takes the time to honour the legacy of Kai Budde in Magic: The Gathering.

In light of recent news, we're taking the time to honor one of the greatest Magic: The Gathering players to ever touch the game, Kai Budde, and his inimitable legacy.

Any esport, any game, and any competitive venture, hopes it can be so lucky as to have a player whose dominance, presence, and character elevate the game itself. These enormous figures are few and far between, people like Lee "Faker" Sang-hyeok for League of Legends, who are synonymous with the game itself in such a historic manner that the very lineage of the sport is intertwined with their legacy. For Magic: The Gathering, there is one name that rings beyond all others as a figurehead of the scene: Kai Budde.

Wizards names Player of the Year award after Kai Budde in light of terminal diagnosis

At Pro Tour Modern Horizons, an announcement by William "Huey" Jensen, head of Organized Play at Wizards of the Coast, delivered gut-wrenching news to the MTG community: Kai Budde has been diagnosed with cancer, and his health has taken a turn for the worse. In the interest of honoring Budde, Wizards announced that the Player of the Year award would be renamed to the Kai Budde Player of the Year trophy. It's an announcement that has rocked the competitive Magic community to its core, fans and peers of Budde expressing shock, grief, and sadness.

Magic: The Gathering as a wider cultural phenomenon is being faced with a deeply distressing reality: the very best of us, likely the greatest competitive player the game will ever offer, is merely mortal.

To describe Budde's legacy as larger-than-life would be an understatement. There can be no discussion of a superstar player's ranking amongst the greatest Magic players in history without the looming shadow of his accomplishments begging the question, "Are they better than Kai?" Since some of Magic's earliest days to the far reaches of its modern incarnations, no player could vy for GOAT without facing the Herculean record that Budde holds to this day.

"Kai doesn't lose on Sundays" - Mythmaking in pro MTG

Kai holds the records for Pro Tour Champion titles with seven, Player of the Year titles with four, and is tied for the most individual Grand Prix wins. A single player holding every one of these accomplishments at the same time is a staggering accomplishment, especially in a game that is more than 30 years old. Almost as long as we have had Magic: The Gathering, we have had Kai Budde at the pinnacle, a figure to admire and aspire towards. His name is uttered at tables of magic in debates that have been waged since his early days: "Budde or Finkel?"

His dominance during the peak of his reign was so unbelievable that the MTG community collectively agreed: "Kai doesn't lose on Sundays." Kai's ability to perform at the absolute highest level was explainable only in a tongue-in-cheek faux-superstitious catchphrase, it was a Sunday. I've never met Kai Budde, but the reverence with which the game's elite talent speaks of Kai says volumes for his contributions as a community builder.

This week, the Magic: The Gathering community reckoned with the harrowing truth that the giant upon whose shoulders we all stand, the German Juggernaut, someone who can be argued to be the most singularly significant bedrock upon which competitive Magic: The Gathering is founded, may not be around to shepherd it much longer.

As a competitive endeavor, a game, and a community, we have been blessed to stand in the shadows of titans like Kai and reach towards that impossible standard with arms too short to box with God. While many players have aspired to be like Kai Budde, nobody else can be him. Kai's roses should rightly be given while he is still here to receive them.

No matter who carries the torch for competitive Magic: The Gathering's future, it was Kai who lit it. Any game should be so lucky to have a competitor and sportsman of the caliber of Kai, and that's important to acknowledge.