While Shouta Yasooka ran the tables at the Players Championships, and Yuuya Watanabe walked away with the trophy held high, they weren't the only players who took something away from that tournament.
For Canada's Alexander Hayne, despite winning Pro Tour Avacyn Restored earlier this year, he was quickly realizing that he was always going to be fighting uphill against the established mega-teams like Channel Fireball and StarCityGames. It was time to take Team Mana Deprived out of the basement.
Until now, Mana Deprived has been a purely Canadian team. The Home of Canadian Magic, even! But Hayne decided it was time for them to diversify.
Alexander Hayne and the rest of Team Mana Deprived have expanded their roster outside of Canadian borders, as Tzu-Ching Kuo and Hao-Shan Huang (not pictured) have joined up with the Canadians to prepare for upcoming events.
"I started talking to Samuele Estratti and Tzu-Ching Kuo about joining Mana Deprived," Hayne explained. "Estratti had a team of five guys he wanted to bring with him, but we've tried working in a large group before and it was too unwieldy. I knew Kuo through a mutual friend, Eugene Ho, who has traveled between Taipei and Canada a bit, so we were interested in him as well. I'm more of a creative guy though, so Marc Anderson did most of the work getting it all together." Hayne admitted with a sly smile.
I turned my note pad and pencil in Anderson's direction.
"Yeah, Alex is pretty lazy," he laughed. "It's actually reasonably complicated, because we want to do this properly. With Estratti, we knew we didn't want to take on a large group of players, so we're still figuring out how we're going to approach that, but Kuo doesn't really have a dedicated playgroup, just one other guy, and it turns out he's really good too."
Anderson was referring to Taipei's Hao-Shan Huang, who, while everyone else was sleeving their decks for the day, was doing some sleeving of his own, pulling a Mana Deprived shirt over his head.
"Hao-Shan was really useful because his English is really good, so that helped with any language barrier issues," Anderson chuckled. "We're really happy with how this is shaping up. We have a good core group of players in Canada now, with Alex, Pascal Maynard, Lucas Siow, David Caplan, and Dan Lanthier, so bringing in Tzu Ching and Hao-Shan makes sense. We're still hoping to work with Estratti in the future, too, as well as Thomas Holzinger. We have things planned out for the rest of this year, at least. Even if we don't do well this Pro Tour, everything is in place now for us to be in serious contention going forward."
Well, we'll certainly be interested to see how this collaboration works out this weekend!