Did you guys miss me? I know my appearances have been a bit spotty, lately, so I want to apologize to anyone who opened up the HotC page on a Thursday for their Legacy content fix, only to be let down. And it’s not just on here, but I haven’t really been streaming much, either, so my lack of content hasn’t just been limited to text-based mediums. The truth of it is, when I started writing here, I was starting my second year at my job (that I was probably overqualified for), and the whole thing had a very Office Space feel to it, if you know what I mean:

Around October of this year, I started a new job, with a significantly higher level of responsibility and expectations. Between having to wake up earlier (consequently, going to bed earlier) and having to do more than 15 minutes of real, actual work in a given week, it’s put a strain on my writing and streaming schedules. I’m not writing today, to tell you that I plan to step down, though. While the days of me streaming back to back Legacy Dailies at 7:30 and 11pm EST will not be as numerous as they were in the past, I think I’m getting a handle on this whole new job thing. It typically takes much longer for someone picking up Miracles for the first time to resolve a Top activation than it does for someone who’s been playing the deck forever, and this job is a pretty new archetype for me, but I suspect that after enough reps, a lot of my lines of play will be internalized to the autopilot part of my brain, and I’ll have more time “between rounds” to work on my content creation.

But I didn’t turn in this week’s installment of Hope Eternal to whine about how I haven’t had time to write about Magic because of positive developments in my professional life! There’s a bigger topic at hand that I’d like to shine a light on! A couple of weeks ago, Star City Games president, Peter Hoefling made an announcement that turned the competitive Magic world on its head. In case you’ve been living under a rock, here’s the gyst of it:

  • The Open Series is now basically its own Grand Prix circuit. The Saturday Open is now a two-day event, and the prize payout has doubled.
  • Modern has been added as an Open format. Opens will rotate between Standard, Legacy, and Modern. Or, if you’ve already seen the schedule, it resembles something more like this: Standard, Standard, Legacy, Standard, Modern, Standard, and Standard. Oh, and I almost forgot, Standard.
  • In addition to featuring second day of the main event, Sunday will also feature two separate 5K Premier IQs. The IQs will be in the two constructed formats that are not featured in the Open (so Legacy and Modern, on most weekends).
  • Here’s a biggie: coverage will focus on the main event of the Open, so outside of Invitational weekends, we will typically only see one format each weekend. I’ll get to why it’s a biggie, later.

The full announcement can be found here.

Through various social media channels, SCG did their part to hype up the announcement, telling us that something big was coming. On the heels of Grand Prix New Jersey, which can only be described as a monumental success for SCG, Legacy, and Magic, with over 4,000 people showing up to sling 20 year-old cardboard, I thought for sure that whatever announcement that was coming was going to be a big win for Legacy. Or, rather, a big reward for Legacy, because let’s face it, the format that everyone is always saying that nobody plays because nobody can afford it just drew the second largest crowd for a constructed Magic tournament of all-time (at a lousy location, to boot; while I love Jersey, I prefer my Grand Prix events in booming cities that provide an ample number of options to unwind after a long day of cards).

My reaction, while reading the announcement went something like this.

“Oh, cool, Open = Grand Prix. I like Grand Prix events. I can get behind this.” Verdict: win

“20 grand prize purse? Seems good.. oh wait, that’s how much they were giving out, before, over the two seperate 10ks.” Verdict: draw

“Formats.. ‘The format for each $20,000, two-day Open Series main event will be either Standard, Legacy, or Modern.‘  Modern?? I don’t hate Modern, I mean, I’d rather play that than Standard, but is this going to cannibalize the amount of Legacy events?” Verdict: reserving judgement on formats

‘The two formats not played in Saturday’s main event will be represented on Sunday in the form of two $5,000 Premier Invitational Qualifiers.’ Oh, ok, so we’re still, at a minimum, getting a Legacy 5k every week. That’s a bit of a downgrade from getting a 10k every week, but I’ll take it. Besides, I figure that 25-33% of the new 20k Opens will be Legacy, so that kind of offsets losing the weekly 10k. Verdict: I’ll call it a draw on the formats thing.
“Alright, let’s check out the scheduAAAAAAAAAHHH!”

And that’s where things went off the rails, for me. Three out of nineteen weeks are Legacy, two are Modern, and fifteen are Standard. I can’t even blame this on the evil format of Modern stealing money/events/attention/players from the righteous hand of Legacy, because the payouts for the first half of 2015 are $305,000 for Standard, $140,000 for Legacy, and $125,000 for Modern. Standard is paying out more than Legacy and Modern, combined!

While SCG will be paying out an extra $5,000 every weekend, there has been a significant shift in where the money is going. In the past, 40% of all of the prize pot went to Standard, with 60% supporting Eternal formats. Now, we see 53.5% of the Open money going to Standard. Legacy has seen its share fall from 40% to 24.5%. In terms of actual dollars, if there were no changes to the structure of the Open Series, there would be an extra 50 grand in the aggregate Legacy prize pot. At the end of the day, while I am not into this change, I understand that business is business, and the rapid (about to get more rapid) churn of Standard allows them to peddle more cardboard. Also, to be fair, it was just under three years ago when both days of the open were 5ks (ok, fine, 6.4 and 5.8ks, but whatever), and Legacy was doing just fine, back then.

Verdict: Loss

As I read through the rest of the announcement, I’m mostly neutral on all of the points covered. Cost, side events, byes, vendors… whaaaatever. I am slightly miffed as I read on that the number of Invitationals featuring Legacy going from four to two, and the number of Invitationals featuring a Legacy top 8 falling from two to one, but I can’t say it wasn’t expected, in light of the other changes.

Then I get to the worst news. “SCGLive will be broadcasting each $20,000 Open Series event in its entirety.” This means that we will go from getting to watch Legacy during nineteen Sundays during the first half of 2015 to a paltry three! This is unacceptable! (alright, I mean.. I’m probably gonna accept it and continue to hand SCG my money, but let me ragefully rant about it for a bit on the internet, first.) Legacy on Sundays is a tradition, like football! I’ve always loved that I could turn a computer or iPad to SCG’s Twitch channel, on most Sundays, while doing whatever random Sunday errands are at hand (you know, like shaking off Saturday’s hangover), and watch the sweet Legacy plays taking place, while Cedric and Sully call the action.

I’m not the only person that feels that way, as many other players whom I talked to, some of which don’t even play the format, are just as upset as I am about losing Sunday Legacy coverage. I’ve sat down against countless opponents who were just getting their feet wet in the format, and before I could form any judgement of “how noob they are,” they would tell me that they have some idea what they’re doing and what’s going on in the gamestate because they watch a lot of SCG coverage.

I remember before I even sleeved up my first Stoneblade deck (my intro to the format), watching wizards that were far more powerful than me, wielding weapons that my feeble mind couldn’t possibly comprehend how to operate, like Storm, and Dredge, and NO Bant/RUG (whatever happened to those two), all while thinking to myself, “I’m never going to afford these decks, but it sure is fun to watch skilled players take them into battle.” And then one day, after gradually accruing format staples, I realized that I could afford it. I’m not sure if I would have had the same excitement and desire to enter the format, were it not for SCG’s coverage. And while I played Standard on a regular basis, at the time, I didn’t really have much interest in watching any of the Standard Open coverage (I still don’t).

So far, all I’ve given you are anecdotes and sentiment, two things I hate. What I love are cold, hard numbers, so let’s take a look at those. Unfortunately, Twitch does a lousy job of tracking important metrics—or they just do a lousy job of sharing them with us—so I have to work with another thing that I hate: small sample sizes. Here are the number of views per day, via SocialBlade. (the 12/13-14 Open was omitted because this weekend featured, the Invitational as well as the new GP-style structure for Opens.)

Saturday Sunday
11/22-23 51,394 86,602
11/29-30 50,928 84,428
12/6-7 30,235 71,757

I’ll admit that the data is a bit faulty due to the top four of the Standard Open taking place on Sunday morning, but I think it’s safe to assume that the difference in viewership between Saturday and Sunday is massive enough to make a case that more people prefer to watch Legacy, even if we operate under the overly conservative assumption that 15% of the Sunday’s views are for Standard (which they’re not.. nobody’s waking up that early to watch Magic coverage). I imagine that the viewership numbers skew even heavier in favor of Legacy when we are not in the first set after rotation; SocialBlade only goes one month back, so I can’t confirm, but I bet Standard had awful viewership numbers around Dragon’s Maze or Journey to Nyx.

What Can Legacy Enthusiasts Do?

Immediately following the announcements, there was obviously some backlash. Because what Magic-related announcement ever created no backlash, right? Legacy fanatics took to social media to voice their displeasure about certain aspects (that I covered, earlier) of this change. SCG was quick to point out that this schedule was only for the first half of the year, and that it was an experiment of sorts. This isn’t the first time that SCG has done this. During 2013, they tried switching things up a bit by offering a different Sunday Open format, whether it be Modern, Team Sealed, or a second Standard tournament. This experiment proved to be a failure, with most of these non-Legacy Sundays drawing a smaller crowd than a typical Sunday, and SCG went back to keeping the Sunday Open as Legacy for 2014. What can we take away from this? Perhaps the lower attendance on Sunday is less of a “Legacy problem” and more of a “Sunday problem.”

The upcoming six months will give us a chance to put my “Sunday problem” theory to test. Legacy brothers and sisters, PAY ATTENTION! I need you to make a strong effort to attend the three Legacy Opens. And I realize that’s asking a lot, so I’ll steal a line from Meat Loaf: “Two out of three ain’t bad.” I’m actually tentative for Indy, myself, depending on if airfare prices drop, so I understand. Don’t let the fact that we’ve been preemptively sabotaged a bit, by having the Legacy Philly Open not really be in Philly, cause you to stay home! We need big showings at these Opens, because SCG are savvy business folks, and they pay attention to the numbers.

What else can you do? Load up SCG’s Twitch channel while Legacy coverage is playing. Keep those Legacy viewership numbers high!

Here’s another one: Don’t play Sunday Standard. There are only five Sunday Standard 5ks, but try not to play in them if you can avoid it. Play whatever the other 5k is, whether it’s Legacy or Modern. Fine, Standard is the most played format, because a far greater number of people have easy access to a deck, but that doesn’t mean that Eternal formats like Modern and Legacy won’t draw enough players for tournament organizers to run profitable events. We need to send a clear message that more people are playing Standard just because it happens to be on Saturday, rather than that we’d actually prefer to play it if we had a choice.

This is a 100% a situation where we’re being asked to vote with our wallets. If you don’t vote, you risk SCG even further reducing Legacy’s slice of the Open series pie (which could subsequently lead to waning interest, and Legacy falling off the GP circuit). So vote early, and vote often!

Before I go, I do want to make one thing clear: there is a bit of complaining going on in this post, but I have 100% appreciation for the things that Star City Games is doing and has done to help grow the game of Magic. They are a huge driving force in the growth of this silly children’s card game that I love so much. I think it’s awesome that they just keep ramping up in terms of event size, quantity, and payout. I think it’s awesome that they implemented the Player’s Championship. I think their coverage team is amazing and the best in the business. I just want to make sure that the Legacy aficionados aren’t forgotten and marginalized!

I’ll be back next week to do one of those personal year-in-review sort of deals where I talk about what goals I achieved/didn’t achieve, notable moments, goals for next year, and all that typical blog-posts-that-go-up-around-New-Year’s-Day stuff. I guess I’ll also cover the fourth quarter metagame stats, even though I don’t think a whole lot has changed since the “mid-season” analysis I did, prior to GP NJ.

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.