I am incredibly excited for the new Pro Tour Teams tournament that’s going to be taking place in the 2017-18 season. Sure, it’s mostly a pilot program for the full launch in the 2018-19 season, but this is going to be a heated competition and it’s going to generate a ton of excitement and drama for fans of the game over the course of the next three Pro Tour events.
To quickly recap, in August, prior to Pro Tour Eldritch Moon (seems like ages ago), Wizard announced the new Pro Tour Team Series. This announcement was later updated in October, prior to Pro Tour Kaladesh. Each team has six players including one captain. Teams have to register prior to the first two Pro Tour events of the season. For this season specifically, pro points will be counted for the top five players from each team at Pro Tour Aether Revolt and Pro Tour Amonkhet. After these two events, the top four teams will be invited to Pro Tour Hour of Devastation where all six team members will have their points counted.
The top four teams will be invited to the first Pro Tour in the 2018-19 season while the top two teams will travel to the World Championship for a final showdown. The winner of that showdown will go home with $36,000 ($6,000 per player) while the runner-up will net $14,400 ($2,400 per player). For the 2018-19 season, the payouts go way up, with the top team taking home $102,000.
On Thursday Wizards finally announced the full rosters for the 32 teams which will compete in the inaugural season of the Pro Tour Team Series. If you’re looking for some detailed breakdowns of interesting statistics then look no further than the Twitter feed of Paul Jordan. Here are some of the stats I found insightful.
30 of 32 teams feature 6 players who have played in a GP. 17 teams feature 6 GP top 8'ers. Every team has at least 1 player w/ GP T8. #PTAER
— Paul Jordan (@magicPJ) January 27, 2017
The amount of Grand Prix experience among team competitors should be no surprise but the fact that over half the teams are comprised entirely of people who’ve made the final bracket of a Grand Prix shows you just how strong the competition is going to be. The rest of the teams aren’t slacking off though, as every single team has at least one player with that accolade. But this isn’t going to be a Grand Prix, so what about Pro Tour experience?
23 of 32 teams have 6 players w/ PT experience. 4 teams have 6 players w/ PT top 8 xp (Last Samurai, Puzzle Quest, CFB Ice, Dex Army) #PTAER
— Paul Jordan (@magicPJ) January 27, 2017
Interesting note here that nine of the teams are going to be carrying at least one player who is going to be a rookie on the Pro Tour. It would be very interesting to see how those players fare with the benefit of a team membership versus other rookie Pro Tour players. That said, crazy impressive to see four teams fully stacked with players who can claim to have made the final bracket of a Pro Tour. For those of you not keeping track, here are those four teams’ members:
Last Samurai is insanely stacked with four of Japan’s Pro Tour Hall of Fame members in Kenji Tsumura, Tsuyoshi Fujita, Masashi Oiso, and Makihito Mihara. Rounding out the team are Kazuyuki Takimura who won Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar and Ryoichi Tamada who finished second to Takimura in that same Pro Tour.
Puzzle Quest is a team that really needs no introduction as I think almost all of these players have been featured in documentaries about Magic the Gathering in some form or another. Four American Pro Tour Hall of Fame members begin the list with Owen Turtenwald, Paul Rietzl, Jon Finkel, and William “Huey” Jensen. Add to that list Reid Duke and Andrew Cuneo who, despite not winning any Pro Tours have appeared in almost 60 combined.
CFB Ice only has three Pro Tour Hall of Fame members so clearly the roster is a bit less impressive. However this might be the most impressive multi-national team as it features Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa (Brazil), Mike Sigrist (America), Joel Larsson (Sweden), Ben Stark (America), Ondřej Stráský (Czech Republic), and Eric Froehlich (America).
DEX Army rounds out this list and is also comprised of multi-national all-stars including Willy Edel (Brazil), Marcio Carvalho (Portugal), Carlos Romão (Brazil), Thiago Saporito (Brazil), Luis Salvatto (Argentina), and Antonio Del Moral Leon (Spain). This team may only have one Hall of Fame member but they have a ton of Pro Tour experience.
Current-season Pro Points: Dex Army (137), Musashi (135), CFB Ice (113), Face to Face Games (111), Puzzle Quest (98) #PTAER
— Paul Jordan (@magicPJ) January 27, 2017
Last but not least, it doesn’t always matter what your lifetime experience is but rather who’s currently on a hot streak. This brings up two more teams worth mentioning in Musashi and Face to Face Games. The first is another team from Japan featuring Kentaro Yamamoto and Yuuya Watanabe as well as Ken Yukuhiro, Yuuki Ichikawa, Teruya Kakumae and Shota Yasooka. The second team features a slightly younger roster with Alexander Hayne, Samuel Pardee, Steve Rubin, Jacob Wilson, Ivan Floch and Oliver Tiu. Both teams will likely put up big results.
But that’s just six of 32 teams! I don’t have time to cover them all today, but we will certainly look to have more insight into them as the season unfolds. In the meantime though, not everything about the announcement from Thursday was exciting.
— hipstersofthecoast (@HotCblog) January 26, 2017
This sparked a lot of responses in the community and that’s not surprising to be honest. Gender diversity and racial diversity are very important to us at Hipsters of the Coast—as I know they are to so many of our readers and so many members of the Magic community. The positive responses were overwhelming and I can’t thank everyone enough for them.
Things won't change overnight but they will if we support women in MTG. Looking forward to seeing the next woman plat pro. #wotcstaff
— Melissa DeTora (@MelissaDeTora) January 27, 2017
Melissa DeTora would later vocalize some important facts. Things won’t change overnight and women need to be supported in order to see them succeed at the highest levels of the game. The struggle we all face is how we can accomplish this task.
— Saffron Olive (@SaffronOlive) January 26, 2017
Seth, better known as Saffron Olive, isn’t wrong. Zero women, as far as I know are actually eligible to be members of a Pro Tour team (and Wizards obviously doesn’t record player gender and therefore cannot confirm). So in that sense yes, we shouldn’t have been surprised about this and frankly I wasn’t. However, our disappointment spreads from the lack of women on Pro Tour teams to the lack of women among the ranks of gold and platinum pros.
Sure, if there was a woman qualified who wasn’t picked up by any team then there would have been a very different sort of response. If Melissa was still competing and was eligible for a team but no one included her there would be a lot of questions why. But the reality is that there are no women qualified to be on Pro Tour teams and isn’t that disappointing?
The negative responses to our statement of disappointment (which included no assignment of blame because this isn’t any one person’s or entities’ fault) were predictable. Here’s a smattering of general ideas:
- Women have the same opportunity as men to qualify but choose not to.
- I never see sexism when I play Magic, so maybe women just aren’t interested.
- Stop negatively focusing on women because of their gender.
- Why do you think women should get free pro points because of their vaginas?
For obvious reasons, we did not engage anyone, positively or negatively, after we made our statement.
A few people also blamed us of being intentionally vague, which to be fair we were. I’m very happy with the dialogue that was spawned by a single tweet. Ultimately this is an issue that needs to be talked about. The status quo is that there are zero women competing in the Pro Tour Team Series. That’s unacceptable. It isn’t Wizards of the Coast’s fault. It isn’t your fault. It’s a systemic problem that isn’t isolated to Magic: the Gathering.
But if next year’s series has one woman, it will be a step in the right direction.
@TheMrsMulligan People will stop talking about gender when it's no longer an issue. Challenging the status quo is required to make changes
— Gaby Spartz (@GabySpartz) January 27, 2017
What We Learned is a weekly feature here at Hipsters of the Coast written by former amateur Magic Player Rich Stein, who came really close to making day two of a Grand Prix on several occasions. Each week we will take a look at the past seven days of major events, big news items, and community happenings so that you can keep up-to-date on all the latest and greatest Magic: the Gathering community news.