After 16 grueling rounds of both Draft and Pioneer, eight players advanced through the gauntlet to qualify for the Top 8 of the first-ever Players Tour in America. Here are the eight competitors who will return on Sunday for a shot at the title.
Making his astounding eighth Top Finish, Jensen has been a force through the years and is showing no signs of slowing down. The Hall of Famer said he played the Lotus Breach deck that took the tournament by storm because it was "broken," and his dominant run to the Top 8 certainly backs that up. Jensen's preparation came along with the other members of Team ChannelFireball, and almost everyone on the team who played the Breach deck alongside Jensen performed well.
33-year-old Ashton has been one of the hardest-working Magic players on the east coast for the better part of a decade. He's won an astounding 21 PTQs over his career, 11 online and 10 more in tabletop tournaments. This is his first Top Finish, and it came with Bant Spirits, which he decided to play after not feeling comfortable enough to bring Breach. It's a huge accomplishment for a player who began Magic when his dad bought him a Fourth Edition Starter Pack.
"I'd like to thank my teammates and all the friends I've made playing this game over my life, and Stephen most of all," he said. "And I want to thank my mom and sister for encouraging my goofy hobby."
Allen Wu may just be one of the most accomplished players that isn't yet a household name, and he's made a habit out of hardware. He has three Grand Prix trophies and another from winning Pro Tour 25th Anniversary with teammates Ben Hull and Greg Orange – that's more tournament titles than even some Hall of Famers. He played Lotus Breach this weekend after "having his dreams crushed by it" repeatedly, and he'll look to add yet another trophy to his collection on Sunday.
If it seems like you've seen Wilson's name in Top 8s for much longer than you might expect from a 24-year-old, it may be because Wilson cited "winning a Grand Prix as a child" as one of his proudest Magic accomplishments (he won that tournament in 2012, for the record).
But Wilson has been a stellar Magic player ever since, notching two Top Finishes in his career, including a runner-up finish at Pro Tour Valencia in 2014. He came to Phoenix wanting to play "fair" Magic, which meant sleeving up the Sultai Delirium deck with
Bursavich has been on a tear. The 27-year-old made the Top 8 of Mythic Championship VI last year in Richmond and also has a GP title to his name. With another Top 8 here – back-to-back for his last two major events – Bursavich is quickly establishing himself as a rapid riser at the highest levels of competition. He bucked the trend this weekend by playing Azorius Control – or, as he put it, Teferi and
If there is competitive Magic to be played, Kiihne is there. He's found success on the SCG and Grand Prix circuits and competed in the Mythic Invitational as well. At 23, Kiihne has already carved out a name for himself and has three Grand Prix Top 8s to prove it. He was the lone Mono-Red Aggro player to advance to the Top 8, and he cited a favorable matchup against both Breach and Inverter decks as the reason he brough it.
Burkhart may have been just outside the cutoff for the Magic Pro League last year, but he's no stranger to winning at the highest levels. He has a full 10 Grand Prix Top 8s to his name and has been a mainstay of professional Magic for years. The Denver native serves as the captain for Team RIW. He chose to bring Dimir Inverter this weekend both because he finds the deck fun to play and because it suits his strengths. As he put it, "I had to stay true to my Grixis roots."
Ingram previously had a Top 16 PT finish, but he's done that one better with him run here in Phoenix. He won an SCG Open just last week with Dimir Inverter, and so naturally he chose to run it back for the Players Tour. It worked to perfection, and one of the tricky combo deck's premier pilots will have a chance to show the world how it's done on the Sunday stage.