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The Magic Writers Hall of Fame


Hello, folks!

Accumulated Knowledge
If you hadn’t heard the news, Magic is adding a virtual wing to its virtual Magic Hall of Fame for judges. And they already announced the first five entries into the wing:

  • Michael Guptil
  • Gijsbert Hoogendijk
  • Collin Jackson
  • Jaap Brouwer
  • Sheldon Menery

And I want to join the rest of the Magic community in congratulating these well-deserved folks!

I’m happy to see that the Hall of Fame is being extended to the judge program on behalf of people who sacrifice long hours for the community and the game that we love so much. I couldn’t be happier to see these folks receive their due reward!

In a lot of sports halls of fames, there are people outside of the athletes who are honored. Take football. In the football hall of fame, we have some really great owners, coaches, general managers, league commissioners, and even folks like Steve Sabol. Making football a great part of the dynamic of our society requires a lot more than great players.

And Magic has grown into something a lot more than the occasional Magic night at your kitchen table. We have speculative traders who make money and cosplayers and a ton of tournaments and even a Pro Tour. We have video games and an electronic platform, and judges and players and tournament organizers and local stores and everyone pours their hearts and souls into this thing that Magic has become.

So I would like to pause today and consider an additional line of expansion to the Magic Hall of Fame that I think is an obvious place to look. I’d like to see a wing dedicated to the writers who have pushed and prodded—and sometimes cajoled—Magic into what it is today. A writing wing to the Magic Hall of Fame just makes too much sense to ignore.

In the hope of one day seeing that happen, I decided to give you the five writers out there whom I would like as the first class of five writers to make the Hall of Fame. All five of these people truly deserve this honor, and all have impacted the various aspects of Magic today. From tournaments to the kitchen table, this is a very impactful class of influence. Check them out!

1 — Mike Flores

Jackal Pup
I really went back and forth on this spot for a while. In my mind, Mike Flores and Zvi Mowshowitz are just perfect examples of tournament writers who have perfected their craft. Both have epically powerful works that pushed the genre. But Mike is getting the nod for a few reasons. First of all, Mike has more pieces that are just awesome works of nature, including the classic “Who’s the Beatdown?” Mike’s stuff isn’t just in the past. He continues to churn out articles at a blistering pace, and you know what? They are really strong stuff! He’s not prone to be a writer who just types up some sloppy work, tosses his name on it, and moves on. Everyone likes Mike, and yet mourns with him as he qualifies for a Pro Tour but then just doesn’t seem to keep on the gravy train. We get him. Mike is our guy, and we identify with him a lot more than, for example, a Jon Finkel.

2 — Jamie Wakefield

Natural Order
Jamie Wakefield was one of the classic writers of the early days of Magic writing, and his works still resonate today. Everybody looked forward to reading his latest column on his Magic adventure. And every article was a true adventure. He created rogue decks, piloted them to adequate success, and then pushed them. The most iconic of these decks was Special Forces, a mono-green deck that used Natural Order to sacrifice an early green creature to grab Verdant Force and toss it right into play. In his iconic article “It’s All About the Dinosaurs,” he wins a Pro Tour spot at a Pro Tour Qualifier when he changes up his deck to include Wall of Roots in order to speed up the Order to Force strategy. And he uses dinosaur tokens as Saprolings. Everyone rejoiced, and Secret Forces really became a thing. What made Jamie great, though, was first that he’s probably the strongest wordsmith in today’s list. He could turn a phrase like no one else. But second, he brought us into his world with pictures, stories of himself and his wife, and a lot more. I think Flores is the best tournament writer Magic has had. But Wakefield? He’s the best author we were ever blessed with, and his personal style of writing pushed everything forward for the genre.

3 — John Rizzo

Rizzo is certainly the most unique Magic writer we’ve ever seen, and I doubt anyone familiar with his work would ever question that claim. He’s a very gonzo style of Magic writer. His articles sometimes are more like quick mood pieces, like this one (“The More I Learn About Magic, the More I Suck”). His early stuff was strong (“Searching for Jamie Wakefield”), and he always had a verve about him. But don’t forget that Rizzo was a strong Magic player as well. For example, after coming back to Magic from a long reprieve, he looked at formats like Extended and Legacy, and then he took a junk card, Ichorid, and turned it into a powerhouse by building and pushing it in his articles. Don’t dismiss him as a silly Magic writer. He was avant garde, extremely popular, and still a very good Magic player.

As an aside, did you know that I became a regular writer in part due to Rizzo’s retirement? It’s true! His editor at the time, The Ferrett, was angry and wrote a piece called “Rizzo Died for Your Sins.” In it, he chastises the Magic community for not writing more and for being part of the reason that John Rizzo quit. And he challenges them to pick up the pens and start writing. I had written a few submission pieces, but I felt properly chagrined. So I did! I pushed my writing and my frequency, and I soon thereafter became a paid writer.

4 — Bennie Smith

Golgari Grave-Troll
As I established with Wakefield and Rizzo’s pieces, these authors could really boil a metagame down to its basic parts and craft rogue decks that became archetypes in the format after their successes. They had some strong successes to back their columns. Don’t forget that Bennie has won and Top 8’d the Virginia State Championships numerous times, and he once did so with a rogue Dredge deck of his own and helped to put Dredge on the map. In addition to major tournament success, Bennie has been one of the golden boys of casual writing. From his Commander book to his articles in Scrye magazine and basically every website known to man, Bennie still pushes himself, his markets, and his message to a variety of people. Today, he is the best writer about the most popular casual format out there. That’s saying a lot. Here’s to Bennie!

5 — The Ferrett

Joven's Ferrets
I wanted to give one of the two spots on this list today to one of the major influential multiplayer writers of the hobby. Considering just how often multiplayer games are played in the Era of Commander, the influence of two major writers in the earlier days of the game cannot be overemphasized: The Ferrett and Anthony Alongi. Both really pushed multiplayer writing forward with a variety of ideas. I am giving this nod to The Ferrett for a few reasons. First, his acknowledgement and analysis of the political metagame was among the best we’ve ever seen, period, for his genre. He really could dissect metagames and mind tricks with the best of them. His articles tended to be extremely well written, breezy, and personal. In addition to that work, he was among the major editors for StarCityGames.com, which gives him an additional layer of awesome on the cake. From his work on Wizards of the Coast’s website and beyond, he did a lot of good for the community. Actually, beyond multiplayer, he had an introduction column for playing Sealed that ran for a long time and was pretty strong, too. No one writer has had a greater influence on multiplayer writing and playing than this guy.

Now, there are other writers who deserve to be in the Hall as well. And future classes can have Zvi and Alongi and others. But this one gets the best of the best: the Rizzo, the Wakefield, the Flores, the Smith, and the Ferrett. Man, that’s a strong class!

Who would be in your top five?

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