Here's a look at the 20 teams than made Day 2 at Grand Prix – Pittsburgh. Some are old faces, some are new, but they've all showed an extraordinary knack for Onslaught block team sealed.
Steve Wolfman, David Rood, Elijah Pollock
Team Name Origins: 2020 was the average limited rating of the three original members of the team, before Wolfman was brought on board. Wolfman denies all involvement with the choice of names.
Elijah Pollock was always heralded as one of the potentially great players from Canada, and has been showing touches of that promise recently, winning a spot on the Canadian team a couple years back and as the backbone of 2020, finalists in the most recent team PT. Joining him are fellow Canadians Steve Wolfman and David Rood, the latter of which made his mark by finishing second at Grand Prix – Montreal last season.
David Howard, Daniel Maciag, Matt Cooper
From: Connecticut and Pennsylvania
Team Name Origins: "Dave builds decks with 23 spells and 18 lands, hence the name."
Dave made Day 2 at GP: Boston, and Matt came in 65th in Tampa. "We haven't really done anything like this as a team before."
Mauro Bongiovanni, Martin-Eric Gauthier, Jean-Denis Lacourse
Team Name Origins: Mauro's store in Montreal
This is the first time the Carta Magica boys are playing together, so they have no major team accolades thus far. Mauro has some individual Pro Tour points and has made a few Top 16s at GPs. "But his team got last place last year!" Martin joked.
Robert Irons, Scott Lipp, Sean Tracy
From: Kansas City
Team Name Origins: They're sponsored by Collector's Cache, a card store in Kansas City.
This is the first major tournament that this team has traveled to attend. Sean Tracy adds, "I won a JSS championship about three years ago..." and Scott Lipp has been to various Pro Tours, but they haven't played together as a team in a major event before.
Brian Hegstad, Ben Stark, Peter Szigeti
From: All over the US
Team Name Origins: This one was just for laughs. And yes, they claim to be friends with Eric Froehlich.
This team is a ragtag collection of good pro players from all over the country. Szigeti is from LA, Hegstad from Oregon, and Stark from Florida. They haven't tested much, but plan on playing together at the upcoming PT, so they assure me they'll get some practice in on Magic Online. Hegstad has many GP Top 8's plus a US Nationals team appaearance, Stark has several money finishes in both GP's and PT's, and Szigeti's best accomplishment is getting straight A's in 3rd grade.
Peter Radonjic, Jeff Fung, Terry Tsang
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada "It's a little bit of a flight," Peter said.
Team Name Origins: Extremely Great Lovers? No, it's an acronym of 'Extensive Gas Leak.' "It's what our airplane had before we had to get rebooked on another flight. The rule is, kids, never get on planes that have extensive gas leaks," Peter quipped.
Peter and Terry have both been previous Canadian National Champions, and the members of the team have made various Top 8s at numerous individual Pro Tours. "But I haven't played in like three years, so I'm a scrub," Peter said.
I Blame Bung
Jeremy Elgar, Adam Hurd, Nick Page
From: Toronto and surrounding areas
Team Name Origins: "We have a crazy friend whose nickname is Bung," Jeremy explains, "and if something's gone wrong, it's probably Bung's fault."
This is I Blame Bung's second event since last June, but they've played a lot of team events and have a lot of experience playing with each other. Their final record was 7-0-1 with no byes – also quite an accomplishment. "Our draw was Round 2, and completely unintentional," Jeremy adds.
Justin Gary, Zvi Mowshowitz, Alex Shvartsman
From: New York and Boston
Team Name Origins: This squad was originally called "My Team Part 17," a jab at Zvi's legendary multi-part deck analyses, but after making the Top 4 at PT New York 2001, they switched to the mysterious "Illuminati." What does it mean in three words or less? Zvi: "Sorry, can't say."
The flagship Your Move Games team (Rob Dougherty, Darwin Kastle, Dave Humpherys) may have been dominant when the team format was first introduced, but since then they have passed the torch to another group that sports the familiar YMG dragon. Alex, Justin, and Zvi finished 3rd at PTNY 2001, 2nd at GP New Jersey, and 21st at PT Boston last year. Not bad for a team that are known as constructed specialists.
Northern Lights #5
Justin Schneider, Mike Krzywicki, Mike Long
From: Virginia/Washington, DC
Team Name Origins: Northern Lights #5 is a band the team likes.
Although Mike Long has taken a step back from the Pro Magic scene, he is still very involved with the game. He runs theendgames.com, a Magic website that offers both content and cards for sale, and he has started a group called the Magic Players Club since moving to Washington, DC. His teammates for this event haven't been playing much Magic in real life lately, Krzywicki by choice and Schneider by mandate from the DCI, but all three have been tearing it up on Magic Online. "This is a total MTGO team," said Long. "The other two guys are just sick on there." Their one loss in this event so far has been for showing up late to the round, which means they're yet to lose a match that they've actually played.
Owls and Bungee Cords
Jeff Gerstel, Chris Kelly, Andrew Bonham
From: Toronto, Canada
Team Name Origins: A rude joke from the movie "Kung Pow: Enter the Fist."
When asked about their success, Jeff said, "We're proof that MOL works; we play it all the time." Though this team is fairly new to Team Sealed competition (this is their second event as a team), their member Andrew Bonham attended PT: New York 2001 with Steve Wolfman (from 2020) and the Canadian National Champion at the time.
Jean Charles Salvin, Pasquale Ruggiero, Jairo Liquidano
From: Montreal, but Jean Charles will only be there for six months, as he's originally from Nice, France
Team Name Origins: "Phoque" apparently means 'Seal' in French.
The members of this team have only been playing together a short time, as Jean Charles will have to head back to France eventually, but they apparently draft online together and in their local card store as much as possible. The team has a bunch of individual accolades; Jean Charles was invited to PT: Osaka and did well at GP: Hamburg, and Pasquale attended PTs Chicago, Yokohama, and Nice. "I think we have more success because we're good friends," Jean Charles added.
Manny Orellana, Charles Gindy, Jamie Duguid
Team Name Origins: "It came from me," says Manny. "I used to play checkers, and I was like the Checkers Prodigy."
"It's kind of funny," Charles says, "I was going to come up here with a different friend, but he got in trouble at the last minute and Manny came up here with us instead. We played in the GP trial last night and made Top 4, and today we had no byes." That's quite an accomplishment.
Andrew Benanzer, Jason Nye, James Wheeler
Team Name Origins: Their name was changed to 'Saltine' after their original idea was rejected at a tournament about a year ago.
They're one of the few amateur teams left standing after Day 1, and they've been together for about a year. James asked me to mention that they like to play at The Wizard's Den in Middleton, since their practice there has been integral to their success in this tournament.
Slay Pillage Gerard
Jon Sonne, Gerard Fabiano, Scott McCord
From: New York City
Team Name Origins: Slay Pillage Massacre was Sonne, McCord, and Eric Zeigler. When Zeigler was replaced with Gerard, "Massacre" was replaced with... "Gerard."
The are teams of good players, and then there are good teams, meaning those groups where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Slay Pillage Gerard is one such group. The individuals all have their share of accomplishments in Magic, but it wasn't until they came together that they really started putting up big finishes, like top 4 at PT Boston. The big reason for their success is that they actually practice together as a team (at Togit and Neutral Ground) instead of trying to figure the formats out on the fly.
Bob Allbright, Mike Hron, Matt Severa
From: Madison, WI
Team Name Origins: Supernova is the number #1 rated clan in Magic Online, and all three are members.
These three are part of the hotbed of Dairy Belt Magic, Madison. The area has been home to great players like Bob Maher, Adrian Sullivan, and Dustin Stern, putting Supernova in good company. All three are rabid drafters and fans of the 5-color format, and their love of the game has certainly paid off this weekend. Each has a handful of PT appearances to his credit.
Patrick Sullivan, Craig Krempels, Adam Horvath
From: New Jersey
Team Name Origins: Store that Sullivan co-owns, "The Only Game In Town"
This trio of 21-year-olds burst on the scene last year with a fifth-place finish at GP New Jersey, followed by 9th at PT Boston and have been mainstays of Pro Magic ever since. Krempels has been making a run at Rookie of the Year and finished 9th on tiebreakers at PT Yokohama.
Team Work With Josh
Joshua Smith, Mike Sigrist, Matt Rubin
From: Boston and New Jersey
Team Name Origins: Team Work was Sigrist's and Rubin's old team, and "with Josh" was the easiest way to denote the personnel change.
The original Team Work (Rubin, Sigrist, and Mike Rumsey) made the Top 8 at the first Grand Prix – Pittsburgh a few years back. Rumsey has since left the game, and when Rubin (Top 8 US Nationals 2003) moved from Florida back to New Jersey, he reformed the team with Sigrist and his friend from Boston Josh Smith (Champion, Grand Prix – Houston).
The Fun Police
John Hunka, Tim Aten, Mike Aten
From: Cleveland, Ohio
Team Name Origins: A jab at the store where Hunka used to play; if you ever got too loud the "Fun Police" would tell you to be quiet.
Tim Aten has some Magic playing accomplishments to his name—Ohio Valley Regionals champion 2001, two PT appearances, and two US Nationals appearances, but mostly he's known as (a) a kid who loves drafting and will stay up all night doing so, and (b) a regular columnist on StarCityGames.com. Looks like all the hours of Magic Online have paid off. He's playing in this event with his brother Mike and their old pal John Hunka. Hunka was very good long ago; he was on the US National Team in 1999 and made the Top 8 at PTNY 2000. He quit for a while, but the Atens dusted him off for this event, and he's already back in top form.
Tired Lost Souls
Taerthrum Bluett, Kevin Quirk, Eric Cunningham
Team Name Origins: "We were originally the Lost Souls, which is a horror story," Taerthrum told me graciously, "but we added the 'Tired' part after we spent almost an entire night awake and then went to a PTQ the next day."
All of their accolades are individual honors; even though they've been playing Magic together for a while, and are all very close friends, they haven't had much success playing as a team.
Ken Ho, Ben Rubin, Brian Kibler
From: California and Georgia
Team Name Origins: A consciously pretentious reference to the great philosopher Freidrich Neitzsche. Rubin tried explaining it... the Ubermensch, or "Overman," is free from the morality and guilt that society imposes and sets his own standards of excellence.
Ken Ho is a Pro Tour Champion, Rubin is a two-time finalist and two-time Masters Champion, and Kibler is a monster deckbuilder and has been lighting up the GP circuit, including a win at Boston. No wonder they're good.