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The Dragon's Den
Now you can be a pro.
By DeQuan Watson - 05.05.05

Obviously you've all known that you could make to the Pro Tour and get paid to play this game that you love.  Well this past Monday, Wizards of the Cost made the deal a lot better.  That added a lot to the glitz and glamour of the Pro Tour.  So if you didn't want to make it before, you definitely want to make it now.
This whole deal actually started back a few months ago.  Wizards of trying to figure out a way to increase the aura and allure of the Pro Tour.  Many people believed that WotC was worried about the effect that the game of poker was starting to have on the game, but I don't think that problem is as big as they think.  We'll get to that later though. 
Anyway, a recently while back (if that's a term) WotC got this great idea to have a player's lounge added to each Pro Tour event.  This would allow the players to be treated like the professionals that they were.  The players lounge includes free drinks and snacks.  It also has wireless internet access and even long distance calling service.  The players lounge is the ultimate area to relax and hang out between rounds.  It's almost like the equivalent of a clubhouse style place on a PGA (professional golfer's association) stop.
The players seemed please with this new development.  This has established nothing but a positive response from the pros.  So, Wizards is moving in the right direction.  They didn't want to stop there though.  They wanted their professional players to get the best possible treatment.
Well, this week they announced the creation of the Player's Club membership.  There is no fee for this, but it comes with some AMAZING benefits.  All players have to do is accumulate pro tour points and they get more benefits as they gain more.  They have things broken into levels to make it easy to track your benefits.  Here's the breakdown of each level:

Level 1

  • Players get one bye at all Grand Prix

Level 2

  • Players get two byes at all Grand Prix
  • Players are invited to their country's national championship

Level 3

Everything listed before, plus ...

  • Players get three byes at all Grand Prix
  • Players are invited to all Pro Tours, including Worlds
  • Players get a $500 appearance fee whenever they compete in a Pro Tour/Worlds

Level 4

Everything listed before, plus ...

  • Free airfare to one Pro Tour/Worlds of the player's choice during the current season
  • Pro Tour appearance fee raised to $1000

Level 5

Everything listed before, plus ...

  • Free airfare to all Pro Tours and Worlds
  • Pro Tour appearance fee raised to $1500
  • $250 appearance fee whenever the player competes in a Grand Prix

Level 6

Everything listed before, plus ...

  • Free hotel room at all Pro Tours and Worlds
  • Pro Tour appearance fee raised to $2000
  • Grand Prix appearance fee raised to $500


And here is the breakdown on points for each level threshold:


  • Level 1: 1 point
  • Level 2: 10 points
  • Level 3: 20 points
  • Level 4: 30 points
  • Level 5: 45 points
  • Level 6: 60 points

It's not easy to gain the higher levels on a setup like this, but that's OK.  It rewards good, consistent performance.  Realistically, everyone's goal should be to reach level 3.  That's 20 pro tour points.  Now, this is no small feat in and of itself, but it is definitely achievable. 

I think there are a lot of benefits to a system like this.  The largest is that it absolutely creates a set of professional players.  Before, the players were considered professionals by definition.  This new system allows players to make enough money to actually attend each event.  Once you reach level 3, you are guaranteed a set fee at each event.  That is income that you can effectively count on for a full year.

On top of that, it encourages the top players to keep showing up.  Consider the fact that simply attending each Pro Tour gets you essentially 10 points for the year.  That gives you a huge jump on your goal.  At that points you just need a couple of finishes in the ballpark of 48 or better and you're set for the next year at level 3.  Or you can show up to all of them and get one strong finish of top 16 or better and you are golden.  This makes players want to go to each event.

The reason they will likely attend is that now the travel expenses become negligible. The players now know that their travel expenses are nearly covered completely.  So this is a great deal for everyone.  If you have to travel far, you would need to come up with a few extra dollars, but even then, you are still much better off.  This takes away almost any excuse that some one would have to not attend an event. 

And finally, I think it keep WotC as the front runner in professional level events in the realm of gaming.  They were the leaders and they want to keep being the leaders and the innovators.  I don't blame them.  They have the number one game, so why shouldn't they have the number on professional level event.  This helps push the bar for other game manufacturers to follow.  Now, at the very least, you have to offer a bunch of other incentives outside of just cash to draw attention.  This could start some interesting and strong competition. 

If it does, great.  The people who benefit most are the players.

Now, I can't wait for the announcement later this year from WotC about what non-professional players get.


DeQuan Watson
a.k.a. PowrDragn at Pojo dot Com

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