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Posted July 29, 2014 by Scott Gerhardt in Card Games

My Thoughts on the Magic Premiere Tournament Changes

Okay, WotC makes Pro Tour and Grand Prix changes.  Do I have an opinion?  Of course I do.

If you want to read the article yourself and have not yet, you can do so here.

Regional PTQs: Are all the Regional PTQs going to be on the same day, or will they be spread out? Seems like they may be spread. If so, this may REALLY get into a “pick your spot” situation with players gambling on which one will be easiest. But, with only 16 held between the US and Canada, distance may be an issue. I have to assume the 16 locations are likely to be fairly static, at least in terms of overall geographic location. It may only make sense to play in one specific one because the other 15 are all too far away. Then, I hope you’re available that weekend, or there isn’t a Grand Prix you want to attend. I wonder if a Regional PTQ invite can pass over if you can’t make one that season? All in all, though, I do think this will more reward consistently good players, as it’s generally easier to top 4/8 a single tournament than win one of several.  Edit:  It now appears that all Silver Pros who are not otherwise qualified will basically get a bye into the RPTQs.  While I personally don’t love it because I didn’t hit silver, I think it’s a good, solid reward for those players.  Hitting silver is no easy task (unless you were Gold+ the year before – then it’s not THAT hard since you’re already fully qualified, but even then, Gold is really hard to hit) and I think this is a fair reward for that.

Store-level PTQs: This seems like the smaller PTQs are going to be more like the GPTs. How spread out will the formats be in general? I know each store can run whatever format they want, but I’m hearing some people already feel like most stores are going to run some form of constructed. If this is true, then this system is going to be awful for someone like me who is a limited specialist.

Locations of RPTQs: I’m taking a guess at the major geographic locations for the first 16 US/Canada PTQs: Vancouver, Bay Area, Los Angeles, Boise, Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, Kansas City, Winnipeg, Chicago, Atlanta, Tampa, Cleveland, Roanoke, NYC, Montreal. This is guessed based a little on magic player density, geographic location, and a little bit of politics.  Click here if you want to see this laid out on a map.

Fixing the GPs based on attendance:  I feel like they went part-way to fixing the issues in GPs, but not far enough. Pro Points being based on match points is good. Money still being based on standing is bad. If they make money based on match points as well, they don’t have to scale the money – the money scales itself based on attendance, which is a WAY better way of doing it. I have to think this is for legal reasons or something based on it being an open play event so it doesn’t violate gambling laws. If it is, then not much you can do to fix it, but if not, then scaling the money with the size pretty much always keeps the proportions right. Winning 12 matches at a GP should ALWAYS be worth the same amount of money, period (unless it would Top 8 you or something). It’s just as hard to win 12 out of 15 regardless of the size, so why not make it pay the same. Static number of invites is good as well. If you go to a GP and you Top 8, you qualify. This eliminates the weird situation where you have, say, a 780 man GP, someone goes 14-1 in the swiss, loses in the Top 8 and doesn’t qualify. Now, if you win 13 matches (12 in teams). I do also think that if you qualify based on point threshold you should get airfare as well.

Airfare to Pro Tours:  Honestly, I think EVERYONE qualified for a PT should get airfare (change HOF’s appearance fee to airfare). If you qualify for a PT, the reason you don’t go should never be “because I couldn’t afford to travel there”. This would be a small number of people at GPs, and those GPs brought in enough money to pay for it anyway. Swapping gold’s appearance fee for airfare is a good overall change as well and a move in the right direction on this. The only sticky point could be silver invites, but that’s one shot for people who did indeed earn it over the course of the previous year with their skills and commitment to the game through a lot of weekends and travels. Give it to them too. What can the cost on that REALLY be in the grand scheme.

The Pro Tour:  The PT is the way it should be. Top 8 stays the same, everyone else can make intelligent decisions about points and money based on match points and knowing exactly what the outcomes will be. I love the 33 match point rule as well – you know exactly what your target is to stay on the train.

Pro Player Club Changes:  Swapping gold’s appearance fee for airfare is a good overall change as well I think, though I don’t see this personally affecting me anytime soon. 🙂 No thoughts on platinum going up to 48. Seems like it was required if the number of GPs went up slightly and the cap on GP finishes went from 5 to 6 (which I like as well – 6 seems like a better number).

Conclusion:  WotC is taking steps in the right direction, mostly.  I feel like they think they had a broken system (and they did) and they are trying to fix it.  Are these the right fixes?  I don’t know, but I do applaud them for at least TRYING to fix it.  I’m sure in about a year we’ll see more fixes based on what they have learned, but for now, I’m excited to see where it’s going.

Scott Gerhardt

Scott has....thoughts. They can be about this, that, or just about anything. Seldom at a loss for words, you can find his thoughts chronicled here