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The Dragon's Den
So, How Good Was It?
By DeQuan Watson - 05.13.05

Well, we were all pretty excited about the situation with Pro Tour Philadelphia. Everyone was looking forward to the new payout system. Did it do what it was supposed to? Well, let's take a look and see.

For starters, I know that everyone was assuming the new payout system would draw a larger number of players to the event. Well, the attendance was good, but it wasn't over the top crazy. There were 311 participants. That seems fair as far as Pro Tours go. However, it also means that it didn't discourage anyone from attending. So that's equally as good I suppose.

Other than the physical number of participants it is definitely need to look at the event and see the names that it did attract. Older players such at Tom Van de Logt were seen slinging spells in Philly. Also, Kai Budde who had slowly been disappearing from the Pro Tour scene, came back strong in this event and got 27th place with a very interesting monoblack build. Now, we don't know for sure if it was the better payout or maybe even the announcement of the Pro Player's Club that drew these old faces back to the big stage, but either way, I think it is slowly achieving the overall goal of what WotC wanted.

Another thing to look at is that more players got paid at this event than any other event. Usually at a Pro Tour event only the top 64 places get paid. And at that, 64th is usually taking home $500. This time around at Pro Tour Philadelphia, Wizards of the Coast was wrote checks to 271 players. That is all but 40 players walking home with a small payout from WotC. Granted, many of those were simply $100 checks, but that is better than the $0 check they would have gotten otherwise. I think more players will be encouraged to try since they get to come back with something tangible from the event.

Now as far as payout, the top two places got about 30% less than they would have won for a normal-paying Pro Tour. This is both good and bad. The bad news is that they end up with less money for a stellar performance. However, they finished high enough to score the needed Pro Tour points to push them up a few levels and get some guaranteed appearance money for future events. That seems like a decent trade off.

All players finishing 38th place and lower saw an increase in payout. So, finishing high, but not strong enough for the GOOD money still got you a sizeable check to take home. There's nothing wrong with this at all. And considering the number of players that god paid, WotC should be happy with this. And truthfully speaking 22nd-37th only got a couple of hundred dollars less than they normally would. One or two hundred dollars is definitely no chump change, but it's worth giving up to make the event as a whole a much larger success.

As far as decks and card choices, we found out that Sakura-Tribe Elder, Sensei's Divining Top, Kodama's Reach, and Umezawa's Jitte were the most played cards of the day. This comes as no surprise really though. Anyone that has played or practiced the format knows that these cards were needed in most decks. What they do for each deck is simply crazy. The card that should go up in value after this event is likely going to be Gifts Ungiven. This card has been good from day one, but many players have overlooked it. Now that the world has seen it used on the grand stage, expect people to start picking these up.

I think the most impressive thing to me is what players decided to do with their sideboards. Cranial Extraction, Wear Away, and Hero's Demise top the list here. Black wasn't a hugely favored color by many going into this event. However, with the help of Sakura-Tribe Elder and Kodama's Reach finding the black mana you need isn't really an issue. It further shows how important those cards are.

Speaking of lands though, there were some interesting developments. Many decks paled the legendary lands of their colors. And some decks didn't really even need them. However, many players felt they were worth having to help kill your opponent's copy of the same land if they did happen to need theirs. Also, it's mildly surprising to see that Tendo Ice Bridge got as much respect from the players as it did. There were 228 players utilizing 736 copies of this card. That's more than 3 copies per person. So they weren't just playing a copy or two, they were relying on these for multicolored mana. It's not a bad idea. It's just something interesting to think about.

And low and behold, ninjas just didn't make that big of an appearance. Players weren't impressed enough to let the ninjas play in the big game. I can't say that I blame them though. Ninjitsu just doesn't do enough in most cases to be worth it in a field of power cards. There was one player that had a decent showing with them, but ninjas were otherwise a let down on the weekend. It just goes to show you that not every ability is great. I think there may still be a way to make use of them, but we may need to wait until Saviors of Kamigawa hits to take advantage of it.

The field as a whole was pretty much what everyone that prepared for the event had expected. White Weenie, Snakes, and even Myojins were seen everywhere. Yes, I said it MYOJINS! These cards aren't useless. This is a block where decks can simply spread their focus and concentrate on getting power cards into play via fast mana and deck manipulation. This doesn't surprise many people though. It's just so different from what we are used to seeing from decks in the hands of skilled players.

On the whole I think the event was a success. Lots of players went home with money in their pockets. There was a lot of diversity in deck construction. Players seemed generally happy with the new Player's Club (several of them leveled up this weekend) and the changes to the Pro Tour are top notch.

Until next time,

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

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