Since I’m currently in Japan testing for Pro Tour Hour of Devastation, I planned in advance and wrote multiple articles to publish while I’m here. The first article I wrote was about how Standard was great right now, and how it was the only Constructed format that could be defined as “competitive,” since it was the format played at most GPs, most PPTQs, and every Pro Tour.
Then Wizards shook things up, so it’s time to open a new Word document and take a look at what changed.
It changed a lot!
1: Bronze Level Pro
“We’re adding a new level—Bronze—effective for the 2017–18 season. Bronze is achieved at 10 Pro Points, and grants players an invitation to Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers and one bye at GP main events. Everyone who had between 10 and 19 Pro Points in 2016–17 will automatically be granted Bronze for the next season.”
I love this change—and it means a lot to the players and to the game. First, it’s a reward to those players who grind GPs but aren’t on the train. Being Silver isn’t easy—you have to spike one event and chain finishes at least to the Pro Tour, and that’s not an easy task. Having a small reward like Bronze level is great. It’s zero cost for Wizards of the Coast. Even better, people who play RPTQs now pay an entry fee so that TOs get a little bonus out of this change.
My local friends and a few PPTQ grinders told me how much more they will try to play every GP in the area to chase Bronze level (or maybe more). Giving people a more attainable target is always a good thing.
2: Team Constructed Pro Tour
“The format for Pro Tour 25th Anniversary will be Team Trios Constructed. To compete in this format, eligible trios that compete must bring a legal Standard, Modern, and Legacy Constructed deck, with each player piloting one of those decks through the duration of the tournament. For this Pro Tour, there will be no Limited rounds. It’s Team Trios Constructed for all three days!”
Standard, Modern, and Legacy will be the formats played at the Team Pro Tour, and this is huge news for Legacy players. For the first time ever, Legacy will be played on the biggest stage in the game. I’m a Legacy aficionado, and I’m in love with this move. I can’t wait to play Legacy with two of my teammates. This will solidify the fact that Legacy and Modern aren’t about to die and that the Reserved List is safe. How to qualify for this event is a little obscure, and it’s weird that the format of the RPTQ is Team Unified Standard, but I guess Wizards has to push Standard.
3: Modern Pro Tour
Speaking of Wizards pushing Standard… Modern is back at the Pro Tour for Rivals of Ixalan!
I’m pretty sad about this change. I’ve always hated Modern Pro Tours and I’m not a fan of Modern as a format. I guess Wizards tested Modern with the new set and is sure that there is no Eye of Ugin + Thought-Knot Seer effect, and that nothing crazy will happen. Still, Modern is a format with thousands of decks and it’s hard to be prepared for everything. It’s also hard to read the metagame and hard to break the format. Too many games are decided by the matchup, and it doesn’t matter how skilled the player is if the matchup is awful. Modern is a fun format, but not at higher levels of competition.
The problem with this change also is that Wizards has once again backpedaled on a major decision. We’re now at a point where Standard is balanced and there are multiple decks that can be seen as tier 1. It’s a great Standard, and it will be in future years because of the new Play Design team at Wizards of the Coast (Michael Majors and Paul Cheon just got recruited), so there’s really no reason to move away from it.
4: The Grand Prix Schedule
I looked at the European GP schedule for January-July, and only two of them are Standard! How is that possible? Standard is how Wizards of the Coast promotes their game—how can there be only two? I guess in the July-December set we’ll have fewer Team GPs, but I’m amazed at how hard WotC cut down on Standard, a format that is now in perfect shape and has never been so cheap.
I like having Team GPs here and there, but three in a row in one month seems like too much. They want to make Team GPs qualify for the Team Pro Tour so it makes sense, but I hope they reduce it slightly—not everyone is the Peach Garden Oath. Some players might not have access to a good team, and might not want to attend a Grand Prix where they don’t have many good options. For example, my local friends played almost every GP this year except the team events.
5: Pro Club Changes
Starting next year, the way we count Pro Points changes. It won’t just be a mere sum of the Pro Points gathered in the season (capping GPs at 6)—it’ll count the 3 best finishes in a 3-month season from one Pro Tour to another. This means that a player on the train like me will count roughly 4 Pro Tours and 8 GPs, and this will give less of an advantage over competitors who haven’t played the WMC or Worlds, since if you want to make those count, you won’t be counting 2 GPs.
I like this change, but only if Wizards doesn’t raise the Pro Point requirements a significant amount. I like that you have to demonstrate consistent success, and have to play Magic a lot to stay on the train.
Someone pointed out how this will make planning harder since you might book, for example, in advance for four GPs in one cycle, and if you do well in three of them you might have skipped the fourth, but you couldn’t have known. Or on the other hand, if you booked three GPs but did poorly and now want to go to a fourth, the cost of travel increases significantly.
I think those are corner-cases that won’t matter a lot. I like new changes like this one.
What are your thoughts on the changes? Let me know in the comments!
[Editor’s note: This piece originally stated that Pro Points would be counted over a 4-month season. It’s 3 months.]