World Magic Cup captaincy: frontrunners and rumours
By Neil T Stacey
We have the results of Pro Tour Fate Reforged in hand and SA’s last PTQ is this weekend. There could be no better time to talk about the race for captaincy of the national team at the 2015 World Magic Cup.
Before diving into the numbers and permutations, I’ll talk about the elephant in the room. Rumours have been circulating that Hall of Famer Raphael Levy will be switching his nationality to South African to scoop up the captaincy of our national team and guarantee himself a handful of bonus Pro Points.
There is plenty of incentive for Levy to do this. The French WMCQs are well-attended and their captaincy is hotly-contested by a number of top pros. Getting to the World Magic Cup through that route is chancy at best, even for the top Pro Points scorer in Magic history. If he switches to SA, however, he has a yearly spot all but guaranteed.
Me, I would be less than thrilled if Levy does take the captaincy. South Africans have so few opportunities to play at the top level that it would be a big loss for us to lose one of our few spots to an established pro looking to score a few points. An argument can be made that having a player of Levy’s calibre at the helm would be an asset to team SA, more than worth the sacrifice of one slot fewer for native South Africans.
I don’t buy that argument for a second. The World Magic Cup has proven time and again that a good team dynamic and working relationship trump star power when it comes to team events. Underdog teams taking out big names has been a recurring theme since the inception of the tournament. For the record, SA has placed higher than a number of teams headlined by big-name pros.
It is difficult to imagine a team meshing together when one member hails from a different nation and culture as well as being in a totally different place in terms of experience in Magic. It is debatable whether a foreign pro would help SA’s chances at all, let alone by enough of a margin to make up for denying that spot to a member of our local community.
The point might well be moot, however. I am not certain that Levy is eligible to be the SA captain. WOTC requires an individual to either be a citizen of the country in question, or to have been a permanent resident of that country since the 1st of January, 2015.
I have no idea where the guy lives, but I gather that Levy is married to a South African so he could certainly obtain South African citizenship if he so chose. That choice is of course an entirely personal one which I imagine would hinge on issues besides a Magic tournament. We can’t speculate further on the matter; all we can do is take a look at the information available to us. As of this morning, there is no sign on the WOTC Planeswalker Points site that Raphael Levy has switched nationality. Instead, the leaderboard reflects an incredible 7-way tie. Sinan Effendi, Leon Schlechter, Neil Stacey, Keraan Chetty, Allan Shepherd, Andrew Cullen and Anthony Hodgson are all level on 3 Pro Points.
In case of a tie in Pro Points, the captaincy is decided on tie-breakers, the first of which is the number of Pro Tour Top 8’s. Well, that doesn’t apply. The next tie-break is number of Grand Prix Top 8’s. None of those either. The decisive tie-break, then, is highest number of match points at a Pro Tour.
Currently, it is Anthony Hodgson who holds the lead, his seven match wins last week yielding 21 match points. If nothing changes then Anthony’s performance last week will have been good enough to punch his ticket to Barcelona for the World Magic Cup.
However, he shouldn’t be booking a hotel just yet. All eyes turn to Joburg this week, as Jabula Recreation Centre plays host to SA’s final PTQ on the old system. The seven players currently tied for the points lead have the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Snagging a ticket to Brussels for Pro Tour Dragons of Tarkir would also guarantee enough Pro Points to virtually lock up the captaincy. Even if none of the seven manage to get the qualification, the winner of Saturday’s PTQ will have the opportunity to dislodge Anthony by bettering his Pro Tour performance.
The stage is set for a high stakes showdown at Jabula. Will Anthony Hodgson hold on to his lead or will he be dislodged at the back end of the season? Will one of the points leaders lock up the captaincy, or will another player enter the race? Or will we see an upset with a South African picking up a big result at a GP?