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Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar
Date 16–18 October 2015
Location {USA} Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Attendance 367
Format Standard and Booster draft
Prize pool $250,000
Winner {JPN} Kazuyuki Takimura
Previous Pro Tour:
Magic Origins
Next Pro Tour:
Oath of the Gatewatch

Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar was the first Pro Tour of the 2015–16 Pro Tour season. It took place on 16–18 October 2015 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The 2015 Class of the Hall of Fame was inducted at Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar. The event was won by Kazuyuki Takimura, who defeated Ryoichi Tamada in what was the first all-Japanese Pro Tour final since the 2006 World Championships.

Day one[]

The first day of competition began with a triple Battle for Zendikar-draft. William Jensen and Brian Kibler were featured, but both went 1–2. Notable 3–0 drafters included Masashi Oiso, Kenji Tsumura, Olle Råde, Patrick Chapin, Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Ben Rubin, Makihito Mihara, and reigning Pro Tour champion Joel Larsson. In the Standard portion, the most played decks were Atarka Red, Dark Jeskai, and Green-White Megamorph, each occupying more than 10% of the metagame.[1] Additionally, Christian Calcano attracted attention for his Blue-Black Aristocrats deck built around Nantuko Husk and Zulaport Cutthroat.

The top eight players after day one:

Rank Player Points Rank Player Points
1 {USA} Eric Severson 24 5 {CAN} Jacob Wilson 21
2 {BRA} Guilherme Madeiros Merjam 21 6 {JPN} Yuuta Takahashi 21
3 {USA} Christian Calcano 21 7 {USA} Matt Sperling 21
4 {BRA} Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 21 8 {USA} Reid Duke 21

Day two[]

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa rose to the the top of the standings by going 3–0 in the second Battle for Zendikar draft, and winning the first couple of rounds of Standard, clinching a top eight berth three rounds before the cutoff. The commentators felt that Reid Duke, whose draft was covered, had drafted a strong deck, but he went 1–2. He'd go on to finish 19th, losing in the last round to miss the top eight. The overnight leader, Eric Severson, went 2–1 in the draft, and at 10–1 overall in the event, looked likely to make it to the elimination rounds; however, a 0–4–1 finish in the second Standard portion of the Swiss resulted in a 31st-place finish for Severson. Meanwhile, Owen Turtenwald, at 6–2 overnight, went 7–0–1 on day two to finish 1st after Swiss at his hometown Pro Tour. But the most prolific member of the top eight would be Jon Finkel, who put together a string of wins with his Dark Jeskai deck to make it to his 15th Pro Tour top eight.

Top 8[]

Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
1  Owen Turtenwald 0  
8  Paul Dean 2  
  8  Paul Dean 0  
  5  Kazuyuki Takimura 2  
4  Martin Müller 0
5  Kazuyuki Takimura 2  
    5  Kazuyuki Takimura 3
  7  Ryoichi Tamada 2
3  Paulo Vitor D. da Rosa 0  
6  Jon Finkel 2  
  6  Jon Finkel 1
  7  Ryoichi Tamada 2  
2  Ricky Chin 1
7  Ryoichi Tamada 2  

Japanese Silver-level pro Ryoichi Tamada defeated Pro Tour debutant Ricky Chin in the first quarterfinal in what was a quite close match; Tamada's Jeskai deck looked like it was in a losing position against Chin's Abzan deck in the third game, but turned it around and took the match. The most anticipated match of the top eight was a clash of Hall of Famers, with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa facing Jon Finkel, but the match turned out to be anticlimatic, as Damo da Rosa got two mediocre draws, losing 0–2 to Finkel in quick games. Kazuyuki Takimura faced the captain of the 2014 World Magic Cup winning team, Martin Müller, in the third quarterfinal, and Takimura won 2–0. The last quarterfinal match was a repeat match of round 16 of the Swiss, where Owen Turtenwald defeated Paul Dean, but in the top eight, Dean was the one who emerged the winner, defeating Owen 2–0.

Jon Finkel's Dark Jeskai was the presumed favorite against Ryoichi Tamada's pure Jeskai deck in the first semifinal. Finkel did win the first game quite handily, in large part thanks to Tasigur, the Golden Fang, but in the sideboarded games, Tamada blindsided Finkel by bringing in Master of the Unseen from the sideboard. The enchantment proved very difficult for Finkel to handle, and Tamada won game two largely on the back of it. Tamada then took the third game thanks to Wingmate Roc. The other semifinal, an Abzan mirror-match between Kazuyuki Takimura and Paul Dean, ended in a 2–0 win for Takimura. The first game was relatively close, but in the second, Dean stalled on three lands, allowing Takimura to advance to the final to face countryman Tamada.

In a final of two fairly unheralded Japanese players, Takimura's Abzan deck took a quick 1–0 lead after Tamada stumbled in the face of Siege Rhino and Hangarback Walker. Tamada came back to win the next two games; only one game win away from a Pro Tour trophy, Tamada made a highly controversial decision when he opted to keep a six-card hand with no lands in game four.[2] It did not work out; stuck on one land, Tamada had to concede, and the players went to a fifth and final game. Although both players had reasonable hands, the game quickly turned in favor of Takimura, whose cards matched up well against Tamada's Gideon, Ally of Zendikar and Wingmate Roc; the latter had to be played without the Raid trigger. When Tamada's draws yielded no answers to Takimura's offense, Takimura became the Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar champion.

Place Player Deck Prize Pro Points Comment
1 {JPN} Kazuyuki Takimura Abzan Aggro $40,000 30
2 {JPN} Ryoichi Tamada Jeskai $20,000 26
3 {USA} Jon Finkel Dark Jeskai $12,500 22 Fifteenth Pro Tour Top 8
4 {CAN} Paul Dean Abzan Aggro $12,500 22
5 {USA} Owen Turtenwald Dark Jeskai $10,000 18 Third Pro Tour Top 8
6 {CAN} Ricky Chin Green-White Megamorph $10,000 18 Pro Tour debut
7 {BRA} Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa Atarka Red $10,000 18 Tenth Pro Tour Top 8
8 {DNK} Martin Müller Jeskai Tokens $10,000 18

Player of the Year Race[]

Paul Rietzl, by making the top eight of all three Grand Prix events he'd participated in so far in the season and finishing in the top four of the 2015 World Championship, was the Player of the Year leader coming into the event. Rietzl also performed well at the Pro Tour, but his 34th-place result wasn't enough to keep the lead. Owen Turtenwald, who finished second at Worlds, put up a top eight, and emerged from the event as the leader in the race. Behind him was World Champion Seth Manfield, who also put up a strong Pro Tour finish, ending in 26th-place. Lastly, Kazuyuki Takimura, despite not having picked up any Pro Points earlier in the season, made the leaderboard by virtue of winning the event.

Player Pro Points
{USA} Owen Turtenwald 39
{USA} Seth Manfield 33
{JPN} Kazuyuki Takimura 30
{USA} Paul Rietzl 30
{BRA} Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa 29

Notable performances[]

  • Brandon Burton, known as "sandydogmtg" on Magic Online, finished 21st. Burton, suffering from cerebral palsy, attracted attention after an article about him and his mother, "The Best Team at the Pro Tour", was posted to the Pro Tour coverage page.[3]
  • Four players posted perfect (6–0) Booster draft records: Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, Will Erker, Brandon Burton, and Don van Ravenzwaaij.
  • The best Standard record in the Swiss portion belonged to English player Autumn Burchett, who played Green-White Megamorph to a 9–1 record. By finishing 11th, Burchett also posted the second-best ever Pro Tour performance by a woman, after Melissa DeTora's top eight finish at Pro Tour Gatecrash in 2013.
    • Canada's Ricky Chin went undefeated in Standard, but intentionally drew in the two last rounds to finish with an 8–0–2 Standard record. Chin also played Green-White Megamorph.

External links[]


  1. Adam Styborski (2015-10-16). "PRO TOUR BATTLE FOR ZENDIKAR STANDARD METAGAME BREAKDOWN". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-10-17.
  2. Frank Karsten (2015-11-10). "Magic Math – Mulligans". ChannelFireball. Retrieved on 2016-04-18.
  3. Corbin Hosler (2015-10-16). "THE BEST TEAM AT THE PRO TOUR". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-10-20.