Welcome to the final year of Magic Hall of Fame voting as we know it. Previously known as the Pro Tour Hall of Fame, the Magic Hall of Fame is the virtual enshrinement of some of the greatest competitors in the history of the game. It’s digital doors opened in 2005 with an inaugural class of Jon Finkel, Darwin Kastle, Tommi Hovi, Alan Comer, and Olle Rade.

This year’s class is led by almost unanimous slam-dunk pick Reid Duke. Duke has been one of the most prolific grinders in the Magic scene racking up four Pro Tour top eight finishes as well as six Grand Prix titles. Plenty of other commentators have already thrown in their hat for Duke, but perhaps none as convincingly as Paul Cheon on last week’s episode of Weekly MTG where Cheon made his passionate bid for Duke’s candidacy.

It’s worth noting that no one, not even Jon Finkel, has ever been inducted into the Hall of Fame with 100% of the vote. However, in this year’s class there is really no clear competitor to Reid Duke, though there are certainly many worthy of their own inclusion. Every member of the voting committee is allowed up to five votes, and my personal philosophy is to use all five, so here are my picks for the 2019 Magic Hall of Fame.

Reid Duke. Chris Pikula. Carlos Ramão, Brad Nelson, Gerry Thompson.

When I think about the Magic Hall of Fame I tend to focus on two key metrics. The first is competitive performances that made the candidate famous. The second is community leadership. All five of these candidates, in my mind, have been exemplary community leaders in their own rights. Duke and Nelson have been prolific content creators who have lent their wisdom to countless aspiring Magic players. Pikula and Thompson, each in their own generation, have been a voice for the common Planeswalker at the highest tables of competition. Ramão is undeniably one of the most influential figures in Brazilian Magic.

On the competitive side, Duke and Nelson’s resume’s speak for themselves. I laid out Reid Duke’s credentials earlier but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Brad Nelson’s. 19 Grand Prix top eight finishes. Three Grand Prix titles. Three Pro Tour top eight finishes. One Player of the Year title. But what really pushes Nelson over the edge is the fact that he is arguably the best Standard player of a generation if not of all time.

While ultimately I felt that Pikula, Thompson, and Ramão deserved to be enshrined mostly for their community contributions, all of them have had impressive competitive careers to put them on the ballot in the first place. Ramão is a former World Champion. Thompson has a Pro Tour title. And Chris Pikula has three Pro Tour top eight finishes.

Several players just missed the cut in my mind and I want to mention a few of them. Sam Black, Justin Gary, and Tom Martell all had top tier competitive resumes in this year’s pool of candidates. I think the biggest consideration I had to make was between Sam Black and Brad Nelson, but ultimately Nelson’s Standard reputation is what pushed him over the edge for me.

I look forward to learning what the Hall of Fame is going to look like in the future. It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of the process for the past two rounds of voting and I can’t wait to see who is inducted into this year’s class.

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