On Tuesday, Helene Bergeot made a collection of announcements about Magic’s organized play system. These announcements were so big that they required three independent posts on the Magic website. You can check them out here, here, and here. If you just want a quick rundown of the topics Helene covered, here’s the tl;dr:

  • Updates to the Platinum Club Grand Prix Appearance Policy
  • Removal of the Platinum Club Pro Tour Hotel Accommodation Policy
  • Introducing the Magic Pro Tour Team Series
  • The 2016 World Championship Schedule
  • The 2017 World Championship Seats and Prize Pool
  • Pro Tour Top 8 Bracket and Prize Pool Changes
  • The 2017 Grand Prix Schedule
  • The 2017 Preliminary/Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Seasons
  • The 2017 Magic World Cup Qualifier Weekends
  • The 2016 Super Series Championship Date
  • The 2016 Magic Online Championship Date
  • Eternal Weekend 2017 Dates for America and Europe (!)

Introducing Team Competition

I want you all to understand that what I am about to say is very serious and very important. This is, to date, the single most important change to the Pro Tour that Wizards has ever made. Team competition is going to completely redefine the way we (journalists) report on and cover the Pro Tour. It’s going to completely change the way fans interact with and watch the event. And of course, it’s going to completely change the way players prepare for the Pro Tour.

I don’t want to get into it too much, but I’m not kidding, this change is huge. Team competition is the heart of sports and it’s already a massive part of Magic’s competitive world. Bringing it to the next level with official team recognition and sanctioning and a sweet, sweet, prize pool is going to be an enormous game changer.

Mark my words, Magic will never be the same.

Pro Tour Top 8 Changes

If this weekend was any indication, this change should be well-received in the long-run. Finishing at the top of the final standings in the swiss rounds is now even more valuable as the top two seeds get to bypass the quarterfinals entirely. The bottom four seeds play each other with the winners playing the third and fourth seeds and then the winners there get to face off against the top two players before the finals. Here’s a pretty diagram. Let’s all be excited for the death of the intentional draw in the final round of Saturday competition at the Pro Tour.

Platinum Pro Changes

This is probably the easiest change to be happy about. There are two changes that will go into effect for the 2017-18 Magic Season. The first is that Platinum Pro club members will get a $500 appearance fee at the first six Grand Prix events they attend, and $250 at additional Grand Prix events. This is in-line with the policy that only the top six Grand Prix performances count towards a player’s total Pro Point count. It will also encourage players to avoid burning out grinding events by being able to earn the same bonus for six appearances that previously required twelve.

The other change is that the Platinum players will no longer receive hotel accommodations beginning with the 2017-18 season. This one may seem like a big loss but it turns out very few players were taking advantage of this policy and many of them have been opting for shared team housing for years. Easy changes. Good job Wizards.

World Championship Changes

The 24 seats at the 2017 World Championship have been announced and there are some slight changes from what we’re used to. Most notably, the geographic-region-based top performer seats have all been eliminated and replaced by global at-large seats. Four seats will still go to the top player from North America, Latin America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific (sorry Japan), and an additional thirteen seats will go to the thirteen top-performing pros who didn’t already receive a seat. The other seven seats are for the four pro tour winners, the Magic Online champion, and the Standard and Draft Masters (most match points at Pro Tours in each format).

This sounds mostly like reshuffling the same deck of players. Other than the number of geographical seats given out, there’s no major changes. The only one of the four regions where the second place pro player might not get an at-large seat is Latin America. Thiago Saporito took that seat to eighth place in last year’s field, and he gets to run it back next month. It will be a shame if he or another Latin American player does not qualify for 2017. We as a community should be working to build the depth of competitive Magic talent in Latin America. That means more tournaments, both Grand Prix and independent circuits. You shouldn’t have to leave your continent to be a pro!

2017 Organized Play Schedule

I could talk about the Grand Prix schedule for a while but there’s not much to say. If you read the whole thing you can figure out when the four expansion sets in 2017 are going to be released. That’s good if you need to do some long-term planning in advance (like if you run a Magic community website) but otherwise it’s not too important.

What is important in my mind is two things. First, that weekend in Vegas in mid-June. That’s going to be nuts. Book your hotel room now. Second, Eternal Weekend in Europe has been a long time coming. Yes, it sucks that Europe lost its Legacy Grand Prix. But, gaining a legitimate Eternal Weekend is going to be great. No offense to the Bazaar of Moxen events, but Eternal Weekend is going to be a special event for Europe’s Legacy and Vintage communities.

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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