The Magic: Hall of Fame is the pinnacle of Magic achievement on the competitive scene. As a notable member of the Magic: The Gathering community, I have a vote for the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame*. I've been a fan of competitive Magic since I started playing competitively, and my involvement in reporting and commentating on tournaments has only served to grow my fascination. I feel honored and privileged to have a say in who enters this prestigious club for [CURRENT YEAR].
*Don't worry, I don't actually have a vote for the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame.
Let's get on with the show.
[INSERT NAME OF THIS YEAR'S OBVIOUS SHOE-IN]
[PERSON] is this year's obvious choice. He has the requisite [MINIMUM] four Pro Tour top 8s, and [PT WIN/WORLDS WIN/POY] under his belt. Very few people can claim to have been the best player in the world for any period of time, and [PLAYER] was for at least a year during [DATES]. He was also a crucial part of the development of [ICONIC DECK AND/OR TEAM], which dominated [EVENT]. His teammates and testing partners like [HALL OF FAMER] and [OTHER HALL OF FAMER] have nothing but good things to say about [PERSON], which is always a good sign of someone deserving of the accolade. To this day, when [PLAYER] is at any given Pro Tour, they're a threat to Top 8. So with all that said, [PERSON] has to be my top nominee.
[INSERT NAME OF HIATUS GUY]
Younger readers might not know much about [PLAYER] before his recent return to the Pro Tour, but he was well on his way to a Hall of Fame career before he took a step back from Magic to pursue [GAME DESIGN/SPORTS BETTING/POKER/DRUG SMUGGLING/ETC.]. But after his long break from the game, even those who were ignorant of [PLAYER] know that he came back with a vengeance and picked up right where he left off. Now that he's snagged his all-important fourth PT top 8, in addition to his [GP SUCCESS/COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS/ETC], and found a home on Team [SUPERTEAM], you'd have a hard time convincing most folks that [PLAYER] doesn't belong in the Hall.
[INSERT NAME OF JAPANESE PRO NO ONE HAS HEARD OF SINCE TEN YEARS AGO]
The American bias in the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame is always bandied about this time of year. Why just one Japanese pro in the discussion? Why not [NAME OF JAPANESE PRO NO ONE HAS HEARD OF SINCE TEN YEARS AGO #2] or [#3]? Their stats are also borderline, having Pro Tour success in addition to plenty of [GRAND PRIX/WORLDS/ROOKIE OF THE YEAR] success as well, and yet we don't bring them up in the same discussions as [NAME OF CURRENT PT PRO WHO IS CLOSE ON STATS] or [FORMER PT CHAMP]. But I digress. In any case, I have trouble with [Player] because I have very little personal knowledge of anything that isn't cold hard numbers, such as his community contributions. But [JAPANESE HALL OF FAMER] and [ANOTHER JAPANESE HALL OF FAMER] are some of the most respected voices of Japanese Magic, and they say that [PLAYER] is more than deserving, so he is worth a consideration.
[INSERT NAME OF NON-JAPANESE FOREIGN PRO NO ONE HAS HEARD OF SINCE FIVE YEARS AGO]
Speaking of community involvement, in addition to worldwide success, [PLAYER] has been the national champion of [COUNTRY] like a bazillion times, and years when he isn't the captain of [COUNTRY] at the World Magic Cup, he's on the team, and when he isn't on the team, he's still a stalwart of the community there, helping newer powerhouses like [CURRENT PRO COUNTRYMAN] with testing and connections. It's tough being a professional Magic player in a country that isn't the United States, what with the flight costs and the lack of hometown Grand Prix, so the fact that [PLAYER] has managed his stellar results even with that handicap is worth lauding and possibly worth rewarding with a Hall of Fame vote. Hashtag American bias. Without a [JAPANESE HALL OF FAMER]-equivalent to lean on here for guidance, it's tougher to give [PLAYER] the edge, but he's at least worth a second look.
[INSERT NAME OF FORMER PT CHAMP]
Unfortunately for [PLAYER], [TWO OR THREE] top 8s with a win in [YEAR LONG LONG AGO] just ain't what it used to be. Despite an era of dominance where he was one of the best four or five players in the world for a number of years, the Magic Hall of Fame is often a game of "what have you done for me lately?" And with his last PT Top 8 coming in [8+ YEARS AGO], lately isn't lately enough. [HALL OF FAMER THAT IS CLOSE FRIEND OF PLAYER] has made a case for [PLAYER] for the last couple of years, citing his close relationship and number of times facing down [PLAYER] in major tournaments, and the fact that he deems [PLAYER] to be of Hall of Fame caliber based on first-hand experience should certainly be a consideration. That said, it's the Hall of Fame, and not the Hall of Very Good, and I don't personally consider [PLAYER] to be there. Maybe if he returns, like [NAME OF PREVIOUSLY CITED HIATUS GUY], and spikes another Pro Tour Top 8, he'll be an easy vote. But he's fallen away from the game for now, and even with the free invite granted for being a Hall of Famer, I'm not even sure he'd use it, and I'd rather vote for someone who wants to be there. For now, he's on the cusp.
[INSERT NAME OF CURRENT PT PRO WHO IS CLOSE ON STATS]
Speaking of almost there, let's talk about [PLAYER]. Last year he earned his third Pro Tour top 8 in the last [THREE TO FIVE YEARS]. He's been a mainstay on the Pro Tour scene just as long, and beyond his tournament results his [ARTICLES/VIDEOS/TWITTER/COMMENTARY] are a unique and valued fixture of the community. All of that being said, I don't think it's his time yet. His stats just don't stack up with [THIS YEAR'S OBVIOUS SHOE-IN] or [ONE OF LAST YEAR'S ELECTEES]. So it's going to be a tough call for me. He clearly will be in the Hall someday, but I'm on the fence on if that day is today.
[INSERT NAME OF PERSON WITH ALL THE STATS BUT SHADY HISTORY]
Now we get to the point in the article where we have to talk about [PLAYER]. He has the stats. He has more than the stats, to be fair, as he'd be a shoe-in with his [FIVE+ TOP 8S] and [GP SUCCESS/WORLDS SUCCESS/OTHER INTANGIBLE]. Not to mention the fact that when you think of [ICONIC DECK OR CARD], you think [PLAYER]. But you simply cannot overlook the damage done to the game by his behavior. His suspension history means that his induction into the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame is not a thing I am willing to consider. I think our Hall of Famers should be held to a higher standard, and [PLAYER] simply does not meet that standard.
[INSERT NAME OF CROWD FAVORITE]
A lot of the social media discussion this year is about [PLAYER], and with good reason. Sure, [PLAYER] has only three Pro Tour Top 8s without a win, but what he lacks in championship Sundays he more than makes up for in [ARBITRARY OTHER INFORMATION THAT MAKES ARGUMENT FOR PLAYER], and that means something. His community contributions and longevity are key factors, and the fact that he's been on the ballot for so long and being so close is also worthy of consideration. The groundswell of support is staggering. Even [WIZARDS OF THE COAST EMPLOYEE] has come out in favor of [PLAYER] on social media, and when someone with respect from not just the pro community but also the design and development community speak highly of [PLAYER] that's quite the endorsement. I am on the fence, because my head says he isn't deserving based on the numbers, but my heart says that a Magic Hall of Fame isn't a Magic Hall of Fame without [PLAYER] in it. And it would be nice to have [PLAYER] have a free invite to the PT, because you can be sure they'd use it.
With all of that said, my ballot this year is:
[OBVIOUS SHOE-IN 100% OF THE TIME]
[HIATUS GUY 100%]
[JAPANESE PRO 50%]
[NON-JAPANESE FOREIGN PRO 50%]
[CROWD FAVORITE 40%]
[CURRENT PT PRO WHO IS CLOSE ON STATS 30%]
[FORMER PT CHAMP 20%]
The Magic Hall of Fame is imperfect. Some think there are too many in it, some think there are too few. Some think that it weighs too heavily in favor of having it be based almost entirely on Pro Tour statistics, on who you know, or on recent history. It is a unique animal, with the eligibility requirements meaning that players who are at the very apex of their dominance can get voted in while still in their prime. People who it could be argued that have all of the boxes checked to get into the Hall of Fame are not; people like Kyle Rose, with 4 PT Top 8s, a win, and an era of Limited dominance, or Eugene Harvey, with 4 PT Top 8s and a World win, have fallen off of the ballot.
And with [NEXT YEAR'S OBVIOUS SHOE-IN] and [NEXT YEAR'S CURRENT PT PRO WHO IS CLOSE ON STATS] joining the ballot in [NEXT YEAR], it's only going to get more difficult as time goes on.