The 2013 Class of the MTG Pro Tour Hall of Fame was announced this past week as part of the festivities in Amsterdam. Your inductees this year are Luis Scott-Vargas, Ben Stark, and William “Huey” Jensen. While all of these players are deserving of the honor, this year’s voting highlighted a major flaw in the Hall of Fame itself. While there is a lot to be said about the voting process and who is good enough to be inducted, there is a flaw that needs to be corrected in order for the Hall of Fame to serve its purpose as a hallowed place of reverance for those who not only played at the highest level of the Pro Tour, but those who made it possible for people to even have that opportunity. The event that exposed this flaw was the failure of the voters to induct Chris Pikula.

The argument against inducting the Meddling Mage into the PTHOF is clear. He doesn’t have the statistics to compete with the players who have been voted in. He finished very close to getting in, as noted in the link above with the top-ten voting numbers. Carlos Gutierrez over at GatheringMagic pointed out that Pikula will (likely) be getting a special invite to the Pro Tour as a sort-of-consolation prize. That’s all well and good, but it still doesn’t address the fact that there is a Pro Tour Hall of Fame and one of the members is not Chris Pikula. For some context on why he deserves to be there, I will defer to this article that Randy Buehler wrote when discussing who to vote into the inaugural 2005 class of the PTHOF:

Another enduring memory that I treasure from my early days on Tour is Chris Pikula holding court. It’s late in the round, most people are done playing already, and Chris is telling some story. A crowd gathers and keeps building, just listening to him talk. There has never been a better or more entertaining storyteller on Tour. People talk about Long’s charisma, but Chris was the guy people actually wanted to hang out with. He just plain made the Pro Tour more fun. For everybody.

In addition, Chris combined that gift for gab with a strong moral sensibility. Team Deadguy, with he and Dave Price as its leaders called out all the cheaters for being the bastards that they were. They made sure the rest of us knew how to stop anybody from cheating us and in the end they pretty much won the fight for the soul of Pro Tour. Nowadays the cheaters have mostly been run out of the game through a combination of better judging and peer pressure.

Returning to Pikula, I think the case for him is actually stronger than for his Deadguy compatriot. They both wore the white hats and together led the campaign against the cheaters, so we’ll call that a push. Price wrote more, but I think Pikula’s influence was just as strong through a combination of some writing, some Sunday Top 8 color commentary, and just sheer force of personality.

His ability to understand a situation and summarize it in one entertaining line (that would get repeated and passed down from everyone who was listening to him hold court to all of their friends to all of their friends) was legendary. Faced with the Urza’s Saga-fueled brokenness that was Pro Tour-Rome, Pikula went straight to Mark Rosewater and sent the message back to R&D: “Ban everything until Necro is good again, then ban Necro and you’re done.”

The bargain with Humpherys at the Invitational that helped Chris win the right to make Meddling Mage … “I came to play” … “Holy Pikula” … I don’t think these are just inside jokes that friends like to repeat, I think stories like these are the Pro Tour. The fan votes for the Invitational would seem to back me up on this, too — no one in the history of the game has been invited to the “All-Star Game” more times than Chris Pikula. For me, Pikula combines the best elements of both Dave Price and Brian Hacker. He has all the personality of Hacker plus all the popularity and influence of Price, and he combines that with as many Top 8s as the two of them combined. (He’s also the only one of the three still playing, having missed Top 8 No. 4 by one turn last summer at Pro Tour-Seattle.)

That is incredibly strong praise from one of Magic’s revered designers. Buehler’s ballot that year contained Jon Finkel, Darwin Kastle, Alan Comer, Tommi Hovi and Chris Pikula. The first four were all voted in, along with Olle Rade. Buehler himself was voted into the 2007 class. Chris Pikula never made it, and with the raise in requirements from 100 lifetime pro points to 150, he won’t be eligible in the future. The fact that Pikula was so instrumental in the formation of the game and the legitimacy of the Pro Tour should not be ignored.

It seems evident to me now that the MTG PTHOF needs a builder category. The Hockey Hall of Fame has a category for “builders” and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame has a category for “contributors” to each respective sport. For example, Larry O’Brien is a member of the Basketball HOF as a contributor, best remembered as the commissioner of the league who merged the NBA and the ABA together. The NBA championship trophy is named after him. In the NHL, one of the builders in the Hall of Fame is former NHL President Clarence Campbell who oversaw the league’s expansion from six teams to eighteen in the 60’s and 70’s and also created the NHL All-Star game.

The MTG Pro Tour is the product of many contributors who deserve the same level of recognition as players like Jon Finkel and Kai Budde. People like Mark Rosewater who pushed for and expanded the coverage of the Pro Tour in the early days of its existence so that it was viewed as a legitimate competition and Chris Pikula who helped clean up the cheating and degenerate play that ran rampant in the Tour’s early days deserve recognition in the Pro Tour Hall of Fame for contributions without which we may not still have a Pro Tour today.

In the end, the goal of the Hall of Fame, like any other, is to honor and remember not only the players who have excelled in competition but the people who have built that competition and made it possible for those of us who are fans of the game to appreciate it at the highest levels. Until Wizards adds a builders category to the Pro Tour Hall of Fame, it will just be a list of some of the most successful players in Pro Tour history, but not a complete picture of those who have made the MTG Pro Tour one of the greatest competitive card gaming circuits in the world.

The Quick Hits

  • Mark Rosewater kicked off the week with a look at some trivia from the history of the World Championship. [Making Magic]
  • Very late to the game, Sean McKeown talked about his PT HOF votes and American bias. [Dear Azami]
  • Travis Woo looked at his life through the lens of cutting cards from a deck. [Woo Brews]
  • In her first piece for GM, Heather Lafferty interviews Natasha Lewis Harrington. [Gamer Boy, Gamer Girl]
  • James Arnold produced two infographics this week. The first is about Magic 2014. [thatguyjames]
  • The mass exodus from LegitMTG in the wake of Medina’s departure continues. [Polish Tamales]
  • Yet the death of LegitMTG has been widely exaggerated, apparently. [LegitMTG]
  • Check out the latest capitalist venture by Wizards: Ravnica Pins! [Magic Arcana]
  • Heather Lafferty and Natasha Lewis Harrington teamed up to tackle sexism in Magic [Gathering Magic]
  • As promised, here’s the second infographic from James Arnold this week. [thatguyjames]
  • Does anyone know why we still have a MTGO Community Cup? [Gathering Magic]
  • Apparently I spoke too soon four lines above. HERE is the latest capitalist venture by Wizards. [Magic Arcana]
  • Finally, Lauren Lee applies Myers-Briggs style of personality dichotomy to Magic Players. [Mulldrifting]

Wallpaper of the Week

I’m not usually a big fan of left-aligned desktops because all my icons are on that side. However, if you’re in the market for that sort of thing, Wizards delivers with a stellar wallpaper for Elvish Mystic. If you keep your icons on the right-hand side then this looks pretty rad in fact. The mood of the art is very focused to me, which always makes for a good desktop design. If you’re feeling adventurous, give it a try and move your icons to the other side of the screen. Unfortunately, if you’re not the adventurous type, then this wallpaper is pretty poor because your icons cover the main character. Can’t win ’em all I guess.

Grade: A- (Right-Side Icons) / C+ (Left-Side Icons)

The Week Ahead

With only four Grand Prix events, the month of August is going to be pretty slow for competitive Magic. While Theros spoilers are still a few weeks away, I think we can expect to learn more about the new Commander, FTV and other boxed sets coming out this fall over the next week or so.

What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.

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