Since its inception on the Pro Tour, many have considered Team Limited to be the most skill intensive format, and the results prove it. Phoenix Foundation has absolutely dominated in a way that isn't even absurd anymore as much as it's an accepted reality. Prior to this weekend, they were 17-1 in Team Rochester. Add to that a 6-0 record in sealed and a 3-0 record in Draft, and you're looking at the most consistent proof in the world that the random element of Magic can be conquered. A big factor in this is the fact that with three different sealed deck card pools, five separate drafts, and three players minimizing each poor draw's significance, skill becomes more important as luck is decreased. While many point to Kai Budde's phenomenal run on the Pro Tour as proof of Magic's well-grounded base as a game of skill, it's Phoenix Foundation's accomplishments that stand out the most.
Aside from the Germans, there are other notes of consistency present tomorrow. Gary Wise and Mike Turian have returned to the Top 4 of a Team Pro Tour since they won it all as Potato Nation back in 2000, this time doing it with Eugene Harvey. All three are considered top Limited players, especially in this format. In fact, this is Gary Wise's third appearance on Sunday at a team Pro Tour, as he made it to this point last year with Bob Maher and Neil Reeves. Speaking of which, Maher and Reeves came one win away from making the Top 4 themselves, this time teaming with Dave Williams. They lost to Original Slackers in the last round, a Norwegian team made up of players with a considerable amount of Pro Tour experience, but this is their first breakthrough performance.
Rounding out the Top 4 is yet another Limited powerhouse team, made up of William "Huey" Jensen, Brock Parker, and Matt Linde. Jensen and Parker are especially known for being exceptional drafters and have the results to prove it, and this is yet another Sunday appearance for Linde. All three have been friends for a long time, which certainly helps with communication--a vital aspect of the format.
Tomorrow, The Brockafellas face Phoenix Foundation in the first round and have the challenge of toppling the Juggernaut, literally and figuratively. The other matchup will see Zabutan Nemonaut go against Original Slackers. While it would be easy to dismiss the Norwegians when compared against their veteran opponents, history shows that the rookie team always seems to defy the odds, at least in the first round. In 2001, Les Plus Class was a relatively unknown squad, but defeated the veteran Illuminati team in the first round before losing to Phoenix Foundation. A year later, it was Canadians 2020 pulling off the upset, by beating Maher, Reeves, and Wise before losing to the Germans in the finals. That's a memory Wise would certainly like to erase, as losing to an underdog team in the first round twice in a row would be fairly disappointing.
Of course, the major story to follow is whether or not Phoenix Foundation will make it three in a row. The fact that it's even an issue is incredible, as it's gotten to a point that everyone expects Kai, Dirk, and Marco to win, making second place seem like a huge defeat. For anyone else, second place at a Pro Tour would be a huge career milestone, but it almost seems like failure when put up to Phoenix Foundation's track record. People in the convention center are already talking about tomorrow as if the Germans have already won. Regardless of expectations, make no mistakes about it--a three-peat would be the most impressive achievement in the history of the Pro Tour. Sunday, we find out if it'll happen.