My plan when the weekend started was to talk about the innovation from the Pros at PT SOI.
That decision changed on Sunday with the announcements by Wizards of the Coast.
No More Modern Pro Tours
This was the first jolting news. This was announced on the Mothership as well.
For me, I enjoy eternal formats. I grew up playing with broken cards. I started playing the game in 1996 after Necropotance dominated the summer and before Tolarian Academy combo winter. I enjoy seeing older formats explode with new ideas from the best players in the world.
That is where Aaron Forsythe and I disagree.
Here is a portion of Aaron Forsythe article:
So why isn’t it right for the Pro Tour? It comes down to our goals for the events. The first is that we want to reward good drafting, innovative deck building, and tight gameplay in unestablished environments. Second, we want to highlight the newest card set. To those ends, we positioned the Pro Tour events just a couple weeks after each new set comes out, which both provides the fresh new proving ground for our players and showcases each new set in a premier-level setting right at the beginning of its life cycle.
As time has passed since Modern’s inception, some cracks started to appear that made us question its relevance to the Pro Tour. Our top players pointed out to us that Modern wasn’t often about innovating or solving the puzzles presented by a new card set, but rather it rewarded huge numbers of repetitions with established decks, and while that kind of play can be interesting and is relevant to a lot of the Magic audience, it wasn’t what the Pro Tour was supposed to be about.
In order to try to present the players with a new environment to explore, we’d implement the changes to the banned list that we had identified throughout the previous year right before the Pro Tour, which often cast a shadow of dread over the impending Pro Tour for many of the format’s fans, as the spotlight of a Pro Tour accelerated the rate at which we’d ban problematic cards in the format. On top of that, the skill of the pro players combined with the high incentives of the event really accelerated the tuning and development of the best decks (such as this year’s Eldrazi menace) to a large degree, which isn’t great for a format that is designed to change very slowly over time. We’d rather let those deck evolutions play out over months on Magic Online or at store-level events, as that accelerated metagame pace often just means speeding up more changes to the banned list as well.
WHAT WE WANT MODERN TO BE
In the wake of the recent Splinter Twin banning / Eldrazi dominance / Eye of Ugin banning / Ancestral Visions and Sword of the Meek unbanning series of events, I am frequently asked what we want Modern to be as a format. My answers to these questions should be seen as guidelines that we use to help our thinking internally, but they are not infallible policies. Should players’ attitudes toward the format change over time, we’re likely to adjust our guidelines as well.
- Be a fun way to play Magic (first, and easy to forget, but very important!)
- Let you tap into your collection to expand upon established decks and familiar strategies from Magic‘s recent past
- Offer different types of decks and gameplay than what you typically see in Standard
- Not rotate, allowing you to keep a deck for a long period of time
- Consist of cards that we are willing and able to reprint
Those are the easy ones. Beyond those, Modern should:
- Have a diverse top-tier metagame featuring over a dozen archetypes
- Not be dominated by fast, non-interactive decks (consistent kills before turn four are a red flag)
- Be at a power level that allows some newly printed Standard cards to affect the format (we don’t have other ways to introduce cards into the format, and we like it when cards or decks can transition)
- Have as small a banned list as possible that accomplishes all the previous goals
There’s room for interpretation in many of those statements—intentionally—but this paints a clearer picture of how we see Modern.
I’ve highlighted a couple of passages.
The first point is in red and it points 100% to sales. Wizards of the Coast is a subsidiary (owned by) of Hasbro. With the change to the way Pro Tours are named, I’m not totally surprised by this. Money tends to rule and they want to push sales. I get that.
The second point is in blue. They try to make a really good point here. They don’t want the format broken in a short time span where they have to ban cards sooner. Even if pros aren’t trying to break a format for a Pro Tour, players are always looking for an edge against the competition. The issues with Eye of Ugin and Eldrazi Temple interaction with cards from BFZ block were known well before the Pro Tour. Players had been experimenting with those cards on Magic Online before Oath of the Gatewatch was even spoiled. I can’t blame the pros for exploiting that strategy because that is what I would have done. You don’t print cards that break fundamental rules of the game and expect players not to find it (pros or not).
2016 AND 2017 PREMIER PLAY UPDATES ANNOUNCED AT PTSOI
When they announced the first ever Pro Tour in Nashville, Tennessee in 2017, I got really excited. Then I started reading the rest of the article.
I know that this only affects Pro Players but some of you may not know this: I’ve been a Pro before at other CCG’s (WoW TCG, Vs System, Lord of the Rings TCG). I understand what it means to grind at a game’s highest level. So, in a way, this affects me and my future goals in the game.
Wizards of the Coast has cutback on the appearance fees for Hall of Famers to once a year.
The level that is getting the most rub is the appearance fees for Platinum level pros. When you make it to that level, the highest level of competitive level play, and you’re considered among the best of the best during the last calendar year or two, then you are one of the faces of the game. Wizards is essentially using you to promote its game. In that regard, I feel that you should be paid.
- Platinum pros will receive an appearance fee of $250 for competing at Pro Tours (previously $3,000), an appearance fee of $250 for competing at the World Magic Cup (previously $1,000), and an appearance fee of $250 for competing at a World Magic Cup Qualifier (previously $500).
I’m sure your response is “WHAT? Are you freaking kidding me?”
I know from my days as a Pro at other CCG’s I can say that it isn’t easy to make it to or to stay at that level. It is a lot of hard work and dedication. Trying to live the dream is very difficult. There is almost no way to do that now. Even with a sponsorship, it was difficult if you weren’t winning or top a bunch of events every year to end up breaking even from winnings. In the ones I participated in, we didn’t get anything like the appearance fee. That sort of thing would soften the blow of a bad performance. We’ve all had that happen.
What also is alarming is that they are not taking the money from the cut appearance fees and moving it to Pro Tour prize support. They are moving it over the World Championships. The World Championship is a much different animal than it used to be and one that most players can’t afford as it is another event to go to with an already demanding schedule to get to that level.
All of this comes after ‘the most successful Magic: The Gathering set launch in history.’ Magic’s growth over the last 5 years has been amazing. Where is that money going?
With the growing eSports and eGaming along with live streaming, you’d figure Wizards would want to keep up with the rest of the field. With games like League of Legends, Street Fighter V, Call of Duty, and Hearthstone, the competitive eGaming market has more content and chances to be a Pro than ever before. Even casual Magic players, have posted their disdain over the change:
— Reuben Bresler (@MoxReuby) April 26, 2016
— Jason Lesage (@Jason_the_human) April 26, 2016
After much scrutiny from the players, Wizards has decided to resend its announcement at the current time regarding the changes to the Platinum level and current payout structure. Helene Bergeot stated that they will work with the players to determine the best course of action and the new decision will be made at PT Eldritch Moon.
I have a theory about why the sudden change:
According to this lawsuit, the DCI judges believe they were unfairly compensated for their time under the state laws of California. According to the suit, they believe that the relationship between the judges and Wizards of the Coast is an employee / employer relationship, and therefore, their work must follow labor laws.
I have to wonder if Wizards thinks by changing the pay at the Pro level that the Judge lawsuit would be winnable.
I’m not sure what to think of this. I’ve been a Judge before for games by Decipher, Upper Deck, AEG, and Wizards. I always thought of myself as a ‘volunteer’ and I always like supporting the games I’ve played but I understand the amount of time a judge / official has to take to run these events.
This makes things very difficult for Wizards of the Coast / Hasbro going forth into the future.
Now ou have players AND judges revolting against you. This doesn’t look good for WotC.
Don’t be like the rest of Corporate America. #PayTheJudges #PayThePros