The 4th Season of the NEOS Monthly Tournament Series came to a close at the end of December 2020. This season we saw over 130 players compete in this webcam tournament challenge, with an average of 72 players participating each month. We also rotated/modified the format a little each month, continuing the twists that started in Season 3. In August, we kept it simple and welcomed everyone back with a month of the standard Atlantic 93/94. In September, I altered the Gentleman’s Rules and added Ancestral Recall to the banlist along with Mind Twist and Library of Alexandria, as well as introducing Gentleman’s Orb Flips. In October, we played with the much-maligned Homelands set, requiring players to play with a minimum of 5 Homelands cards, with Merchant Scroll and Serrated Arrows restricted. In November, we returned to the standard Atlantic 93/94. Finally in December, we finished the season trying out the Paladins rules that our friends from the frosty northern midwest have adopted. After five months of competition, we have crowned a Season Champion along with the rest of the Top 8 players of NEOS Season 4:
One thing that I noticed that was exciting about this Season’s Top 8 Players is that we had 4 players that have made the Top 8 for the first time. Additionally, we now have 23 different players that Top 8’d at least one season of the NEOS across four seasons. So there continues to be a lot of turnover at the top. It certainly takes a lot of luck and skill to make it to the Top 8 and stay there for the whole season. There are a lot of good players every month and I hope this tournament series continues to satisfy everyone who joins.
This season we continued to acknowledge those members of the community who like to brew and always add that extra dash of spice to their stews. We continued to award the Golden Ghost Pepper awards every month to the member whose deck the community decided was most deserving.
So with that out of the way, on to our Season 4 NEOS Top 8!!
#8 Mike Frantz – 30 PTS
20-10 (45-31), August T8, October Golden Ghost Pepper, November T8
Mike Frantz is a man that takes great pride in what he does. A master of the elaborate deck photo (as witnessed above) and a community leader of the Old Order Old School crew based out of Pennsylvania, Mike squeezed into the Top 8 this season with consistent play and impressive creativity, even sacrificing a couple of cards to the watery depths of his fish tank for the sake of a perfect deck photo. I am very excited that Mike made T8 this season, as there are few who embrace the ethos of the Old School Magic community more. Congrats Mike.
#7 Thomas Sutherland Borja – 31 PTS
18-12 (37-32), September Champion, December T8
Thomas comes to join us in NEOS all the way from Austria, by way of Chile. This powerhouse of the Earthquake League had an up-and-down season but capitalized on his opportunities and won the month of September, with a strong run from the bottom seed in the knockout stage. Thomas is an End Boss that every group member must defeat in order to save the Princess/win their monthly group. He is a humble man who knows that his success is in large part due to the teamwork and camaraderie with his fellow members from the Earthquake League. Thomas was also recently honored with the title of “Rookie of the Year” by the All Tings Considered podcast, along with another member of our Top 8. Congrats Thomas.
#6 Chris Mason – 32 PTS
24-6 (50-23), October T4, November T8
This 5 power, 3 toughness Artifact Creature from New Hampshire is so excited that not even walls can contain him. The man also known as the NEOS Juggernaut, Chris put together a very strong season where he went undefeated in the Group Stage twice. A mainstay of the NEOS scene, wizard in the kitchen, and a master of puns, he can be heard annually doing the year in review with Mano on ATC. Congrats Chris!
#5 Mark Evaldi – 33 PTS
23-7 (51-23), September Finalist, October T8
Mark is a core member of the blossoming Old Order Old School crew, Pocono Boys chapter, from Pennsylvania. A crazed fanatic of reanimating fatties and smashing hard to victory, Mark continues to find great success with his trademark Reanimator style decks. Mark was very consistent this season, going no worse than 4-2 in any month. Mark said to me that “making new friends and just having access to Magic during a global pandemic made the year much more enjoyable,” which is a sentiment that I think we can all agree with. Congrats Mark!
#4 Dave Firth Bard – 34 PTS
21-9 (47-29), August Golden Ghost Pepper, October Bronze Ghost Pepper, November Top 4, December Golden Ghost Pepper
Well, we all know this guy. Dave basically had the dream season. Three times he finished 5-1 or better, and the other two times he took home the Golden Ghost Pepper Award while still finishing very respectfully in both those months. The perfect combination of Spike/Spice, like a nice boozy warm cider on a cold winter’s night. Dave is a pillar of the Old School Community and an ambassador of goodwill around the world. Congrats Dave.
#3 John Grudzina – 34 PTS
34 PTS, 23-7 (50-19), August T4, November T4, December T8
John hails from New York and is a perennial contender in the NEOS and Old School scene for over 5 years. A strong competitor who always plays strong decks, you know you are always sitting across from good competition when you see his name on the match slip. This Top 8 adds to an already impressive resume. Congrats John!
#2 Lucas Glavin – 35 PTS
23-7 (49-25), October Top 8, November Champion
Lucas has stormed onto the Old School scene in 2020. Also awarded “Rookie of the Year” according to ATC, Lucas has been a fantastic addition to NEOS and the Old School community at large. This high school teacher from Massachusetts was a high-level competitor in the mid-2000s, making multiple Pro Tours. Lucas is also a proud father and husband who would like to thank his wife, Amy, “who has not judged so harshly the many padded envelopes arriving in the mailbox and gives me time to play games,” which I think something all of us with significant others can appreciate. Congrats Lucas, and welcome to the club!
#1 Mike VanDyke – 39 PTS
25-5 (52-19), August Top 8, September T8, October Finalist, December T4
Our Season Champion, this Beast of the Bay tore through the competition, making the knockout stage in 4 out of 5 months. Mike has a strong grasp on every match and a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the rules. Mike is also a content producer in his own right, hosting the Spice Files (http://youtube.com/c/beastsofthebaymtgoldschool), where he breaks down the spiciest list from events all over the world. Mike is a great dude and a strong ambassador for the community. Congrats Mike!
Well, it has certainly been a trying year for all of us. I know it was very hard to be so physically separated from our friends and family. Thankfully, we have all built a wonderful and supportive community that allowed us to interact and compete and enjoy this hobby that we all love so much. It brings me great joy to run this tournament series for all of you, and I hope to continue to do so for as long as possible. Congrats to all of you for being great sportsmen and I hope that in 2021 we can continue to enjoy the Magic, but bring back the Gathering. The NEOS Season 5 will start in February, so be on the lookout for announcements on the New England Old School Facebook Page. Take care of yourself and each other. Cheers — Jared