|Pro Tour Dark Ascension|
|Date||10–12 February 2012|
|Location||Honolulu, Hawaii, United States|
|Format||Standard and Booster draft|
Pro Tour Dark Ascension was the first Pro Tour of the 2012 season. The event had 445 competitors, and took place on 10–12 February 2012 in Honolulu, Hawaii, United States. The formats were Standard and Dark Ascension/Innistrad Booster draft, and was the first constructed premier event where Dark Ascension was legal. The Pro Tour was the first to take place after significant changes to structure and presentation of the professional scene, initially announced in 2011. The top eight featured many of the game's biggest stars, including Hall of Famers Jon Finkel, Jelger Wiegersma, and Brian Kibler, as well as Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa in his ninth Pro Tour Sunday appearance. In a final between two players who were already Pro Tour champions, Brian Kibler earned his second win, with Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa finishing runner-up.
Presentation and coverage
In the past, Pro Tours were not tied to the release of any set specifically, and were simply named after whichever city they were in. This changed starting with Pro Tour Dark Ascension; Pro Tours were now held only a short time after the release of a set (1–2 weeks), and with the explicit purpose of marketing that set. As such, Pro Tours were now named after the most recent set, and effects and props used during production of coverage were based around the theme of that set.
As for coverage of the event, independent coverage producers such as GGs Live and StarCityGames had live streamed video coverage of Grand Prix events and independent circuit tournaments for a few years already, and starting with Pro Tour Dark Ascension, Wizards of the Coast expanded their Pro Tour coverage from just the top eight to the entire tournament. The event was streamed, starting with round one, on Twitch rather than on their own streaming platform, which had previously been customary, and featured a changing lineup of commentators. At Pro Tour Dark Ascension, these were Sheldon Menery, Rashad Miller, Brian David-Marshall, and Rich Hagon.
Pro Tour Dark Ascension was the first PT to extend invitations based on the newly introduced Planeswalker Points system. The 100 players with the most Competitive Planeswalker Points during the season leading up to the Pro Tour received invitations and airfare to the Pro Tour. This system replaced the previous DCI rating-based invitations system. However, it was discontinued immediately following the Pro Tour, as attempting to qualify for the Pro Tour this way turned out to be a massive grind where players couldn't afford not to go to as many events as they could, seeing as otherwise other players who played in more would overtake them. This resulted in a substantial backlash for Wizards of the Coast, who had to revise a lot of their initial announcements regarding qualification, Pro Points, and the Pro Players Club. Instead of retiring the Pro Points system and the Pro Players Club, as initially announced, new versions of these were announced, and an "end to the grind" was promised. However, due to Wizards honoring the initially announced system of PWP-based invitations, there was an unusually high number of qualified players for Pro Tour Dark Ascension.
Prize payout, both for Pro Points and for prize money, was altered significantly for Pro Tour Dark Ascension. The top 75 players receive prize money as opposed to the previous top 65, and every player winning money wins at least $1000, where previously a 65th-place finisher would win $450. This was not the result of a significant increase in prize money awarded, however; the prize money was for the most part redistributed, but the prize pool was increased from $230,795 per Pro Tour event in 2011 to $250,000 in 2012. The minimum number of Pro Points a player would win increased from 2 to 3, and in particular, players finishing in the top 16 and in the top 25 received a lot more Pro Points than at previous events: for example, a 16th-place finish went from being worth 8 Pro Points to being worth 15. Additionally, where before players finishing in the top 50 of a Pro Tour would receive invitations to the next Pro Tour, only the top 25 now received invitations. However, those players now also received airfare to that Pro Tour.
The first five rounds of the event were Standard. The most popular archetype was White Weenie, boosted by the release of Thalia, Guardian of Thraben. These decks were typically heavily White-based, as the name implies, but splashed either Blue for Geist of Saint Traft, Green for Gavony Township, or Black for Lingering Souls and Sorin, Lord of Innistrad. Put together, these made up 26% of the metagame. The second-largest deck, occupying 20% of the field, was Delver, typically a Blue-based aggressive deck splashing White for Geist of Saint Traft, and sometimes also Black for Lingering Souls. In third, at 17%, was Wolf Run Ramp, the deck that won the 2011 World Championships. Already a strong deck, it was further enhanced by the printing of Huntmaster of the Fells, and was the deck favored by the undisputed #1 team on the Pro Tour, ChannelFireball. Famous players off to a 5–0 start included Pro Tour Philadelphia winner Samuele Estratti (Delver), Tom Martell (Delver), Robert Jurkovic (Blue-Black Control), and Shōta Yasooka (Blue-Black Tezzeret Control).
The day ended with a Dark Ascension/Innistrad Booster draft before the cut to day two, where players with fewer than 15 points (5–3) were eliminated. A famous play happened during round 7 in the match between Tom Martell and Samuele Estratti, both with perfect 6–0 records in the event. Martell had Beguiler of Wills with Mask of Avacyn equipped, which Estratti could not hope to beat. However, upon attacking with his Fiend Hunter, Estratti hastily played a Moment of Heroism on his creature and looked to be about to cast a second, but realized that Martell still has a creature to block with (the Beguiler), and stopped. Martell would have taken lethal damage if he didn't block and Estratti indeed had another Moment of Heroism, so he chump blocked with Beguiler of Wills. Estratti did, in fact, not have a second pump spell, and successfully tricked Martell into sacrificing the card he couldn't beat. Estratti went on to win the game. At the end of the day, Estratti finished atop the field at 8–0.
The top eight players after day one:
|1||Samuele Estratti||24||5||Thoralf Severin||21|
|2||Mates Vantuch||22||6||Ben Wienburg||21|
|3||David Gleicher||21||7||Shōta Yasooka||21|
|4||Denniz Rachid||21||8||Dominic Morel||21|
164 players advanced to day two of competition to play in a second Dark Ascension-Innistrad Booster draft. Overnight leader Samuele Estratti could only post a 1–2 record with his Blue-White draft deck despite having both Geist of Saint Traft and Angelic Overseer. Due to quirks of in-pod pairings, two players managed to 3–0 the first pod: Denniz Rachid and Shōta Yasooka. These two players headed into the final five Swiss rounds of Standard on 10–1 records, knowing that 2–2–1 from here would be enough to lock up a top eight slot. Not far behind, on 9–2, was Jon Finkel, and fans of the game were excited to see if one of the game's greats would reach a 13th Pro Tour top eight, four years after his previous one (PT Kuala Lumpur 2008). Three rounds later, Finkel was 12–2 and tied for first with Rachid, both locked for Sunday play. Estratti and Yasooka, on the other hand, faltered in the final rounds, finishing 12th and 16th, respectively. Instead, two other all-time greats, Brian Kibler and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa, both on ChannelFireball's Huntmaster of the Fells-fueled Wolf Run Ramp deck, advanced to the top eight on the back of great performances in the final rounds of the tournament. Rounding out the top eight was three Pro Tour Sunday first-timers: Mamoru Nagai, Lukas Blohon, and Matt Costa, as well as Dutch Hall of Famer Jelger Wiegersma, who was the only player on a 12–4 record to make it. Three other players also achieved a 12–4 record, but fell short on tiebreakers: Lukas Jaklovsky, Robert Jurkovic, and Kenny Öberg.
|1||Paulo Vitor D. da Rosa||3|
|1||Paulo Vitor D. da Rosa||3|
|1||Paulo Vitor D. da Rosa||2|
|1||Brian Kibler||Wolf Run Ramp||$40,000||30||Fifth Pro Tour Top 8, second Pro Tour win|
|2||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Wolf Run Ramp||$20,000||24||Ninth Pro Tour Top 8|
|3||Jon Finkel||Delver Spirits||$12,500||22||Thirteenth Pro Tour Top 8|
|4||Mamoru Nagai||Jund Wolf Run Ramp||$12,500||22|
|5||Denniz Rachid||Delver Humans||$10,000||20|
|6||Matt Costa||Blue-White Delver||$10,000||20|
|7||Lukas Blohon||Birthing Pod||$10,000||20|
|8||Jelger Wiegersma||Delver Spirits||$10,000||20||Fourth Pro Tour Top 8|
- Five players achieved a flawless 6–0 record in Booster draft: Jon Finkel, Denniz Rachid, Bryan Eleyet, Takahito Kobayashi, and Dustin Flora.
- The best Standard record belonged to Blue-White Delver-wielding Matt Costa, who went 9–0–1.
- Famous players who made their debut at Pro Tour Dark Ascension include Ondřej Stráský, Brian Braun-Duin, and Fabrizio Anteri.
- Pro Tour Dark Ascension coverage
- Pro Tour Dark Ascension final standings
- Top Standard decklists
- Video coverage playlist
- Although the entire event was streamed live, only the top eight matches have been publicly preserved.
- Mike Turian (2011-09-06). "INTRODUCING PLANESWALKER POINTS". Wizards of the Coast.
- CHANGES TO 2012 TOURNAMENT AND EVENT STRUCTURE, PART 3. Wizards of the Coast (2011-11-02).
- Rich Hagon (2012-02-06). "KNOWING WHERE TO LOOK: A PRO TOUR DARK ASCENSION PREVIEW". Wizards of the Coast.
- Luis Scott-Vargas (2011-10-16). "An Open Letter Regarding Planeswalker Points". ChannelFireball.
- Helene Bergeot (2011-12-23). "Addressing Changes to 2012 Magic Premier Play". Wizards of the Coast.
- Revamped Premier Play Coming in 2012. Wizards of the Coast (2011-12-23).
- Melissa DeTora (2012-01-05). "Organized Play, Planeswalker Points, and You". GatheringMagic.
- Bill Stark (2012-02-10). "PRO TOUR DARK ASCENSION METAGAME BREAKDOWN". Wizards of the Coast.
- Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (2012-03-07). "PV’s Playhouse – Technical Play". ChannelFireball. Retrieved on 2016-06-26.
- Samuele Estratti's bluff against Tom Martell at pro tour Dark Ascension. YouTube. Retrieved on 2016-06-26.