When Gabby Squillia Started Playing Magic the Gathering After taking two decades off in 2017, she was hooked. The game became an obsession. And, as a competitive figure, she soon wanted to see if she could handle the big leagues. What does it mean Magicof the Pro Tour, the premiere public event for the high level Magic Play Play.
“It seems vaguely reasonable for a decent player to put in the time to make it to the Pro Tour once or twice,” Squillia says. “The reason for me wasn’t because I ever thought I could be a professional – I just wanted to compete against the best, and learn from having trusses.”
But Wizards of the Coast abruptly stopped the event in 2018, instead of Mythic Tournament, a hybrid of physical and online play that added layers of bureaucracy to the game. Then the COVID-19 pandemic forced other changes as players got their ability to play paper Magic — offline and in person — less of a health crisis.
Now that the world is reopening, Magic The parent company is rebranding the Wizards of the Coast Pro Tour, yet it is coming with a few changes.
The new system aims to integrate the former supporter structure with the sport’s growing amateur sports groups (who make up the vast majority of . Magic players). Regional championships are established around the world, with different invitations per event. Players can also enter the gate magic online And this Arena applications; Hall of Fame professionals are allowed one free entry per year. players and others Magic Communities are divided on what all this means.
as Magic As communications director Blake Rasmussen put it, the Pro Tour never really took off. He says that in the Wizards view, the Pro Tour as previously structured had outlived its usefulness and it was time to pivot to meet the players where they were. This meant a more open field where high-level play and mid-level play could coexist, even if it meant changing how the company treated its top players, which formed a circuit called the Pro League. were part.
“We saw the end of the Magic Pro League and the introduction of a comprehensive sporting structure that is as inclusive as possible, providing greater opportunities for people from all over the world to come and play. Magic At whatever level they want,” Rasmussen says.
But for some players, from amateurs like Squalia to professionals like Paulo Vittor Damo da Rosa, the changes over the past four years haven’t been quite positive. Jim Davis, a former pro player-turned-content creator whose YouTube channel focuses on Magic, says that in his view the tournament’s mutation has stripped away the elements of the circuit that made it years worth playing and paying attention to. By lowering the level of competition, he says, Wizards has somewhat “made the old Pro Tour so exciting, which was an ambitious system.”
Davis also feels that the company’s decisions on how to market the competition have been puzzling. He says it’s good to have an event like the Pro Tour to run with people, but in order to develop an audience, there has to be something that grabs their attention.
“People want to play Magic more than they want to see it,” Davis says.
Photo: Clarence Williams/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images
Further changes have made the scenario prohibitive for professionals. The lack of investment in pro-level players – no more free rides for all events, replete with plane tickets and hotel rooms – and the leveling of the competitive environment make the event more suited to players of all skill levels. supposed to make.
“I live in Brazil. Everything is very expensive – it takes me 20, 24 hours to fly,” da Rosa says. “For me to go to a tournament, I think I have to dedicate a lot.”
One of the top players of all time, da Rosa is facing difficulties making it to Brazilian events. While he could play online, to play in real life circuits he would have to play in real life events. Without the support of Wizards, one of the game’s active game legends is going to run into difficulty. “If you do the math, like how much it costs to get there, how much time you have to prepare, what it costs compared to the number of entrants, it’s usually not worth it,” Da Rosa says.
Rasmussen says that where Wizards has focused on pros and pro play in the past, the event will now take a more comprehensive approach involving lower-level players and highlighting their participation. “Our vision has changed to the point that our philosophy is now to serve as many people as possible,” says Rasmussen. “That’s not to say that we don’t value those pro players. That’s not true at all.”
According to Rasmussen, the response to the new tournament structure has been largely positive. The new tour has many players playing in their first event, and while the pre-pandemic crowd is no comparison – it’s still a way off – the Wizards say it is pleased with the enthusiasm it has seen so far.
“We’re seeing a ton of people who are ready to come back,” Rasmussen says. “There’s still going to be, and rightly so, some hesitation in being in a crowd of people, and that’s going to push the numbers down. But despite that, we’re seeing a lot of people coming back.” Doing a little bit of champing.”
Dequan Watson is a content creator whose work focuses on Magic, He is a long-standing player and personality in the community having worked for Wizards and Card Kingdom and at one time was a game store owner. The behind-the-scenes background on the business side may explain Watson’s more measured response to changes made by Wizards – he sees this as a continuation of the company’s need to adjust to meet its audience’s expectations. is trying.
“They have an insane amount of data,” Watson says. “So when people think they know what they’re talking about or wonder why they would make that decision — after being there, I can see stuff from afar.”
For Watson, the new setup is reminiscent of the way the Pro Tour was at the very beginning. Now, players of all skill levels can go online or at their local stores, win events, and work their way up to regionals and tours. “I think it’s easy for people to understand and it’s accessible to a lot of people and it supports your local retailers,” he says. “So I think everyone is winning in this scenario.”
But it’s clear that not everyone thinks they’re winning. With top professionals and amateur players like Da Rosa expressing distaste for the new format because it isn’t providing enough to try, the message hasn’t reached easily. And whether the changes result in a stronger community across the board remains to be seen.