Okay, the US Regionals numbers are in…. And the good news is that apparently Magic is as healthy as ever!
Nearly 5,500 people made the trip Saturday for the chance to make it to Nationals. Attendance was up at many of the events – I know the one I participated in, the Mid-Atlantic, had 530 people, nearly a hundred more players than last year. But while attendance has increased in many areas, the number of qualifying slots for each has remained stagnant. What this means basically is that it’s getting harder and harder to qualify through Regionals every year. Considering that Regionals is such a huge draw for Magic players looking for a way to make it into a Pro event like Nationals, it seems foolhardy not to respond in a positive way to the fans of the game who pour forth so much time and money into Magic. By failing to make adjustments to the Regionals system of qualifying for Nationals, Wizards is risking losing the positive momentum for the game they’ve maintained for so long.
Now, making top 8 at Regionals relies on many factors – including preparation, matchups and a little luck. What I’m going to assume for the sake of argument is that everyone attending Regionals has an equal shot at qualifying. If I’m a resident of Columbus, Ohio, I have a miniscule 1.16% chance of qualifying. On the opposite side of the scale, if I’m a resident of Salt Lake City UT, I’ve got a 4.79% chance of qualifying at the Mountain Regionals. That’s over four times the chances of going to Nationals! Doesn’t that seem wrong? It’s as if Wizards is punishing the areas where Magic thrives by making that Nationals dream, coveted by so many, much more elusive. Regions like the Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, South and Southeast are much more difficult to maneuver than Southwest and Mountain.
Now, every year this issue comes up – and every year, Wizards ignores it. But if enough people chime in about it, they will respond. At least, I like to think they will. Something needs to be done to accommodate the expanding base of the game and reward those areas where player attendance is high. Some folks have suggested flights be run similar to Prereleases, and some have proposed gateway tournaments to qualify for Regionals. I personally advocate attendance-based slots as the easiest and fairest solution to the problem. That way, no matter how many people show up, qualifying slots will be given out to the correct number of people.
Now, there’s probably a more accurate way to determine this based on rounds of Swiss – but I’m going to run my proposal based on 8 slots being awarded to the Regionals based off the Median and Average attendance numbers. If we lay out the eight-slot qualifiers, Florida and North California fall in the middle of the range… So let’s assume they’re setting the standard range of attendance (the Median) for an eight-slot qualifier (359 people). Divide 359 by 8 and we get one slot per 46.25 people.
Then, if we average the attendance of the eight-slot Regionals, we get 382; divided by eight, we get one slot per 47.75 people. I’ll split the difference; so my proposal is that each Regionals event may award up one Nationals invitation for every 47 people (rounded up) who attend.
So what does this mean for Nationals? Is this going to result in a huge flood of scrubs clogging up the gleaming Halls in Orlando? Well, let’s apply my proposal to the actual attendance and see what we get: A hundred and twenty-six people would have qualified, as opposed to the 116 who did so in reality. That’s only ten more people – I don’t think that’s going to unbalance things at Nationals.
Even if the attendance-based qualifying increased attendance at Regionals, having an extra ten or twenty people qualifying should be easily managed and will be a positive influence on the game as a whole. Under my proposed system, Ohio Valley – a hotbed of Magic activity – would be able to send fifteen people to Nationals, a much fairer result for their staggering 688 player attendance. This way, no matter where you went, all things being equal everyone would have somewhere between a 2.16% and a 2.49% chance of qualifying. This is much, much fairer.
% Q’d of Attendees
Proposed % Q’d of Attendees
Please, if this issue matters to you, contact Wizards directly. I think this is something that needs to finally be addressed. It’s time for a change. The current system of Regionals is archaic and unfair; with your help, maybe next year things will be better.