The current state of PPTQs in the eyes of a Level 2 Judge by Paul Crosby
Around twelve months ago Wizards of the Coast announced their planned changes to their organised play structure, mainly the path to the Pro Tour. As always the changes where met with mixed opinions from players and stores alike. These changes meant that we moved from 200-300 player mammoth events that where bad both for players and judges, to more localized events, qualifying you for a regional PPTQ.
This system has been in place for two seasons now and we are starting to see some problems. TOs, Players and Judges all have their own issues with the current system, and I think its about time we have an open and honest discussion within the community.
To get the conversation going, I would like to propose what I feel is a workable solution, to stimulate discussions if nothing else. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the situation and my idea below.
The first issue is that every PPTQ needs a level two head judge. This is not going to change anytime soon as level two is the first level of the Judge Program that requires IPG knowledge. People have suggested that you could allow level ones to head judge a PPTQ as with GPTs, but Wizards view is that qualification slots are higher prizes than the byes awarded for GPTs, and with that greater prize on the line they want to ensure that the policies are being followed correctly.
This alone causes its own issues as generally a level two will need to travel to judge these events so as a result they will require a larger compensation than that of a local level one judge. In addition to this, the number of level twos in the country is not enough to meet the demands and as a result the active level two Judges are struggling to find time to play the game they love.
There is no clear pathway to being a level two judge, and the level one judges upon seeing the amount of work that is required into becoming an active level two often find it to be too time consuming or otherwise difficult for them to maintain an active role. The PPTQs as it stands are too small in attendance to require two judges, so the level ones rarely get to work the events, meaning they are lacking the training experiences they need to progress through the program.
Due to all advanced stores getting access to PPTQs there is now a growing number of PPTQs across the country resulting in event clashes and/or lower attendance at other events. PPTQs are only just larger than GPTs in some areas. This is also resulting in the level twos being stretched too thin.
This lower level off attendance alongside other additional costs to the TOs e.g. room hire, etc. means that TOs are struggling to make any money from the events and as a result they are harder to organise and to fund.
The qualification criteria for advanced is low and stores with no experience of COMP REL events or how this style of events should be ran are sanctioning PPTQs; without appropriate play space and facilities, making them bad experiences for players and Judges alike.
As it currently stands there is very little enticement for a store to push to reach Advanced+ and stores that have made it feel like their achievement isn’t granting them anything expect the additional FNM foils.
Once you have qualified for the RPTQ you cannot play in any more PPTQs for the season, meaning if you are trying to earn byes though Planeswalker Points you have a distinctive disadvantage to someone that didn’t qualify.
The social aspect of the PTQs was huge and it is the one thing players miss from these events. The smaller events mean that when playing you are only playing and testing against the same local community and the wider metagame may not be represented giving you a warped perception of the format.
My proposal is such that Advanced+ stores only have access to PPTQs. This will reduce the number for PPTQs but not to the low numbers of PTQs. Attendance at PPTQs will increase proportionally, increasing profits, requiring more judges and training experience for level 1s.
High attendance would also bring back some of the social aspects that player are missing from PTQs.
Advanced+ only would also mean that stores have proven to be able to run large events, have adequate knowledge, play space and facilities. It gives stores a reason to improve their services and organisational skills before pushing for Advanced+ this will also allow stores to experience the judge program through GPTs.
The reduction in numbers of PPTQs would mean less Qualifying spots for RPTQs so to combat this you scale the number of qualifying spots at these PPTQs in a similar way to that of the RPTQs. Obviously these numbers would need looking at to ensure that the correct number of slots are available in total and per event.
Summary of benefits
- PPTQs to Advanced+ stores only, increase number of qualifying spots at PPTQs
- Players get larger events but not the level of the PTQs
- Judges get more opportunities to work with others
- Stores make more money
- The 2 stage structure stays intact
- Stores/TOs are more experienced and have met higher requirements
- Advanced+ means something.
Community Question: What is your personal opinion on the current state of PPTQs, and what should we do about it?
Level 2 Judge
Player for 13 years
Former TO and Store Owner