The Magic Show Special Edition – Planeswalker Points & 2012 Open Series!

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. Today I have a very special show for you. In it we’re going to discuss the upcoming 2012 Open Series scheduling, some changes to the StarCityGames.com Player’s Club, Wizards incredible new Planeswalker Points and the death of the ELO rating system. Let’s go!

Hello everybody and welcome to another edition of the Magic Show. Today I have a very special show for you. In it we’re going to discuss the upcoming 2012 Open Series scheduling, some changes to the StarCityGames.com Player’s Club, Wizards incredible new Planeswalker Points and the death of the ELO rating system. Let’s go!

2012 Open Series & Planeswalker Points!

So today we begin with the incredible changes to our ratings system for Magic. First, let’s talk about why ELO, as a ratings system, is terrible for Magic. So the ELO system was created around 1960 and is the default ranking setup for professional Chess. Now Chess, as we all know, is pretty damn boring. It is this way because it’s a 100% skill game. There is no variance. There are no accidental wins. So in a pure skill environment, a 1900 rated player will beat a 1600 rated player 99% of the time. Just the facts. But in Magic, that doesn’t happen, quite often the opposite because of the very thing that makes Magic awesome: Variance!

But this system is also bad in that it actively discourages you from playing the most Magic you can. Got a sweet rating? Better stop playing so you can get three byes at the GP. Or get invited on rating to the next Pro Tour. Or try to squeak into the World Championships. Once you reach a high enough level, you are discouraged from playing in almost anything, from casual 8-man drafts to FNM.

Well, quite simply, and it’s take us sixteen years or so to get here, but this system sucks, it’s terrible, and it dies TODAY.

Yes, Wizards has announced a new system called Planeswalker Points in an effort to remove any ‘feel bad’ you could ever receive for playing Magic. Quite simply, you should NEVER feel bad for playing Magic. The mantra is: Playing Magic is good. More Magic is good Magic.

Here’s how it works for each event you play in:

You get 3 points for a win.
You get 1 point for a draw or a bye.
You get 0 points for a loss.

Sound familiar? You also get a variety of Participation points based on the event and its attendance. They are also sanctioning EVERY event using this method, even Casual events. However, casual events will only have participation points and not count toward your competitive point total, but still — it counts! Before Planeswalker Points, your Commander games would never count for anything.

But it gets better. Each competitive event has multipliers that it uses to entice you to play in those versus some random 8-man event. FNM provides a 3x Multiplier. So if you get a single win at one FNM, you earn NINE points instead of three, as there is a multiplier involved.

At PTQs? The multiplier is 5x. Grand Prixs and Nationals? 8x. Pro Tours? TWELVE-x.

But why are Planeswalker Points important? Because apart from PTQ winners, they are now the only way to make the Pro Tour.

It’s okay, I’ll give you a minute to let that soak. That means that those who crush FNMs now have a chance to battle at the Pro Tour! But here’s the best part: Whereas Pros were nothing but discouraged to play FNM in the previous ELO system, they are now 100% ENCOURAGED to battle at FNMs! Not only is there no ‘feel bad’ involved, it actually helps you stay on the tour to play FNM. This, alone, is a mark of brilliance. But let’s continue.

This point thing. First, you have a lifetime total that will go on forever and you are ranked from a Level 1 Prodigy to a Level 60 Archmage. Not that these “mean” anything per se, but hey, sick brags right? Want to see the highest ever? Say hello to Hall of Famer Olivier Ruel and his almost sixty-five THOUSAND Planeswalker Points. Archmage indeed. How about mine? Yeah, not quite as impressive being a mere Sorcerer. Sure, I have over a tenth of his points…that counts…right?

Anyway, now that we’re earning points at these events, how do they cull players for the Pro Tour? Let’s break it down.

First, PTQ winners get an invite and a plane ticket. Seems obvious. Second, we take 35 of the remaining players off the top of the point standings like this:

– Top 10 point totals from the United States
– Top 10 point totals from Europe
– Top 5 from APAC
– Top 5 from Japan
– Top 5 from Latin America

Those 35 players all get invites and plane tickets to the Pro Tour. Up next? The remaining 65 players, based on point totals, that aren’t PTQ winners or Hall of Famers, get plane tickets and invites.

Yup, everyone gets plane tickets who are among the lucky 100 top point holders. Not just invites, but plane tickets around the world to awesome locations.

What about Grand Prix byes? These will be doled out when the season ends with the Top 300 point earners getting 3 byes at all GPs in the upcoming season, the Top 2,000 players will get two byes, and the Top 15,000(!) get 1 bye at each Grand Prix. This wide-reaching net will provide tons of players all over the world who battle in small competitive events the encouragement to go battle with the big boys at the GP.

But these Planeswalker Points, what would they actually look like if they impacted, say, Pro Tour Philadelphia that just happened? What if that tournament had been determined by this point system. Let’s look at the top standings.

Notice something? Hrm. Martin Juza, known professional player who has consistently done well at large events which now feature big multipliers, is seated nicely at the top. But there’s Alex Bertoncini, Nicholas Spagnolo, Caleb Durward and Edgar Flores right behind him. And whose in 9th place? Mary Jacobson! Yes, SCG Open Series Top 8 and regular Top 16’er, she has battled her way through the series and local FNMs to be in the Top 10 point earners of the entire season. Hey look, there’s Pat Cox our last Invitational winner. Looking for more ringers? There’s rising star Chris VanMeter and Christian Valenti.

I have a few more examples to get a better grip here. Here’s Ben Stark’s Pro Tour Paris winning run. Check out the participation points. Because of the size of the Pro Tour, there is a 6x multiplier on the participation point. So six times twelve equals 72 points just for showing up. Then you get a whopping 36 points for each win. Fifteen rounds later, an incredible 624 points total thanks to the Top 8 bonus, and we have the following points earned for the event: Competitive, Lifetime and…Professional?

Yup, you earn Competitive points by playing in Competitive events. But you ALSO earn Professional points by playing in professional events, that is Grand Prixs, Nationals and Pro Tours. These events totals are tracked separately, and those totals get you invited to the World Championships. See how it all ties together now?

For Worlds, they haven’t released the invite details, but they have specified that Planeswalker Points are involved, aka these Professional Points, and we’re still waiting for the final specs.

But they didn’t stop there. If you can slice GP and PT points for Worlds, why can’t you slice and dice…FNM points? And that’s exactly what they’re doing! We’re talking the Top 100 FNM players of the year battling it out at a special tournament WotC is going to cook up in 2012. Now THIS is friggin brilliant. Not only is it never a bad thing to play at FNM any longer, it is now going to be something you can specialize in, and be rewarded for! Married with kids? I hear ya. Got one night a week to battle? Wizards is ready to reward you, and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

So. Wow. Now that’s a hell of a new system. All of those guys who sat on their rating for months to get a few byes at their local Grand Prix or ensure an invite to Nationals? They played less competitive Magic during those periods, certainly less paper Magic, and as such when it finally came time to battle in that Grand Prix or Nationals my guess is their play suffered as a result. Now it’s good for them to play in Friday Night Magic, it’s good for them to hop in the draft, it’s good for them to not ever have to worry about a ‘ratings cutoff’ and dropping out of an event at 3-0 because one loss could screw up their trajectory. That’s just…it’s madness.

It’s crazy that it took us over 15 years to get rid of the ‘feel bad’ of playing Magic once you reach a certain level of play. But we’re here. And Wizards got it right. And if someone wants to ‘break the system’, go for it! Because the only way to ‘break it’ is to play your butt off, and since when did people playing lots of Magic ever be a bad thing? Event type multipliers balance all of those who try to ‘game’ it in any way, and as such we’ll have a whole new way of looking at old tournament data and a new yardstick to track our Magic careers.

So that’s the WotC news. Now let’s talk the Open Series in 2012. The world’s biggest Magic retailer has the world’s biggest independent tournament series and it’s getting bigger and better next year.

First up, the Player’s Club. Now as you and I know, we have thousands of players getting thousands of rewards just by showing up and battling at our events. This is not going to change. That said, what rewards you get -are- changing a bit. This allows me to debut a brand new product we’ve been working on for about six months now.

Check out our new Tribal Deckboxes and Sleeves! Yes, these things are awesome. With brand new art by pop artist Justin Treadway, these beautiful deckboxes and sleeves are comprised of eight completely separate tribes. We have the Angels, Merfolk, Vampires, Goblins, Dragons, Faeries, Elves and Squirrels! Yes, Squirrels, and yes that IS the people’s eyebrow and that IS sweet.

So these deckboxes are what you’ll receive at Level 1, but what happens at Level 2? You get the brand spankin new Open Series sleeves! Yes, the ultimate winner pose against the classic SCGLive Open Series backdrop adorns each one.

These deckboxes and sleeves will of course be on sale on StarCityGames.com the instant they arrive in the warehouse, and I hope you like them as much as we do.

Level 3, at 20 points, is a $25 voucher for the sales booth at the show that’s good all weekend. Need the last few cards for your deck? Use this to get what you need or get a significant chunk taken away from an investment in a dual land or other money cards. Level 4, at 40 points, doubles this, as you’ll then get a FIFTY dollar voucher to use at the sales booth at every Open Weekend.

Level 5 2012 Player’s Club members, requiring 60 points, get invited to every SCG Invitational for the year AND receive a 1-round bye at those events.

Level 6’s? You’re getting a TWO round bye at every SCG Invitational for the year!

Now while we are sunsetting higher level rewards such as appearance fees and free sets, those who earn free sets this year, in 2011, by making Level 8 before the end of the year, WILL continue to receive 4x sets of each new Standard-legal release in 2012, just as we had promised weeks ago.

Next up, let’s take a look at the 2012 1st Quarter Open Series schedule! Yup, that IS every weekend but the Dark Ascension Prerelease featuring an Open Series event, and we ARE going everywhere in the upcoming year.

Now for the big news: StarCityGames.com Invitationals each offer $50,000 prize
payouts, and as you know are largely regarded as some of the best EV tournaments in the world. And in 2012, there will be FOUR of them… one on the west coast, one in the midwest, one in the northeast and one in the southeast!

So we’ve got Planeswalker Points, SCG Open Series events becoming one of the BEST ways to qualify for the Pro Tour, a jam-packed SCG Open Series 1st quarter schedule, and FOUR SCG Invitationals coming in 2012! No doubt about it: It’s a hell of a time to be a competitive Magic player. Got questions? Visit StarCityGames.com/OpenSeries to get all the nitty gritty details, including the rest of our upcoming schedule and more.

Until next time Magic players, this is Evan Erwin. Tapping the cards…so you don’t have to!

Evan “misterorange” Erwin