Hall Of Fame 2012: A Little Help?
A good measure of the health of current Standard and Limited formats and level of player interest in them can be had in my experience by looking at the volume and topics of posts on my local Magic forum. Right now everyone is designing (and developing) a custom set and one friend has written a program to intelligently "mash up" existing cards at random to generate a new cube for us to play with. It's fair to say then that the combination of Delver Standard and AVR Draft is making it very easy to have a break from sanctioned play right now.
Fortunately though the forthcoming M13 is already looking like the best core set ever no mean feat after M12. Plus Wizards of the Coast has very kindly given me something else to think and write about courtesy of the most unexpected email I have ever received from Scott Larabee:
Subject: 2012 Pro Tour Hall of Fame Selection Committee Invitation
So...how about that then? If that subject line alone wasn't clear enough: I have been invited to help select this year's Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame class. An invitation I received as a great honor and accepted with great pleasure.
This leaves us with two questions:
Why did they ask you?!
A good question! If you didn't know already (yes I really am asked questions like this semi-regularly because of my articles here and position within the Magic community) I am not a pro player. I am the full 100 points shy of the 100 lifetime Pro Points required to join the Players Committee. I am neither an employee of Wizards of the Coast nor a regular contractor working on event coverage.
Uhh...what do you know then?
Well I think it is fair to say that I'm a highly active vocal and very well connected member of the Magic community. If something is going on in the Magic world I probably know of and will Tweet/write about it. I've attended several Pro Tours and one Worlds purely to spectate back when they were public along with a number of Grand Prix and have assisted the coverage team at these on occasion. I read and/or watch the coverage of pretty much every Pro Tour and Grand Prix and consume a vast quantity of articles from the many pros who write for various Magic websites such as StarCityGames.com. In short I'm probably an awful lot like you the guy/girl reading this.
My gut feeling (though I do not know this for certain) is that Wizards of the Coast has invited me to join this process as a "community representative" of sorts; someone who will cast a ballot not just for themselves but also on behalf of the many more interested Magic players out there not given this opportunity who want to have their say at this important time. I guess at times I act as barometer of sorts having a good idea what players are thinking and not being afraid to report on this even when it is negative and troubling. (P.S.: A sincere thank you for fixing that particular issue by introducing the World Magic Cup Wizards!)
I'm also fairly sure there will be some snarky remarks around the fact that I'm given a vote in this process as some random guy that has never even played on the PT and just tweets a lot (and at twice the weighting of the Players Committee to boot). This is despite how I intend to use my vote and the time and effort I will put into researching those up for selection and taking on board the opinions of all those in my article comments in forums on Twitter etc.
To these would be naysayers—I'm doing my best to promote the Hall of Fame the worthy players within and soon to be in it and thus Magic in general here; is that really such a bad thing? Secondly this is WotC's process and they have gone out of their way to ask me to be a part of it. If you don't like that fair enough I guess but take it up with them not me. Haters gonna hate though I guess...
Who are you going to vote for?
As mentioned above this is where I am going to ask for your input. It seems only right to me that I use my votes to reflect not only my own opinions but also those of the wider Magic community which I feel I am in some way representing. As such I am very interested to hear all of your thoughts and feelings on whom I should vote for so I can shape my ballot around these.
You can leave your comments right here at the bottom of this article tweet using the hashtag #mtghof or even email me (my address is at the bottom of this article) if you'd like to share your thoughts privately—though please don't make these essay-length!
To get you thinking here are some of my own thoughts on what we should be looking for in a Hall of Fame inductee biases I may be affected by that I need to combat and thoughts on the Hall of Fame and voting in general.
There are no "wrong votes."
If there was a single metric that defined how someone attained Hall of Fame status WotC wouldn't bother with the huge effort of organizing several hundred people to vote on it. There would just be a chart with some names and associated numbers above a red line and many more names and numbers below it. Instead other than the initial 10+ years and 100+ lifetime Pro Points eligibility requirements we are simply given the following broad remit when filling in our ballot:
"Voting shall be based upon the player's performances playing ability integrity sportsmanship and contributions to the game in general."
As such this is all very subjective. It is up to each person voting to decide his or herself what is most important what they are looking for which of these five qualities are required and in what proportions. During discussions we will doubtless hear a lot of "Oh you have to vote for X!" and "A vote for Y is just incorrect" type of comments but you shouldn't feel obligated to vote for anyone unless you want to. There is no such thing as a correct or incorrect vote.
Take Mark Rosewater—every year he is resolutely unashamed to state he has voted for Mike Long whom many discount entirely for the many controversies he was involved in throughout his Magic career. Sure you may not agree with MaRo's vote but you certainly can't say it is wrong; Mike Long is a valid choice after all!
I'm not afraid to make the "obvious" choices.
As our own Sam Stoddard has written about previously gamers being gamers will try to maximize the value of their vote by not voting for someone they perceive to be a "shoe-in" instead preferring their vote to have more impact by using it on someone who is in more "need" of it to scrape through.
Personally I don't buy into this kind of thinking for two reasons. One I don't want to be partly responsible for someone narrowly missing (such as almost happened with Bram Snepvangers in 2010) because of some selfish notion of maximizing the value of my own vote. This process is not about me. Secondly surely a near-unanimous vote percentage of 80 or 90% plus is exactly what we want to see for an inductee? A player so well loved respected and revered by Magic's players creators and community that all are united in saying "You deserve this."?!
Sure it might not be the most exciting thing to do ever but I'll be perfectly happy to vote for any obvious candidates and be delighted to say I did so when they receive their rings.
As might be expected I am a huge supporter of those players who not only take from the game in the form of fame and winnings but give back to it with their contributions to our community. The players that do so are the best representatives for our game are those doing the work to ensure its growth and longevity and we should reward them for this just as much as their high level of play.
This encompasses a wide range of activities from running stores and events to judging/scorekeeping writing articles and maintaining Magic websites to the very latest innovations of streaming games commentating or making themselves available to fans through use of social media. In short: players who have left the game in a better state than they found it (a goal we can and should all take to heart).
A look back to the past...
Though they may have moved on to the big bad real world of serious full-time employment and family life we should not forget the greats of Magic's past by being too biased towards the big names of today.
It's easy for those newer (relatively) to the game such as some would consider me to not learn about those excellent players from "before their time" just because they are no longer active for today.
For this reason I'd especially appreciate any insight you may have to offer on those "old school" pros still very much in the conversation. Take William "Huey" Jensen—he finished less than 4% off the required 40% to make last year's cut yet has not played since before I started. What makes him one of the best? Why should he (or someone else from back in the day perhaps Mark Herberholz or Chris Pikula) get my vote over someone newer and more easily recognized?
I'm all ears and willing to be convinced so please tell me what I need to know.
...but also a view for the future.
However I feel it's also important to vote for players who have a place in Magic's future as well as its past. Even if they may not make every single PT or return to the game to play as frequently as they once did I appreciate those who would make an effort to use the privileges afforded them (an invite to every Pro Tour) if they received that Hall of Fame ring.
As is not the case with most other Hall of Fames (e.g. baseball basketball ice hockey) Magic is a mental game so the issues of age and physical fitness do not preclude a player from making a return to high-level competition. Hall of Fame induction needn't be a swansong but could actually be the rejuvenation of a Magic career.
On the subject of cheating and other similar concerns.
Allegations of cheating shadiness and unsporting play have in the past been leveled at both individual players and painted with a wide brush across the pro community of entire nations. (Japan in Magic and Brazil is similarly tarred more recently in the online gaming world.)
How do I intend to take this into consideration? Simple: I'm going to completely disregard any and all hearsay/rumor and only let confirmed "I was there I saw X do/say Y" affect my judgment. While some of these may be accurate comments it's fair to say a lot of it may not be based in fact or may be blown way out of proportion.
I'm fortunate enough to know many pros and coverage reporters I can ask privately about this once I have my shortlist and I will certainly be doing so. Of course if you know something along these lines I should be aware of feel free to let me know so I can look into it.
As for those who have made mistakes in the past owned up to it paid their penalty and moved on? I think it would be unfair to have something like this hang like a dark cloud over someone for the rest of their life and as far as I am concerned once you've apologized and waited out your suspension the slate is clean.
Do you agree with my approach and views on what is important in a potential Hall of Fame candidate? If not what is important to you? To leave you with a few more questions to consider and answer in the comments:
Is there any reason I shouldn't straight away fill in my first two votes for Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Kenji Tsumura? These two new additions seem like the clear front-runners for this year's class.
When it comes to pure competitive success which is the most important measure? Wins Top 8 finishes median finish or lifetime Pro Points?
It has been said that four PT Top 8s pretty much guarantees a slot in the Hall of Fame—is this still the case? If not what is today's minimum?
Finally the most obvious question of all: if I handed you my ballot and asked you to fill it in for me who are your five picks?
I look forward to reading all you have to say and using this to formulate my votes—the result of which I will announce soon!
danskate [AT] gmail