Not all Grand Prix events are created equally and Grand Prix Minneapolis, being the final Grand Prix before a Pro Tour held in the same city, has the distinction of being particularly unfair.

The top eight players of Grand Prix Minneapolis had a combined 7 Pro Tour Top 8’s thanks to Ken Yukuhiro and Kentaro Yamamoto. Eventual winner Magnus Lantto added in a few Grand Prix Top 8’s and Peter Yeh won a team Grand Prix title earlier this year. The final standings show that that three of the top 25 players in the world finished in the top tables of the Grand Prix.

Conversely, in Turin where another Grand Prix was being held this weekend, the top eight players had previously combined for a handful of GP top finishes, and virtually no Pro Tour experience. Only two of the top 25 players in the world even attended the event. To say the competition in Turin was slightly easier, especially at the high end, would be a massive understatement.

There was a time, once, that you might have calculated the EV of attending a Grand Prix based on your odds of actually placing high enough to go home with cash and/or pro points. If you were to have done that this weekend, the odds of placing well enough at Grand Prix Minneapolis should have been so slight that it would never have made sense to make the trip; but 1,346 players did make it for the main event, and countless more for the experience.

That’s just a sampling of the “Grand Prix Experience” which is, in my opinion, quickly supplanting the “Grand Prix Main Event” as being the primary draw for attending a Grand Prix event. The question is whether or not this is a trend or a blip and how Channel Fireball Events plans to capitalize on the opportunity.

This of course puts the main event into a bit of limbo. Who is it for? Is it for pro players? If so, is it more for Bronze and Silver pros than Platinum and Gold pros? If not, then should it be exclusively for amateur players only? There was certainly a time that the Grand Prix Main Event was seen as an amateur event, but now many Grand Prix are stacked with a lot of pro talent, especially leading up to a Pro Tour.

On the other hand I’d like to see Grand Prix become Magic’s own little Comic Con circuit with guests, panels, side events, and the like in every city. But, that brings up a new and intriguing concept to the Grand Prix which will be guest, non-competitor, badges. Are we quickly approaching a time when admittance to a Grand Prix will no longer be free? I think we are, but CFB Events has a long way to go in improving the experience until we get there.

If that isn’t the end goal though, I’m not sure exactly what they’re doing over there.

Next week we’ll be back with our recap of Pro Tour 25th Anniversary!

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13

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