Ben Rubin narrowly missed induction in 2007 when he was one of seven players voters considered to be an auto-include on a five-player ballot. Ben had burst onto the scene ten years ago as a 15-year old player going toe-to-toe with David Price in the finals of Pro Tour–Los Angeles and later that year finished second again at Worlds. All totaled Rubin made the Top 8 four times. While he did not win one, he never finished worse than fourth and was one of the most feared competitors for many seasons. Twice he dispatched none other than Jon Finkel en route to Masters Series wins. He also racked up six Grand Prix Top 8s, including two wins—one which was highlighted by keeping a no-land hand in the finals.
“After missing last year, and seeing that, to my understanding, the vote-getting requirements would be more difficult this year, I did not think I would get into the Hall of Fame anytime soon,” said Rubin. “After all of the time, focus, emotional and creative energy I have invested in Magic—along with my successes—I don’t think being in the Hall of Fame or getting a ring (hopefully I get a trading card too) is a stretch.”
“It’s groovy—still sinking in,” said Rubin, who plans to play in Memphis and said he will certainly dip his toes in the competitive waters from time to time, although he was not sure how frequently.
“I came back for a year, and left because I felt I was spending too much of my time on Magic,” he explained. “I had intended to return sporadically, hopefully spending my preparation time more efficiently. My plans have not changed.”
As for that blazing start to his career, showcased by his Pro Tour–Los Angeles 1998 performance?
“I qualified via PTQ, after narrowly missing Top 8 at Grand Prix–San Francisco needing to win one of my two final rounds against Casey McCarrel and Ryan Fuller," Rubin recollected. "I had no expectations, but I was pumped.”
Pro Tour: Los Angeles 97-98: 2nd (Block Constructed) Worlds 98: 2nd London 99-00: 4th (Booster Draft) New York 99-00: 3rd (Block Constructed)
Grand Prix: Oakland 03-04: 6th (Booster draft) Anaheim 03: 1st (Extended) Boston 03: 5th (Booster Draft) Houston 02: 4th (Extended) Columbus 01: 3rd (Teams) Pittsburgh 00: 1st (Teams)
Masters: Barcelona 01: 1st (Block Constructed) Chicago 00: 1st (Booster Draft) New York 00: Top 8 (Extended)
“As it happened, I played the best Magic of my life,” Rubin continued. “And, despite playing a deck that was not up to the standard of decks I would build and play as I matured, I came in second. Coincidentally, the Queen Mary, former PT–LA site, was engineered by Sir Steven Piggot, my great-grandfather. Awaiting the finals, being fifteen, catching my mental breath on the Queen Mary is my best memory.”
Rubin’s win at Grand Prix–Anaheim involved him making the gutsy decision to keep a no-land/no-first turn play hand in the Finals against Nathan Saunders’ Red Deck Wins with his homebrewed Dump Truck, which showcased his deckbuilding and decision-making skills in one finals feature match.
Looking back at his career, Rubin singled one player out for thanks: “Dan Clegg is not someone I’ve enjoyed personally for quite some time. But he is undoubtedly the reason I got into, and succeeded at, competitive Magic. That I eclipsed him so suddenly, chasming our friendship, is testimony to how very much he taught me, and how many doors he opened for me in the world of Magic—despite being a young man himself.”
Listed below are notable decklists from Ben Rubin's Pro Tour career.
Ben Rubin collected two Masters top finishes, the only player to win twice.
A regular sight on tour: Ben Rubin, in the feature match pit and in a Superman shirt.
Rubin made it to the finals of the 2000 Magic Invitational only to lose to Jon Finkel. Rubin bested Finkel in key matches in both of his Masters wins.
The story of how Rubin got to Pro Tour-Geneva despite canceled flights and border-crossing taxis is the stuff of Pro Tour legend.
From a 15-year-old wunderkind to a steely-eyed veteran, Ben Rubin has grown up on the Pro Tour.
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