The time to vote for the Magic Hall of Fame has just passed this week! This is only the third time I've had the privilege to vote myself and, as such, I don't have any strict voting criteria. What I usually do is look at the stats of all the candidates and separate them into three groups by Pro Tour Top 8s. The first group is all players with four or more Top 8s. The second group is all players with three Top 8s. And the third group is players with cool stats that are leading the pack in other categories (e.g. most Top32s, highest three year median finish, etc.).

First off, before I get to my system, there are two players on the ballot that have five Pro Tour Top 8s and I wouldn't likely vote for them:

Scott Johns has five Top 8s and has been on the ballot for years now. Someone with his stats, that I've never heard of, as a potential candidate, rings some alarm bells. I figured he didn't have a clean record, and all the old school players knew this and didn't want to even mention him, so that the younger crowd doesn't notice him. I asked around a bit and it turns out I was right: Scott Johns does not have a clean record. In fact, he has admitting to cheating. It's tough for me to determine what to do with players who cheated in the past, even ones that have confessed to it. Scott, as far as I know, doesn't play Magic anymore and I've never met the guy; honestly, I say let the past stay in the past and, for me, until he comes back and starts doing well again I won't bother to mention him as a candidate again.

Tomoharu Saito is a different story though, with five Pro Tour Top 8s, 20 Grand Prix Top 8s, and many more very impressive stats to his name. He was suspended for cheating the same year that he was scheduled to be inducted into the Hall. I've seen firsthand Saito slow playing at Grand Prixs recently after he came back; I can see myself voting for him in maybe a decade of him playing clean and with good results, but for now I am going to pass.

Alright, now that we got that out of the way, let's get to my ballot!

1st vote: Eric (Efro) Froehlich this is my number one guy and, in my opinion, the most deserving candidate this year. His stats are four Pro Tour Top 8s, a three year median finish of 23, six Pro Tour Top 16s, 13 Grand Prix Top 8s, and 347 Pro Points!

Wow, look at those stats. Efro is currently ranked number one this year as well. He has been one of the most dominant players for years now and I'm so happy for him that he got his fourth Pro Tour Top 8 - the only stat he was missing to be a great candidate. I hope everyone votes for him this year because he really does deserve it.

2nd vote goes to Willy Edel. Willy's Magic stats are not good enough to make it by themselves but he's got one more thing going for him that PVDDR has convinced me of over time: Willy's community contributions to Brazilian Magic.

He has given so much to Brazilian Magic, the fact that he would take people under his wing when they qualify to the Pro Tour and give them his lists all help his case. He turned down testing with CFB so he can play with Brazilian players who are playing their first Pro Tour and have never drafted before. This shows his character and someone who cares about the game is worthy of the Hall of Fame. If he doesn't get in this year I may not be voting for him every year necessarily; this year is a particularly weak ballot aside from Efro, who would have been a strong candidate with his current results on stronger ballots. I hope he does get in this year though; it might be his best shot, at least until he gets another Pro Tour Top 8.

This is my 2015 Ballot. I know it's bizarre to only vote for two players when we get five votes, but I think these two are the most deserving candidates and the ones I feel strongly about. I know them both personally and respect them quite a bit.

There are a lot of honorable mentions that need just a little more and will get in the near future.

With four Top 8s:

1) Mark Herberholz has four Top 8s and a win, but with only four Grand Prix Top 8s I would like him to be more active in the Grand Prix scene. For example, if he had six Grand Prix Top 8s and two wins I would vote for him. He doesn't need much to make it there.
2) Marijn Lybaert, similar to Mark, has great results but needs just a bit more. I've heard he has contributed to Belgium Magic but I haven't heard a strong enough case for it. Honestly, if someone from Belgium would have enlightened me about what he has actually done I might have voted for him.
3) Tsuyoshi Ikeda has four Pro Tour Top 8s and four Pro Tour Top16s. I think the fact that Ikeda doesn't speak English, as far as I know, makes it hard to know much about his career other than just looking at his stats. With these results he should be included on people's ballots, but I've barely seen him there, or even mentioned. I will do my best learning more about him for next year's ballot. I'll see if there's a reason he's not there that I didn't know about that would prevent me from voting for him.

With three Top 8s:

1) Osyp Lebedowicz is another old school player that will be put into serious consideration when he gets his fourth Pro Tour Top 8. Osyp did coverage for Pro Tours a while back and still does Magic coverage nowadays too sometimes. He's not as active as he used to be, but you will see him at most U.S. East Coast Grand Prix.
2) Justin Gary is an old school pro that has an incredibly consistent Pro Tour Top32 Conversion. He has 20 Pro Tour Top 32s out of 44 played Pro Tours, five of which are Pro Tour Top 16s. With one more Pro Tour Top 8 he will most likely make the Hall of Fame. He does have to qualify for a Pro Tour first though...
3) Jamie Park is my teammate and a good friend. One of the best guys you will ever meet. He really has the best attitude for the game and has shown great character throughout his entire career. With only three Pro Tour Top 8s and one Pro Tour Top16 he needs a lot more to add to his resume. He is someone I'd be happy to see in the Hall of Fame but who knows if he will get there with his results soon. I do know that I will do my best to try to get him there if he does get those results.
4) Craig Wescoe is TCGplayer's main man. Similar to Jamie here, three Pro Tour Top 8s and two Pro Tour Top16s including a win. He needs more to add to his resume; the monowhite master needs a few more Pro Tour results as well as Grand Prix results. It would be awesome to see Wescoe in the Hall of Fame one day and I hope it comes soon. Wescoe is just an awesome human being and I want his creative self to be Hall of Famer one day.

Last honorable mention because this stat is so impressive:

Tom Martell has a three year median finish of 16! That is three years where his average Pro Tour result was in the Top 16. Are you serious? I don't know which years it was exactly so it's hard for me to tell exactly how many Pro Tours he played in, but it's between 10 to 12 Pro Tours. That is just absurd to play in that many Pro Tours and have an average finish of Top 16. Now he does need plenty more on his resume - he has two Pro Tour Top 8s so to me he isn't a serious candidate just yet. I just wanted to mention that ridiculous stat of his that shows insane consistency for three full years.

Approaching a different subject, I wanted to talk about the new mulligan rule coming out for the Pro Tour. After Mulligans are resolved each player who took a mulligan gets to scry one. This new change is awesome; so many games in Magic end very quickly due to someone who mulligans too many times and either gets mana flooded or mana screwed. This change will reduce that considerably, it means you are no longer encouraged to keep bad seven card hands because taking a mulligan in this matchup is too bad. This goes without saying, but your mulligans to six and even five will feel just a bit less salty.

There is one more thing that's makes this change interesting. Hypothetically if you know you are taking a mulligan is it then better for you to be on the draw? Being on the draw with a mulligan has always been better, but now more so. The scry you get on the draw can be your turn one play, but if you're not on the draw you may have to bottom that Birds of Paradise or that tapped land because it's too awkward now for you. I'm not sure which is better now but I'm really curious to find out.

Magic Origins is coming out very soon for everyone to play and last week I played in the Prerelease. I had Harbinger of the Tides in my pool and as I was playing it I realized how insane this card is with AEther Vial. It's also a merfolk as I'm sure you've realized, which just happens to be one of, if not the best AEther Vial decks in Modern. This little fish is going to be tough to play against; it's so hard to race with a Tarmogoyf when this card can just flash in and bounce it, especially when you can't block all the islandwalkers and you're forced to attack them.

A Merfolk deck with this new guy will look something like this:

DECKID=1244543

My next tournament is Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver and I will be busy preparing for it the next couple weeks. Hopefully I'll do well enough to be worthy of a tournament report. If not I will definitely discuss my testing experience with Team Pantheon. I'll see everyone who qualified there. If it's not you this time, maybe I'll see you at the next Pro Tour. Wish me luck because I will need it.

Hope you enjoyed my ballot, and let me know what you think of it and/or the Harbinger of the Tides with AEther Vial.

Till next time,

Shahar