May 13, 2015

This Day in Magic: Before the Insanity

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Just this past weekend, Canadian superstar Alexander Hayne made his 8th Grand Prix Top 8 in Atlantic City, half of which he ended up winning. The 24th-ranked pro (sure to move up this week after his GP performance) is a mainstay on the pro circuit these days, and widely considered one of the best players in the world. But that hasn't been the case for a terribly long time. In fact, until three years ago today, not many in the wider Magic world had ever heard of Alexander Hayne.

Alexander Hayne needed a miracle, or 16, to make his name at Pro Tour Avacyn Restored


Three years ago, Hayne wasn't completely without results. He had one Grand Prix Top 8 and a single Top 64 appearance at Worlds. He had even played on the Pro Tour a few times before. But it was safe to say that, prior to Pro Tour Avacyn Restored, Hayne wasn't on anyone's short list to finish in the Top 8, much less win the tournament.

But make the Top 8 he did, on the back of a 6-0 Limited performance and just enough wins out of this deck to edge into Sunday.

Alexander Hayne — Pro Tour Avacyn Restored Top 8


But even with Miracles at his side, Hayne was a clear underdog in the Top 8. Not only had his Standard deck "only" managed to go 6-3-1, the Top 8 was stacked with names better known than his. Jon Finkel was the headliner, but Hayne dispatched him in the quarterfinals. Ken Yukuhiro, Thomas Holzinger, and Denniz Rachid were all known quantities at the time, but they all fell on the way to the finals as well, giving way to longtime pro Gaudenis Vidugiris (who, as it would happen, also made the Top 8 of Grand Prix Atlantic City).

Gaudenis Vidugiris


In a finals match that could not possibly have more back-and-forth, Vidugiris and Hayne went to a fifth game. And while you may have already guessed the outcome, it was far from decided at the time. Hayne was a virtual upstart while Vidugiris was the known quantity. Hayne's teammates had played the same Miracles deck, but had performed poorly. There were very few people in the building who, even up till the final Entreat the Angels, actually believed Hayne was the guy to win a Pro Tour.

But, to go with the obvious, miracles happen.


These days, no one would consider it a miracle if Hayne were to win a Pro Tour. In fact, it's becoming something of a minor miracle when he doesn't win a Grand Prix he Top 8s. His place in the game and in Canadian Magic is certainly secure. It was exactly three years today that he etched his place in the game's history and began to earn the nickname "Insane" Hayne.



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