Over the weekend, more than 1,400 players traveled to the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, New Jersey to play Magic’s latest expansion, Ravnica Allegiance, on the set’s release weekend. But you wouldn’t have known if you weren’t at the Expo Center itself because, unlike nearly every Grand Prix before it, there was neither live video nor live text coverage of the event.

The Controversy

The lack of coverage of Grand Prix New Jersey hadn’t previously been announced, causing pros and fans alike to wonder what was happening. Former Hipsters writer Roman Fusco asked the Magic Pro Tour Twitter account why there wasn’t any coverage and got an…unexpected response.

“[W]e’re adjusting our coverage for tournaments at Magic Fest[s],” Wizards said. “For New Jersey forward,” instead of live written coverage, “we’ll be posting critical end-of-tournament information on Sunday evening.”

The decision to announce this change by replying to a single Twitter message caused a lot of confusion within the Magic community throughout the weekend. Many were worried that this response meant that Grand Prix would no longer have any video or text coverage, with speculation that the coverage budget had been reassigned to the upcoming Magic Pro League and Mythic Championships.

This impression that Grand Prix were being deemphasized only got stronger as the weekend wore on. The Top 8 drafted on normal tables as if it were a PTQ Top 8 and the eventual winner, Max WIlliams, didn’t even receive a trophy…though he was given a prop to pose with.

Wizards Responds

Hipsters reached out to Wizards of the Coast to try and clear up some of the rumor and innuendo that has dominated the community’s conversation all weekend.

Blake Rasmussen explained that the Magic Pro Tour’s response on Twitter only applied to “round-by-round live text coverage of events,” which will no longer be live. Instead, as stated on Twitter, the remaining text coverage—including decklists, Top 8 bios, pairings, and standings—will be posted at the end of the event.

As for video coverage, Wizards emphasized that they, “did not announce anything regarding video coverage and we aren’t announcing anything about it at this time.” However, Wizards wouldn’t confirm when (or if) the next Grand Prix would be streamed, only saying that, “Besides Mythic Championships/the Mythic Invitational, we have not announced our streaming schedule for the year yet.”

Lastly, Blake clarified that the Grand Prix New Jersey trophy got delayed because of a shipping issue and that winner Max Williams will have that trophy mailed to him.

Anxiety Surrounding Magic’s Shift Towards a Professionalized Esport

Magic’s competitive gaming structures are undergoing massive changes as Wizards positions the game as a professionalized esport à la Hearthstone or League of Legends. Unfortunately, many of the details surrounding these changes remain unclear.

For example, the company announced a series of Mythic Championship tournaments with an eye-popping $10 million prize pool in 2019, as well as the Magic Pro League, but hasn’t shared any details about how either of these new structures will work. At the same time, Wizards has ended the popular Nationals and World Cup tournaments, the Pro Tour Team Series, as well as the Pro Points and Players Club programs, also without any details about what, if anything, will replace them.

All of the uncertainty surrounding these massive changes has made many of the Magic’s most invested players and fans confused and concerned about how they will fit into the game’s future. Blake concluded, “We’re transitioning from a world of Grand Prix and Pro Tours to one of the Magic Pro League and Mythic Championships, and we know that some of our “pardon our dust” is showing. We know that causes anxiety and angst as people fill in the blanks. That’s on us not getting everyone the information in one large chunk, and we hope to have the full picture available soon.”

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