And the day is finally here – the new Organized Play announcement just dropped, and I have to say that my top-level reaction is a positive one. Before knowing what was coming, here are the broad strokes of what I was looking for:
- Tabletop tournaments filled with skilled players that were prestigious enough to care about, ideally international ones so we can compete against the best in the world
- Ways to qualify via repeated solid performance
- A clear path towards high-profile events like Worlds
- The name “The Pro Tour”
Additionally, I did want to get some kind of qualification benefit back for Hall of Fame – I realize that isn’t a huge group of folks, and the overall system needs to serve everyone, but getting into the Hall of Fame wasn’t a trivial ask, and I like being having the option to reconnect with Magic (which Hall of Famers have earned).
Well, take a look at the announcement, because WotC (and their new Director of Play Programs, William Jensen) delivered:
Let’s first break down the top-level details of the system.
Level 1: In-Store Qualifiers
The first place you’ll start is in-store, where you can play in qualifiers. What those look like will vary based on location and TO, but my assumption is that these will be akin to old-style PTQs, where you play one day and the winner is qualified for the next step up.
Level 2: Regional Championships
The naming convention here is a little odd, since “Regional” in this case means either an entire country or collection of countries, depending on where in the world you are talking about. Either way, these are large, invite-only tournaments where you compete for prizes and qualifications to the next step up. These will also vary based on location/TO in terms of what they look like, and will qualify different numbers of players based on attendance. My hope is that these feel like a Grand Prix or old Nationals, and not like a RPTQ or WMCQ (for those who have played in any of these events). They are weekend-long events, and if they feel fun/important, this system is in a good place.
In order to seed the system, Rivals and MPL members, as well as previous high finishers at this year’s Set Championships, will be given invites to Regionals.
Level 3: Pro Tours
And here we are – the name is back, which I’m really glad to see. Pro Tours are now somewhat more prestigious than before, insofar as they are harder to qualify for based on this system, and they will do exactly what I was looking for, which is host players from around the world to compete for prizes and glory. If these are awesome, this system is definitely doing what it intends to, and I know I’m motivated to try and do well enough in Regionals so I can play at the Pro Tour.
Level 4: Worlds
Worlds is moving back towards a bigger event, which current players may not remember. The first five years I played, Worlds was essentially a Pro Tour, after which it got switched to the exclusive small-field event it’s been for about 10 years. The new Worlds will be in the middle, with around 120 players or so, who qualify via their performance at Pro Tours (or by getting first place at Regionals). This seems like a good place to land, and with a $1 million prize pool, it’s definitely a tournament you want to be in.
Top-Level Grade: B+/A-
I like what I’m seeing in terms of broad strokes. There are some big wins here, like the Pro Tour name and spirit returning, the competitions being international and there being a good amount of large, prestigious, tabletop tournaments. The prizes are also solid, and let me tell you a little secret: prizes don’t matter as much as people think. Once you’re giving away enough money that it feels like it matters, what people really want is recognition, the tournaments to feel like they matter and the ability to participate in a system where finishes take you up a ladder. The Set Championships that have gone on the last year or so pay out a similar amount to a Pro Tour, yet people seem to care about them dramatically less. It’s never been just about the money, though you need some amount to pay for all the effort you put in.
Here’s where it becomes a bit harder to evaluate. There are some elements of re-qualifying here (your points from your last three finishes lead to additional qualifications, for example), but it’s hard to know exactly how a system will play out or feel without being in it. Here are some details about how to qualify for the Pro Tour.
Personally I’m excited about one Hall of Fame invite per season to a Regionals and Pro Tour. This gives me and other Hall of Famers the opportunity to come back and play if we want, but doesn’t guarantee invites to every PT. I think that’s fine, and this will lead to a rare Finkel or Kai sighting if they want to compete. I know I’ll be making good use of the invite, while still needing to do well to play more than just the one.
As for Adjusted Match Points (AMP), well, I guess we will have to see. I’m unsure how well they will do for this, but it looks reasonable on its face, so I’m open to find out.
For more, watch the WotC stream this afternoon, or read the FAQ here:
I for one am excited to get back to tabletop play, and this system looks like a great way to do that. My previous grade remains unchanged, and I’m going into this with the first feelings of hope I’ve had since the MPL was announced.