distorted curiosity
30, Jan, 23

Wizards' Latest Change May Be The End of Multiple MTG Formats!

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Article at a Glance

Competitive MTG players are discussing the impact of a recent change to future seasons of tournament play. Wizards of the Coast revived their Pro Tour circuit with a few changes to support MTG’s traditional play. These changes involve the Regional Championship Qualifier system, which grants an accessible starting point for players wanting to engage in competitive paper magic. The latest change to this system could threaten to end some MTG formats as we know them.

True-To-Format Regional Qualifier System

For competitive hopefuls who want to engrave their name in competitive MTG history, the Regional Qualifier system is the best way to do so. Just show up to your local game store and play some games of Magic. Through honing your skills, you can even become your local expert and compete at the next level!

Wizards of the Coast’s recent announcement was done in a way to make things more accessible to everyone. In the past, stores would run their Regional Championship Qualifiers in the most popular MTG format in the area. This, generally, meant that the format being played at the Regional Championship event players are fighting to qualify for would be different from the format actually being played at the qualifier. With this current season, for example, the championship being qualified for is a Pioneer event, but the format of choice for qualifiers is overwhelmingly Modern.

According to the PlayMTG Twitter account that posted this upcoming change, the bigger reason this change is occurring is that players had difficulty keeping up with multiple formats within one qualifying season. Chances are, whatever format is prevalent in your area is the format that a majority of qualifiers would feature. If that happens to be a different format than the tournament you qualified for (which was a very common occurrence), then players needed to learn multiple formats to keep up. The change to one format per season should, according to PlayMTG, allow the ‘barrier to entry’ for new players interested in competing to be a lot lower. Anyone who wants to compete only needs to learn one format per season.

Will This Ruin LGS Turnouts?

Even though this was announced rather recently as of the writing of this article, PlayMTG’s upcoming changes have many MTG players concerned about the health of their competitive community. Communities tend to skew towards specific formats, and while unifying the competitive circuit to focus in on one format does make the barrier to entry for newer players to be more palatable, it could also damage the turnout of local players at these competitive events:

“The slow erasure of Modern begins. @PlayMTG please rethink this.” – @PeezyGG

“This is actually terrible for LGS’s, as modern is the most predominant format and hosts the highest # of players. You’re actually killing LGS attendance for these events, but that’s par for the course for Wizards of the Coast these days.” – @RandomOctopus21

Is This More Easily Accessible?

While there is a camp of players worried that this could ruin RCQ turnouts in their area, another subset of players are really happy about the change as, instead of learning multiple formats at the same time to keep up, competitive hopefuls can now afford to turn all their attention towards one MTG format:

“Great change, it was a little absurd to ask players who wanted to play as many RCQs as possible in a given season to constantly switch decks unless they already had an extensive collection. As long as the RC matches the qualifier format, A+” – @d00mwake

“This is good. While letting each store do what their players want had upsides, competitive magic felt way too incongruent. Having each season be 1 format allows competitive players to follow content, share information, test, learn and compete.” – @BenS_MTG

Learning multiple formats can make a local tournament circuit much more challenging to keep up with. While you may need to learn Modern for a local tournament one weekend, next weekend’s available tournament may be Pioneer. This may require buying, building, and learning two different decks for players who want their best chance at winning a Regional Qualifier. This change is great in the sense that it unifies the multiple format issue seen across qualifier events, allowing a player to invest in just one deck (at minimum) to stay relevant across qualifier tournaments for the entire season. The skills you hone through your qualifier experiences can also be used at the tournament you qualified for.

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Is This The End of Modern?

While some are excited about uniting the narrative between qualifiers and Regional Championships, other MTG players are worried that all other two-player formats will be thrown to the wayside for the duration of the competitive season. MTG personality Andrea Mengucci, for example, primarily spends his time making content themed around the format Modern. Seeing the competitive viability of this fan-favorite format fade could mark the end of the format.

Fortunately, for the many diehard Modern fans out there, Wizards of the Coast has reassured us that killing Modern was not part of its agenda. There will be a Regional Championship season coming up that is entirely dedicated to Modern. Considering that the upcoming Tales of Middle-Earth set is a direct-to-Modern set, this makes a lot of sense. This change may, however, take some interest from Modern and redistribute it to other formats. The effect this will have on RCQ turnout has yet to be determined.

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No One Knows How This Will End

As the comical response to PlayMTG’s statement above highlights, the MTG community doesn’t have a set opinion on how this will end. While some players heavily invested in specific MTG formats may not have a lot of tournaments to play every season, players driven to perform competitively will have a much easier time staying relevant between qualifier weekends since all the formats will become much more unified. As stated, the biggest worry against unifying tournaments is the potential to damage off-season MTG formats and the risk of a lower turnout to the majority of competitive events as a response to, potentially, ignoring the most-played formats in each community. Whatever ends up happening as a result of these changes will be difficult to predict, but the health of some MTG formats, and local store scenes, may be in the balance. For those interested in pursuing this topic further, PlayMTG has stated that more details are to be announced on February seventh.

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