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If I Ran the DCI – Part Five – Redoing the Pro Tour Formats


One of the bigger things to tackle in terms of redoing the DCI was a determination of the Premier events and what should change there. I’d like to start by saying that the wide variety of formats out there causes a lot of problems for the Premier event circuit. Everyone has his or her favorite format, and everyone wants to see it played at the highest level. That being said though, there are just too many formats to support every year. We have: team sealed, team Rochester, sealed deck, booster draft, Rochester draft, block constructed, standard, extended, type 1.5, and vintage.  Ten formats I can think of off the top of my head. That’s a lot. Some of these formats lend themselves to the pro tour better than others, but even knocking off the obvious “bad formats” (also known as sealed deck); we have eight formats to play with for the premier event circuit.


First let’s go into the schedule I think we should do. The first thing you will notice is a greatly reduced number of ‘high level events.’ I have to admit, I think there are too many grand prix, and it needs to change. While I am sure it is fun for the locals, when the scheduling creates two grand prix on the same weekend, then you are losing the value of it being a special event, and the coverage that goes along with it. The second is a major change in the “road to worlds.” Admittedly my schedule does not cover the worldwide versions of these events, but you can figure out the basics, easy enough from the schedule shown.


Without further ado:


January – Pro Tour

February - Grand Prix

March – Grand Prix and States

April – Pro Tour

May - Grand Prix

June - Grand Prix and Regionals

July – Pro Tour

August – Grand Prix

September – Grand Prix and Nationals

October – Pro Tour

November – Grand Prix

December - Grand Prix and Worlds


Now we have four Pro Tours and eight Grand Prix. Although we now have the events matched up to a calendar year for a year of events, the Grand Prix in November and December will both feed the January Pro Tour. While I would prefer to say that Grand Prix no longer give out Pro Tour Points, if they do, I would make the November and December Grand Prix apply to their calendar year, not to the one the actual Pro Tour they will qualify for will be in.


We also have a nice logical chain from States through Worlds, and yes, I still want States to feed into Regionals. I would be perfectly happy to have it turn into the equivalent of a Grand Prix Trial for Regionals, with the winner getting three byes into Regionals. This makes the chain make a lot more sense (as opposed to states going nowhere), while not making the value of winning so high that it attracts a pro level player will think it is worth the effort to go just to try to win the byes. Of course, I also think that States is not the amateur event Wizards wants it to be. We get all levels of players at our states, and it seems that we are the rule rather than the exception. If Wizards really wants to have an amateur based event, I would think an actual event named Amateur some how would be the way to go, complete with a limit to only amateur players playing in the event. Premiere Organizers get the list right now for the amateur awards for PTQ's, it’s easy enough to print this list and make sure an event is amateur only.


So, what formats should these four Pro Tours be? Well, if we decide we have eight viable formats, it would be easy to just say to cycle through the entire range of formats over a two-year period, but I’m not sure that really does what we want. There are not a lot of good 100% solutions here with the number of Pro Tours, but I really think any more than four feels like too many. That being said, if we stick to four, and we make two constructed and two limited, we’re in a situation where we would possibly only have a booster draft Pro Tour once every two years, which doesn’t seem very fun. Let’s see what a sample two-year schedule would look like:


Pro Tour 1 – 2005    Booster Draft

Pro Tour 2 – 2005            Standard

Pro Tour 3 – 2005    Team Sealed/Rochester

Pro Tour 4 – 2005            Extended

Pro Tour 1 – 2006            Rochester Draft

Pro Tour 2 – 2006    Block Constructed

Pro Tour 3 – 2006    Vintage or Booster Draft if we go two and two a year

Pro Tour 4 – 2006    Type 1.5


That doesn’t look very thrilling. But the main issue is not the limited events; it’s the constructed events. Realistically, the card’s are not there to support a Vintage format Pro Tour, not to mention the fact that a Vintage or even Type 1.5 Pro Tour does not really help promote sales of cards for Wizards. Standard does that better than any thing else, along with block constructed.  Standard will still be good for the Road to Worlds Chain, but the focus really is on Standard, why not do that for the Pro Tour as well. How about a schedule like this?


Pro Tour 1 – 2005    Booster Draft

Pro Tour 2 – 2005            Standard

Pro Tour 3 – 2005    Team Sealed/Rochester

Pro Tour 4 – 2005    Block Constructed

Pro Tour 1 – 2006            Rochester Draft

Pro Tour 2 – 2006            Extended/Vintage/Type 1.5

Pro Tour 3 – 2006    Booster Draft

Pro Tour 4 – 2006            Standard/Block Constructed


Keep in mind this is not necessarily equating to actual dates (Pro Tour 1 –2005 does not have to be in January), but in an overall two-year schedule. Now we have the most popular formats for constructed and limited focused on, but we also have things out there that people will enjoy on different levels, such as Team Sealed, and the Extended/Vintage/Type 1.5 Pro Tour, where we can select the format each cycle based on anticipated metagame and interest in the format.


How do we determine interest in the format? That’s easy, we use the number of sanctioned events for each format. And if one format starts fading and another starts taking over, we switch it out as appropriate. The only reason I picked Block Constructed over Extended for a guaranteed format was that it is likely one of the most play tested formats in R&D (at least I hope it is), and therefore is likely to be one of the most interesting, and also is most likely to promote card sales, which is one of the things we really should keep a focus on when planning these things.


Finally, I have one last change I would prefer to enforce. I would like every PTQ format to match the Pro Tour it is for. If the Pro Tour is going to be Block Constructed, the PTQ format should be as well. More importantly, if the Pro Tour format is Booster draft, the PTQ should be booster draft, not sealed deck. While I find Sealed Deck a very fun format, I don’t think it matches up as a high level format, except in Team Format. While it would take some effort to create a PTQ level Booster Draft system, I don’t think it would be that difficult. Simply enforce cuts based on win loss rations to go down to a maximum of three drafts. Everyone is in the first draft, then a second draft for top X (based on attendance), then a final draft table. Depending on the number of players, it can easily go down to two drafts. Under 64 people, the winner of each table goes to the final table. While this method will be much more susceptible to the seating/pairings it’s well worth it to run it this way to allow for multiple drafts and remove the luck of broken sealed decks.


Well, that’s about to wrap it up for this series. I wanted to write one on the penalty guidelines, and may still, but next week is Pro Tour Seattle, and, knowing me, my thoughts and direction will change by the time I get back from that.


Thanks for reading everyone! See you next week!



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