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Name:
DeQuan Watson

    Many readers have gathered a lot of information about me through my writings.  For those of you that haven't though, this should tell you a little more. 

    I'm 25 years old and I own my own business. Well, more accurately I own a game store.  The Game Closet, my store, is one of the premiere places to play in the Texas.  I play Magic on a pretty regular basis.  I help people build decks and teach the game to people multiple times a week.  Owning a store is neat, because it gives me another perspective to write my articles from.  I can usually tell what the average player likes and can judge some of the tendencies of the average player a little better.  Of course, owning a store means I have knowledge of a lot of games and not just Magic.  I also find out my fair share of insider information on the industry.  But having other resources to pull from makes for more informative writings.

    However, I know a decent bit about pro level play as well.  I myself have
played on the Pro Tour.  I have multiple Top 8 finishes at Pro Tour Qualifiers.  I also have made Day Two at two Grand Prix tournaments.  I have also been invited to the Event horizons Invitational.  These are not stellar achievements, but high enough to let you know I have my head on straight when talking about the game. I also spend lots of time each week talking to, e-mailing, or chatting with top level players.  I get to see their perspective on a lot of things as well.  Between the two, I think I get a good sense of balance of the game.

    Most importantly, I still enjoy the game for the sake of the game itself.  I like the time, the competition, and the general interaction of players.  I plan to be playing it until it fades away...if it ever does.

 

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The Dragon's Den

More Invites to the Dance
By DeQuan Watson - February 11, 2008

My life's finally slowed down a bit (relatively speaking) and I've starting to hunker down and work on MTG stuff a bit more.  This is a good thing, because Magic tends to be a sense of creative release for me.  It's almost therapeutic.  But, this article isn't being put before you to discuss me and my personal life issues. I wanted to talk about the biggest subject in our game: the Pro Tour.
 
I'm fine with the changes they are making.  I know some people have problems with the changes, but that doesn't really bother me near as much as other people.  I'm more concerned about the qualifier situation.  After all, more MTG players will be involved with the qualifier portion of the program than the actual tour itself.
 
For instance, this past weekend in Dallas, we had 161 participants in a Pro Tour Qualifier.  And of that group, only 1 single person is going to qualify for the Pro Tour.  That's 8 long rounds.  There were two players that went 6-1-1 and missed the cut to the top 8.  That's tough.  It's unfortunate.  It has to happen to someone.  But it seems a bit skewed for no reason.
 
Why are we only qualifying one player for the Tour?  What would we hurt by qualifying more than one player?  Is it that simple?  Are there any real costs that cause issues for WotC?  There has to be a reason, right?  Even the PGA tour as a qualifier school tournament twice a year that qualifies multiple people for the tour. 
 
Now, don't get this twisted.  I'm not asking for Wizards of the Coast to come along for the ride and front the bill for a bunch of extra airfares.  I'm just saying we should hand out a few more invites.  And believe me, this plan isn't without merit.  Let's take a look at some of the positive aspects to qualifying extra players.
 
There are people that don't go to qualifiers currently, because it's a near statistical impossibility for them to qualify.  Well, we all know that not everyone can win a seat.  Let's not get silly.  But, why not offer seats based on a sliding scale.  It wouldn't have to be drastic.  Just create a system that would allow an event to potentially qualify up to four players.  Based the number of invites on attendance.  A system similar to the following could work:
 
# of players                # of invites
0 - 75                             1
76 - 125                          2
126 +                             4
 
This would leave the average PTQ giving out at least two invites.  That's not unreal.  The players still have something to play out the tournament for as well, because only the winner will be getting the airfare package.  That would make everyone excited about PTQs again.  Believe me, I've been in the finals and Top 4 several times and it's always a bit frustrated to do well for 7-9 rounds and have one bad match and your days over with no invite.
 
It's also a way to promote the game and The Pro tour without spending any more money.  You are simply adding a few more names to the invite list.  It costs virtually nothing.  More people get invites, more people are excited, the Pro Tour gets more people to show up.
 
I would think that Pro Tour players would be excited by this as well.  The reality is that more players would show up to the event that may have just gotten lucky a couple of times and gotten in.  With more people playing in a Tour event, the pros won't be bumping heads and often and will have a much better chance of climbing the standings.  Obviously, not all of the players would be "lucky ducks."  And for that matter, many of them that qualified may not show up, because they can't afford the trip.  The only thing WotC would have to do is prepare extra seats and table numbers for a larger potential number of players.  The cost of that isn't that bad on the whole.
 
And for those of you that don't know, sometimes when you set up events with large venues, you can get a small bit of a kickback from selling a bunch of room sin your room block.  This means there's a slight chance of WotC making a few more bucks off of each event.  Sure, it's not a lot of money when you compare the bottom line, but it's still a little more to the bottom line.
 
But, while we're on the subject, there are a few other ways for money to be generated.  Just the simple mass of people at Pro Tour generate large amounts of sales.  Imagine if we were able to even increase attendance at the Pro tour by 20%.  Some of those extra people will likely bring friends and/or family along with them.  Those are more people that can spend money.  You'll get more people playing in side events, drafts, and the Sunday PTQ.  That's all extra money for WotC.  It might even generate a few more sales for the artists at the events.
 
The only potential downside is that tournament organizers of the PTQs will lose a few bodies toward the ends of a qualifier season, because there would be a few more players qualified.  But honestly, that would hopefully be partially offset by more players attending because of higher odds to qualify.  But honestly, the goodwill and excitement these events should generate under the new format should be worth the 12-16 bodies a TO would potentially be missing late in the season.
 
I've exchanged a few e-mails with different people and I've discussed this subject at length with a few more.  And no one seems to have a good reason or explanation as to why each PTQ only qualifies one player.  I'm sure WotC has some logic.  But, it might be time for that reasoning to be revisited.  Magic is seeing more players than ever it seems and many PTQs (especially constructed ones) are seeing some really large numbers.
 
As it is now, the only positive I can see is that the winner of a PTQ has a huge sense of achievement and accomplishment.  And they damn well should.  Some of them are facing off against the largest fields they've ever been part of outside of a Grand Prix.  That really means something.  It can also do a lot to raise your self respect and confidence.  But, I don't think that's reduced any under the system I've proposed.  The winner will still have beaten a huge field of players to earn the travel award.  It just leaves the 2nd (and potentially 3rd and 4th) place player with some positive vibes. 
 
It would also add a little bit of parody to the qualifier system.  It's a bit unfortunate that the players in a 50-65 person event are playing for the exact same things that players in a 120 person event are playing for.  That just doesn't seem fair.  In the basic scheme of things, I'm sure it's fair.  Thing about relative finishes though.  Isn't finishing 2nd in a 120 person event AT LEAST as good as winning a 60-70 person event?  I'm sure that's debatable, but those two accomplishments may not be as different as they seem at first glance.
 
Again, I'm not trying to revamp the system.  I'm just trying to help create a better system and create discussion on how to better the qualifier system while strengthening the Pro Tour.  This is such a simple idea that could have large long term effects.  It doesn't hurt the system at all.  It creates more excitement.  And it costs Wizards of the Coast nothing.  At the very least, they should at least give it a shot for a year and see how the players react to the new format.
 
Anyway, expect to see more from me in the near future.  I'll try to stay off the deep thoughts and rants and stay more toward the entertainment aspects.  And of course, I'll have a few more decklists for you from time to time.
 
Until next time,
 
DeQuan 
a.k.a. PowrDragn
PowrDragn at Pojo dot com 
 

 

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