Class of: 2005
Hometown: Helsinki, Finland
Debut: Worlds 1996
Career winnings: $102,685
Lifetime Pro Points: 215
- The first player to win two Pro Tours
- Few players more closely associated with a deck as Hovi was with Stasis
- Burst onto the Magic scene in 1996 when he qualified for Worlds at Finnish Nationals with this completely unexpected archetype
- Piloted the deck to his first Top 8 at Worlds that year
- Median finish of 28th in Pro Tours highest among Class of 2005
Tommi Hovi first popped up on the radar during the inaugural season of the Pro Tour. He made a quiet debut with his Top 8 appearance during Worlds 1996, nudging Jon Finkel into ninth.
His next appearance was anything but quiet as he won Pro Tour-Los Angeles after a controversial judge call gave a match loss to his opponent David Mills in the finals. (Mills had continually played his spells before tapping his mana – a procedural error by the floor rules at that time – and received repeated warnings from the judge staff, which eventually resulted in him losing the match in unprecedented fashion.) Tommi never felt entirely comfortable with his win and yearned to "actually" win a Pro Tour.
"At the time it didn't matter to me," explained Hovi. "But later I realized some people didn't consider it as a true win. I still didn't think people recognized me as a good player so I wanted to have more good finishes."
He got his wish two seasons later when he dispatched Nicolas Labarre in the finals of Pro Tour-Rome with a Tolarian Academy deck. Not only did he get the win he had been craving, but he became the first player in the history of the game to win two Pro Tours – legitimizing the Pro Tour in the minds of many players as a skill-based arena.
"Not only did I think I had finally proven to the community that I could win a Pro Tour without a DQ, but during the games in the PT I also felt that I played the deck very well," Hovi said. "In L.A. it wasn't about my play skills as much as the fact that I realized green was underdrafted."
Tommi's most recent Top 8 appearance was a couple years later when he reached the quarterfinals of Worlds 2001. Tommi's career was much shorter than either Jon Finkel or Darwin Kastle, the top two vote-getters in the inaugural class. He played in only 30 Pro Tours compared to Finkel's 47 appearances and Kastle's 49. What is amazing is that during that relatively brief window, Tommi's median finish was 28th – meaning he was in the Top 32 in at least 15 of those events he played in.
Tommi marks Europe's impact on the Pro Tour as the only non-U.S. player to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Selection Committee in the first class (Olle Råde was later added by the Players Committee vote). While the game is dominated by players from all over the world today, that was not always the case. The quiet Finnish player – along with Råde – paved the way for the globalization of the Pro Tour and showed the world that while Magic may have begun in North America, that was not necessarily where it was going to end.
While Tommi was an obvious choice for the Hall of Fame to many observers, for him, his induction was a pleasant surprise.
"I'm very happy that I got into it, I thought I didn't have a good chance because I'm not very popular and I thought it would be some kind of good-guy competition," he said.
It seems likely that Hovi will show up at the Pro Tour again in the future, although how often remains to be seen. "It depends on several things: who else is going from Finland, where the PT is, and what format it's going to be (and where do I get a deck if it's Constructed). I think I'll go to some, maybe even all, but I can't say for sure yet."
As an interview subject, Tommi has always been known for his taciturn answers to questions (much to the frustration of Mark Rosewater at Pro Tour-Los Angeles, for example). When asked to single out anyone for thanks in regard to his Magic career, he instead looked inward and reflected on his thoughtful and analytical play style.
"I don't think there's anyone particular. I think the most important thing is to analyze your games afterwards and not blame bad luck for your losses. I always had a better feeling if I had lost because of my own mistake (might've been very small also), then if I couldn't find a mistake in my game. Then I knew I can still improve and win the game when the same situation comes around the next time."
By Event Type
|1996 World Championships||8/18/1996||8||13||5||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Dallas - Type II||11/23/1996||230||1||4||0||-|
|Pro Tour- Los Angeles||3/1/1997||1||7||2||2||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||5/30/1997||188||2||3||0||-|
|1997 World Championships||8/15/1997||15||13||7||1||-|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||3/6/1998||17||10||4||0||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/17/1998||24||9||4||1||-|
|1998 World Championships||8/15/1998||177||7||8||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Los Angeles||2/26/1999||100||4||2||1||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/30/1999||32||9||5||0||-|
|1999 World Championships||8/13/1999||34||11||7||0||-|
|Pro Tour-New York||4/14/2000||35||8||4||2||-|
|2000 World Championships||8/4/2000||19||12||6||0||-|
|2001 Finnish Nationals||5/27/2001||5||7||3||1||-|
|2001 World Championships||8/12/2001||8||13||6||0||-|
|Pro Tour-New York (Team)||9/9/2001||63||-|
|Pro Tour-San Diego||1/11/2002||16||10||4||0||-|
|2002 Finnish Nationals||4/21/2002||37||5||4||1||-|
|2003 World Championships||8/8/2003||184||8||9||0||-|
|Pro Tour-Boston (Team)||9/14/2003||11||-|
|Pro Tour-Seattle (Team)||7/11/2004||23||-|
- Tommi qualified for his first Pro Tour – the 1996 World Championships – via Finnish Nationals. Not only did his Turbo Stasis deck dominate Finland's Nats, the deck swept around the globe and dominated U.S. Nationals and had completely warped the metagame by the time Worlds rolled around.
- Tommi tweaked TurboStasis to reach the first of his four Pro Tour Top 8s at Worlds. He added Balance and Land Tax in addition to swapping Feldon's Cane for Soldevi Digger. No deck would ever be more identified with a player than Stasis and Tommi Hovi.
- While Hovi has at least one fewer Top 8s than any of the other 2005 inductees, he had a remarkable run of finishing in the money. The second season of the Pro Tour saw him record a first-place finish (Los Angeles), a 20th, and three 15ths. He only missed the money in Dallas during the 1996-97 season.
- The 1997-98 season was a down season for Hovi who had finished in the money in 6 of his first seven Pro Tour events. He only finished in the money in three of his five opportunities and even finished as low as 41st in one of those events.
- Tommi finished outside the money in Chicago to kick off the 1998-99 season but bounced back in Rome. Tommi made Pro Tour history as the first player to win two Pro Tour titles. Before Tommi's incredible feat, there had been 15 different winners.
- In addition to a money finish at that year's World Championships, Hovi finished in the Top 8 of an all-star studded European Championships that included Nicolai Herzog, Dirk Baberowski, Raphael Levy, and Mattias Jorstedt.
- The most recent Top 8 of Hovi's career came in the same event it all started for the Finnish superstar. Tommi swept the Standard portion of 2001 World Championships with his Go-Mar deck and never looked back en route to his fourth Top 8.
- Tommi's only Grand Prix Top 8 came during the 2003-04 season in Mirrodin Rochester draft when he reached the final draft in Goteborg, Sweden.