Way back on September 5th, Helene Bergeot quietly announced the 2014 Grand Prix schedule over at The Mothership, and along with it came a very exciting change to the prize structure. That’s not all that we learned from this posting. Changes are coming to team tournament structure, on-site registration rules, and of course a sweet new promo card for the entire year. I’m going to walk you through all the changes and discuss what it means for the community, players, collectors, and fans included.

Forty-Six Events in Twenty-One Countries
In the first paragraph we learn the full scope of the 2014 GP season. 46 tournaments is on par for 2013’s schedule, which featured 45 events. Not a big change there, but it’s nice to see that we’re not shrinking the GP Circuit as we saw happen several years ago. Also, a nice change is that the entire season has been announced at the start. This is a great thing for those of you who like to plan out your year’s worth of tournament trips well in advance. Dealers will also benefit from this announcement.

21 countries is also inline with last season, which saw the GP travel to 20 different countries. The breakdown by region for 2014 is virtually identical to 2013, with the one additional country added belonging to the Latin/South America region. Otherwise we’ll be in the same regions all over again with 21 events in North America, 12 in Europe, six in the Asia-Pacific region (excl. Japan), four in Latin/South America (up from three) and three events in Japan. While it’s still a bit disappointing to see almost half the events take place in North America, it’s again nice to know that the game is still supported strongly throughout the world. Perhaps 2015 will see expansion to some new places.

One thing that I really think would help grow the game, especially through the GP circuit, would be consistency in location. I don’t mean the specific city, but I think for the countries that only get one event per year, keeping that event every year would be huge. Most of these countries don’t have a national championship, so their annual GP would be a point of pride for the players of that nation, and winning that event would be a huge accomplishment. In 2013 there were 13 countries that only hosted a single GP event. Three of those countries, specifically Belgium, Singapore, and Thailand, will not be hosting an event in 2014. They have been replaced with Malaysia, Russia, and Taipei. Seeing an annual event in each of these countries would be a welcome sight. Along those lines, congratulations to Argentina, who are the new addition to the Latin/South America region for 2014. Hopefully they will get to host again in 2015 as well.

Increasing Cash Payout Based on Attendance
This was something that the community universally demanded once GP events blew past 2000 attendees consistently. You can look at the differences in the 2013 and 2014 prize payouts here, but I’ll sum them up for you with a few bullet points (my favorite):

  • The base payout for a Grand Prix will rise from $30,000 to $35,000
  • $35,000 is the payout for a Grand Prix with less than 1,200 players
  • 1st Prize will be $500 higher than 2013 ($4,000 vs $3,500)
  • 2nd Prize will be $400 higher than 2013 ($2,700 vs. $2,300)
  • No change to 3rd through 12th place prizes
  • 13th through 16th place will win $50 more than in 2013 ($550 vs $500)
  • 17th through 23rd place will win $100 more than in 2013 ($500 vs $400)
  • No change to 24th through 32nd place prizes
  • 33rd through 64th place will win $100 more than in 2013 ($300 vs $200)
  • Events with at least 1,200 players, but less than 2,400 players, will also pay $250 ea. to 65th through 100th place
  • Events with more than 2,400 players will also pay $200 to 101st through 150th place.

This is incredibly good news. As the prize pool increases, the events will attract more players. Most especially welcome are the changes to adding prize payouts for exceptionally large tournaments. The additional payouts through the top 150 players will help address the concerns with value for attending events that are expected to have so many players that making day two, let alone the top-64, was virtually impossible without a perfect performance and a good amount of luck. My one concern right now is that no announcement about changes to the pro point awards has been mentioned, yet. I would like to see more players get pro points for performing well at these massive events as well.

Online Registration, Wave of the Future
For all events in 2014, except in China, online registration will be available. This new rule is the most obvious one to come out of the fallout of GP Las Vegas. In addition to online registration being made available for all events, Wizards will also be closing down on-site registration for Saturday. Another big problem with GP events is starting on time because tournament organizers spend too much time on Saturday morning entering the names of all the on-site registrants. Now, by the end of Friday night the event will be ready to start on-time in the morning. There was a time when people complained about online registration. Now that it’s mandatory for Grand Prix tournament organizers, expect to see it for more PTQ and Pre-Release events.

Team Grand Prix Changes
Not much to see here really. Day two was taking forever at these events. The new structure will be much quicker and will result in a champion being crowned at a reasonable time on Sunday evening. It will be a bit strange to see five rounds of sealed deck play on day two, but drafting multiple times for that many teams was too much to handle for the event staff and players. Day two will now be seven rounds for all team events. I’m really fond of the Top-4 drafting twice. It should make for a very exciting finals match-up.

Another change to Team Grand Prix events, in order to manage byes, is the elimination of Grand Prix Trials for these events. I can’t say I’m fond of any events or qualifiers being removed, but in the case of team events, Wizards has to balance out the logistics of the event with the incredibly high demand. I think everyone wins in the end so long as they can keep running team tournaments in a reasonable amount of time.

The 2014 GP Promo is Batterskull with awesome Dinosaur art. These will be must-haves for Cubes and Commander decks everywhere.

Grand Prix/Pro Tour Back-to-Back Weekends
I’ve always been fond of this setup. Having a Grand Prix event the weekend before a Pro Tour event is a great way to grow the community. Except Wizards doesn’t do anything about it. I could talk at great length about this, but Wizards should take a look at the week leading up to the Super Bowl, and how the NFL has a bunch of fan events where fans get to meet their favorite players and whatnot. I know that the Pro Tour has been closed to the public now, but it wouldn’t kill Wizards to have some kind of event at the GP the weekend prior featuring Pro Tour competitors. Nor would it kill them to have some kind of fan event, or fan tent, or something, for watching the Pro Tour on-site.

Unfortunately Wizards did a complete 180 this year and the GP events will now be the weekend after the Pro Tour. I’m not sure why this change was made. Perhaps they want people to stick around for an extra week in town. I don’t think that’s as exciting as coming a week early for a GP, spending the week training for the Pro Tour, and then having the week culminate in Pro Tour Sunday. Seriously Wizards, get your shit together on this one. Having the Grand Prix the week after a Pro Tour is just a huge disappointment. It’s a big drop-off on energy from the Pro Tour. You should be building up to the Pro Tour events. This is a huge mistake. I hope this is corrected for the 2015 season.

The Quick Hits

  • He may be polarizing, but Matt Sperling never fails to disappoint me when he’s complaining. This time it’s butt-cracks and poor judges. [Sperling’s Sick of It]
  • Thomas Delia introduces the Battle of the Blocks based on which block in Magic history has the best EDH cards. Spoiler: It won’t be Ice Age. [StarCity Games]
  • This week in financial analysis, Darwin Kastle takes a look at what makes a standard card valuable. My guess is results, but he’s the hall-of-fame player so give it a read. [Gathering Magic]
  • Inside the Magic Studio has an interview with American All-Star Luis Scott-Vargas this week. He tweeted at us this week. He’s so dreamy. [Inside the Magic Studio]
  • Jason Alt complains about complaing in this week’s most meta article. There’s also some financial analysis buried in there. [Quiet Speculation]
  • Heather Lafferty shines the spotlight on Brazilian sensation Paulo Vitor Dama da Rosa and his Matchbox 20 screen-name. [Gamer Boy, Gamer Girl]
  • What if MTGO was made via Kickstarter? That’s the question Mike Linneman asks this week. He could have also asked, “What if MTGO didn’t suck?” [Gathering Magic]
  • Finally, our own Hunter Slaton shared his personal battle with Alcoholism and how Magic helped him get sober. [23/17]

Wallpaper of the Week

The second installment in the Theros wallpaper series is Vanquish the Foul. There’s not much to say about this piece. It’s a good solid piece of fantasy art with some nice hydra-slaying action. Nothing terribly exciting, but it looks.. nice? I guess.

Grade: B

The Week Ahead

It’s finally here. This weekend is the Theros pre-release. A new plane full of Greek mythology awaits us all. I’ll be on holiday in Vermont with my family, but will provide you all with my thoughts on the event from Burlington, VT next Monday. Don’t miss it.

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. The goal is to take some of the events and articles polluting the Magic world, strip out the chaff (tournament reports, game theory, economics) and give you our superior opinion. Complaints are encouraged.

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