After two days and fourteen rounds of competition, the final eight players of the Players Tour Finals emerged. Congratulations to Patrick Fernandes, Michael Jacob, Riku Kumagai, Christoffer Larsen, Raphaël Lévy, Kristof Prinz, Ben Weitz, and Allen Wu!
Patrick Fernandes is one of the many talented players rising out of Brazil. Having represented his country in the 2016 World Magic Cup and found success as one of Brazil's top players in 2019, Fernandes had a tough journey to the Players Tour Finals. In his deciding Players Tour Online match he lost the first game, then regained composure to battle back and earn his Players Tour Finals qualification. Putting one of the best decks in the format to work—Temur Reclamation—Fernandes turned that narrow victory into his first career Top Finish.
"It is a confirmation of all the hard work and practice I put in the game, but also how much the people that I practice with are vital [to] that learning process," he said about the event. "[It] helps me to believe more in myself and my skills as a player."
Michael Jacob is one of Magic's original streamers, with a career stretching back years. With his 2008 World Championship win as part of the U.S. national team followed by his 2010 Top 8 at Pro Tour Amsterdam, he's no stranger to the Sunday spotlight. It may have been sometime since his last Top 8 Finish, but Jacob dominated the Temur Reclamation menace 7-0 in matches on his way to the Top 8 with an unexpected brew in
"I went 0-5 in PT preliminary with Bant Control and decided
Riku Kumagai has been a high-level player for years, and his dedication paid off this weekend with his first career Top Finish. It comes four years after he made a splash by winning in his first Grand Prix Top 8 at Tokyo in 2016, and a little more than six months after he added another trophy to his collection by winning Grand Prix Nagoya in 2019.
And anyone watching the event at home couldn't help but join in the joy Twitch chat are for his deck.Kumagai definitely caught the field off guard at the Players Tour Finals as the only Mono-Black Aggro player. The Japanese pro said he prefers to play aggressive decks when possible, so he'll be at ease when he looks to add a big win to his name on Saturday.
Larsen is the consummate Magic veteran. He has a laundry list of Grand Prix Top 8s, including a win at Grand Prix Lyon in 2017 alongside teammates Michael Bonde and Thomas Enevoldsen. He posted his first career Top Finish at Players Tour Online 2 last month, and enters the Top 8 as the hottest player in the bunch—he also just squeaked into the Top 8 on tiebreakers after facing (and winning) elimination matches in the back half of rounds on Day Two.
Jund Sacrifice didn't have an outstanding weekend as a deck, but Larsen was the exception that proves anything it possible. Leaning on several synergies with sacrifice outlets to drain life, draw cards and deal damage, the Sacrifice deck has an endgame that can out-grind any deck in the field. Still, it was an uphill battle for Larsen, and it all came down to a decisive third game against Piotr Glogowski for Larsen to make the Top 8. Now that he's there he's got his eyes on his first individual title.
Raphaël Lévy is the Hall of Famer of the bunch. There isn't much that hasn't been said about Lévy's career to this point—simply put, he's one of the most consistent players in the game with strong finishes across prestigious events for years. Three previous Top Finishes and the 11th-most Grand Prix Top 8s of any player in history speak to that. Lévy has been on fire over the past year, stringing together tournaments last year to earn an invitation to the Magic Pro League.
But for the Players Tour Finals he needed help—and it was friend and fellow Hall of Famer and MPL member Gabriel Nassif who shared the deck that Lévy took to the Top 8.
"I tried some different decks for this tournament, but nothing worked and I didn't like any deck," Lévy explained. "So right before the decklists were due, I sent the bat signal to Gabe Nassif. I won 15 straight on MTG Arena, so I played it."
While he admitted he wasn't as prepared as he could have been, his play was still more than excellent enough to battle through the competition: It began by facing against against Nassif in Round 1, winning a mirror match against one of the best in the world with Azorius Control.
It may have kept him up past his bedtime, but Kristof Prinz played from his home in Hannover, Germany until he was the only player left standing on Day one, turning in the only perfect 7-0 performance. That included wins over Hall of Famers Reid Duke and Seth Manfield, and Prinz used the hot start to catapult himself to the Top 8.
He has the tools to continue to surprise. The Four-Color Reclamation deck he's playing is teched out for the pseudo-mirror against Temur Reclamation, and Prinz will hope that the
Ben Weitz has long been recognized as one of the best minds in the game, but even after nine Grand Prix Top 8s, it had never translated to a Top Finish before. But that's changed with the Players Tour Finals where Weitz ended Sunday as the top-seeded player in all of the tournament. Weitz said he's had two longtime goals in Magic: "win a Grand Prix and Top 8 a Pro Tour."
He can check both accomplishments off now.
He accomplished the first by winning Grand Prix Phoenix earlier this year, and now he's added the second. While he wasn't thrilled to play a
In addition to his three Grand Prix victories from his four Top 8s, Allen Wu had two previous Top Finishes to his career: victory alongside his winning teammates Greg Orange and Ben Hull at Pro Tour 25th Anniversary and his Top 8 at Players Tour Phoenix earlier this year with a dominant 14-1-1 record.
Just like in Phoenix, Wu brought one of the strongest decks in the format and put in the work to reach his third Top Finish with the Players Tour Finals. After a 6-0 start on Day One, he locked in his third Top Finish by Round 12 to cruise into the end of the day. More importantly for the Top 8, he was one of the two Temur Reclamation to earn victory during the Swiss rounds against fellow Top 8 competitor Riku Kumagai's innovative "Temur slaying" deck.