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2014 North American PTCG Power Rankings (Pre-Autumn Regionals Edition)

Hi all! I am very glad to producing some more content for SixPrizes and I think that this free series of articles will provide me with a very useful avenue for expression. Generally, my Underground pieces feature lots of lengthy arguments about meta-concerns within the game itself and while I certainly love producing those, it would be fallacious to think that is the only kind of articles I enjoy writing.

I have a very strong fascination with anything related to competition and of course, this generally fits my interests into the world of sports and esports. I want to try and convey that passion into a new series of articles. This article will be the first entry into my North American Power Rankings for the TCG! If you are unfamiliar with this kind of writing, here are examples for the NFL and League of Legends, of which I am always a giant fan.

Power Rankings is a way for me to ‘rank’ who I believe are the top players in the game in an attempt to foster conversation. As previously mentioned, I will only be dealing with players in North America and expectedly, I only want to talk about the Masters Division. While I am a strong proponent of the idea that some Senior players are worthy of Master-level praise, I do not wish to compare their results to Masters for obvious reasons.

This initial list is going to be based on performance at Worlds and consistency in the past. As time passes, my ranking criteria will be based on consistent results at big events (League Challenges will likely play no part in how I rank these players, but results at Cities certainly will play some part) and deck choices, thus, it should be expected that as I continually produce rankings, people will fall on and off.

While I think this is should be self-evident, I want these rankings to be seen as objectively as possible — at no point will someone make the list by virtue of being a close friend and those who do not make the list should not feel personally attacked. Indeed, it is my own opinion, but in no way will I have a list that cannot be disputed. The nature of this kind of writing is to elicit conversation about where I went wrong and I hope that it encourages others to form their own rankings. For now, let’s get into the breakdown!

The Worlds Performers

Andrew Estrada

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Of course, how could I make a ranking list without including the player who rightfully holds the title for “Best in the World?” Andrew may have been a lesser-known player heading into Washington, DC, but now he will be the player that is on everyone’s mind. His Virizion/Genesect list was a perfect model of consistency and surely his results will be closely monitored for many years to come. Will he be a one-hit wonder or quickly solidify himself as a legend?

Chase Moloney

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At this point, I’m not sure if any player has ever made as strong of a conversion from the Seniors to Masters Division as Chase. Following his 2012 World Championship victory, he aged up and placed in the top 16 in Vancouver and then top 8 in DC. Factor this in with his domination of Northwest events and I think Chase makes a solid case to best considered one of the best and brightest in the game.

Daniel Altavilla

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While no Americans were able to make the top 8 cut at Worlds this year, Daniel came unbelievably close at 9th place. Though he’s been a name to watch out for in Florida for many years now, I would definitely argue that last season was his big break. 9th place at Worlds, a Regionals win, and many solid placings at Cities and States make him another name to keep a close eye on this season.

Mia Violet

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Mia may have been unknown before this past year’s World Championships, but an 11th place finish with such an unorthodox deck definitely puts her on the these Power Rankings. With little exception, Mia piloted Darkrai/Dusknoir for the entirety of the 2013 season but only time will show if she has the consistency to back up this performance. Do it for Dusknoir!

Ross Cawthon

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Ross is easily one of the most consistent performers in the game and always excels at Worlds. What’s more, he almost always places so highly with strange brews that no one else could concoct. This past Worlds, he placed in the top 16 and got 2nd at the Top Cut Invitational with Landorus-EX and friends. I get the vibe that his mind and playstyle will be able to understand the Expanded format and it would foolish not to rank him amongst the best.

The Consistent Performers

Ryan Sabelhaus

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It truly is hard to think of a more relevant player than Ryan. He has won a Regional Championship every year for several seasons now and just always seems to be at the top of the rankings. His consistency is arguably unmatched by any other player in North America and this is not even mentioning his back-to-back Top Cut Invitational wins and 2nd place and top 16 finishes at US Nationals.

Jeremy Jallen

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Jeremy is a player that I think is often forgotten in these kinds of lists. Many know his name, but I don’t think that enough understand how good Jeremy is. He consistently qualifies and places at Worlds and has been a creative hand in some of the most innovative decks and lists in recent memory.

Justin Sanchez

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When he won the US National Championship in 2011, I remember many referring to Justin as some nobody who clearly just got lucky that weekend. As time has passed, I think it is very clear that Justin is much more than a guy who got lucky. He has a knack for dominating the early portion of formats and I expect him to continue this trend going into Autumn Regionals.

Dustin Zimmerman

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Dustin is another player who is always at the top of the rankings. In a way, he lacks some of the big finishes that other players on this initial list have had, but his consistency is nothing to be ignored. Following a top 4 finish at Vancouver in 2013, he was able to easily earn another invitation to Worlds and I believe that his Championship Point total at the end of the year holds the record for most Points earned. I think this is a very lofty accomplishment and look forward to seeing how he fares in this upcoming season.

Sam Chen

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It was hard for me to come up with a proper label for Sam. He definitely isn’t underrated and at the same time, I do not think he is overrated. He has won two Regionals and two States in the past few seasons, but I don’t think people understand quite how good he is. Unlike Ross, a fellow X-Files member to make this list, Sam’s decks are far more conventional, but he plays them in a way that makes them feel different. After a strong performance in DC, I expect great things from him this coming season.

Israel Sosa

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While he has been playing for a while now, last year was Israel’s breakout season. I think I can say with confidence that he is a shoe-in for the 2013-2014 season’s player of the year. Three Regional Championship wins in one season is absurd and an accomplishment that likely will never be matched. In addition to this, he placed in the top 32 at Worlds and like Andrew Estrada, I think his performances will be monitored incredibly closely this year.

The List

  1. Mia Violet
  2. Justin Sanchez
  3. Jeremy Jallen
  4. Daniel Altavilla
  5. Sam Chen
  6. Dustin Zimmerman
  7. Israel Sosa
  8. Chase Moloney
  9. Ross Cawthon
  10. Ryan Sabelhaus
  11. Andrew Estrada

In the future, I will only include 10 people on this list, but for this first entry, it seemed very hard to conceptualize without placing our World Champion at first. After Autumn Regionals, I expect this list to change greatly, but without any major event this season, I am comfortable with the way this turned out. I hope you enjoyed this article as I look forward to updating this list each season! Thanks for reading and I’ll be around soon!


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