The Season Three Invitational in Atlanta will mark the end of 2016 on the SCG Tour®. By the end of the weekend, an Invitational champion will win $10,000, an invite to the Players' Championship as well as an invite to Pro Tour Aether Revolt, and their likeness on a custom StarCityGames.com® token. On top of the main event, the Player of the Year will be crowned, and the rest of the field for the 2016 Players' Championship will be determined.
Get up to speed on the Player of the Year race, the Season Three race, and find out who is battling for the final three at-large berths to the Players' Championship below. This viewing guide also contains a format breakdown, coverage schedule to catch all the action in Atlanta, and more!
Player of the Year Race
The 2016 Player of the Year race has been a two-man race for the entire year, and it's going to end that way. Jeff Hoogland held the lead for the majority of the year, but Tom Ross caught up toward the end of Season Three and used his third Open win of the year in Columbus to take the lead heading into #SCGINVI. The Boss takes a twelve-point lead into the Invitational, meaning Hoogland will need to make up sizable ground in a tournament where Ross is known for success. Ross has four Top 8s (two wins) in the past ten Invitationals.
With the way SCG Points are awarded at the Invitational, Hoogland will need to finish at least two, and most likely three, prize divisions higher than Ross. With both players getting two points for attendance, the most likely scenario for Hoogland to take the lead would require him making Top 8 and Ross finishing in the Top 32 or below. If Ross misses Day 2, Hoogland could take the lead with a Top 32 finish or better.
No matter who wins the title of Player of the Year, both Ross and Hoogland had strong runs in 2016. Ross notched eight Open Top 8s (with three wins), an Invitational Top 8, and a Classic Top 8. Hoogland made five Open Top 8s and four Classic Top 8s (with one win), along with a Regional Championship Top 8.
Yearly Point Leaders
At the end of the Season Three Invitational, the top three yearly point leaders who are not already qualified for the Players' Championship will earn an invite to the year-end, sixteen-person tournament. As it stands now, Joe Lossett, Todd Stevens, and Caleb Scherer would make the #SCGPC based off yearly points standings. Bradley Carpenter is above Stevens and Scherer but would currently earn his invite to the Players' Championship via the Season Three standings, which are checked before the yearly standings.
Lossett is as close to a lock as a player can be without already being qualified. Lossett holds a 28-point lead over Todd Anderson, who is the first person out right now. Lossett would have to be passed by Stevens, Scherer, and Anderson to slip out of the top three point leaders not already qualified. For this to work, Anderson would need to not pass Nelson in Season Three, as otherwise his qualification would come from Season Three, and Nelson holds a six-point lead on Anderson. This scenario would require four Top 16 or better finishes from four exact players in a scaling fashion from Top 16 for Stevens down to Top 4 for Anderson.
For Stevens and Scherer, their leads on Anderson and Baugh are much smaller. Stevens would still need to be passed twice, Scherer only once. In fact, Anderson only has to make up six points to tie Scherer while Baugh trails by sixteen. Both Anderson and Baugh could qualify via Season Three if they finish high enough in the Invitational, but the scenarios get quite complex when multiple players from both the yearly race and the Season Three race get involved. The pressure will be on both Stevens and Scherer to hold on to their leads with two hungry players chasing them. Things can get even more interesting if Lossett, Stevens, or Scherer wins the Invitational, opening up another yearly at-large slot by their invite coming from the Invitational win.
Season Three Race
Following the Season Two Invitational in New Jersey, Jadine Klomparens, Brad Nelson, and Michael Majors looked to be the frontrunners in Season Three after finishing second, third, and fourth in New Jersey. As the season continued, those names started to fall as Brad Carpenter and Ted Felicetti began crushing multiple events. Felicetti made Top 16 of the New Jersey Invitational and jumped in the race after he won the Richmond Standard Open with Bant Company. Felicetti did it again with Bant Company, taking down the Standard Classic in Orlando the next week to add to his point total.
Carpenter struck right back, making Top 32 in the Invitational and Top 16 in the Open Felicetti won before going on a tear of his own. Carpenter won the Modern Open in Orlando with Infect, won the Modern Classic in Indianapolis with the same deck, and capped a three-event stretch by winning the Standard Classic in Milwaukee with W/U Flash.
Klomparens and Majors dropped in the Season Three standings as Nelson, Todd Anderson, and Jacob Baugh started gaining on the two leaders. Baugh made the Top 8 of the Milwaukee Modern Open, while Anderson made Top 8 of the Columbus Modern Open two events later. But Nelson was the biggest mover in the group after committing to going to the final three Opens of the year. While Nelson fell short in Baltimore and Columbus, the 2014 Players' Champion converted the final Open of the year into a victory in Knoxville in Standard.
Nelson now controls his own destiny as the third and final person to qualify for the 2016 #SCGPC via Season Three if he holds onto his spot. Nelson still has to hold off Anderson, Baugh, Klomparens, and a handful of players live to pass him at the Invitational, including Caleb Scherer, Joe Lossett, Jacob Hagen, and Todd Stevens.
Corner-case scenarios exist where Carpenter and Felicetti could both be jumped by multiple players underneath them, but it would require poor finishes from them and outstanding weekends from two to three players right below. Even if Carpenter gets jumped in Season Three, the Florida player is still live to make the Players' Championship thanks to his yearly standings. Felicetti, however, only has his path to the #SCGPC via his Season Three points.
The Invitational features both Standard and Modern, with the Top 8 showcasing Standard in best-of-five matches. Standard was on full display in Knoxville, where the metagame was dominated by B/G Delirium and W/U Flash. Brad Nelson won the event with B/G Delirium, emerging victorious from a Top 8 with only one non-Delirium or Flash deck. Despite the dominance of the two top decks, archetypes like Mardu Vehicles, W/R Humans, R/B Aggro, B/R Zombies, and various Aetherworks Marvel decks manage to put up results. With the metagame defined, #SCGINVI will prove if a deck can consistently beat B/G Delirium and W/U Flash.
Modern, on the other hand, continues to be wildly diverse. Top performers like Infect, Dredge, Burn, Affinity, and Bant Eldrazi continue to put up the most results on the SCG Tour®. A swath of decks follows the linear archetypes, including Jund, Abzan, Lantern Control, W/R Prison, Skred Red, Grixis Control, and Through the Breach builds. From there, specialty decks pop up and have taken home trophies, including G/W Tron, Bant Spirits, Jeskai Control, and Bant Retreat.
The SCGLive® crew will be providing coverage all weekend long, kicking off with the Friday pregame show at 11:30 AM featuring Cedric Phillips, Patrick Sullivan, Matthias Hunt, and Ryan Overturf. The first eight rounds of Swiss follow with Standard for Rounds 1-4 and Modern for Rounds 5-8.
Day 2 begins at 9 AM on Saturday, starting with Standard for Rounds 9-12 and Modern for Rounds 13-16.
Top 8 coverage starts at 9:30 AM on Sunday with a Top 8 pregame show followed by staggered quarterfinal matches, then both semifinals, and the finals – all best-of-five matches with the first two games without sideboarding.