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Kenji Tsumura - Hall of Fame

November 04, 2012

Class of: 2012
Hometown: Hiroshima, Japan
Debut: Pro Tour Chicago 2002-03
Lifetime Pro Points: 250

  • Six Pro Tour Top 8 appearances
  • Twelve Grand Prix Top 8 finishes, with two wins
  • Won the Player of the Year in 2005, the first time a Japanese player won the honor
  • Dedicated himself to mastering Limited after winning Player of the Year and subsequently won two Limited Grand Prix
  • Known for his tremendous sportsmanship and good humor

Kenji Tsumura made history in 2005 when he became the first Japanese player in the game to win the Player of the Year title during an amazing breakout season that saw him playing on Sunday three times—Pro Tour Atlanta, Pro Tour Los Angeles, and Pro Tour Philadelphia—and quickly become a fan favorite for his keen play skill and abundantly evident good sportsmanship.

His Pro Tour career started a few years earlier at Pro Tour Chicago 2002, which was the first time he was able to travel outside of his country and get a true measure of himself as a Magic player.

"To be honest, I thought I could make Day Two before attending the PT, though my score was 3–4 and I wouldn't make Day Two until my fifth Pro Tour," recalled Tsumura. "I watched some games of Kai (Budde) and Masashi (Oiso) and I realized that I needed more skills to win. However, I was really lucky because I met a ton of good friends and I could improve my skills with them. I made a lot of friends with Magic. Magic gave me everything: friends, experiences, and vital things for my life. It is not a mere game for me. It's my life."

Despite his successes, Kenji was not confident he would get elected this year and was nervous that voters would have forgotten about him and his good friend Oiso.

"No, I didn't (think so) because there were so many good candidates," he admitted. "Hall of Fame is the most honorable thing for me, and furthermore, getting into Hall of Fame with my best friend is the best damn thing."

Tsumura achieved six Pro Tour Top 8s in his career and became a powerhouse on the Grand Prix scene with twelve Top 8s and two wins. Tsumura is driven by the lack of a Pro Tour win and will avail himself of the opportunity to play on the Pro Tour now that he can.

"I will play most of all Japanese GPs and PTs and some foreign PTs. Becoming a PT champion—maybe seven times—is still my dream," Tsumura said before tempering that with a nod to his adult life. "But I must spend my time for job hunting. Therefore, I will skip some GPs and PTs next year."

Stories about Kenji Tsumura are woven through his career and take on the flavor of Tall Tales. His despair over not being able to stop all of his opponents at Grand Prix from losing to their own Pacts was even more amazing than the fact they he did stop multiple opponents in time and reminded them to pay their upkeep costs.

His run to the 2005 Player of the Year title saw him vying with his best friend on the Pro Tour in Masashi Oiso while forging a new bond with France’s Olivier Ruel. The three of them continued to race down to the wire—all three earned Top 8 finishes at Grand Prix Beijing the week before Worlds in Yokohama, where Kenji secured the title on the final round of Swiss play.

In his post-tournament remarks after becoming the first of what would be many Japanese players to win the Player of the Year crown, Kenji announced that he hoped to become better at Limited during the coming year. He apprenticed under the finest Limited players he could find and promptly went out and won two Limited Grand Prix that year. It was a stunning announcement in the light of his amazing season that was backed by stunning results.

He also posted a Limited Top 8 on the Pro Tour that season when he found himself with no losses to give on Day Two of Pro Tour Kobe. He rattled off win after win playing with briskness and determination through a Day Two that was essentially a single elimination tournament for him.

Even with his Hall of Fame induction Tsumura felt the need to give something back in the wake of his election.

"Again, it is the most honorable thing for me, and I feel that now is the time to do something good for the Magic community," said Tsumura. "Playing on the Pro Tour as a Hall of Famer is the kind of act which I can do, and I want to write more articles to contribute to the community."

Tsumura wanted to express his thanks to the people who have contributed to his career.

"I want to thank almost all my Magic friends, but especially Itaru Ishida, Katsuhiro Mori, Chikara Nakajima, Masahiko Morita, Rich Hoaen, and Masashi Oiso. I couldn't make good results, even make Day Two, without their help. I really want to say thank you for my family too. I was a really bad student and bad boy, but they always treated me with kindness and cheered me up even when they knew I was not good at Magic. I don't have a word which can describe my mind perfectly, but I want to say… thank you."

Career Statistics

By Format

Format W L D BYE Matches Win %
Limited 273 160 10 79 520 61.57%
Constructed 295 176 27 71 567 59.27%
Total 568 336 37 150 1091 60.36%

By Event Type

Event W L D BYE Matches Win %
Worlds 59 33 1 0 93 63.44%
Pro Tour 145 94 8 3 250 58.70%
Nationals 68 40 1 1 110 62.38%
Grand Prix 296 169 27 146 638 60.16%
Total 568 336 37 150 1091 60.36%

Career Highlights

  • Was not even qualified for Nationals in 2004 and had to grind into the event the night before, resulting in one of the greatest National teams of all time alongside fellow Hall of Famers Shuhei Nakamura and Tsuyoshi Fujita.
  • Broke out on the Pro Tour in 2005 with three Top 8s finishes at Pro Tours Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia.
  • Posted six Pro Tour Top 8 finishes in his career, including a memorable Day Two run at PT Kobe that saw him make it to the elimination rounds without a match to give.
  • Became the first Japanese player to win the Player of the Year title in 2005 after a memorable Player of the Year race with fellow Hall of Famers Olivier Ruel and Masashi Oiso.
  • Formed lasting friendships with players all over the world and is considered one of the game's great ambassadors.
  • After being at the top of the game in 2005 with three Pro Tour Top 8s and the Player of the Year title, announced he was dedicating himself to learning how to play Limited in 2006 and won two Limited Grand Prix.
  • Made the Top 8 at twelve Grand Prix, including those wins in Kuala Lumpur and Toulouse in 2006.
  • Known for his incredibly good sportsmanship, famously bemoaned not being able to stop all of his opponents from dying to their own Pact triggers.
  • In addition to a prolific strategy-writing career in Japan, has written for an English-language audience.


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