Do you know what my favorite PTQ season is? Longtime readers know it certainly isn’t Block Constructed (nothing like eleven match winless streaks to dampen one’s enthusiasm), but only my close friends know that it’s actually Team Sealed. I love Team season. It takes the best part of Magic (slinging spells with friends), and makes it part of the competitive aspect of the game. Hell, if U.S. Tournament Organizers would start holding the events in pubs so I could drink beer while delivering lumps, Team Sealed would be my version of Magic heaven.
Unfortunately, generic Team events are a pretty rare thing. For some reason, it’s harder to get three guys to show up to play Magic together than it is to get a bunch of solos. Magic players must lack organizational skills or something. (I say this knowing the collection in my closet is an utter mess that still needs to be resorted before Regionals. Ugh.) Aside from the new Team events at Prereleases, we don’t get any Team events locally, so some of us look forward to Team PTQ season with extra enthusiasm.
Unfortunately, the last two seasons, Wizards seems to have screwed us. Softly and gently, sweetly, completely, and discreetly too, but I feel screwage just the same. They didn’t even order me dinner from Zanzibar.
I live in Charlottesville, VA, and during any typical PTQ season there are usually six qualifiers within about three hours of home. This year, there are two Team PTQs within that distance, one in Durham, North Carolina, and the other in a suburb of Washington D.C. Last year was even worse, since I think there was one Q in Baltimore and another in Charlotte (both of which are more than three hours away). In spite of wanting to play in a bunch of Team Q’s last year, I didn’t get to hit a single one. When Team is your favorite season, that sucks.
Now technically, since a Team PTQ qualifies three people instead of one, having only two area qualifiers works out to be the same number of slots, but two Qs where there are usually six is pretty awful. If one of your team members has to work on one of those weekends, you are stuck with one solitary chance to qualify, or you have to find a replacement team member. What it ends up boiling down to is that you wait all friggin’ year for one or two total chances to play in your favorite type of event and then it’s over. It’s rather abrupt, if you ask me…”like a young man, comink in for a qvickie, but I feel so unsatisfied.” It’s all a big joke to Wizards anyway, as they are still up two grand since the last time they stick it in me.
Luckily, this year I’ve also got a Grand Prix in my area to attend (though next year I’ll be back in the same crappy position), so I get an extra shot or two to rack up ratings points and qualify, but the folks out in California have two PTQs for the whole state of one beellion people. Fill in your own butt sex joke here. The strange part is that I’m not the only person who feels this way. Pros and writers everywhere, from BDM to Rob Dougherty to Kai Budde have proclaimed their love for the format, and from a strategic standpoint, Team Rochester is about as complex as it gets. Wizards obviously recognizes community interest in the format, since they added the prerelease flights, but when it comes to the big dance, the results are underwhelming.
Aside: Speaking of the Big Dance, after a 13/16 performance on Day 1, my bracket has been completely destroyed. You’d have to be friggin’ prescient to pick Stanford and Kentucky as second-round losers, and I haven’t developed that skill… yet. As always though, it’s been a great ride.
So how do you fix the problem? I don’t have all the details, but I’m guessing you need to raise the ratings qualification bar again so that you can hold more team qualifiers. Beyond that, who knows. Maybe Wizards has info that says players really aren’t interested in the Team format, but that’s not what I hear from the community, or what Wizards’s own actions would lead me to believe.
While I’m ranting about support, I may as well talk about Virginia Magic for a bit as well. Back when I started playing for the second time (the summer before Invasion was released), you used to be able to find a”$500 Tournament” about once every three months. These tournaments were usually Type Two events, but The End used to hold combo tournaments where the top four players from the Type Two event and the top four players from a Sealed event would be entered into a Top 8 draft for the prizes. The advertisement for these events was that they would give out at least $500 in prizes, with half of it going to the first place finisher in cash (though prize payout was strictly based on attendance. The store wasn’t on the hook if they didn’t get enough people, they simply decreased the prize pool). The events were great, both as preparation for Regionals and States, and also just to get a bunch of people into your store to buy singles, play”Feed the Monkey,” restock trade binders, whatever.
Anyway, about two years ago these events completely dried up, seemingly never to return. No”Mox and a Box” tournies, no”Big Money, No Whammies” events, just spotty Type Two events and Friday Night drafts, Combine that with the fact that most stores don’t seem to sanction events these days, the fact that my local store can barely drum up 8-man drafts once a week, and decreased attendance at our weekly Type Two events, and it seems like Virginia Magic is in a pretty weak place right now. I’d love to see this change, but since I don’t run a store, I’m not really sure how to help out. I’ll gladly take advice those of you with thriving Magic communities though, and I’ll even discuss the best of them in my next article. I may not run a store, but I do have a nice, big soapbox to stand on whenever something needs discussing or ideas need to be disseminated.
On the flip side, my local store recently ran a series of events called”Pro Tour: Charlottesville” that seemed to be a really clever idea. Basically, our Sunday Type Two tournies had the added benefit of generating points for an invitation-only draft that occurred at the end of six weeks of events. Participants received points for merely showing up, and the top four of any event received bonus points for their performances. At the end of six weeks, all points were tallied up and then the Top 8 players were invited to a free draft, with the winner receiving a box. The local Magic scene is down, but Pete Leiher deserves credit for trying to drum up additional interest and excitement. Hopefully he’ll run another one of these during the summer and we’ll see a lot better turn-out.
The Top Ten Reasons Why You SHOULD Be Writing For StarCityGames.com
Last week, Bruce Richard told us why he wasn’t writing for StarCityGames.com, and while I think the article was generally complimentary, I also felt the need to refute it a bit by telling you why you should be writing for SCG. Even before it was my job, I was recruiting scrubs and pros alike to write for Star City, and while my own reasons for writing are too countless to enumerate, I’ll try and give some reasons why you should hit the keyboard a few times with some Magic-related themes.
10) My Stereo Only Goes To Nine
I don’t have a reason number ten. We’re all lazy, we all have a billion other things that we could be doing, and yet every day you find yourself reading information on this here site here. You’re an addict and I’m just a lackey of the dope dealer. I feed your addiction, but at least I’m a little sympathetic, right?
I find the time to write by foregoing other, less important things like breathing, bathing, and watching any form of reality TV that is not called”Queer Eye for The Straight Guy” or does not include Jessica Simpson. I suggest you do the same. Oh, and get a TiVo too, that helps a lot.
9) We all suck, amigo
Magic is a game that is measured almost exclusively by whether you get a win in the last match of the day. That means that if one hundred players show up, ninety-nine of them are going home losers. That’s a lot of people that end up sucking over the course of the day, and plenty of those folks are the ones labeled”Pros.” My personal tales of woe and suckitude have been shared on numerous occasions, and yet that embarrassment never stops me from sharing more of those tales the next time they happen. You can often learn more from other people’s failures than you can from their successes.
8) Mr. Big Name Pro That Will Debut This Week Said You Should
I mean really, who are you to argue with this guy? I only argue with him because it’s my job. And because he’s a punk, but you already knew that, I’m sure.
7) Writing Teaches You The Game
When you write about the game, you tend to learn all sorts of things you didn’t know before. The sources of this knowledge are varied, but a lot of times I have to do some minor research when I’m writing about a subject, and end up learning a great deal in the process. Aside from reading Ask The Judge on a regular basis, writing about the game has probably taught me more than any other single source.
6) Screw the Forum Trolls
You guys just think you hate the forum trolls, but I loathe them. Every time someone makes a critical comment about an article, I have to process it and figure out whether it was something the editor should have fixed or helped out with. A lot of times, there is useful insight buried in the burning rubble, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in the last six months, it’s that you can’t please everybody, and that somebody is always going to be unhappy. Therefore, ignore the idiots that don’t have anything useful for you and move on.
[I’d link to Friday’s Penny Arcade strip here for a perfect picture of what I’m referring to, but they use unsavory language over there that precludes a link to the comic, so I’ll just tell you it’s out there and assume you folks are clever enough to find it on your own.]
5) The Editing
I’m not as good at it as Ferrett was, but when you send an article to us and we decide to publish it, we do our best to make you look good. This doesn’t preclude good writing on your part, but rest assured that whatever you send us will look even better when it hits the front page. We’re kinda like Vidal Sassoon, in that if you don’t look good, we don’t look good. Of course, some articles we publish are akin putting a dress on a dog, but nobody’s perfect.
4) Freedom of Expression
We publish just about anything Magic related, plus a bunch of other stuff, provided the article focuses mostly on the game. This is actually one of the key factors that got me started writing about Magic, and has been a key in keeping me writing. We don’t mind controversial, well-written opinions. In fact, you might even say we love em, as some of our best writers are hellraisers to boot. Just remember that we’re a family site, and you should be fine.
3) You Know Something I Don’t
I’m an arrogant bastard, but I will freely admit that I don’t know everything. In fact, some days I don’t know anything. That’s where you come in. Without all of you folks, there would be no casual/multiplayer articles, no issues articles, and fewer articles about everything else. The vast majority of Featured Writers on this site have come up through the ranks as submissionists first, and then graduated to Featured Writer status along the way. No matter how successful we get, you guys will always be an integral part of what you see published on the page every day. Therefore, when you have something to say, send it in! You are probably telling me something I don’t know, and that sort of thing is always useful.
Particular things that I’d like to know more about right now include Mirrodin/Darksteel Limited, Team events (this is always an underrepresented area, and despite years of pleas, few people ever write much about it. I want the hows, the whys, the theories, and the practical on this subject if you can give it to me, and Mike Turian, I’m calling you out), rogue decks for Regionals, and Regionals decks that don’t work. Things I already know enough about include Ravager Affinity, Mono-White Control, Skullclamp, and receding hairlines.
2) $50 and the Odds
As Bruce pointed out in his article, we tend to publish between eight and ten submissions every week on the main page, and more spill over into the forums on busy weeks. That means that if you are good enough to get published, you have at least a 10% chance of winning fitty dollah. Yes, our standards are high, as that is part of what makes the site so good, but if you read the average submission and think”Hey, I can do better than this,” then you owe it to yourself to give it a go. You may just find that you enjoy writing in general, and writing about your favorite game will be pure gravy.
1) Everybody Wants To Work For The Best
People will probably get uppity about this, but we’re the best Magic site on the net right now, and we’re only getting better. Pros are pretty well aware of this fact these days, and you probably are too, but tell your friends… they might not know. It’s like a big backyard cookout, and the whole freakin’ neighborhood is invited. The first beer is on me, and I’m sure somebody is playing”puff, puff give” out behind the garage.
Think of it this way… you are a baseball player who does not have an irrational hatred for any team owned by George Steinbrenner (meaning you aren’t from New England). You have the opportunity to try out for the Yankees as many times as you want to, and if you do well, you get to play for them. If you are really good, they’ll give you a picture in the media guide, and a regular spot on the starting team, but if nothing else you get at least one game tape to show to your friends, family, and grand kids. How could you not take the chance and try out a few times?
We have some writers that make me smile every time I see a submission from them in my Inbox, because I realize that I’m lucky enough to get to read and edit their writing every day as part of my job. Hanging out on the front page with these folks and seeing your name alongside theirs sounds like a pretty good time to me. Hey, it is a pretty good time, as I get to do it all the time.
Alright kids, that’s all I got. More Team PTQs, better Magic support in Virginia, and keep writing. See you this weekend in Columbus, and if any Pro-caliber player out there is looking for a team in DC or a team is looking for one more good player, drop me a line, as I may have some leads for you.
The Holy Kanoot
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