Last week Wizards unveiled the schedule for the first ever PPTQ season. There are more than 2,000 events in this schedule across 74 countries. The winner of each event will be able to play in any of the 31 RPTQ tournaments which directly feed Pro Tour Vancouver in 2015. We took an in-depth look at the entire schedule to work out the breakdown of these events by format and location. This week we share the biggest winners, and losers, and look at the PPTQ season by the numbers.

Winners and Losers

Winner: New Countries on the Path to the Pro Tour

A large number of countries will be hosting Preliminary PTQ events that normally would not be hosting a traditional PTQ event. This is a great opportunity to build the game in these nations by providing a new gateway to the Pro Tour at the local level. For example, in the past players from Iceland would have to fly to Europe if there were no PTQ events in their home country. Now, they can have a local PPTQ event first. There are 26 countries in total which will host PPTQ events for Pro Tour Vancouver but will not be hosting traditional PTQ events for Pro Tour Belgium.

Loser: PTQ Grinders

The new system means that there are less invitations to the Pro Tour that come from the PTQ path. The final traditional season, which feeds Pro Tour Belgium, will send 200 players to compete with the newly released Dragons of Tarkir. However, based on the projections I’ve come up with, we should only see about 136 invitations given out to players at Regional PTQ events which will feed Pro Tour Vancouver. That’s 64 less invitations. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the Pro Tours are contracting, especially since Grand Prix tournaments will continue to gain more invitations, but it does mean that PTQ Grinders will have a much harder time qualifying.

Winner: Standard Players

If you like Standard you’ll be really happy for the upcoming PPTQ season. The vast majority of events, 1,608 of 2,281, will feature the Standard constructed format. That’s just over 70% of all events. In North America it’s just over 80% of all events. Midway through the season, the release of Fate Reforged will change up the format. Players who enjoy the week-to-week changes of the Standard meta-game will thoroughly enjoy grinding PPTQ tournaments.

Loser: Modern Players

If you like Modern you’ll be really unhappy for the upcoming PPTQ season. A very small minority of events, 365 of 2,281, will feature the Modern constructed format. That’s exactly 16% of all events. In North America it’s just under 9% of all events. Midway through the season, Pro Tour Fate Reforged could result in new bannings in the format. Players who enjoy the stability of the Modern meta-game will not enjoy the next three months.

Winner: Italians

It should be no surprise to anyone that the United States is hosting the most events in the world. With 863 events there is simply no comparison. Coming in an impressive second place is Italy with 202 total events. That number eclipses all of Europe, doubling up on Spain’s 92 events, the second most in Europe. Italy is also hosting 12 tradition PTQ events which will feed Pro Tour Belgium. Oh, and there’s a Grand Prix in Milan in December.

Loser: Italians

Italians should also have been excited to be hosting an RPTQ event in Rome which will feed the Pro Tour in Vancouver. However, based on my analysis, the RPTQ in Rome is going to be, by far, the largest RPTQ on the planet. My guess is somewhere in the ballpark of 240 players. This is derived by looking at the number of PPTQ events in countries that are part of the European region that are closest to Rome. By being the southeastern-most RPTQ in Europe, Rome is going to pick up players from Croatia, Cyprus, Greece, Israel, Macedonia, San Marino, Serbia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, and of course the 202 events in Italy itself. With well over 240 players and only eight invitations to Pro Tour Vancouver, that RPTQ is going to feel very much like a traditional PTQ.

Winner: Players West of the Mississippi

We looked at every PPTQ event in North America and determined which RPTQ event it is closest to. Based on this, we can make an educated guess of how many players are going to be at each RPTQ tournament. Only one event is projected to meet the 128 player threshold to award eight invitations. Otherwise all events will offer 4 invitations. The five biggest events, not surprisingly, are around the major eastern metropolises:

  • Chicago – 163
  • Philadelphia – 81
  • Nashville – 77
  • Catskill – 73
  • Toronto – 66

Chicago’s eight invitations will be very tough to acquire, as will the four invitations available in Philly, Nashville, Toronto, and upstate New York. Conversely, the bottom five events are all west of the Mississippi River:

  • Albuquerque – 25
  • Portland – 28
  • Santa Clara – 39
  • Salt Lake City – 39
  • Kansas City – 47

Yes folks. The RPTQ in New Mexico is projected to have just over two dozen players, by far the fewest globally. Stockholm is the next smallest at 27 projected players. Even if it gets up to 32 players, that means there would only be five rounds of swiss competition followed by a single round of top-8 competition before awarding four invitations to Pro Tour Vancouver. If you qualify for the RPTQ’s and you can travel to one, you may want to consider one of these events.

Loser: Players with a Fear of Flying

The RPTQ tournament distribution simply doesn’t line-up very well with the PPTQ distribution when you look at it geographically. This is painfully true in Latin America and Asia Pacific regions which each have three RPTQ tournaments. In Latin America, the three events are in Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, and Mexico City. The former two are in the southeast corner of the region while the latter is in the northwest corner. With 4,500 miles between the RPTQ events, everyone will have a lot of travel time to get to an RPTQ. The situation in Asia Pacific is similar with events in Beijing, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur. Travel times are going to be exorbitant.

Winner: The Tokyo RPTQ

There are 131 PPTQ events in Japan and they should all feed their victors into the Tokyo RPTQ. That means they will just cross the 128-player threshold required to award twice as many invitations. Eight rounds of swiss competition means almost everyone who is at least X-2 will earn an invitation to the Pro Tour.

Loser: The Beijing RPTQ

114 PPTQ events in Asia Pacific region should feed the RPTQ in Beijing. That’s going to be 14 players short of the 128-player threshold required to award twice as many invitations. After seven rounds of swiss competition the top 8 competitors will play one last round to receive the four invitations to the Pro Tour. With only 17 fewer players than Tokyo, Beijing will receive half as many invitations.

By the Numbers

The PPTQ/RPTQ configuration is a brave new world for the Pro Tour. Based on the number and distribution of the PPTQ events we should expect that a total of 136 invitations will be awarded to Pro Tour Vancouver via RPTQ events. Half of those invitations will come from North America and roughly a quarter of them will come from Europe. The concurrent traditional PTQ season which awards invitations to Pro Tour Belgium will provide 200 total invitations. That’s a lot more invitations but the distribution is similar with 46.5% coming from North America and 32.5% coming from Europe.

One place Wizards seems to have been slightly off is the distribution of RPTQs. North America simply has a few too many. That’s why there will be 11 RPTQ events in North America projected at 64 players or fewer, and two events projected under 32 players. Japan, in the meantime, would really benefit from being split into two RPTQ tournaments instead of one, and Europe really needs two more events, as evidenced by the huge disparity between the projections for Rome (240) and Madrid (118) vs. St Petersburg (33) and Stockholm (27).

The distribution of RPTQs should match the distribution of PPTQs. We now know that the PPTQ breakdown has only 43% of all PPTQs in North America. However, 51% of all RPTQs are in North America. Wizards needs to bring those numbers in-line for next season. Europe has 32% of all PPTQs but only 25% of all RPTQs, hence the inflated attendance projections for some European events.

This first season is going to have plenty of growing pains for everyone involved, and only time will tell if the new system will address the major issues that the old system presented. Attendance issues and random chance remain a huge issue with the traditional PTQ system and it will be a huge boon to Magic if the new PPTQ/RPTQ system can address those issues.

The new season kicks off on December 6th. Make sure you check out for more information as we get closer to that date.

The Quick Hits

  • Erin Campbell interviews Star City Games’ Evan Erwin, the creator of the Magic Show and one of Magic’s biggest personalities [The Deck Tease]
  • Mark Rosewater finally created an FAQ section for his blog, which provides answers to meaningful questions such as how to properly pronounce the word Myr [Blogatog]
  • Australian gaming site Ten Copper interviewed R&D chief Aaron Forsythe while he was down under for PAX Australia [Ten Copper]
  • Scott MacCallum talks about avoiding chasing waterfalls jumping on the bandwagon and sticking with the rivers and the lakes decks that you’re used to [Mana Deprived]
  • A.E. Marling provides more helpful hints for avoiding losses for foolish and easily prevented mistakes [Gathering Magic]
  • Danny Brown has all the details of the recent Vintage Super League changes and announcements [Quiet Speculation]
  • Liam Casserly looks at what it takes to reach the next level of being a Magic player [MTG UK]
  • John Dale Beety revisits his occasional look into the world of buying original Magic artwork [Star City Games]

Wallpaper of the Week

Apparently the practice of putting winter scenes on display as early as mid-November has crept into our weekly wallpapers. Here we have the new edition of Wooded Foothills which looks like a snowy Christmas scene from the north pole before some kind of alien/mutant/ninja army assaults Santa’s Workshop. Also, why is everything sideways? Is that really necessary?

Grade: C (bah humbug)

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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