to) play with other qualified teams.
On June 28, 2018, four additional special invitations were issued to players that would be playing in The Silver Showcase due to their contributions to competitive gaming history in both Magic and elsewhere. These players could bring any two players, qualified or not, as their teammates. These four players were Brian Kibler, David Williams, Stanislav Cifka, and Jason Chan (also known as Amaz).
Announcement and format
In July 2017, it was announced that a special exhibition event would coincide with Pro Tour 25th Anniversary and that the total payout of these two events would be $1,000,000. The Pro Tour was later revealed to have a payout of $850,000, meaning that the exhibition event would have a $150,000 payout. On June 28, 2018, it was revealed that the event would be called the Silver Showcase, featuring eight players and Beta, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends Rochester Draft. The cards opened would be auctioned away for charity. Four of the players invited were the player from each geo-region with the most lifetime Pro Points: Raphaël Lévy from Europe, Shuhei Nakamura from the Asia Pacific, Jon Finkel from North America, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa from Latin America. Additionally, four players who have been involved with Magic professional play but have also been famous in other fields were invited: Brian Kibler, Stanislav Cifka, David Williams, and Jason Chan ("Amaz"). Those four players also received special invitations (which included being allowed to bring any two players for their team) to the Pro Tour itself.
The Silver Showcase announcement was met with widespread criticism. A common criticism was that the event consisted of several good ideas combined in a way that wasn't fully optimal; three prominent Hearthstone players had been invited, and commentators agreed that this was in order to attract potential customers from this area. However, the event features an old and unique format for the purpose of nostalgia and celebrating the anniversary of the game, ultimately an unlikely-to-be-replicated experience that shows little resemblance to how modern Magic is played. Additionally, professional Magic players were bemoaning the fact that Wizards was inviting players who had left the game in favor of Hearthstone to such a lucrative event; many were expressing disappointment that the pros who had stuck with Magic were not invited instead. Another criticism leveled was that the money going to charity would not be known in advance, but depending on the cards opened. Pundits argued that it would be better to have a set figure going to charity and players getting to keep the cards instead. It was speculated that the event had been put together after a highly successful Beta Rochester Draft at Grand Prix Las Vegas a few weeks prior to the announcement; however, this remains unsubstantiated.
After the announcement and initial controversy, Brian Kibler announced that he would donate all his winnings from the Pro Tour to charity. Additionally, he set up a fundraiser for a charity which he would match with up to 100% of his winnings from the Silver Showcase.
The draft was held on the Thursday preceding the Pro Tour. Notable cards that were opened included Birds of Paradise, Shivan Dragon, Bazaar of Baghdad, and Shahazrad. Interestingly, no Dual lands or pieces of Power 9 were opened in the 24 packs of Beta. The quarterfinals were then held after day 1 of the Pro Tour. Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa defeated Brian Kibler, Jason Chan defeated David Williams, Jon Finkel defeated Raphaël Lévy, and Stanislav Cifka defeated Shuhei Nakamura. Semifinals were played after day 2 of the Pro Tour, with Chan taking down Damo da Rosa, and Finkel being bested by Cifka. The final held immediately before the top 4 playoffs of the Pro Tour, pitted Chan against Cifka, two of the Hearthstone luminaries who had been invited to participate in the event. In the end, taking advantage of Rukh Eggs and his black-red deck's many removal options, Cifka defeated Chan's black-green deck by three games to one and became the Silver Showcase champion.
Format and payout
The Pro Tour consisted of 14 rounds unlike the normal 16, with 7 rounds on each of Friday and Saturday before a cut to the top 4 teams, where they would play single-elimination with best-of-five games. Unlike regular Pro Tour events, no teams would be eliminated from the competition between day one and day two. However, with extra Pro Points being awarded to records of 8–6 or better, teams were effectively out of contention once reaching 7 losses.
|Place||Prize payout per player|
|Finish/match points||Pro Points per player|
165 teams showed up for the first round of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary. Being the first Pro Tour since PT Berlin 2008 to not feature a Limited portion, it did not start off with a Booster draft, unlike regular Pro Tours. Instead, all days both days were Standard, Modern, and Legacy. The metagame was as follows:
- Standard: One deck was by far the most popular: Red-Black Aggro, at 40% of the metagame. The deck dominated PT Dominaria, and it was speculated whether Goblin Chainwhirler would get banned following the July 4th banned and restricted list announcement. However, it was not banned, and the deck maintained its position in the metagame. The second-most popular deck was the Monogreen Steel Leaf Stompy deck, at 19% of the field. Grixis Midrange followed at 8%, then Reservoir Combo at 5%.
- Modern: More diverse than Standard, Modern featured four decks with a metagame share of over 10% each. Humans were the most popular, with 16%, and then WU Control, Ironworks Combo, and Mono-Green Tron each made up slightly more than 10%. Two similar decks, Hollow One and Black-Red Vengevine followed at 8% and 6% of the metagame, respectively.
- Legacy: Of the three formats, Legacy was the most diverse. The format had been shaken up drastically after the banning of Deathrite Shaman and Gitaxian Probe one month prior. The most popular deck, Grixis Control, was selected by 12% of the teams. Following it were two decks with a metagame share of right under 10% each: Sneak and Show and Eldrazi Stompy, and then Death and Taxes and Temur Delver, both at around 7%.
After seven rounds of Swiss on day one, the only team with a perfect 7–0 record was the team of Josh Utter-Leyton, Ben Stark, and Martin Jůza, the latter two better known as Limited specialists. The team played Blue/Black Death's Shadow in Legacy, Ironworks Combo in Modern and Red-Black Aggro in Standard. In second place was the team of Eduardo Sajgalik, Hao-Shan Huang, and Wing Chun Yam, who had picked up a draw. Seven teams on 6–1 followed, including Eric Froehlich, Gabriel Nassif, and David Williams as well as Marcio Carvalho, Thiago Saporito, and Carlos Romão. The perhaps biggest pre-tournament favorite, Peach Garden Oath, who according to commentators had spent five weeks practicing for the event, finished the day with a disappointing 4–3 record.
The top four teams after day one:
|Wing Chun Yam|
The second day of competition mirrored the first, with seven rounds of Team Trios Constructed. Overnight leaders Utter-Leyton-Stark-Jůza opened well and were still in the lead after 10 rounds, sporting a 9–1 record. The team of Wu-Hull-Orange had a perfect 3–0 start to the day, and were in second place at 8–1–1. The high-profile teams of Froehlich-Nassif-Williams and Carvalho-Saporito-Romão both started the day 2–1 and were 8–2 at this point in the event. Down the stretch, the teams at the top faltered. In round 13, Froehlich-Nassif-Williams unintentionally drew with Berthoud-Salvatto-Pozzo, essentially eliminating both teams from top 4 contention. The team of Sajgalik-Huang-Yam, undefeated on day 1, had a difficult day and were out of contention by round 13. This resulted in a final round of Swiss where no team had secured a Sunday berth; instead, there were four clean win-and-in matches. In these, Wu-Hull-Orange defeated Baeckstrom-Cohen-Kiefer; Utter-Leyton-Stark-Jůza defeated Wilson-Rizzi-Shenhar; Gregoir-Neirynck-Van Der Paelt defeated Sukenik-Nagro-Cochran; and Carvalho-Saporito-Romão defeated Pereira-Disconzi-Baldin.
|4||Gregoir-Neirynck-Van Der Paelt||1|
|Ben Hull||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|2||Josh Utter-Leyton||$24,000||18||Sixth Pro Tour Top 8|
|Ben Stark||Fifth Pro Tour Top 8|
|Martin Jůza||Fourth Pro Tour Top 8|
|3||Marcio Carvalho||$15,000||16||Fifth Pro Tour Top 8|
|Thiago Saporito||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|Carlos Romão||Third Pro Tour Top 8|
|4||Christophe Gregoir||$15,000||16||Second Pro Tour Top 8|
|Thomas Van Der Paelt|
Player of the Year
Despite a smaller gap than in the previous three years of the race, only three realistic contenders remained in the Player of the Year race due to the reduced Pro Point payout. Seth Manfield entered three points behind Reid Duke - realistically one match win - while Luis Salvatto trailed by 11 points, a Top 4's difference in points. Owen Turtenwald, while also at 63, was confirmed to team with Duke (as the Peach Garden Oath) and thus their Pro Point gains were intertwined. Neither Genesis nor Ultimate Guard made a good showing, with all four teams picking up their third loss by the end of Day 1. In round 14, prior to which both Duke and Manfield were 8–5, Manfield won and Duke lost, putting Manfield ahead by a single point. Salvatto's team did extremely well, finishing in sixth-place, putting Salvatto at 76 points, trailing Duke at 78 points, and Manfield at 79.
Top 5 PotY leaderboard after Pro Tour 25th Anniversary:
The 2017–18 season differed from previous seasons in that the Player of the Year race did not end at the final Pro Tour of the season; instead, it ended with the last weekend before the 2018 World Championship, meaning that the Grand Prix events in Hong Kong and Stockholm on September 15–16 were when the Player of the Year race would end. As such, the three players in the lead; Manfield, Duke, and Salvatto; all attended several of the last Grand Prix events in order to chase the title. Famously, Reid Duke had signed up to do coverage of Grand Prix Richmond, but with him being in contention for the Player of the Year title, he ultimately wanted to compete instead. This led to the experiment where the coverage focused primarily on Duke, featuring him every round, and with Duke providing play-by-play commentary once his match ended. His final result was 11–3–1, a win short of gaining ground. Seth Manfield posted another Grand Prix top four in the Standard half of Richmond, but due to his finishes earlier in the season, this only added two extra points to his total. So when Salvatto went to Grand Prix Stockholm, the final event of the season, he needed to reach the top eight to tie Manfield and advance past the quarterfinals to win the title outright. Salvatto, in the end, did reach the quarterfinals, where he was defeated by the eventual champion Ondřej Stráský. This resulted in a tie in the Player of the Year race between Salvatto and Manfield, which was played at Pro Tour Guilds of Ravnica, and Salvatto won.
Pro Tour Team Series
Team Ultimate Guard held what was expected to be an insurmountable 28-point lead and two exceptionally strong teams, but their lackluster showing of 24 points opened the door for any team that did well as a whole to overtake. Hareruya Latin had a top 4 and a top 8, picking up an incredible 87 points to rocket them far into first place. Ultimate Guard's almost-guaranteed spot came under fire when ChannelFireball teams of Utter-Leyton-Stark-Jůza made the Top 4 and Sigrist-Scott-Vargas-Dama da Rosa fought back from 0–3 to 9–5 - if Utter-Leyton/Stark/Jůza won the Pro Tour, Ultimate Guard would be out by two points. Utter-Leyton/Stark/Jůza fell in the finals, leaving the top two teams being Ultimate Guard and Hareruya Latin.
- Dan Ward was disqualified in round 7 for lying to a tournament official. Since the event was a team tournament, Ward's teammates, Patrick Tierney and Craig Wescoe, were disqualified as well.
- A number of players competed at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary after an extended absence from the Pro Tour scene.
- David Rood, winner of Pro Tour Atlanta 2005, playing in his first Pro Tour since PT London 2005.
- Matt Linde, winner of Pro Tour Boston 2003, playing in his first Pro Tour since the 2004 World Championships.
- Jan-Moritz Merkel, winner of Pro Tour Kobe 2006, playing in his first Pro Tour since PT Valencia 2007.
- Geoffrey Siron, winner of Pro Tour London 2005, playing in his first Pro Tour since PT Return to Ravnica.
- With 495 competitors, Pro Tour 25th Anniversary was the largest Pro Tour since the previous team trios Pro Tour: PT Charleston 2006, which had 525 competitors.
- Pro Tour 25th Anniversary final standings
- Standard decklists
- Modern decklists
- Legacy decklists
- Pro Tour 25th Anniversary list of unused invitations
- Pro Tour 25th Anniversary team list
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