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Nationals, Pro Tours and My Hopes for Competitive Flesh and Blood

When it comes to the game of Flesh and Blood and content creation, I’m someone who tends to focuses almost entirely on the gameplay itself. I tend to keep myself pretty removed from things like the finance side of the TCG for example (not that I don’t appreciate my collection being worth something!) and generally I keep my thoughts about the direction of the game to myself. But this past week has been a marquee week for this game that I have come to love. It wouldn’t feel right to me letting it go by without sharing my views on exactly what I think the Organized Play Pathway announcement along with the reveal of US Nationals and four callings before the end of 2021 means for competitive Flesh and Blood. But first, lets take a look back at how we got here…

 

Header - Organized Play - 2019-2020

Image credit: fabtcg.com

 

When you think about it, Legend Story Studios (LSS) have had a fairly short period of time in which to get higher level organized play off the ground. Generally, you find with TCGs that competitive play and OP tend to be more of a complimentary partner to the game that come later in the lifecycle of the game.

With Flesh and Blood however, LSS had competitive organized play mapped out since well before the game was released. Not only was it mapped out, but creator James White even acknowledged that the studio designed this game very much with the competitive side in mind.

This fact is pretty plain to see when you look at how Flesh and Blood had its initial launch. The world premiere was a competitive-level event, featuring a sold out 120 players battling it out with just the Ira Welcome deck. With $1,000 cash for first place, LSS had made a statement of intent before set one was even release, in fact we hadn’t at the time seen that cards would have cycles! You can check out a great little video put together by LSS of this world premiere event here, and spy future Calling winner Matt Rogers in the Top 8!

Year one of course then saw the launch of the first set, Welcome to Rathe which was followed by a string of the first Calling events. Four Callings in total were hosted with two in America, two in New Zealand and one in Australia.

Then the world changed forever after the February 2020 Calling in Auckland, New Zealand. Just as Arcane Rising was released to the world, the world shut down. For half a year, the competitive landscape of Flesh and Blood lay dormant. As September rolled around, we were back, with the first ever Nationals Championships taking place in New Zealand and Taiwan. 

 

Header - Where We Stand in 2021

Finally, after a year hiatus in February 2021 we received the sixth ever Calling event – a Blitz Calling that launched the quick-fire format to the world, followed by the first season of Skirmish and then a seventh Calling event back in New Zealand. However, at this point in time, just a fraction of the player base had attended a Calling and it feels like a real “what’s next for competitive Flesh and Blood” moment….

 

 

Enter stage right the news every North American Flesh and Blood fan had been anticipating – not one, but four Calling events to be held in the US before the close of 2021. This is a chance for players to test their mettle, in open entry events that are sure to be in excess of 300 to 400 competitors. Realistically, I wouldn’t be surprised to see numbers at some of these Callings approach the 1,000 player mark!

This is an exciting time for all North American players, with big prizes on the line in the form of cash, highly coveted exclusive promos that sell for thousands on the secondary market and that all important Professional Tour Invite for each and every competitor who reaches the Top 8. The Calling season runs from September 10 to November 5, kicking off in Las Vegas and culminating in a massive double header with the first ever USA Nationals in Orlando. All details on the Callings hosted by ChannelFireball and the Nationals can be found in the announcement above and LSS’s announcement here. National Championships are on the way and will be announced across other regions very shortly! So, how do you get your ticket to Nationals?

 

Header - Road to Nationals

There are two ways to secure your spot at your National Championships. Since this isn’t an open invite event, you’ll need to secure your qualification, which is done in one of two ways. The first is to finish in the Top 4 of a Road to Nationals event, which is an open event held at local game stores around your region. The format for all of these Road to Nationals events is Classic Constructed and you can find details of Road to Nationals here. You can also use the event locator on FABTCG.com find a Road to Nationals near you. The exciting thing about these Road to Nationals events is that there are some sweet prizes for the Top 8, and even for Top 32 in the form of exclusive promo cards and mats.

If the promos and a shot at an automatic invite to your Nationals wasn’t reason enough to go and play a number of these Road to Nationals events, playing in multiple of these events could still earn you an invite even if you don’t make it into any Top 4s. The second method of qualification works via the XP system, meaning it isn’t Top 4 or bust. XP is earned at every official event you play. For each win you rack up, you receive a number of points based on the modifier. Weekly Armories for example grant three XP per win, but Road to Nationals events grant double that per win. Before Nationals, LSS will announce a cut off and the top X number of players will qualify on their 90-day XP ranking for an invite to Nationals. This will vary by country, so stay tuned to FABTCG.com to find out what that benchmark will be for your region as each National’s event is announced.

 

Header - Looking Forward

Callings, Road to Nationals and Nationals will make for a packed remainder of 2021 on the competitive Flesh and Blood organized play scene, and I for one am fizzing! Since the release of this game, with Legend Story Studios’ pledge to competitive TCG players around the world, I’ve been excited to see what they will come up with. Having been fortunate enough to have played now in two Callings, and even hoist the trophy in one, I can’t overstate how thrilling these high level events are. But it doesn’t stop there – LSS have confirmed along with Callings and National Championships that next year is the target for the inaugural World Championship and launch of the Pro Tour.

Personally, I can’t wait to try my hand at getting to those first Pro Tour events and play for a piece of history at the first World Champs. I have genuine optimism for the organized play and competitive pathway of this game, LSS have done right by players so far despite the challenging landscape that sits in front of us all. There are two things I really do want to see however – a small wish list if you like for competitive organized play.

First is that I would like to see coverage of Pro Tours, Worlds and even Nationals (where feasible for larger player bases) to match the prestige levels of these events. The coverage of the recent Auckland Calling was a great start, and if the leaps taken in quality from the first to the second Calling event in 2021 continues, then I expect we will get my wish.

Second is that I would like to see a team-based competition come into play in the high-level competitive circuit. One of the things I really enjoyed following a long with in Magic: the Gathering was the story of the teams battling it out to produce the best results collectively over a year, pushing one another and fighting to be the recognized best team in the world. I think we are some way of that yet, but it is something I would be interested to see down the track.

 

Image credit: fabtcg.com

 

A journey that has just begun is how I would describe organized play for competitive Flesh and Blood, and I’m ready for the next phase. How about you, will you be rising to the challenge and starting down the pathway of glory, embarking on a journey to win a Calling, qualify for Nationals, or perhaps even aspire to be on the stage at the World Championships holding the trophy aloft? I look forward to seeing many new faces and the competition emerge as the US Calling season starts, along with the Nationals roll out later in the year. Get after it and lift those trophies!

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