This weekend someone won a Pro Tour. Actually it was a pretty big deal as Antonio Del Moral Leon became the first Pro Tour champion to hail from Spain in the history of the game. That’s fantastic for the growth of the game in Europe and outside of North America in general. Now that we’ve gotten past that let’s get to the big news from the weekend. Wizards made two massive announcements at the Pro Tour. First, there will be some big changes to the World Championship and some small changes to the World Cup. Second, the first details of the final core set have been revealed and they are quite exciting.

The Final Core Set: Magic Origins

When the fine folks at Wizards announced the new two-block paradigm one of the big questions was around the future of the core set. The working title for my article at the time was “goodbye core set.” The incredibly vague answers provided to the community were that a new product would be replacing core sets as an introductory offering to new players, and that Wizards had something very special in mind for the final core set, which we now know will not be called Magic Core Set 2016. This weekend we were introduced to Magic Origins.

What is Magic Origins? We have no freaking idea. Okay we have some idea. First of all, this set is filling in the slot that is normally reserved for the core set and in the future will be given to the small set of the spring block in the two-block paradigm. Origins will have 272 cards, which is eight more cards than Dragons of Tarkir, and three more cards than Khans of Tarkir. Essentially it’s going to be a large set, it’s going to be drafted, and it’s going to be the featured set of a Pro Tour.

Oh, and the story of Magic Origins is going to highlight the beginnings of Jace, Chandra, Gideon, Nissa, and Liliana.

That’s young Jace Beleren. The featured image for this post is a young Liliana Vess. This is pretty much the Vorthos dream set. These are planeswalkers who have all been given pasts shrouded in mystery and as the final hurrah of the core set we’ll be getting origin stories. Will there be legendary creature card versions of our favorite planeswalkers? Will there be creature-into-planeswalker flip cards? Will Jace the Mind Sculptor be reprinted and unbanned in Modern? I don’t have the answers, but be prepared to debate all of these questions for the next month because the big reveals will start at PAX East.

Changes to the World Championship & World Cup

The other major announcement this weekend was about changes to the two end-of-year championship tournaments. Here are the highlights:

  • Beginning with the 2016 World Championship, the captain of the previous World Cup winning team will no longer be invited
  • Japan is now grouped with the Asia Pacific region to determine invites to the World Championship
  • The rookie-of-the-year invitation to the World Championship has been replaced with the player who earns the most pro points at Grand Prix tournaments
  • The World Championship will now be held at PAX Prime in Seattle from August 27th to 30th
  • Two of the World Magic Cup Qualifier weekends will be Standard and the third will be Modern
  • Large WMCQ events will become two-day affairs
  • Malta has been added to the list of eligible countries for the World Magic Cup
  • Players need to have lived in their home country since January 1st, 2014 to be eligible for their World Cup team

That’s a lot to digest but all-in-all these are positive changes. The invitation issues are trying to address some inconsistencies in who was being invited and also eliminate two of the odd invitations. The World Cup is a team tournament, so it doesn’t make sense to invite only the captain to another event. The Rookie of the Year traditionally gets their butt kicked at the World Championship, so they’re being replaced with someone potentially more competent at Magic. Seems fine to me.

The changes to the World Magic Cup also seem pretty beneficial. Few people will complain about the addition of a Modern qualifier event and hopefully no one has a problem with the inclusion of Malta. Some people may get confused by the new eligibility rules but hopefully the problem cases will be few and far between.

Last but not least is the most important part of the announcement: the World Championship will be held at PAX Prime. In fact, let me give you the full quote:

A major moment for the global Magic community is going to take place at PAX Prime, and moving the 2015 World Championship to PAX Prime is just one part of this global experience.

Wait, what now? A “major moment” is going to happen at PAX Prime? Okay I guess I better start looking up cheap flights and hotels for Seattle. Two weeks before my wedding. Thanks Wizards. All kidding aside this is huge news. Over the past few years, Wizards has used PAX Prime as the opener for spoiler season for the fall block. Now it looks like they’re going to be expanding the scope of their presence at PAX Prime. I suspect this could mean a few things including information about the two-block paradigm, information about the fall block, and also possibly information about the Magic board game, a new Duels of the Planeswalkers game, the Magic movie, or something else entirely.

Aligning major announcements to Pro Tours and to large conventions is a good move for Wizards. PAX East, San Diego Comic Con, and PAX Prime are all massive events and largely attended by the Magic community. Having a large presence at these events helps to connect fans to the game in ways that simply can’t happen at a Grand Prix or Pro Tour. The fact that the World Championship will be held at PAX East means that Magic could finally start making improvements as a spectator sport. Will it be like the live League of Legends or Hearthstone events? I sure hope so!

The Quick Hits

  • Jared Yost shares some interesting research on the price of highly sought-after tokens from the early days of Magic’s token-printing endeavors [MTG Price]
  • Our own Jess Stirba took a deeper look at the week’s discussions of social justice online in relation to the story of Alesha [Command of Etiquette]
  • In the lead-up to the Pro Tour, Wizards shared this history of the Modern format banned list [Daily MTG]
  • Jacob Wilson debunks five myths about sideboarding [Channel Fireball]
  • Jesse T and Jesse K review the flavor of Fate Reforged [MTGO Academy]
  • Mike Linnemann put together an amazing collection of maps from the early history of Magic the Gathering. I would love this kind of thing for Ravnica [Gathering Magic]
  • John Dale Beety also looks at the importance of Alesha and Ashiok and how the community still has a long way to go on the topic of acceptance [Star City Games]
  • In other shocking news, the folks running MTGO are still as incompetent as ever [Quiet Speculation]
  • Liam Casserly has one more discussion about the importance of Alesha’s story, from the perspective of a father whose children play Magic [MTG UK]

Wallpaper of the Week

If you had a chance to read last week’s Uncharted Realms then you know that Tasigur, the former Khan of the Sultai, is a pretty pompous jerk. But you probably already knew that from the bowl of fruit he’s clearly bored of eating from, and the chest-acupuncture. The artwork is meant to portray decadence and arrogance and I think it does a pretty good job. The color scheme is a bit dark for my liking for a desktop wallpaper, but the positioning is good. It’s too bad he looks contemplative instead of maniacal.

Grade: B-

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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