Friday and Saturday nights have always been the big nights out for us in Bath; a chance to kick back and enjoy ourselves without the threat of working the next day under the spectre of a hangover. But last weekend, I spent my days inside watching my computer screen, running back and refreshing the pages every ten minutes waiting for the next update. Why?
There’s something about the Worlds or a Pro Tour that grabs me. The thought of the names and faces I know from the internet battling it out for the final prize, wanting to see how my friends that have made it are doing, and hearing about great plays by even greater players.
Even when I’m down on Magic, when I haven’t got the time for it or something non-Magical has captured my attention for a while, Worlds or a PT gets the Magical thoughts flowing through my head again. They give me an injection of often much-needed Magical drive — a reason to care enough to practice and do well.
The coverage at these top events has been done quite well for some time now. The only problems we noticed over last weekend were occasional glitches caused (I think) by the load on Wizards’ web servers. Between two and four match reports a round keeps me reading and interested as I wait for the next update, and photos remind me of the faces I should be attaching to names I read about every week.
Can the coverage be better?
Well, a ticker for up-to-the-minute news would be good. The delay in updates while Dave Williams’ deck was examined and a decision made could have been announced; a simple”The tournament has been delayed while a judge ruling is being made” would have helped, perhaps with a guess at how long it might take. It would certainly have stopped me being quite as annoyed as I kept going back to the site, only for it not to have changed. You could announce who the feature matches are before they have been written up, or even how the 1700 flag players are doing.
Chat rooms are another possibility, but difficult to manage. The players will be playing, the judges judging – so who would run them and what would they talk about. They could be a useful forum for getting deck tech out to people quickly, but an extra two hours will rarely make a difference to the rest of the world. Announce rooms would offer much the same service as a ticker. Players that drop out could drop into the rooms, but who wants to chat about why they just lost straight away – I normally go and eat something until I feel better.
One suggestion in the past has been IRC transcripts of feature matches. I personally think that that will be difficult to do without annoying the players too much – but maybe some system could be worked out.
The weekend, all in all, was great for me – and I wasn’t even there. I watched how all the UK players were doing, and going into the final rounds we were all willing on John Ormerod, our highest placed player, to keep winning – and we scrabbled for the results as soon as they were up. I can only imagine what it must be like to be a spectator at Worlds, never mind play there!
From a strategy point of view, I always like to see the Type II decks and Extended decks to see how new cards are fitting in and how new deck archetypes are doing. Little B/W control appeared in Toronto, but it’s now one of the most popular decks in Bath. Fires did well. People put Spiritmonger in Fires (surprise, surprise). Probe-Go gained Vindicate and lots of the new pain lands were used. I was overjoyed to see so many U/G Opposition decks. Saproling Burt was one of the decks I liked the most from US Nationals; I’ve been playtesting against it since then, and it’s nice to see how the pros have evolved it to solve some of the problems it has. I’m sure I’ll see it played in Bath before the Masques block rotates out in November.
At the end of the day, I think Worlds and the Pro Tour do their job admirably. They offer a great attraction to the mass of pro-wannabes out there, a reason to keep plugging away, a reason to keep spending all that money on small bits of cardboard.
So with a new job under my belt. I’m working out how to do all the things I used to do when I had a little more time. Magic is right at the top of the list, followed by writing about it.
Next week: A few Type II ideas to play before Masques rotates out for good.
Cheers, Jim Grimmett.