Profiles by Brian David-Marshall
Welcome to the voting for the 11th annual Magic Invitational!
If you're a fan of 4-of card counts and 60-card decklists, this ballot is for you. Standard, Extended, Block, Legacy...it doesn't matter for this crew. If the deck has 60 cards, watch out. You may be wondering what the difference is between Resident Genius and Constructed Master, and I am more than happy to explain. First of all, Resident Genius is not limited to 60-card formats. While it does tend to skew toward Constructed deck designers, it rewards players who have an unconventional view of the game. Constructed Master is very much about one thing—complete and total mastery of Constructed formats. There were few Constructed events last season but as the current season takes shape, these players continue to crop up in or near the elimination brackets of just about every event they enter.
Winner: Gabriel Nassif (29.68% of votes)
For the most part, you want to focus on recent accomplishments when considering an Invitational ballot but it is hard to even talk about Constructed—much less a Constructed category—without mentioning Gabriel Nassif. He sits fourth all time on the Pro Tour Top 8 list with a lofty seven Sunday finishes—and five of them have come playing with Constructed decks. And he is showing no signs of slowing down. The most recent Sunday appearance was at the 2006 World Championships when he finished in fourth place, largely on the back of his life-gaining MartyrTron deck.
Paul Cheon (7.15%)
If there is a Constructed format being played on Day Two of a big event, you can expect to find Paul Cheon slugging it out. Since bursting onto the scene as the U.S. National Champion last season with his Standard take on Solar Flare, Paul was able to cash in that Worlds invite to a 12th-place finish. Following up his success in Standard, he played a metagamed Fish deck to 14th place in the Legacy Grand Prix and after a pair of runner-up finishes at Grand Prix-Dallas (Extended/Loam) and Montreal (Block Constructed/Korlash+Teferi), he appears pretty comfortable piloting just about any Constructed deck in just about any format.
Mark Herberholz (27.85%)
Since Mark Herberholz's Top 8 appearance at Pro Tour–Philadelphia, he has put together three dominating Constructed seasons that include his win in Honolulu and another Top 8 this season in Yokohama. While many Constructed players seem to specialize in certain types of decks, Mark has shown himself to be a Constructed general practitioner. He's equally at ease beating down with a Moldervine-Cloaked Watchwolf as he is sacrificing all his lands to initiate The Perfect Storm or comfortably ensconced behind Teferi's Moat crafting the perfect hand with Mystical Teachings into Teachings.
Tomoharu Saito (10.47%)
In Japan he is called "PoY maker" because Saito was a key member of back-to-back three-person teams that played on Sunday that also featured a player who would go on to be the Player of the Year that season (Kenji Tsumura and Shota Yasooka). His fusion of Rakdos and Boros elements at Pro Tour–Charleston stood out from the field and propelled his team to victory in one of last season's rare Constructed events. Saito made an inspired run with Sea Stompy in Honolulu, and then followed up last season's breakout success with Top 8 in Yokohama playing Pizza Stompy. One refinement of the deck later and he was hoisting a trophy at Grand Prix–Strasbourg (his second Constructed Grand Prix Top 8 of the season).
Kenji Tsumura (24.85%)
While Kenji Tsumura was dazzling us with his newfound—dare I call it—mastery of Limited last year, it was easy to forget what a dominating Constructed player he had been throughout his career. During Kenji's Constructed-fueled Player of the Year run, he was perhaps the most dominant player on the planet piloting the creations of Itaru Ishida and Katsuhiro Mori. Much ballyhoo has been made about how he turned his attention to Limited for the 2006 season—after all, what choice did he have?—but as the 2007 season has brought 60-card decks back into the vogue, it is interesting to note that Kenji is not only playing his own creations but has others marching to the tune he is piping. And why not? In his four Constructed Grand Prix this season, Kenji has posted two Top 4 finishes and a 19th place.
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