Most of the competitive Magic scene has waited for a long time to finally see the full schedule of Grand Prix events for 2019. Wizards of the Coast delivered that yesterday and topped it off with a number of change announcements to organized play going into next year. GP Champion and PT competitor Michael Bonde tries to dissect that announcement and gives his opinion on the most important points.
Announcement for Pro Magic in 2019
Yesterdays announcement regarding the Pro Tour brings a lot of news with it. There is gonna be a change to the PT qualification systems, there will be a change in the GP schedule and a lot more both on and between the lines. I’ll try and digest some of the information in this writeup, and give away some of my thoughts about the information at hand.
Overall there will be fewer GPs worldwide – this is a both a good and a bad thing. When there is too many, it will water down the Pro Points, while potentially giving away too many invites for the PT, making it too big. On the other hand, cutting down on the GPs can cause major issues in the regions that already have too few. The APAC region has been under siege from Wizards over the last couple of years, and these news also bring an omen to them – while Europe goes down from 15 to 11 GPs (which is still kind of a lot) APAC goes down to 7, where 2 of them are in Australia. Looking at the player base I honestly do not think it’s fair to that part of the world.
Although I really like the idea of MagicFest having a mix of tournaments and celebrating the game for the masses, it leaves me with one issue. If the PT is situated at the same time as the “GP” or MagicFest, then it means that you miss the opportunity to play one or more Grand Prix in your region. This means the GP schedule actually gets cut even more for APAC players and European players. For example EU players on the Pro Tour have to skip GP Barcelona and GP London, so we are down to 9 Grands Prix in Europe.
The information is still all new and not that specific, so it may change later, or Wizards might at least clarify what their intentions are.
To look at the bright side, I think its really cool that the PT opens up a little bit to the crowd by having a GP and PT somewhat in connection to each other – and I remember when I first started to play GPs, when I went with my friends to GP Paris. Getting to play my game while also seeing some of my idols play was really cool and I would like people to feel this way aswell. If this could be done while not destroying Pro and SemiPro players opportunities to play events and stay on the circuit, count me in!
Pro Tour invitations
Having to first win a PPTQ, to then travel to a RPTQ to get the chance to qualify to the PT has never been a nice road to glory. On the other hand people who were continuously qualified for RPTQs through Bronze and/or Silver Pro Level felt it was somewhat like the old system, but you could also play them online. Implementing the new “old” PTQ system in a new coat is kinda cool – and I like that there are different types of qualifier events (Opens and Invitational). Wizards also made a great incentive for tournament organizers to run bigger and cooler events, where first prize is an actual ticket to the Pro Tour. This will help some of the medium big TOs to actually have events that are worth travelling distances to attend! It does however leave the regular stores with a vacuum of tournaments where you could obtain lots of Planeswalker Points. Addressing this with a “bigger” tournament that is supported by Wizards and that gives out more PWPs would make this advertisement all great!
I can see an issue with Grands Prix qualifying for the next Pro Tour in the same georegion, but overall if one person Top8’s a GP, they get to play a PT, it’s such a fantastic journey that overall it matters more on paper than in real life – and if it opens up some budget money overall I don’t really mind. It does however mean that the opportunity to see the world through Magic, when living in places that are a bit isolated, is no longer a part of the whole setup – and I find that somewhat sad.
Over the course of the last 8 years, Wizards have been experimenting with the prize structure and didn’t hit a home run yet. However, with the new system they try to be more open regarding what they are gonna pay out – and I love transparency. I think that having the prize payout scale depending on participants has been missing for so long and this is definitely moving in the right direction. I do however think having a system like this, where “they” determine how many players will participate is bad. GPs in Japan have up to 3.000 players, and the upcoming GP Kyoto is only on the 2nd step of the new system. I think this shows us that it will only be for MagicFests, which once again will be without the attendance of Pro Tour circuit players – though not many being affected, I am sad that I am not able to participate for the top prizes outside of the PT’s.
On the bright side, the scaling means that as a grinder, I will be able to actually cash more often with an 11-4 record if I look back at the events that have been. Paying down to 110th place is gonna make it even cooler to attend GPs.
I am sad that announcements like this stifle my opportunities to play competitive Magic. I am a qued for the next 3 Pro Tours, so I am obviously speaking from a point of priviledge, but I sincerely love playing Magic and I want to go to lengths to do so – travelling with my friends, having a great time – while having the opportunity to do well and continue being qualified. I hope that with more information and clarification on how it’s gonna work, everything will add up and we can keep playing this wonderful game, even though we are not US-based.
Until I am no longer qualified I will try my best to keep getting to play on the big stage, because it is truly where it is at!
On an unrelated note, if you haven’t been playing Guilds of Ravnica, you have been missing out! The Draft is truly great. Happy hunting for them sweet trophies and foil mythics!
Interested in learning more about Michael Bonde as a player and his journey on the Pro Tour? Stay tuned because his next article will introduce you to his approach to traveling, competitive play and how to keep the grind fun!
This article was written by Michael Bonde in a media collaboration with mtgmintcard.com