Welcome to Hipsters of the Coast’s official preview of the 2017-18 Pro Tour Team Series! Last season’s test season was a great introduction of team competition and now it’s here to stay. This week at Pro Tour Ixalan, 37 teams will show up to kick off the first full season of competition.

Earlier this week we recapped the tumultuous off-season for the Pro Tour Team Series which saw over 50% of the teams disband. Many players transferred to the remaining teams or got together to create new clubs from the ashes of the fallen squads.

Today we’re going to look at the 37 clubs vying for this season’s title and break them down into seven different categories:

  • Major League Top Tier
  • Major League Mid Tier
  • Major League Relegation Tier
  • Minor League AAA
  • Minor League AA
  • Minor League A
  • Arizona Fall League

The top three groups represent what I consider the “Major League” teams on the Pro Tour Team Series. These are the clubs mostly comprised of Gold and Platinum pro players and could be reasonably expected to have a shot at a top-4 spot.

The next three groups represent what I consider the “Minor League” teams which have had inconsistent performances on the Pro Tour, or rely a bit more heavily on the Grand Prix circuit. This group contains mostly Gold and some Silver pro players.

The last group, the Arizona Fall League, is built mostly from players who are not Pro Tour regulars and have qualified either through Silver pro status, a Grand Prix top 8, or an RPTQ victory. If there was an actual “Minor League” or “Developmental League” for the Pro Tour (not the SCG Tour) that’s where these players would compete.

As a final note, these rankings look at a variety of metrics of past performance but primarily key in on 2016 pro point totals, average best pro tour finish, and grand prix point share (the percentage of a team’s pro points that came from Grand Prix events versus Pro Tour events).

Teams in the Major League tiers all had at least 200 pro points last season with the teams in the Top tier having at least 300 points. Teams in the Minor League tiers all had at least 100 pro points last season. The Arizona Fall League contains all the teams that had fewer than 100 pro points last season.

Major League Top Tier

We start off with last season’s runners-up, Team Genesis, comprised of returning members Lukas Blohon, Martin Muller, Brad Nelson, and Seth Manfield. The team is rounded out with Corey Baumeister who spent last season with MTG Mint Card (disbanded) and Brian Braun-Duin who played with Top Level (also disbanded).

Martin Dang has moved from Genesis to their partner team Revelation (see below) and Michael Majors is now working on the Play Design team for Wizards of the Coast.

Genesis’s members bring an impressive 317 pro points from last season to the table. If they can repeat that feat they should easily cruise to a top-four finish this season.

Biggest Strength: Two former World Champions in Brian Braun-Duin and Seth Manfield.

Biggest Concern: They’re consistent but can they make a splash? Genesis only had two players who reached the top eight of a Pro Tour last season. Five other teams are tied for the lead with three. That might not be terribly concerning except that Genesis only brings 10 lifetime Pro Tour top eight finishes to the table and a single Pro Tour title. Seven other teams have more Pro Tour top eights and titles.

The only new team to make it into the top tier of the major league division, Hareruya Latin is an amalgamation of some of the best Latin pros. Luis Salvatto, Marcio Carvalho, Thiago Saporito, and Carlos Romao form the core of the team and all spent last season playing for DEX Army. The team added two Gold Club pro players in Sebastian Pozzo (Ligamagic) and Lucas Esper Berthoud (DEXThird).

Biggest Strength: With 321 points, Hareruya Latin’s members have the most combined Pro Points from last season. Only 30% of those points came from Grand Prix tournaments, meaning this team can perform on the biggest stage.

Biggest Concern: It’s hard to find a weak link on this team, but since we’re looking for one we’ll single out Sebastian Pozzo, the only member of Hareruya Latin without a Pro Tour top eight finish on his resume. Otherwise, this is a team poised to challenge for the top spot this season.

Our defending champions return with their entire roster in-tact. Yuuki Ichikawa, Kentaro Yamamoto, Yuuya Watanabe, Shota Yasooka, Ken Yukuhiro, and Teruya Kakumae are all aiming to become the Pro Tour Team Series’ first back-to-back champions after becoming the first champions ever.

Biggest Strength: Did we mention they won it all last season? If that’s not enough, just look to Yuuya Watanabe who has 27 lifetime Grand Prix top eight finishes and 4 lifetime Pro Tour top eight finishes.

Biggest Concern: Teruya Kakumae enters the season as a Silver level pro player. While the team is likely confident that he’ll quickly secure invitations to the rest of the season’s competitions, there is always a risk of stumbling out the gate and missing other Pro Tours, putting more pressure on his teammates to perform well at every event.

The last club in the top tier is also a newcomer to the Pro Tour team series. Ivan Floch, Alexander Hayne, and Samuel Pardee all spent last season with Face to Face Games. They’ll be joined by Steve Rubin (D3 Go!), Matthew Nass (CFB Fire), and Samuel Black (Mutiny).

Biggest Strength: Every single member of this team has made it to the top eight of a Pro Tour in their life, and half the team have Pro Tour titles on their resume. That’s the kind of experience that helped net them over 300 pro points last season.

Biggest Concern: 38% of the team’s 312 pro points came from the Grand Prix circuit last season. Repeating that feat will require a lot of tournament grinding and could wear the team down in its inaugural season.

Major League Mid Tier

I suspect a lot of you are probably going to chastise me for excluding ChannelFireball’s new mega-team from the top tier. I’m sure they’ll print out this article and hang it outside their locker room and use it as motivation throughout the season.

The big news of the offseason was the merger of CFB’s Fire and Ice squads into one team featuring Mike Sigrist, Ben Stark, Josh Utter-Leyton, Martin Juza, and Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. To make the news even bigger, Luis Scott-Vargas agreed to leave the commentary booth and come out of retirement to captain the team.

Biggest Strength: 99 lifetime Grand Prix top 8 finishes. 34 lifetime Pro Tour top 8 finishes. This is a team that knows how to finish. No team brings more lifetime Pro Tour top 8 finishes to the team series and only one team (see below) has more Grand Prix top 8 finishes.

Biggest Concern: Luis Scott-Vargas is the wildcard here. He brings one of the game’s most impressive resumes with eight top-eight finishes on the Pro Tour. But, he hasn’t competed in several years and it remains to be seen if his skills rusted while working in the booth.

MetaGame Gurus is bringing two teams to the Pro Tour Team Series this year, Team Sun and Team Moon. The brighter squad is also the one with a shinier resume featuring Joshua Cho, Matthew Severa, and Gerry Thompson who all competed as part of the defunct Team Mutiny last season. They’re joined by Ben Friedman (Mox Box Bowl), Oliver Tiu (Face to Face Games), and Ondrej Strasky (CFB Ice).

Biggest Strength: The 266 pro points that this team’s members racked up last season was no fluke. They’ve all been solid pro players on the tour for many years. While they’ve never necessarily been considered great individually, as a team they bring solid performances to the table.

Biggest Concern: That said, what they’ve been consistent at is being good, but not always great. They only have a combined 28 Grand Prix top eight finishes and 5 Pro Tour top eight finishes. Is this a team that’s riding Gerry Thompson’s Pro Tour victory to an inflated perception, or can they be the real deal?

This team, led by Lee Shi Tian, returns with five of it’s six members from last season. Tian returns alongside Jason Chung, Huang Hao-Shan, Kelvin Chew, and Eduardo Sajgalik. They picked up newcomer Yam Wing Chun to replace Nam Sung Wook who is not playing with any team this season.

Biggest Strength: With 290 points, MTG Mint Card fell just short of our 300-point threshold to be in the top tier. They finished in fourth place last season and if they can improve on that performance they’ll be a top team once again.

Biggest Concern: Zero lifetime Pro Tour Titles. That’s definitely a concern. Three lifetime Grand Prix titles. Also a concern. This team might be the definition of consistently good but never great. Can they break that stigma?

The six members of Ultimate Guard played together last season under the Puzzle Quest banner. But make no mistake, Andrew Cuneo, Paul Rietzl, Jon Finkel, Reid Duke, Owen Turtenwald, and William Jensen are a formidable team under any banner.

Biggest Strength: Remember how I said only one team had more than 100 lifetime Grand Prix top eight finishes? Well this is it, with a whopping 106 on their resume. That also includes 23 Grand Prix titles, 33 Pro Tour top eight finishes, and 5 Pro Tour titles, the most of any team in the series.

Biggest Concern: Even though they combined for 288 pro points last season, 43% of them came from the Grand Prix circuit instead of the Pro Tour. They’ll need to improve upon their Pro Tour performances as none of the six players made it to the top eight last season.

Major League Relegation Tier

A new team from Europe enters the fray. Catharsis is comprised of relatively unproven pro players but unlike teams in the minor leagues with the same designation, Catharsis has two PT top 8’s from last season and shows great potential.

Biggest Strength: Marc Tobiasch and Pierre Dagen lead this club and are joined by Peter Vieren who had great seasons last year.

Biggest Concern: It’s entirely possible that the team isn’t able to repeat last season’s success and does not have a long resume of lifetime achievements to build from.

I might get a bit of flak for not promoting this team higher, but they’ll already be without one of their heavy hitters as Raphael Levy will be missing Pro Tour Ixalan for the birth of his child. That will leave the international team of Jeremy Dezani, Tomoharu Saito, Andrea Mengucci, Christian Calcano, and Javier Dominguez to pick up the slack.

Biggest Strength: Connected company has a great mix of lifetime achievement award-winning players including Dezani and Levy as well as players looking to really build a name for themselves in the annals of the Pro Tour’s history in Christian Calcano and Javier Dominguez.

Biggest Concern: It’s possible that most of this team’s best days are behind them and it will be a challenge to see if the veteran members can reclaim some of their glory from past years to propel Connected Company into contention for a top spot this season.

This new Japanese team is lead by Shuhei Nakamura who has enough lifetime experience to spread around. He’ll be joined by former Hareruya teammate Yuta Takahashi and Last Samurai member Kazuyuki Takimura. Three more Gold pro club members who did not play on the team series last year make up the other half of this club in Toru Inoue, Kazuaki Fujimura, and Riku Kumagai.

Biggest Strength: 39 lifetime Grand Prix top 8’s. 10 Grand Prix titles. 8 Pro Tour top 8’s. Shuhei Nakamura and Yuta Takahashi are the backbone of this team.

Biggest Concern: 11 lifetime Grand Prix top 8’s. 2 Grand Prix titles. 1 Pro Tour Top 8. The rest of this team will need to step up in a big way to carry Kusemono to the top of the standings.

The superior, in my opinion, of Massdrop’s two clubs this year, is led by Jon Stern and Pascal Maynard and they’ll be joined by some big names including Shaun McLaren, Rob Pisano, Eric Severson, and Ben Weitz. The six players combined for 215 pro points last season.

Biggest Strength: Massdrop’s two teams will be able to work together for a competitive advantage and this team will draw heavily from Stern and Maynard’s success in Grand Prix events.

Biggest Concern: Though they were able to put up a respectable 42% Grand Prix point share, no member of Massdrop West made the top 8 of a Pro Tour last season. An inability to improve on that number will hold back an otherwise promising team that should dominate Grand Prix events.

MetaGame Gurus second entry into this year’s team series is led by Travis Woo and Nathaniel Smith who both had great seasons with Lingering Souls and Fire Squad last year. Brandon Ayers from Fire Squad is also joining this team as are Jacob Wilson (Face to Face Games) and free agents Mattia Rizzi and John Rolf.

Biggest Strength: Travis Woo will look to dominate the draft competition again this season and impart some of that wisdom to the rest of the squad.

Biggest Concern: Jacob Wilson is the only member of the team with any Pro Tour top 8 finishes and only Wilson and Rizzi have a Grand Prix title to their name. This might be another team that can be classified as consistently good but never great.

Minor League AAA



Each of these teams came very close to the 200 pro point threshold I had for the Major League divisions (with one exception, see below). EUreka, Massdrop East, Hotsauce Games, and Face to Face Games are all returning for a second season but with some big shake-ups in their roster. The test for them, as well as for newcomers Snapcardster and Child’s Play will be to put up more consistent results across the board.

But I want to talk about Revelation, who had 226 pro points last season. Led by Martin Dang this team has a good roster featuring Joel Larsson who played with CFB Ice last season and Petr Sochurek who played for Hareruya. However, I couldn’t include Revelation in the Major League because more than 50% of their pro points came from Grand Prix events. The team had zero PT top 8 finishes and will have to show that they can finish more consistently on the Pro Tour before they can compete with the teams in the Majors.

Minor League AA



Final Last Samurai and Magic Corsairs Crew return with a lot of new faces this season. Final Last Samurai leads this group with Kenji Tsumura, Makihito Mihara, and Tsuyoshi Fujita who have 15 combined lifetime Pro Tour top 8 finishes. However, none of these five teams had a PT top 8 finish last season.

Cardhoarder Brazil, La Perla Nera, and ManaTraders are all new entries to the Pro Tour Team Series and have good rosters with Grand Prix point shares between 40% and 50%. If they want to advance through the competitive ranks they’ll have to have better showings on the Pro Tour this season starting in Ixalan.


Minor League A



Each of these five teams has some potential to compete but will need to make some serious leaps in order to have a shot at finishing in the top half of the team series, let alone competing for a top-four spot.

With only one Gold pro among this entire group, each team will be focused on securing invitations to Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan before they set their eyes on further prizes like Pro Tour Dominaria and the 25th Anniversary Pro Tour. We look forward to following their journeys.

Arizona Fall League



We definitely admire these seven teams for coming to the competition this weekend, but we don’t have high hopes for them. None of these teams managed to put up 100 combined pro points last season. Only one member of one team made the top eight of a Pro Tour. None of them have any lifetime Pro Tour top eight finishes (outside of the one last season). 258 of their 372 pro points last season came from Grand Prix events (69%).

In short, this is a group of teams with a lot of concerns and not a lot of reasons to think they’ll be competing for a top spot in the Pro Tour Team Series. There are 5 Silver pro players and 11 Bronze pro players in this group leaving 26 players who aren’t members of the club at all. It’s not a question of if they can compete, it’s a question of if they’ll still be in competition come Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan. Still, we admire their tenacity and look forward to following their progress throughout the coming season.

Let’s play ball!

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