Ten Minute Magic (August 12, 2016) – Magic: The Gathering World Championship, Planeswalker Diversity

Join Joseph Dunlap and Ben Cottee in this week’s episode of Ten Minute Magic, a bi-weekly podcast format that highlights recent news in the world of Magic: The Gathering and looks at exceptional comments from recent content on Manaleak.com.

This is what’s going on in Magic: The Gathering this week…


1. Pro Season Conclusion: Next Stop, Worlds

Last week was the final Pro event of the year, Pro Tour Eldritch Moon. Other than the Pro Tour title at stake, there were also players looking to lock up Pro levels (Silver, Gold and Platinum), the race for national champion titles, and to fill in the last remaining slots at the World Championship. It’s fair that each of these names has their time in the spotlight, so let’s go over the 24 players looking to become 2016 Magic World Champion and win the biggest purse in the game’s history to date.

Pro Tour Champions

  • Kazuyuki Takimura – Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion
  • Jiachen Tao – Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch Champion
  • Steve Rubin – Pro Tour Shadows Over Innistrad Champion
  • Lukas Blohon – Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Champion


  • Brian Braun-Duin – 2015-16 Grand Prix Master
  • Marcio Carvalho – 2015-16 Draft Master
  • Oliver Tiu – 2015-16 Constructor Master, Rookie of the Year

North America

  • Reid Duke – Top Pro Points: North America
  • Luis Scott-Vargas – Outstanding Hall of Famer, Top Pro Points: North America
  • Brad Nelson – Top Pro Points: At-Large, Former Player of the Year
  • Sam Pardee – Top Pro Points: At-Large
  • Mike Sigrist – Top Pro Points: North America, 2015 Player of the Year

Asia Pacific

  • Ryoichi Tamada – Top Pro Points: Asia Pacific
  • Yuuya Watanabe – Top Pro Points: Asia Pacific, first competitor to attend 5th World Championship in a row
  • Shota Yasooka – Top Pro Points: Asia Pacific, recently elected to Pro Tour Hall of Fame


  • Joel Larsson – Top Pro Points: Europe, Pro Tour Magic Origins Champion
  • Andrea Mengucci – Top Pro Points: At-Large, Captain of Magic Cup Champions Team Italy
  • Martin Müller – Top Pro Points: Europe
  • Ondřej Stráský – Top Pro Points: At-Large

Latin America

  • Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa – Top Pro Points: Latin America, Pro Tour Hall of Famer
  • Thiago Saporito – Top Pro Points: Latin America

Unique Qualification

  • Seth Manfield – Reigning World Champion, Top Pro Points: North America, 2nd in Player of the Year Race
  • Owen Turtenwald – 2015-16 Player of the Year, 2015-16 Mid-Season Master, Top Pro Points: North America, recently elected to Pro Tour Hall of Fame
  • Niels Noorlander – Magic Online Champion

This is a great stack of talent, and we will bring you more news as we go towards Worlds at Pax West on the weekend of 1st-4th September.


2. More Pro Club Changes

A while back, we brought you a story on the fallout following the organized play changes announced at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad. After these changes were quickly revoked due to player and public backlash (including the trending hashtag #paythepros), Wizards of the Coast have been working with a group of pro players on what the future should actually look like.

Last week ahead of the Pro Tour, Wizards announced these new changes, and this time nobody really noticed.

While the timing of this announcement, before the Pro Tour rather than during, was great for Wizards, all the Pros had their heads down playtesting. As long as the announcement wasn’t terrible there wasn’t going to be much noise. Seth Mansfield is really the only Pro player with an article written on the topic, and he seemed pretty nonplussed with the changes. The changes will come into effect in the 2017/18 season, so players starting 2016/17 know what they are playing for, which is the single biggest criticism.

There are three main points:

1. Teams matter – The ever changing roster of players on the top pro teams didn’t help make a narrative and many casual followers found it hard to really back a team, more routing for wherever their favourite player was. Starting with a test next season, and full blown the year after, the pros will start the season as a group of nine players all competing for a $200,000 pot for best team in that Pro Tour year. All Magic players love the team elements and this seems a win all around.

2. Grand Prix appearance fees have been increased, but Pros will only receive a maximum of six. This should get some players out more – and some less – but Wizards doesn’t want their top players driving themselves into the ground.

3. The platinum players hotel is removed. Platinum players had hotels booked out for them to use over the Pro Tour free of charge, but many were not using them and Wizards was spending money that was being on the whole wasted.

In addition to the Pro Club changes, other announcements included:

  • Changes to the Pro Tour top 8 bracket (with Swiss ranking now having more of an impact). For example, the Top 2 go straight to the Semifinals, while 5th-8th seed will have to win four matches instead of three to take the trophy.
  • Worlds slots have been simplified to one slot per region, the past Champion, Player of the Year, Pro Tour Champions, Magic Online Champion, Constructed and Limited Masters, and all At-Large slots. While the GP Master race was fun, it was a slog and many of the other races were difficult to narrate well. This way, more of the best players in a season will qualify for the end of year championship. The other change is that there will be less Pro Points available at Worlds, which typically give those 24 players a leg up over other players in the coming season.
  • The 2016/17 Grand Prix schedule has been released, with more events, a mega Las Vegas weekend of 3 GP’s all rolled into one another, and the return of Team Constructed with Modern in early 2017.

12 hours before the Pro Tour started, soon-to-be Top 8 competitor Sam Pardee started tweeting about a new pairings rule brought in for the Pro Tour to fight against concessions.

Rounds 15 and 16 were to be “manually” paired to make sure that people playing for something had to be paired up together wherever possible. As a result, in Round 16 if you had 20 players playing towards the same goal, only 10 could possibly hit their target.

This can be summed up by the fact everyone agreed concessions were mostly bad and we should try to avoid them, but forcing pairings only for the last two rounds of the last Pro Tour of the season, and in no other tournaments prior with 12 hours’ notice was a bit loose.

Aaron Forsythe led the argument from Wizards’ side and confirmed that this will be integrated into pairing software somewhere down the line and implemented at all Professional tournaments where there is relevant stakes at play.


3. From the Vault Snore?

From the Vault: Lore was announced last week with what the Magic community has dubbed 15 new hideously butchered foils being released. From a finance perspective this hit the mark with Dark Depths and Umezawa’s Jitte doing the heavy lifting. The set was to showcase the Lore and story of Magic over the years and both these cards do a good job of hitting that mark, however the other 13 cards miss financially, and didn’t seem to need a reprint due to demand/scarcity (and aren’t obvious story points).

This year’s From the Vault has been summed up by Jason Alt, mtg finance and EDH guru, as From the Vault: Random Stuff They Had Lying Around. Unmask will represent the Weatherlight Saga (instead of the ship or its crew), Phyrexian Processor was chosen to represent the Brothers’ War and Phyrexian Invasion. Near Death Experience for Zendikar? Cabal Ritual was chosen for the Odyssey block. These are very tenuous with hundreds of more deserving and needed reprints that are more obvious representations of the places and times they represent.

This announcement, like the pro player changes announcement, was met with tumbleweeds (or in the UK, a damp squib) but it will still probably sell for above MSRP.


4. Wizards Brings Diversity to the Planeswalkers

The past two weeks of Magic lore from Uncharted Realms have introduced us to Kaya, Ghost Assassin, the first black female Planeswalker. This is great news and further evidence of Wizards’ recent movement on diversity representation in the game. They made a great move to hire outside assistance to help create the character style, hair and other traits for her to represent minorities in media more accurately.

What much of the Magic community found odd was the subsequent press release where Wizards told us just how much effort went into the character’s design, and a similar article written by the hired advisor and published on colorwebmag.com, a website that highlights diversity in media. Regardless, this is a positive step to further diversify the rich lore of Magic: The Gathering.


5. Popular Magic: The Gathering Articles This Week


Thank you for joining us in Ten Minute Magic. We would love to hear your feedback on the presentation, format, and length – as well as the topics discussed – so please leave a comment with your thoughts and we look forward to hearing from you. You can also connect with us on Twitter by following @Draw4Podcast, where you can send us topics throughout the week that you would like to hear us cover.

Joseph and Ben

Magic: The Gathering World Championship, Planeswalker Diversity - Ten Minute Magic (August 12, 2016)
In recent Magic: The Gathering news, the pro season has come to an end and 24 contestants are heading into the World Championship, new changes are being made to Pro Magic, From the Vault: Lore spoilers are less than exciting, and Wizards of the Coast brings diversity to the planeswalkers.

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