The Pro Tour Hall of Fame vote happens once per year, where players with 150+ lifetime Pro Points vote for the players they deem worthy of entry to the Hall for their accomplishments, results, and behavior toward the community.
My article today will be about a single player, a player that I admire. I first started working with him during Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad and he hasn’t ceased to amaze me during playtesting since: Lee Shi Tian.
Lee Shi Tian lives in Hong Kong, and I can only imagine what it’s like to play Magic professionally in an area where you get at most three or four GPs per year.
Despite all of that, Lee Shi Tian has managed to stay on the train for six years, Top 8’ing five Pro Tours, and qualifying for the Worlds Championship three times. This would be an auto-include into the Hall of Fame for any North American player.
That’s why I’m here to talk about the man whom I have admired for seasons, and who deserves the Hall of Fame slot more than anyone this year.
Lee Shi Tian was the founder of Team MTGMintCard. He decided to make a professional team of APAC players that could compete with North American, Japanese, and European teams.
They immediately put another player into the World Championship in 2012, Tzu Ching Kuo from Taiwan, and a few years later another teammate made Worlds after Top 8’ing PT Journey into Nyx: Nam Sung Wook.
In 2016 they extended invites to Australian players, and then Christian Calcano, Javier Dominguez, and I made an international team that put four players last year into the Worlds Championship, with two of them making it to the Top 4: Kelvin Chew and Javier Dominguez.
There’s a great interview that you can’t miss, when teammate Wing Yam Chun made Top 8 of Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, and Lee Shi Tian shows love to his closest friend.
I want to walk you through Lee Shi Tian’s Pro Tour history, from his first Pro Tour Top 8 to his fifth, which demonstrates how great of a deck builder he is, and how well he can read and exploit the metagame.
Pro Tour Top 8 #1
Top 4 at Pro Tour Return to Ravnica, Seattle, 10/19/2012
These days, Scapeshift isn’t anything new. But the deck was new back then, since Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle was unbanned only one month before. While other players decided to break Jund with newcomers Abrupt Decay and Deathrite Shaman (I played Jund too), Lee Shi Tian decided to play Scapeshift Control. He was confident about having a good matchup versus Jund, which everyone expected to be heavily played.
PT Top 8 #2
Top 8, Pro Tour Born of the Gods, Valencia, 02/23/2014
It was a new Modern format, with a new shake-up right before the Pro Tour. This time, Deathrite Shaman was banned, and Bitterblossom and Wild Nacatl were unbanned. It was particularly the latter that made the biggest impact on the format, as Zoo was most played deck at that Pro Tour, and once again Lee Shi Tian identified that by playing Blue Moon, which had a very good matchup against it.
PT Top 8 #3
Top 8, Pro Tour Khans of Tarkir, Honolulu, 10/12/2014
This time it was Standard, but my friend Lee Shi Tian is a combo player. Every chance he gets, he tries to break some combo deck and goldfishes them to see how strong they are (for the M25A Pro Tour I had to play against his Teshar, Ancestor’s Apostle + Rona, Disciple of Gix + Mox Amber + Walking Ballista brew).
Jeskai Ascendancy combo was a true masterpiece, but super hard to play. Lee Shi Tian was the only one to do well with it at that PT.
PT Top 8 #4
Top 8, Pro Tour Fate Reforged, Washington D.C., 02/08/2015
His third Modern Top 8 out of four Modern Pro Tours made Lee Shi Tian the undisputed Modern Master.
Once again, his deck choice was based on the expected metagame. Tasigur, the Golden Fang and Siege Rhino had just been printed, and that boosted Abzan Midrange a lot. It was by far the most popular deck, with three copies in the Top 8. Lee Shi Tian predicted that correctly, and defeated Abzan repeatedly on his way to the Top 8, where he lost to the winner of the event, Antonio del Moral Leon, on Splinter Twin.
PT Top 8 #5
Top 8, Pro Tour Kaladesh, Honolulu, 10/15/2016
Mardu Vehicles had been one of the most popular decks in Standard for almost two years at that point, but guess who was the first who decided that Unlicensed Disintegration could go toe-to-toe with Cultivator’s Caravan? Yes, it was again our master Lee Shi Tian.
For Pro Tour Kaladesh, my team truly broke the format by building both Mardu Vehicles and U/W Flash, two decks that were tier 1 in the format for months.
The genius that is Tomoharu Saito made them add a fourth color for Ceremonious Rejection in the sideboard to fight Aetherworks Marvel, but the main innovation was the addition Unlicensed Disintegration and especially Cultivator’s Caravan, which were huge throughout the whole Pro Tour.
I had fun digging through the history of the Pro Tour, and seeing the great metagame reads my teammate and leader was able to put together.
Now it’s time for you to do the right thing. Vote for the man who managed to be Platinum for four years despite living in an area with just a few GPs per year and the player who has five Pro Tour Top 8s in the modern era, which is a result that very few players in the world can claim.