The best Magic: The Gathering pros in 2020

Veterans turned back the clock this year.

MTG Mythic Championship III top four players
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Magic: The Gathering esports went through significant changes in 2020. The state of competitive Magic is different with League Weekends, Rivals League, and Magic Pro League Gauntlets, and a 2020 Partial Season that occurred due to event cancellations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Add in frequent card bans, and 2020 was a year of constant change.

Despite the shifting landscape of Magic esports, the one constant was the quality and excellence of the competition. Regardless of where or how the games were played, Magic‘s best players came to play with inventive, thoughtful, and exciting gameplay. While all players at the highest level are great, four players stood out when looking back at the year.

Here are the best MTG pro players in 2020.

Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa

  • Won Magic World Championship XXVI
  • Fourth 2020 Players Tour Brussels
  • Leads MPL in points through Zendikar Rising split

The reigning Magic world champion is an easy pick for one of the best players of the year. Fighting through a stacked top-eight field, Damo da Rosa captured the biggest prize in the game. As a result of the Brazilian legend’s accomplishment, he was named Player of the Year and Athlete of the Year at the Brazilian Esports Awards.

Damo da Rosa earned a top finish at Players Tour Brussels during the 2020 Partial Season and is the current points leader in the Magic Pro League. There are few players that had a more consistently excellent year on the battlefield, but what makes Damo da Rosa stand out further are his articles for Star City Games. Damo da Rosa is one of the best minds in Magic and his articles on Magic strategy are the best in the field.

Seth Manfield

  • Won 2020 Mythic Invitational
  • Third Magic World Championship XXVI
  • Seventh 2020 Season Grand Finals

Manfield was a staple at the top of this year’s major tournaments. The hall of famer won the 2020 Mythic Invitational a day before his 30th birthday with an impressive lower-bracket top-eight run. After dropping his first top eight-match, Manfield won four straight matches to make the finals. Manfield took down Ken Yukuhiro, David Steinberg, Grzegorz Kowalski, and Luis Salvatto en route to a best-of-three finals matchup against Gabriel Nassif. Only four other players have won three or more trophies at the highest levels.

Manfield joined Kai Budde, Damo da Rosa, Jon Finkel, and Dirk Baberowski as a class of Magic’s most decorated players. Manfield also showed an ability to make unique deckbuilding calls that worked out. In the 2020 Season Grand Finals, Manfield ran Dimir Rogues in a field heavily skewed toward Omnath strategies. Opting for a more controlling build, rather than the typical aggro Rogues decks at the time, Manfield secured a top-eight finish. Manfield joined Autumn Burchett as the only non-Omnath player to make the top eight. 

Gabriel Nassif

  • Fourth Magic World Championship XXVI
  • Third Players Tour Online 4
  • Second 2020 Mythic Invitational
  • Third 2020 Season Grand Finals
  • Top eight Zendikar Rising Championship

Nassif earned his first top finish at Grand Prix London in 2001. A total of 19 years later, he’s coming off one of the most successful years of his sterling career. Nassif put up four top finishes, including a top finish at the World Championship in January.

The consistency of top finishes during Nassif’s 2020 campaign is remarkable. He earned top finishes in the biggest tournaments of the year, many of which were multi-format brackets. Regardless of format, Nassif was able to don his signature yellow hat and showcase his unique brand of patient and careful play at the highest levels of the game. 

Autumn Burchett

  • Second Zendikar Rising Championship
  • Fifth 2020 Season Grand Finals
  • Top eight Magic World Championship XXVI

After Burchett burst onto the scene in 2019 by winning the first Mythic Championship, the big question that followed was how they would follow up a career year. Burchett’s 2020 was consistent with three high-profile top finishes. What sets Burchett apart from many of their peers is the consistent display of excellent gameplay with multiple playing styles. Burchett was impressive whether they were piloting Temur Reclamation at the World Championship to their game-changing Gruul Adventures list at the 2020 Season Grand Finals.

Their decision to play Gruul Adventures, combined with their success, led to a major format shift after the Omnath ban where the deck Burchett pioneered at the highest levels became a staple. Burchett is also the best Mono-Red Goblins player in Historic. Their forward-thinking inclusions of Herald’s Horn and Mind Stone show Burchett is ahead of the game when it comes to tuning their decks.