Wizards of the Coast announced a change in the voting threshold for Hall of Fame inclusion which moves the required percentage of ballots with your name from 40% to 60%. This is a very large leap. Before we dig into this, let’s take a quick review of how Hall of Fame voting has worked historically
- 2005 – A 69 person selection committee each voted for 5 people. The top 4 players on ballots were inducted. The remaining players were voted on by a players committee, with the top vote-getter there getting elected
- 2006-2007 – Both committees received the same ballots and voted. Selection committee votes were weighted as 2/3 of the vote vs 1/3 for players’ committee. Top 5 weighted vote-getters were elected
- 2007-2013 – The same committees existed, but instead of the top 5 getting elected, you needed a 40% weighted threshold.
- 2014-2016 – There was now only 1 committee, consisting of the 2 former committees merged. You still needed 40%
Now we have the same, singular committee but instead of appearing on 40% of the ballots, you need to appear on 60%. They’re culling the list of available players by increasing eligibility requirements as well as making it harder to stay on the ballot. The stated intent is that votes would be more concentrated. I have my doubts about this logic, but I’ll leave those to Twitter fights. For now, I want to focus on the what-if. What if these rules had been in place all along? What would our Hall of Fame look like now?
First, there are 43 people currently in the Hall of Fame. Of those, the average voting percentage (weighted or not, depending on the year) is 59.19%. So, the average Hall of Famer would fall juuuuuust short of getting into the Hall of Fame under the new system. Of the 43 players, 23 would not be in the Hall of Fame. Or, at least, not from the same class.
So, of those 23, how many have continued to put up results? Just because they didn’t get in one year, doesn’t mean they couldn’t get in the next year, right? By getting enough under the old rules to be inducted, they surely have enough under the new rules to stay on the ballot.
7 of those 23 have continued to cast spells and come up with another PT top 8. 2 of them even got 2 more top 8s!
- Raphael Levy (elected in 2006, top 8 Yokohama 2007)
- Tsuyoshi Fujita (elected in 2007, top 8 Nagoya 2011)
- Nicolai Herzog (elected in 2007, top 8 Kuala Lumpur 2008)
- Jelger Wiegersma (2) (elected in 2008, top 8 Fate Reforged 2015 and Dark Ascension 2012)
- Brian Kibler (2) (elected in 2010, top 8 Dark Ascension 2012 and Amsterdam 2010)
- Patrick Chapin (elected in 2012, top 8 Journey into Nyx 2014)
- William Jensen (elected in 2013, top 8 Magic 2015 in 2014)
These players very possibly would have been elected in future years even under the new rules. Of course, they got these additional accopmlishments with the added benefit of being qualified for every PT as a result of their HOF status, but they frequently had other qualifying methods and even still made the most of it. I’m comfortable here.
The other players, however, very likely would still not be in the Hall of Fame. Maybe coming so close and missing out would have pushed them. Maybe they would have quit all together. I don’t know. But based on their existing results after inclusion, I don’t think they would have made the jump to 60%
- Tommi Hovi – 52.17% in 2005
- Alan Comer – 46.38% in 2005
- Olle Rade – 29.20% in 2005
- David Humphries – 56.78% in 2006
- Gary Wise – 39.03% in 2006
- Robert Dougherty – 38.20% 2006
- Randy Buehler – 35.58% in 2006
- Dirk Baberowski – 52.36% in 2008
- Michael Turian – 50.13% in 2008
- Oliver Ruel – 46.01% in 2008
- Ben Rubin – 45.62% in 2008
- Frank Karsten – 44.79% in 2009
- Tomoharu Saito* – 47.74% in 2010
- Bram Snepvangers – 40.03% in 2010
- Steve O’Mahoney-Schwartz – 50.57% in 2011
- Ben Stark – 58.96% in 2013
- Willy Edel – 47.60% in 2015
*reminder – Saito was subsequently banned and did not get included in the Hall of Fame
All of this is, of course, revisionist history. Perhaps if the new rules had been in place from the beginning, voting patterns would have been significantly different. After all, the voting body is made up primarily of folks who game. If there’s 1 truth I’ve learned in my decades playing Magic, it’s that gamers gonna game. You give them a system and they will game it to their advantage.