Regionals Follow Up, Pt 1
Regionals are finally behind us. Now players look forward to the upcoming Standard environment with 7th edition, and soon, the new set, Apocalypse.
Before we get that far, there are some things I wanted to talk about in regards to Regionals. Of course, we’ll leave my own 3-3 and drop record out of the mix of things to be discussed.
First of all, some of you may have seen the article by Brian Kibler on The Sideboard about the new version of The Red Zone (if you haven’t, you can still find it on http://www.wizards.com/sideboard). A joke was made up a few years ago about the effect of online Magic on the tournament playing scene that was penned by, I believe, Alex Schvartzman. When talking to an opponent after a match, the comment was made “Well, of course I won. I copied my deck off The Dojo last night, you copied yours last week!” This joke was meant to be a jab at the people who strictly copied decks off of online resources and sat down to play them with little or no play testing.
Wizards of the Coast has long supported, for obvious reasons, the strengths of Magic as an “intellectual sport”. The have supported the good players who work hard at improving at this game, and strived to make resources available to make players who want to be good able to improve.
So why, then, did Wizards of the Coast post an article on a relatively popular deck by one of its more popular writers literally the night before Regionals? The only thing that this accomplishes is it encourages bad play. It encourages weaker players to switch decks the night before the biggest tournament of the year and take a relatively untested deck into eight to 10 rounds of swiss play.
Simply put, shame on you WotC. I have asked around and know that the article was in WotC’s hands well before Regionals and could have been posted several days prior to the event, as opposed to the night before. If you want to increase the reach of Magic as an “intellectual sport”, you really should be careful when making decisions like this that could have affect on the game. Granted, this isn’t an earth-shattering event, but I’m hoping that WotC will take notice and keep this in mind in the future.
That said, I’m not just here to complain. Let’s all stop for a second and give WotC a round of applause. Regionals brought in 418+ players here in Dallas. In the Northeast I heard as many as 500 people attended some Regionals. Turnouts were absolutely huge everywhere in the US from what I have heard. Why are we congratulating WotC for this? Huge turnouts at this event means that Magic is fun again. People are enjoying playing as much as they ever have due to a good balance in the cards and sets currently in the environment. My local stores all had increased attendendance and interest in their weekly Standard tournaments, and that surge shined through at Regionals.
Oh and for you self-righteous players out there, don’t underestimate the impact of Pokemon on this trend towards larger events. Pokemon may be a game for younger people, but many of those younger people have graduated into Magic, and that growth has shown its first major signs at Regionals this year.
Finally, a thought on making Regionals better for next year. Let’s see some way to make it more worthwhile for players who show up at Regionals. While prizes fell all the way to the Top 32 here in Dallas, with each of the top 16 getting a full box of product, still only eight of over 400 players will get a shot at Nationals. This was pretty reasonable when Regionals only pulled 200-250 players, but it seems a bit sparse now. How about a “sliding scale” system of offering more spots according to attendance? For example, every Regionals gets eight slots for Nationals automatically, but if attendance is over 300, then add another slot for every, say, 25 people. So this year at Dallas, it would have meant 12 or 13 people qualified for Nationals. The US Nationals tournament is a relatively small event for a premiere event anyway, adding an extra 50 or 60 people wouldn’t hurt a thing.
Overall, I thought this year’s Regionals was a blast in spite of conditions that were a bit overcrowded. The format was fun, most people were relaxed, and it was great to see all the people whom I haven’t seen in a long time at the event. Let’s hope this is a good harbinger of things to come for Magic!