This weekend was Pro Tour Magic 2015 in Portland, Oregon. There was plenty of action from the best of the best as Magic 2015 made a huge splash in standard. Meanwhile, there were two huge announcements made during the coverage. The first announcement was the reveal of this fall’s inductees into the Pro Tour Hall of Fame. The second, and more interesting announcement, was the unveiling of the 2015 Pro Tour and Grand Prix schedules. Today we’re going to break down the schedule for the next 16 months of Magic.

The 2015 Magic Schedule

The first thing that caught my eye was the obvious gaps in the schedule. With 54 Grand Prix tournaments, four Pro Tour events, and the two World Championship events, there aren’t a lot of open weekends in the schedule. You can easily figure out what is happening by taking a look at precedents. First of all, any time there is a two week break, it’s a possible set release. Wizards does not run Grand Prix or Pro Tour events on the weekends of release or prerelease tournaments. The next thing we can look for is the release of supplemental sets. Some of them, like Modern Masters or Commander, get their own release weekends without any Grand Prix or Pro Tour conflict. Box sets however, like Duel Decks, don’t get special treatment. Finally, we have a new special event to look for in the schedule this year: the Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers. My hope is that these events won’t conflict with other high-level play so that we can enjoy them thoroughly.

Expansion Release Schedule

Looking for two-week gaps in the pro play schedule is very easy. In fact, between now and the end of the released schedule, there are only six such gaps. One of them is for a winter holiday in December around Christmas. The rest line up with the releases of Khans of Tarkir, “Dewey”, “Louie”, Magic 2015, and “Blood.” Here are the prerelease and release dates:

  • Khans of Tarkir: Prerelease events on Sep 20-21 & Release events on Sep 27-28
  • “Dewey”: Prerelease events on Jan 17-18 & Release events on Jan 24-25
  • “Louie”: Prerelease events on Mar 21-22 & Release events on Mar 28-29
  • Magic 2016: Prerelease events on Jul 11-12 & Release events on Jul 18-19
  • “Blood”: Prerelease events on Sep 19-20 & Release events on Sep 26-27

You can mark your calendars now. I assure you that 80% of those dates are accurate. The only questionable ones are the dates for “Blood.” This is because the following weekend, October 3rd and 4th, is also free in the calendar. However, based on the release dates of Khans of Tarkir, and something else I’ll mention shortly, I am highly confident in the dates I’ve picked for the release of “Blood.”

So let’s take a look at what this means for drafting. From September 20th until January 17th we’ll be drafting three packs of Khans of Tarkir. That’s 16 weeks of drafting the fall set. That will be a little less time than we had with three packs of Theros, which ran from September 21st last year until February 1st of this year, roughly 18 weeks. Once “Dewey” is released, we’ll have two packs of Khans and one pack of “Dewey” to draft. This format will live for a total of 9 weeks. Yikes. This hopefully has something to do with the time travel-nature of the block. The final format will be two packs of “Louie” and one pack of “Dewey” and this will last us for 16 weeks. This is very different from THS/BNG/JOU drafts which only lasted 11 weeks.

So, to consolidate all that, it’s 16 weeks of Khans/Khans/Khans (48 Pack-Weeks), followed by 9 weeks of Khans/Khans/Dewey (18/9), finished with 16 weeks of Louie/Louie/Dewey (32/16). In total that means 66 pack-weeks of Khans of Tarkir, 25 pack-weeks of “Dewey”, and 32 pack-weeks of “Louie.” So expect the chase rares and mythic rares from “Dewey” to be a little harder to find. Cards from Khans should be in abundance.

It’s interesting that Wizards wants to give a lot of time to the large sets for limited play. Both Khans and “Louie” are large sets and will get 16 weeks of drafting. Conversely, the Core Set will once again see only two months of drafting. That’s likely for the best as it’s a limited format that tends to get stale rather quickly.

Regional PTQ Schedule

The big announcement earlier this week was the changes to Organized Play, and specifically the changes to the PTQ format. Down in the Quick Hits you can see a lot of responses from the community. Personally, I am a supporter of the changes. More importantly however, I want to know how these Regional PTQ events will operate. Working from the assumption that they will not conflict with any Grand Prix or Pro Tour events, I think we can pin them down in the schedule.

The first of the new PTQ seasons will run from December 6th, 2014 through March 1st, 2015 (possibly only February 28th). According to Helene Bergeot, the RPTQ for that season, which feeds Pro Tour Magic 2016, will take place in April. Looking at the schedule we have two open weekends in April. The first of them is Easter weekend, which would be a disastrous weekend for the first RPTQ. The second of them, and most likely candidate, is April 25th and 26th, 2015. If you’re planning on trying to qualify via this route in the future, I highly recommend circling that date in your calendar now, and planning to be free.

Each of these new PTQ seasons is likely going to be three months long. This doesn’t exactly line-up with the dates of Pro Tours, but it creates a nice even spacing for local game stores. The second season, accordingly, runs from March through the end of May. It feeds the Pro Tour for “Blood”, the fall set for 2015. According to the schedule in Helene Bergeot’s article, the RPTQ linked to it takes place in June. Looking at the Organized Play schedule from this weekend, our only candidate is June 6th and 7th, 2015. This is very different from season one, in that it will only be a week or so after the end of the PTQ Qualifier season.

Last but not least is the final season in the calendar released at the Pro Tour. This covers the PTQ Qualifier season from the start of June through the end of August and feeds the Pro Tour for “Sweat”, the second set in the “Blood”/”Sweat”/”Tears” block. Helene’s schedule does not have any event in August so we must assume that the Regional PTQ will take place in either September or October. The only free weekends in both months are September 5th & 6th, which is likely being taken as a holiday for Labor Day in the USA, September 19/20 & 26/27, which I’ve already pegged as a likely candidate for the prerelease/release of “Blood,” and October 3rd & 4th, which if I were a betting man, I would peg as the Regional PTQ weekend for Pro Tour “Sweat.”

The staggering of the Regional PTQ events actually lines up, somewhat, with the staggering of the Pro Tour events themselves. The first RPTQ, on April 25th, would feed a Pro Tour at the end of July, which is a three-month gap. The second RPTQ, on June 6th, would feed a Pro Tour in October, which is a four-month gap. The third RPTQ, on October 3rd, would feed a Pro Tour early in 2016, either a three or four-month gap. It’s a bit off, but still an almost quarterly affair. Wizards has a great opportunity to make these into big events, on par with Grand Prix conventions. Let’s hope they turn out in a positive way.

A Few Loose Ends

There were two more open weekends in the 2015 calendar that I couldn’t peg down. The first is August 22nd & 23rd and the second is November 28th & 29th. These are a little later in the year than in the past, but it’s very possible that these are the release weekends for the summer and winter supplemental products. The former, in August, is potentially Modern Masters 2. It’s widely speculated that the sequel to last summer’s wildly successful product will be coming out next summer. The latter, in November, is probably the 2015 Commander product. This year’s Commander set releases much earlier in November, but still has it’s own release weekend. These aren’t huge releases, but they fill the final two holes in the 2015 schedule.

Pro Tour Update

Top 25 Update

Does it really matter what happened last week after Worcester and Taipei? We’ll find out next week!

The Quick Hits

  • Premiere play will finally be returning to Magic Online starting this week. Hopefully it sticks around this time but for some reason I don’t have high hopes [MTGO]
  • Wizards unveiled the packaging for From the Vault: Annihilation which comes out later this month [Magic Arcana]
  • The Khans of Tarkir teaser trailer from SDCC is finally available [Youtube]
  • Danny Brown reacts to the new Teferi planeswalker revealed to be part of Commander 2014 [Quiet Speculation]
  • Dave Shedden takes a look at the PTQ and Grand Prix changes with respect to the Magic community in the United Kingdom [Manaleak]
  • Jim Davis is upset about the PTQ changes because it means people can’t randomly spike wins anymore. How about that? Wizards doesn’t want any more random spikes to make it to the Pro Tour. I can’t imagine why [StarCityGames]
  • Tifa Robles talks about her amazing journey into and then out of the brand department of Magic the Gathering [Gathering Magic]
  • Wizards also expanded the ability of your LGS to run Grand Prix Trials [Wizards Play Network]
  • PVDDR takes a look at the organized play changes and breaks down the impact to the different regions around the world [PV’s Playhouse]
  • Adrian Sullivan also provides his two cents on the OP changes [StarCityGames]
  • Danny Brown fills us in on all the details of the changes to the Judge Promo program coming up [Quiet Speculation]
  • Last, but not least, presenting the new Pro Tour Hall of Fame Class [Gathering Magic]

Wallpaper of the Week

Soul of Theros greets us this week as our desktop wallpaper. This gives us a new opportunity to complain about the redesigned Wizards website. Not only is there no longer any commentary on the wallpapers of the week, the links this week to the non-mobile versions of the art are all dead. So instead of having a lovely painting of a roman centurion by Zack Stella on my desktop, I can only have it on a mobile device or my Facebook profile. Great job Wizards.

Grade: D

The Week Ahead

Following the Pro Tour this weekend, we’ll have two Grand Prix events to follow next week. The first comes to us from Utrecht in the Netherlands. The format will be Standard and the results from Pro Tour Magic 2015 are sure to have a huge impact on this event. The second event will be in the same city as the Pro Tour, as we get to enjoy GP Portland. The format in Oregon will be team limited, allowing all the pros in Portland to stick around for a fun lighthearted event. Meanwhile, if you’re not traveling to either GP this weekend, you can check out your local game store for Magic 2015 Game Day events. These are local Standard events where you can test out all the new tech from the Pro Tour.

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.

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