This morning, Wizards of the Coast announced that Gerry Thompson has resigned from the Magic Pro League.

In a statement released on his website, Thompson says that he “joined the Magic Pro League in the first place because it seemed easier to make a difference from the inside.” But five months after it was announced that he would be a part of the MPL, Thompson believes that “[t]he lack of transparency and unwillingness to listen to feedback continue to be huge issues.”

“I would have turned it down,” he continues, “[I]f not for two very smart people who reminded me that if what I cared about was making a difference, it would be easier to do so from the inside. They were right, and I would have regretted not trying.”

Thompson is one of Magic’s most successful pro players with three Pro Tour Top 8s. He won Pro Tour Amonkhet in 2017, after which he donated all of his winnings to Planned Parenthood, then placed second at Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan in 2018 and  auctioned his trophy and deck for charity to support Take This. He also placed seventh at  Pro Tour Gatecrash in 2013 and has won two Grand Prix: GP Denver in 2008 and GP Nashville in 2010. Thompson took a six-month break from professional Magic in 2014 when he worked for Wizards of the Coast as an R&D intern.

Contracts, Coverage, and Communication

Thompson’s statement goes on to cite three main categories of issues: the Magic Pro League contracts, event coverage, and communication with Wizards.

The details of Magic Pro League contracts are not publicly known. We do know that there are two separate contracts—one for participating in the MPL and one for steaming—that are valued together at $75,000. Thompson says that the “contract ‘negotiations’ involved WotC officials purposefully not answering our questions and telling us to either sign or walk.” He implies that players had specific contractual concerns, like being restricted from joining an esports organization while under contract with the MPL, “with seemingly all of it being ignored.”

Thompson also believes that issues with Magic coverage, which he wrote about in last year’s World Championship protest, have yet to be addressed. “The Mythic Invitational is a huge hit,” Thompson says. But “coverage is immediately walked back to the status quo at [Mythic Championship II London]. While not the only factor, it’s certainly a large reason why the Twitch numbers were so poor.”

Communication with Wizards is another issue Thompson wrote about last year. In his resignation statement, Thompson provides three main complaints where he believes Wizards failed to provide clear communication with Magic pros. First, he says that the MPL members were supposed to receive summaries and additional information from their bootcamp earlier this year, but that information only came four months later. Second, he says that the announcements for the MTG Arena Mythic Championship Qualifiers and how the MPL itself would work came too late, giving players very little lead time. Finally, Thompson says that information about the 2019 Magic Online Championship Series finals has been unclear at best, writing that competitors don’t know who else is playing in the event and that Platinum status in the Pro Players Club was advertised as part of the prize pool and then removed (as the Pro Players Club is being ended this year) without being replaced.

Thompson Boycotted the 2018 World Championship

Less than an hour before the start of Magic’s 2018 World Championship on September 21, 2018, Thompson announced that he would refuse to play in the event, citing the poor treatment of Magic Pros, including the fact that Magic doesn’t pay a living wage, that coverage of Magic’s premiere events is “abysmal,” and that Wizards of the Coast does a poor job of communicating with and supporting their pros.

Two and a half months later, Wizards revealed the Magic Pro League and $10 million in prizes in 2019. Many in the community hoped that the MPL and the increased prize pool would help address some of the criticisms Thompson made in his post announcing his boycott. Thompson himself saw the MPL as an opportunity for him to help push for change from the inside, writing today that “[he] would have turned it down if not for two very smart people who reminded me that if what [he] cared about was making a difference, it would be easier to do so from the inside.”

But Thompson’s statement makes it clear that he does not believe that Wizards has made enough progress in addressing the points he raised before the 2018 World Championship. Two of his main categories of criticism, coverage and communication, are present in both his initial boycott as well as his resignation. He also thinks that the new MPL structure is great for many of the top Magic pros, but that it “comes at the expense of Silver, Gold, and Platinum pros” and that “it’s a change that is a net negative on the ecosystem of organized play.”

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.