The countdown to the World Championships continues. In the news this week: the Hall of Fame voting opens and the Pro Club updates for the 2018-19 season started to emerge.
Pro Club Updates
During the WeeklyMTG stream, Blake Rasmussen and Steve Sunu announced a number of updates to the 2018-19 Pro Club. The litany of changes was incomplete as only elements that were “100% confirmed” were released to the public. Part of the reason for this? The creation of the Pro Adviser program.
In order to make sure that the changes being made to the Pro Player Club have been vetted by professional players, Wizards of the Coast will be contracting with three pro players to act as consultants. These players will be brought “in house” to weigh in on the final version of upcoming changes. While members of the pro community have been in touch with Organized Play before, this program represents a shift toward having representation from the player community in an official capacity.
That update, and others, were summarized in this article. First is a change to the way cycles work. Formerly, a player who earned a Pro Club Level Status (Silver, Gold, Platinum) would hold the status for three months. This status provides players with benefits such as appearance fees and byes and Grand Prix. The three-month cycle made it challenging for players to plan their year since a string of poor finishes at the wrong time could drastically alter their status. To help ease this moving forward, status will now carry forward for two cycles—six months. This change will take effect starting at the end of the current season in September, 2017.
In a supplemental update, there was clarification of how this would affect players who were on the cusp between levels. Due to this change from a one-cycle to two-cycle system, players who were between levels will be granted the higher level for the first two cycles of the 2018-19 season. Under this system, 52 points will mean Platinum status, 37 means Gold, and 22 means Silver. These points must be earned by September 16, 2017 in order to carry forward.
The same supplemental announcement also clarified how Pro Player Club status affects the ability to participate in RPTQs. All players who are Bronze or above in status can participate in RPTQs provided they are not already qualified for the Pro Tour in question.
Back to the original announcement. There were two more quick hits. The first is the announcement of the first Pro Tour of 2019, taking place in Cleveland, Ohio between February 22 and February 24, 2019. The format has not yet been announced and the drop date has yet to be determined. During the stream, Rasmussen said that there were internal discussions as to when the format would be released after consulting the Pro Player Advisers.
The final announcement dealt with the Team Series. In 2018-19 only the Top 8 teams will have their complete roster invited to the final Pro Tour of the season. During the 2017-18 season, the Top 16 teams were invited due to the special nature of the final event—the Team Trio Constructed Pro Tour 25th Anniversary.
Pro Tour Hall of Fame
Hall of Fame voting season is underway. In order to appear on the ballot players have to have at least 150 Pro Points, have made their first Pro Tour appearance at least ten years ago, and meet a certain threshold for Sunday finishes. You can see the complete list of qualified players here.
Spellslinger Starter Kit
A new product will hit the shelves on October 5, designed to help people learn how to play Magic. The Spellslinger Starter Kit will come with two decks, two spindowns, and a rules insert. Designed to be played directly out of the box, the kit will be available in both mass market retailers and local game stores. The kit will retail for $14.99.
Fans of different formats got some good news this week. At Grand Prix Richmond, Wizards of the Coast and ChannelFireball will be hosting a Brawl Championship. The event will be five rounds of multiplayer pod play. After the five rounds there will be a cut to a final table featuring four players. Participants will receive an Adeliz, the Cinder Wind playmat and the prizes will tally over 2,800 prize tickets.
Meanwhile, players on Magic Online will have the chance to Chaos Draft starting this week. This article details the development of making the format, which uses 24 different packs, work in the digital platform. Chaos Draft gives players a chance to try something different every time the enter the queue, which will first be available on Magic Online on August 22.
Standard Grand Prix Double Feature
Standard took the spotlight twice this weekend at Grand Prix on opposite coasts of the United States: Providence, Rhode Island and Los Angeles, California.
First up was Grand Prix Providence. Just under 700 players showed up to do battle on Day 1. The cut to Day 2 was startling—about half of the decks were aggressive red strategies. The Top 8 had one midrange deck, three blue-based control decks, and four red aggressive decks. Green was nowhere to be found. In the finals it was Oliver Tiu on Blue-White Control against Daniel Duffee on Mono-Red Wizards. A different take on Goblin Chainwhirler, Wizards uses tribal synergies to turn Wizard’s Lightning into Lightning Bolt. In the end the red deck triumphed again as Duffee was able to claim his first Grand Prix title.
Grand Prix Los Angeles may have had more players but the result was remarkably similar. Although the Top 8 was more heavily skewed toward midrange and featured a God-Pharaoh’s Gift deck, a Winding Constrictor deck, and a Nexus of Fate deck, it was the same old song and dance. Red-Black Aggro, in the hands of Logan Nettles, defeated Ben Friedman and Blue-Black Midrange. Despite the variety on display during the elimination rounds, none of it could stop Goblin Chainwhirler.
The Player of the Year race is heating up. Heading into the weekend, Seth Manfield held a 1-point lead on Reid Duke and a 2-point lead on Luis Salvatto. Both Manfield and Duke failed to improve their standing in Providence. Salvatto, with three open Grand Prix slots, earned a point in Los Angeles. This ties him with Duke for second place with a few short weeks to go. We are in for an exciting end to this race as players jockey for the lead down the stretch.