We live in a golden age of Magic coverage. There are more Magic streamers than ever before, there are more Magic videos and Youtube channels than ever before, and you can tune in almost any weekend to watch high quality, live tournament coverage. At every point of the day, there is live Magic available for consumption and video coverage from some of the world’s top players.

Magic has enjoyed seemingly boundless growth for the last six or seven years, each year outdoing the last as the best year ever. With this wealth of options, it is strange to complain, but something is most certainly lacking: there is very, very little video coverage of the best Magic players in the world playing at the highest levels of competition.

Gone Missing

We know why there’s such limited Grand Prix coverage of Grands Prix: back in December, Wizards announced that they’d be scaling back coverage and focusing on events around Pro Tours (in addition to decreasing the numbers of Grands Prix per year and amount of Limited Grands Prix). This makes some sense in context: Wizards has been reevaluating how they can best invest their money into pro play (a change which was not warmly received and quickly reversed in the short term) and GGsLive’s Kickstarter has let us know that video coverage of a single event can cost in the neighborhood twenty thousand dollars. Consider also that StarCityGames Opens routinely had double the number of viewers of Grands Prix on Twitch.

Considering all of these factors together, it’s not surprising that Wizards scaled back their coverage. They spend less, focus their money efficiently on events surrounding new product releases (promoting those sets when they’re at the peak of their popularity), and don’t compete with SCG, a company which promotes their products for them. All of that makes sound financial sense.

So, what’s the problem?

I can make the complaint as a consumer that I miss the free content which I used to enjoy in abundance, but that rings hollow; my watching tournament coverage likely had little effect on my purchasing habits. Why should Wizards spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annual on something that may or may not produce significant returns? Why should they invest money in providing free content to compete with other readily available that costs them nothing?


One thing which suffers is Magic’s narrative; diminished coverage diminishes awareness of which players are the best, what the best games look like, and how formats evolve over time. We know that narrative is important because it was cited as a primary motivator for coverage:

…our coverage teams will take a broader look at each format, telling a more cohesive story across multiple locations rather than simply delivering the story of a single event. That exploration of a format will be done against the backdrop of the newest set seeing its first action at the premier-play level.

While we are aiming to refocus our Grand Prix coverage priorities to more closely align with our major set releases, player narratives will continue to drive our direction at events. You can expect to see plenty of player-driven stories carried throughout a set’s span from Grand Prix, to Pro Tour, to Grand Prix.

Narrative is clearly a goal of coverage, and demonstrating a format’s change over time encourages players to keep attending tournaments, buying cards, and playing. The narrative of Shadows Over Innistrad is different from previous ones, since there’s been far less of it. It’s likely a coincidence, but the narrative seems to have started and mostly ended with its Pro Tour. Steve Rubin’s GW tokens defeated Andrea Mengucci’s Bant Company in the finals and the two decks seem to remain the only tier one decks in Standard. The narrative hasn’t changed much, other than the race for Player of the Year, which is playing out via text coverage. The last Grand Prix covered was over a month ago, the last Standard Grand Prix coverage was over two months ago, and the last Limited Grand Prix was three months ago.


To say that this is Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage comprises the sum totality of Magic coverage is disingenuous; there are new tournament circuits being streamed, like Face to Face’s, and StarCityGames continues to feature some of the best coverage in Magic. However, and I mean no offense to these excellent content creators, but those events are not the major leagues that Grands Prix are. They are limited to specific geographic regions, have lower attendence, have smaller prizes, and do not feature nearly as many of the world’s best players. We live in a world where minor league games have excellent coverage and are easy to watch, but major league games are difficult to see despite being just as ubiquitous.

I assume that the reasons behind this change are either experimental or financial: last year, Wizards dramatically expanded the amount and coverage of Grands Prix and they’re seeing what a more limited menu does, or perhaps Grand Prix coverage just doesn’t produce a good enough return on the presumably substantial investment it requires.

Winds of Change

Going forward, I would obviously love to see the return of more Grand Prix coverage, particularly as Wizards has demonstrated substantial improvement in their ability to cover events. I’d also prefer to see more Limited events (an unrelated request, but something which I know will be address at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon). But failing that, or perhaps in addition to it, I would love to see the ‘minor leagues’ be brought even further into the fold. It’s lovely that the SCG Tour provides a Pro Tour invite, but what if their events, Face to Face’s events, ChannelFireball’s events, and the like could function as part of the Grand Prix system? What if the best tournament organizers, those with demonstrated aptitude at running and covering their own tournaments, were empowered to reward top finishes with Pro Points? Or have their prize purses bolstered by Wizards, who could run even fewer Grands Prix so as not to split their audiences?

I acknowledge that as I’m not involved with Wizards, SCG, or any tournament organizer, there are certainly many major details beyond my ken. Furthermore, Wizards is aware of the community’s response and I applaud them for their continued and improving focus on transparency, particularly on Grands Prix and their coverage.I don’t know what lies ahead, but I hope it contains more Magic, more coverage, and more Limited.

As always, thanks for reading.

—Zachary Barash


Zachary Barash is a New York-based game designer. Playing since 1994, he loves Limited and drafts every available format (including several that aren’t entirely meant to be drafted). His favorite contemporary Magic design is Explore, because it’s a Time Walk cast for minimal value.

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