Showbox at the Market sits inconspicuously a couple salmon tosses away from the world famous Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Tourists and office workers alike, enjoying a stunning late summer day about which neither Eddie Vedder nor Kurt Cobain could complain, walk by the venue's closed black doors, oblivious to the proceedings inside the concert space. A poster on the blood red walls of the men's bathroom announces that The Summer Slaughter Tour, headlined by Between the Buried and Me, passed through the previous week. Bloc Party will play in late September. Everyone from Duke Ellington to Lady Gaga have strutted on that platform while patrons ordered drinks from one of two bars near the raised stage.

For the next three days, however, the Showbox has a very different purpose. The 73-year-old establishment plays host to the Magic the Gathering Players Championship, a late August event featuring the highest concentration of Magic talent ever assembled for one event. Jon Finkel, arguably the best player ever, is present. So is the charismatic Brian Kibler, 2011 World Champion Jun'ya Iyanaga, Luis Scott-Vargas – the man with the highest winning percentage on the Pro Tour – and pretty much anyone who is anyone in the game. Nine of the 16 men – they are all men – have Wikipedia pages dedicated to their MtG exploits. For more than eight hours a day over three days, they will battle for the title of 2012 World Player of the Year title and $40,000. In the growing world of Magic the Gathering, the Players Championship is Ellington, Gaga, and Pearl Jam all rolled into one.