Felipe Tapia Becerra is the first Latin American Rookie of the Year, joining the likes of former Rookie of the Year players, and future Pro Tour Hall of Fame members, Yuuya Watanabe and Masashi Oiso. It's a historic event for the Chilean, who was surprised to see he was the leader coming into the weekend.
"When I arrived in San Diego, I saw it on the website after Rich Hagon told me," Becerra explained. "I was first in the running and was excited." Becerra was thrilled that his rookie year's 25 Pro Point total catapulted him close to all-time Chilean points leader, and Pro Tour Yokohama 2007 ninth place finisher, José Luis Echeverría Paredes.
Congratulations to Felipe Tapia Becerra, Rookie of the Year for the 2012-2013 season!
Placing just inside the Top 64 of Pro Tour Dragon's Maze was a solid follow-up to his breakout performance earlier this year in Montreal, where being twelfth in final standings started his Rookie season. By taking third in Grand Prix Quebec City the weekend thereafter, Becerra had earned 20 Pro Points in just ten days.
When those twenty notched up to twenty-five, Becerra cleared the hurdle of any other rookie on the radar coming into San Diego. But he wasn't safe outside the Sunday lights: both Andrew Shrout and Rob Castellon were still in their rookie debut, and if either had won the day, the thirty points awarded to Pro Tour winners would let them overtake Becerra. To the delight of his friends, Becerra's points proved sufficient after the Semifinal matches.
Part of what makes Becerra's achievement so compelling is the difficulty players like Becerra face.
"For Latin American players, it's really hard to qualify for the Pro Tour with so few PTQs," Becerra explained. "For example, in Chile there's only one PTQ. Since I qualified for Pro Tour Dragon's Maze both from Montreal and Quebec city, there were only two Chileans here: One from the PTQ, and me."
While Rookie of the Year may not carry the glamor and perks of Player of the Year or a Pro Tour winner, Becerra knew his win meant something powerful.
"I want everyone in Latin America to see you can do it. It's an honor to be the first Latin American to be Rookie of the Year," Becerra said. With the 2012-2013 season behind him, Becerra had begun to look forward.
"I'm going to test more for Amsterdam..." the location of the 2013 World Magic Cup, "...since I'm the captain for my country," Becerra said. "I'm going to keep going."