Last week I suggested that Grand Prix Las Vegas would be the most important event in the history of Magic: the Gathering and as I type this up, following the last threads of action on Twitter from #GPVegas, I think it’s safe to say that my prediction was correct.

First, let’s talk attendance numbers. 2,646. 2,693. 3,410. Those are the attendance numbers for the Legacy, Limited, and Modern main events respectively. Well over 4,000 Magic players and fans and very likely well over 5,000 participated in the main events alone. That’s not counting the folks who showed up just for the atmosphere and full slate of side events.

Second, let’s talk about the atmosphere. Grand Prix Vegas wasn’t just home to three of the largest tournaments on the schedule for the year. There were over 30 artists in attendance to go along with over 30 vendors. There were nearly 100 side events including obscure old limited formats as well as niche constructed formats like Frontier and 93/94 Magic.

Now, large main events, a big artists alley, and a large slate of vendors have become staples of many Grand Prix. While perhaps not to the volume found in Las Vegas, you can still find these things at most of the Grand Prix events you travel to. So finally, let’s talk about what made this event, held for four days in the middle of the calendar year in the middle of the desert, different from any other Magic event.

A blood drive. Panel discussions. Professional cosplayers. Live podcast recordings. A gallery of original Magic artwork. A preview show debuting a dozen cards from an upcoming expansion. Spellslinging featuring pro players, content creators, Wizards staff, and one NFL linebacker.

Those are not regularly scheduled events at a Grand Prix and while you could find some of them some of the time, you’d never found them all in one place before. At this point I have to apologize to my readers who weren’t able to make the trip out to the desert because you certainly missed out on something more special than a Grand Prix. Grand Prix Las Vegas was a Magic: the Gathering Convention.

That’s not supposed to make you feel bad but rather make you feel hopeful because the event was so well-received. GP Vegas will not be the last Magic Convention but rather should be the first of a new breed of Convention-Level Grand Prix events. Now that Channel Fireball is running the show full time the onus is upon them to live up to this event, and I’d like to see it grow in many ways.

First, let’s get this up and running in Europe and Asia. Let’s pick some central locations that support travel (Berlin? Hong Kong?) and get the wheels moving on making Magic Conventions a global phenomenon. Second, let’s make this an annual occurrence. Past GP Vegas events relied on the hype of Modern Masters and Modern Masters 2015 to draw a crowd. This event didn’t need a marquee expansion. One won’t be needed in the future.

I can’t wait to see Grand Prix Las Vegas on the schedule again and hope to see you all there whenever we get to do this again.

1. The Magic Art Show was the highlight of Vegas for me. A lot of folks are clamoring for this to return, but it isn’t a cheap operation to put on. One friend suggested they should take the show on the road, visiting all North American Grand Prix, and while I hope that endeavor could be a possibility down the road, let’s see if we can get a second show sometime next year first.

2. Magic’s 25th anniversary is right around the corner and it was on Mike Linnemann’s mind when I asked him what he had in mind for the next gallery theme. In case you’re unfamiliar, Mike has been working for years to track down every piece of original art from Alpha. He told me he’s tracked down around 200 pieces now, and would love to put as many as possible on display for the 25th anniversary.

3. Today marks the first day of Hour of Devastation previews but before we get into that let’s talk about the Ixalan leak. In case you missed it an entire foil sheet of rares from Ixalan was released to the internet. Interestingly the community response wasn’t predominantly about the exciting new cards, but rather about the ethics behind spreading them around publicly.

4. It’s interesting to see community sentiment turn sour on leaked cards because historically the majority of Magic fans love them. However, this might be a circumstance of crossing too many lines. It’s too far in advance. It’s too many leaks. It’s too much damage to Wizards of the Coast. At some point everyone has sympathy for the devil no matter how corporate the devil may be.

5. Wizards official policy is that only the first person to leak information is considered guilty in their eyes. Once cards are in a public place like Reddit or Imgur they’re fair game. So if you’re number two or three or four then no harm no foul. But the court of public opinion is another story and while the views are surely there the negative publicity is quickly growing.

6. Personally we’ve got enough to write about here at Hipsters of the Coast without worrying about what’s in a set that won’t be released for another three months. Hour of Devastation will fill up enough of our time and last week’s announcements still leave plenty to digest. Hascon is also three short months away. There will be time for Ixalan.

7. I got to meet an amazing number of people in Vegas and had some fantastic conversations, but one that stood out was a chat with Ahren from the Turn One Thoughtseize podcast, and Hallie Santo who is the content manager for Card Kingdom. The topic of the conversation was the future of the Pro Tour. Stay tuned for more on that in the future.

8. Another interesting conversation was with Trick Jarett from Wizards’ communication team and the topic was Magic’s 25th Anniversary celebration. What he could tell me and what I can tell you is that Wizards isn’t going to pull any punches. The party starts at Hascon later this year and doesn’t end until sometime next year, likely lasting for a full 12 months.

9. What should we expect from the 25th Anniversary kick-off at Hascon? Details are few and far between right now but there will be a live-streamed panel so I suggest you get ready to follow along.

10. Last but not least I want to thank everyone who I met and got to spend time with at Grand Prix Vegas who made it a truly amazing experience. It’s hard to understate the importance that events like this have in the community and I think we can all agree that we need more of them.

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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