After 15 rounds of Swiss play, and two weekends of Players Tour Online events, eight players remained standing from a field of more than 300 to advance to the Top 8 of Players Tour Online 4.
Here's how the Top 8 broke down:
- Thomas Hendriks (Bant Flash)
- Arne Huschenbeth (Temur Reclamation)
- Alexander Hayne (Temur Reclamation)
- Akira Asahara (Temur Reclamation)
- Tomasz Sodomirski (Temur Reclamation)
- Tom White (Azorius Control)
- Pesach Israeli (Bant Ramp)
- Gabriel Nassif (Azorius Control)
A Magic Pro League member, Hall of Famer and owner of now 12 Top Finishes–the last coming just a few months ago at Magic World Championship XXVI–Gabriel Nassif is a luminary of the game re-emerged in recent years as a popular streamer who still has what it takes to compete at the very top of the game.
Nassif brought Azorius Control to the tournament, a rogue choice that paid off for him and friend Tom White, who also made the Top 8.
"You're always worried going into a big tournament with a rogue archetype, but we kind of crushed it," he said. "I've been playing this version of blue-white with four maindeck
"This Top 8 may not be as prestigious, but I was excited to see if I could do well with a deck I had pretty much only played on the MTG Arena ladder and see if my success could translate into the online Players Tour. It's especially cool to Top 8 this tournament with a fairly rogue-ish version of blue-white."
The Pro Tour Avacyn Restored winner is coming off a Top Finish at Mythic Championship II last year and was happy to battle with a tweaked Temur Reclamation list. He played Temur Reclamation because his friends said it was the best, and he worked with Mike Sigrist to tune a list originally presented by Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa.
"It's great for the current meta full of
Huschenbeth has been quietly putting up solid results at recent big events. He's one of the most accomplished European players in the field, having made the Top 8 of seven Grand Prix, with several strong starts recently at the Players Tour.
"My goal as a Magic player was always to make [a Players Tour] Top 8," he explained. "Last year I started 7-1 twice, but then struggled in Draft on Day Two in heartbreaking fashion."
Those struggles are in the past; Huschenbeth now has his first career Top Finish.
Playing an off-metagame choice with Bant Flash, Thomas Hendriks has added another Top Finish to an impressive career. After Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir in 2015 and Pro Tour Dominaria in 2018, he now has a third to add to a resume that also includes three Grand Prix Top 8 finishes.
"I played this deck because not only is it pretty against Temur Reclamation, it's also very hard to play against," he explained. "The sideboard gives a lot of game versus creature decks, so the only matchup I really dislike is Azorius Control. After 15 rounds, the only thing that changed is that the deck I played is better than I thought it would be. It was a combination of a good deck and my small mistakes not being punished."
In a few short months, Asahara has notched his fourth and fifth Top Finish, putting him into some rarified historical air. His first Top Finish came all the way back at the 2005 World Championship, and he was most recently seen in the Top 8 of Players Tour Nagoya earlier this year.
For Players Tour Online 4, he didn't have much time to grind MTG Arena matches, so he picked up Temur Reclamation with a very clear path to victory:
Better known by his online handle Sodek, Sodomirski has made his name as a Dredge specialist in older formats, where he has found years of success. But with no Dredge cards in Standard, he turned to Temur Reclamation instead.
"At first I was a bit lost, but it turned out that Temur Reclamation is both super fun to play–at least for me–and was tier one, so the choice was easy," he explained. "After 15 rounds, all I want to do is play more Temur Reclamation and [defeat] players with huge
"What this Top 8 means to me is that I can win not only with Dredge, but Magic in general!"
To say that White is not a Standard expert is an understatement; he's played zero games of the format in the last six months. But then Gabriel Nassif shared with him Azorius Control, and White was sold. The result was a dream a long time in the making coming true for the longtime player better known as "McwinSauce" online.
"This Top 8 is massive for me!" he said. "I have 20+ online PTQ Top 8s, but this was my first qualification."
Playing the Players Tour online was perfect for Pesach Israeli, an 18-year-old who said 99% of the Magic he plays comes online from his home in Israel. He found success this weekend with Bant Rant, and after years of trying to qualify, he has gone a step further and made the Top 8.
"I've been trying to Q for the PT for two years, and lost in the finals of four PTQs," he explained. "It feels amazing that I get to represent my country here!"