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PV’s Playhouse – Organized Play?

Hello!

At first, I was planning on writing a somewhat different article – I got tired of Standard and figured some sort of general strategy would be nice for a change, since those are the articles I like the most. Then, as I was roughly in the middle of it, this happened.

Suddenly, my articles seemed very meaningless by comparison; I can’t really think of anything else other than this and the impact it’s going to cause on my life and the lives of a lot of my best friends. So, I have decided to write about it instead.

The first thing you should take notice of is that, though many announcements they have made in the past do not benefit me, I understand them. Do I like the Planeswalker Points? I don’t, they’re not good for me. Do I understand them? Yes, of course I do – they get people to play more and that is important. Someone likes them, a lot of people do. Do I like that the US has 8 GPs next year and South America has none? I don’t. Do I understand it? Of course – there are more players in the US. It makes sense that they get a lot more.

This, on the other hand, I do not like nor understand. Who likes this? I haven’t seen a single positive reaction from any player! Perhaps the shareholders like it at first, but certainly none of the stakeholders do. I didn’t actually think it was possible to announce a change that upset everyone, but it seems they’ve managed to do it.

The first major problem with the statement is that, for a statement, it says very little. It tells us the Pro Player Club is going to be canceled and that “Wizards of the Coast plans to replace the Pro Players Club in 2013 with a new system that accomplishes the goal of making sure the most deserving players are recognized through Pro Tour invitations and other rewards.” This doesn’t say anything!!!

Of all of WOTC’s problems, the worst in my opinion is the complete lack of communication regarding, well, anything. We keep being fed information piece by piece, and much of the little information we get is vague and inconclusive – the two possible conclusions for announcements about PWP and Pro Points to be made like this are that they’ve decided to not release stuff they know, or they don’t actually know yet, and I honestly can’t tell which one is worse. If they don’t want to release it, someone out there has a serious misconception that giving us all the bad information first and not telling us the benefits is good PR, OR they know the changes are going to be overall horrible so they want to keep us in the dark as long as possible, so that we may have hope. If they don’t know, then why haven’t they figured it out? How can they announce the biggest change in the game’s system without even thinking about the implications of that? What on earth happened, did someone just get promoted to Sultan of WOTC and then this person started issuing decrees changing organized play, without having to give anyone an explanation on how that would affect the players on any level?

In this case, we need to know what is happening in 2013 so that we can play tournaments in 2012. Does Wizards really expect the players to fly thousands of miles to play in tournaments when they have no clue what the reward is going to be? Why would I go to a GP if I don’t know what’s going to happen if I win? Do I have to rely on Wizard’s good faith, which they haven’t really shown a lot of so far towards me? Originally, I had this plan of spending all my summer vacations in the US, playing 6 or 7 GPs in the January-March period. I thought it was going to be awesome. Now that plan is gone, because I have no idea what those 6 or 7 GPs are going to mean, so I can’t justify going. Of all the problems, this is the most pressing – we MUST know what is going to happen if professional magic is to continue to exist.

There is also the fact that our feedback is greatly ignored, unless we like their changes that is. The main issue with that is that, most of the time there is a change, someone cries out “This is going to kill Magic!” – it happened with damage on the stack, with card borders, etc. Apparently, Wizards assumes we’re just all like that, which blinds them to every single criticism we might have – their dismissive attitude of “you freak out about everything” is just irksome, because it’s different people and on entirely different level; for example, I dislike Hexproof and I complained about it, but I never for a second thought that was the end of competitive Magic. This is different – this is the end of competitive Magic.

Moving on, the new World championship… sure, awesome. Removing previous Worlds for it? Horrible!! First, the prize payout is not even close to the same – they are going to cut a lot of costs if they do this 16 men thing, and instead of adding it to the prize they’ve removed it! It also sucks that it is very top-heavy, as in the person who wins the PT, which is already AWESOME, gets qualified for it, yet the person who top 8s three pro tours in a season might not be – the beauty of the Pro Player’s Club was that it at least somewhat rewarded consistency, the bread and butter of Competitive Magic, and this does not do that.

Also, this:

“Under the current system, you can make an argument for several different players being the best in the world,” said Scott Larabee, Magic Organized Play Program Manager. “Is it the Player of the Year, who had the most top finishes but may not have won a major tournament? The World Champion, because that’s what the title suggests? A Pro Tour winner, because Pro Tours probably have the toughest field of players? We wanted a clear answer, and the new World Championship provides that.”

Please, we are not idiots – quite the contrary. We know this is not going to be a “clear answer”, far from that, and everyone knows you can’t have a match of Magic to decide who is best, that is just not how it works. I know you know it too, so why try to feed us something like that? The same happens with basically EVERY ANSWER in the “Q&A”: most of them are half truths at best, and we know the people asking and answering know that. We don’t like being lied to.

Another irritating thing is that this was announced now, but counts points from before. I knew I was qualified for everything next year on level, so I actually dropped from the PT because there was no reason to continue playing. Now they retroactively tell me there was reason! What the hell? If you’re going to change something radically, have the decency to start the change from the moment you announce it, so people know where they stand.

It’s also interesting to note that this affects me better than almost anyone else – I honestly think that the only person who is more likely to play in this tournament than me next year is Samuele Estratti, who is already qualified. Not that I’m auto Qed or anything, but I think I have a better chance than anyone else in the world of making it if Magic remains my profession, and I still think it is bad if it replaces Worlds/PPC. Even if I qualify for it every year, the average money I would make there is very likely smaller than what I got from the Pro Players Club plus worlds combined.

Well, but ok, they changed it, it is done. What you should do now is go to the leaderboard and try to find out how much you actually need to be qualified for that tournament. Except you can’t!! That’s right, you can sort it by Worldwide, by each country individually, even by regions within a country, but you cannot look at the whole area! Whose stupid idea was that to not display the only data that actually matters? Everything is defined by areas, but we can’t see areas for some reason. Another stroke of genius by Wizards.

While we’re on the subject of Areas, I wish they would just stop pretending tournaments in Mexico are for us. In fact, the whole “Latin America” area makes no sense – Latin America is a cultural-historical division, and its counterpart is Anglo-Saxon America. The geographical divisions, which is the one that matters if you want to hold tournaments there, are North America, South America and Central America. Having a tournament in Mexico and calling it a tournament for Latin America is the exact same as having a tournament in the French Guiana and calling it “European” – technically correct, but irrelevant, since it’s thousands of miles from Europe.

Then, we get to Nationals…

“And we’ve seen that in many of those countries, the pride of being your country’s champion is a primary motivation for players.”

Really? Reeeeally? The pride of being your country’s champion is the primary motivation? Are you insane? What’s next, the pride of being world champion is enough too? Perhaps we can remove your payroll and have the title of Director of Organized Play Programs and Operations be enough a motivation? I mean, don’t get me wrong – it is very sweet to be a national champion and represent your country at Worlds, but that tournament no longer exists!

In “magically smaller” countries, the single best way to go to an international tournament is winning Nationals, especially now that PTQs have been reduced. Take, for example, Singapore – they have, to the best of my knowledge, one PTQ a season. But Worlds is different – Worlds offers an opportunity for four different people, it doesn’t matter where they are from, and it is a sweet opportunity because the Teams money is very likely to provide the means for the people to go, too. And not to mention the bonding experience of playing in Teams, which makes the trip much better for everyone involved. Now that is gone! How can someone from Singapore qualify for a Pro Tour now? They’re likely not getting any PWP invites, they don’t have Nationals or rating, top 16ing a GP or top50ing a PT doesn’t matter – there is one PTQ a season and that is it. Are we ever going to see two players from Singapore in the same PT in the future? I don’t know.

Then we come to the icing on the cake – the Hall of Fame. When I heard of the PWP points changes, I wondered if it would make it impossible for me to even qualify for all the Pro Tours, but then I figured out that I could qualify next year based on pro points and then hopefully I’d get in the Hall of Fame, so I felt kind of safe. Now, they changed the Hall of Fame too:

“Because the Magic Pro Tour Hall of Fame is tied so closely to Pro Points, Wizards will be adjusting the process by which players become eligible for induction and how the voting committees are determined. More information on the changes to the Pro Tour Hall of Fame eligibility and voting systems will be coming next year as we approach the voting period for the Class of 2012.”

Except they don’t know HOW it’s going to change. Am I likely to make it next year? Am I even going to be eligible next year? I don’t know. They don’t know. They don’t think they should know it 9 months in advance… And that’s not to mention the butchering of Magic History they are doing by removing the Pro Points – things like the lifetime pro points list will have lost all meaning. I thought it was sweet that I was the youngest person in the 300 pro players list, but that stat is meaningless now.

So, basically, my suggestions:

– Stop postponing things. You don’t know what’s going to happen to the Pro Players Club or the Hall of Fame. You say you “will address” the dropping if it becomes an issue but it’s already an issue. You say you changed Nationals but “will have more information in April”. “Further details about Worlds will be announced later next year”. We don’t even know where the PT or the GPs are going to be!! We need to know of those things NOW. If you don’t know what the answer is, then don’t make any changes before you find out. This is mandatory – we MUST KNOW what we are playing for.

– Fix Nationals. Right now, Nationals are the biggest entry for small countries in competitive MTG. Planeswalker points was already a big blow for those countries, removing nationals is going to make it impossible for someone there to play competitive magic. Sure, the US buys a lot more packs, but perhaps it buys more because it has more stuff going for it? Maybe if we had more tournaments and incentive we’d buy more packs too, I can’t imagine removing nationals and worlds is going to increase sales anywhere.

– Rework your PR strategy and change the way you communicate with the players. This communication policy is very frustrating because we have no idea what’s going on most of the time. Also, stop lying to us.

See you next week, if Magic is still alive by then,

PV

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