Here’s what I’m sick of this month.
1) Day giving LSV a bye toward Platinum
Day isn’t a professional or aspiring professional Magic player, and he wasn’t invited to PT Dragon’s Maze to win the event. He doesn’t play as much or as seriously or as skillfully as players who won a PTQ or otherwise qualified, and that’s okay. We all knew that going in, and not everyone in the world is a pro Magic player.
LSV needed to do well in Pro Tour Dragon’s Maze to make Platinum Pro Level. At 1-3, things were looking pretty bleak. Then the pairings went up, and he saw he was playing against Sean Plott, a.k.a. Day.
What is the cost to inviting people for publicity? Well, sometimes it alters the course of the Pro Tour. LSV at this point is reeling, struggling to cobble together any semblance of positive momentum. If he is paired against a PTQ winner or another down-but-not-quite out regular, he’s got a decent chance of losing. He had some chance of losing to Plott (the match went 3 games), but it was an artificially low chance. Artificially so because this player is not good enough to be playing on the Pro Tour in the first place.
LSV got the Players Championship and World Cup freeroll Pro Points to start the year. These are controversial points. The system is biased in favor of last year’s Top 16 players and while that’s not LSV’s fault, it’s worth mentioning because he got a lot of help towards Platinum and I’m sick of the Pro Points leaderboard not being a reliable leaderboard for the calendar year it ostensibly represents. The Day pseudo-bye is just more help LSV needed but didn’t deserve, and less clarity on the leaderboard.
Plott took LSV to three games, he didn’t lose every round otherwise, and all-in-all it wasn’t that bad a showing. The benefits of having these people invited does probably outweigh the downside, so I’m not entirely sick of the invite, but I just hate how it turned out.
Imagine a relegation match in a soccer league, but instead of the relegated team playing against Arsenal to stay in the league they play against some amateur club team full of Starcraft players. It might draw some eyeballs onto the match, but has sport become spectacle? Maybe Magic was spectacle all along, but I had higher hopes.
LSV’s new token should be a pic of him taking candy out of a baby’s hand. But congrats on Platinum buddy. I love you.
2) Not knowing who is the least glamorous celebrity that could get an invite to the PT
Gary “for the toilet is dark, and full of terrors” Talim and I were arguing the other day about where the line is for which celebrities Wizards would give a sponsor’s invite to for the next Pro Tour. I need an answer. If John Mayer decides he wants to give it a go, we agree they’d let him in. What about Andy Dick? What about the guy from the I Ate the Bones commercial or Flo from Progressive in an actual sponsor tie-in?
I think my “23rd playable” celebrity (the one I’m least sure about and thus defines the boundary) would be the actor who plays Abu Nazir on Homeland. How did I arrive at this precise individual? It’s more art than science, and there was a ton of science.
3) Pro Tour commentary
Not being invited to PTDGM in my home state had its silver lining—I was able to watch the coverage online. The coverage is very watchable and I think overall an entertaining product, but the commentary could improve a lot. Before the P Sullis and Zac Hills “put their designer hats on” and explain that I’m not the typical viewer (for the 1000th time in the 1000th different context), I’ll say that I understand the goals and demographics of the broadcast beyond merely substituting my own preferences for that of every potential viewer.
The stuff that needs improving isn’t even arguably helping the less-informed viewers. Misstating the gamestate or trying to go into the underlying reasons for a play but missing in an equally complex but wrong way helps no one. If the play-by-play guy for the Miami Heat keeps saying the Heat have 1 time out when they have 0 or that the Heat are down 2 when they’re down 3, that’s just doing a bad job, whether a pro points it out or someone watching for the first time.
Examples of misstatements about the gamestate and basic strategy are abundant and I didn’t log them to be rehashed here, but I just think philosophically you always need someone in the booth who can play at a pro level. Tracking what is going on is second nature for pros, and they can thus focus on the commentary without having to focus on the details that mire the novice commentators. Repeat offenders like Marshal Sutcliffe and Rashad Miller should still be allowed in the booth, but should be coached about their role and defer to the other (pro) commentator for details and technical analysis.
On a more subjective note, some of the two-man (I’d love to use a gender-neutral pronoun here but who would I be fooling?) crews are not a great match. Zac Hill and Marshall had the following exchange at one point:
Sutcliffe: *says something which happens to be wrong*
Hill: hahh hahh hahh hahh
Sutcliffe: Yeah, but he can do that, right?
Hill: I... wasn't listening
That just about sums it up for that duo.
These are nice guys, so nothing personal. On that same note, Sheldon Menery must have cashed in several favors to remain part of the coverage team. At one point he noted that a Jace, Architect of Thought 3-card split can be harder than Fact or Fiction splits, and I just wondered whether he had ever played against either card in a meaningful game.
In sum, the coverage pair needs one or more people bringing the match to life with colorful discussion of what’s happening, and one or more people a) explaining the nuts and bolts of what just happened, b) simply stating some options available, and c) briefly touching on the deeper strategy possibly underlying a given play.
4) New art on Invitational cards
I was outraged that Paulo Vitor Dama Da Rosa’s invitational card is being reprinted with the following art:
Getting free points from the Players Championship AND the World Cup and not even making Gold is one of the most impressive things we’ve seen since Brad Nelson won Player of the Year and then didn’t do a single point of damage in the next 12 months of pro events. Paulo worked hard to get to Silver and this artwork doesn’t show him at all.
Several pros also went from Gold level to No Level, and you know I wouldn’t name names…
Some of these players probably took a break from the game, and the others should strongly consider it. I think a new category called “Pyrite Pro” should be created that awards to each member the right to tell 1 story about playing on the Pro Tour each FNM.
As for the actual Invitational cards getting new art, the decision was made when these things weren’t legends and story characters but rather regular creatures. A subtle nod to the players would have been the right thing to do somewhere in the art or flavor text, but at this point I’m more sick of the complaining than that small oversight.
5) That there is no video footage (that I know of) of the judge announcing Dave Shiels made Top 8
Perhaps my favorite moment in GP history came at Grand Prix Portland a few weeks ago. At the end of the Swiss, the judge read off the top 7 finishers, then to build suspense stated, “and… by about 4 percentage points in tiebreakers… in 8th place… Dave Shiels!” Shock, glee, agony, it all followed for about 30 seconds. When it had all fully set in, the mic went live again, “...actually I meant 9th. 8th place is Joe DiMaggio (something like that). My bad.” Amazing. My bad. CONFIRMED: Thrun was not the last troll.
The greatest reveal in a Magic tournament quickly became the biggest troll/slow roll ever.
6) You Make the Card
The finals choice is now up in You Make the Card, and it’s Blood in the Watering Can vs. Revenge of Necromancy.
My conspiracy theory about this being one big “seeeeeeee, not anyone can do our job,” stunt is basically confirmed. Blood in the Watering Can. This is dumber than anything I could have made up. But wait, the name is stupid but if you damage yourself you get to raise dead, every turn! Can’t wait.
Revenge of the Necromancy will be released straight to the Casual – Anything Goes room like bad flicks go straight to DVD. I’ll just hold onto my discard until I get this thing out, THEN I’ll start the discard. What can go wrong? And if things go right I’ll get a 2/2 and have BB enter and leave my mana pool.
My black enchantment, and I hope it’s not too late to get this into the voting, would be Blood in the Crack of the Moon 2B – All lands are Swamps. Cumulative Upkeep – Destroy target land an opponent controls.
7) More Training Wheels
Check out this M14 spoiler:
The “haste” here is pure hand-holding so players can’t accidentally enchant the land that came into play this turn. Come ON, is nothing sacred? This thing should also have, “must attack, can’t block, can only tap for mana if all your other lands are tapped,” to make sure no mistakes are made.
The new 'Goyf in Modern Masters should say can’t be the target of Lightning Bolt if this is a 2/3 and no instants are in a graveyard unless the opponent reveals a second Lightning Bolt. Why take a chance that someone could make a mistake and learn about the rules and strategy of the game from that mistake?
What are you sick of? Let me know on Twitter by tweeting @mtg_law_etc