The Pro Tour is one of the most anticipated events in all of competitive Magic. This is an opportunity for competitive hopefuls to advance to the World Championship stage and have their names engraved in MTG history. Recently, Wizards of the Coast revamped the paper competitive play experience, offering a round of Regional Championships that feed into the piece Pro Tour. Playing in these Regional Championships myself, I am happy to state that it is a powerful change. One glaring issue, however, between the Pro Tour and Regional Championship levels of play is that the Pro Tour is much less accessible to the majority of the player base, and not just because the event is difficult to qualify for.
The Price of Qualification
Getting to the Pro Tour level is no easy feat. Whether it’s getting a top result in a Regional Championship or actually winning one of those impossible Arena Qualifier Weekends, very few players manage to get this far. As a result, the Pro Tour is indeed a gathering of many of the best MTG players in the world. As such, unlike the Regional Championships, only one Pro Tour event is held per season. This makes commuting to the Pro Tour much more difficult for players outside the country it is being hosted in. This directly resulted in many qualified players’ intentions to skip the Pro Tour. The cost of travel was not worth it.
In an attempt to make travel fares a bit more palatable, some changes were made to the prize breakdown at Pro Tour Philadelphia coming up in February. The minimum payout for this event has been upped to $1000. While this doesn’t completely fix the expensive flight issue, it should make traveling to attend the Pro Tour a bit easier.
A Happy Medium
While flight support to get players to the Pro Tour may have been more appropriate, this approach is a more balanced if that support impacts the prize pool. As mentioned by Twitter user marcelangelo, a change in prize pool support is also a good thing for the North American players that will buster out. It does, however, end up being a bit worse for players who have to travel great distances to participate. Notably, the ‘flight support’ mentioned here pertains to past Pro Tour events. There was no flight support set up for this one, so this is strictly a net positive in that sense.
Even though prize support better suits those traveling to the Pro Tour, that doesn’t make it any less expensive. Multiple accounts from one commenter expand on just how egregious flights are from foreign countries to the U.S. While the situation may still not quite be ideal, they are definitely a lot better, as many of the players who were not considering attending the Pro Tour event are now attending because it is a lot more affordable.
A Game for the Players
Hopefully, the Pro Tour will be quite successful. If Wizards of the Coast get a lot of feedback regarding a boost in excitement and attendance due to accessibility, they may consider applying more across the MTG brand. While we do not know exactly what happened to the 30th Anniversary Edition sales, there is a lot of trends that suggests the sale went worse than expected. A major reason for the product’s controversial reception was the prohibitive price tag that priced out almost the entire MTG community from participating in it. Hopefully, if more attempts to include as much of the playerbase as possible prove successful for the game, a healthier culture of player inclusion will continue to permeate future product.