Ten Minute Magic (September 17, 2016) – MTG Pro Qualification Changes, Kaladesh, Masterpiece Series Reprints
Join Joseph Dunlap and Joe Butcher 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 recent content on Manaleak.com.
This is what’s going on in Magic: The Gathering this week…
1. BBD Victorious at the World Championship
After 6 rounds of draft, 5 rounds of Modern, and 6 rounds of Standard playing against the top of the field, Brian Braun-Duin has risen to the top to take home the World Championship trophy. BBD began his journey by earning the title of Grand Prix Master, which clinched a spot at Worlds. This was especially important as Braun-Duin fell short of earning Platinum status at Pro Tour Eldritch Moon, where he finished in the Top 64 with a 9-6-1 record.
Went undefeated in constructed with Yavimaya Coast in both formats. Hoping to go Coast to Coast tomorrow.
— Brian Braun-Duin (@BraunDuinIt) September 3, 2016
— Brian Braun-Duin (@BraunDuinIt) September 4, 2016
BBD reached the Top 4 of Worlds undefeated in Constructed: 3-0-1 in Modern with Bant Eldrazi, and 4-0 in Standard with Bant Humans, making up for an even 3-3 record in Draft. Coming into the World Championship, BBD considered himself an underdog, squeaking in with one of the three Masters qualifications and rubbing elbows with Platinum pros and Hall-of-Famers. His triumph at Worlds is a victory for Grand Prix grinders everywhere, and may serve as a launching point into a career of consistent finishes at the pro level.
2. Wizards Introduces “Masterpiece Series” Cards
On September 12th, Mark Rosewater released information on a new set of cards beginning in the Kaladesh block for the foreseeable future that follows the same concept as the Zendikar Expeditions, which will be part of the “Masterpiece Series”. For the Kaladesh sets, this will be known as Kaladesh Inventions, and will exist at a higher rarity level than Mythic Rare. These cards will always be reprints of cards (a few of which might be borrowed directly from the set, such as the Kaladesh Gearhulks) and their design will tie in with the theme of the block they are released in. Because of the rarity of the cards, we can expect – much like the Expedition lands – for them to be quite pricey due to the odds of finding one being 1 in every 144 boosters, or a ratio of 1:2,160.
The number of Masterpiece cards available may fluctuate by set, but we can expect roughly 50 per block, with Kaladesh block split into 30 for the upcoming set, and 24 predicted for Aether Revolt. For all of you that enjoy different language cards, Masterpieces will only be printed in English. However, they will be available in non-English boosters.
3. Ajani on Kaladesh?
Currently, there is some talk about Ajani arriving on the new plane of Kaladesh. His was first revealed in the spoiler for Impeccable Timing, where he appears in the artwork and the flavor text, which refers to Ajani as “an enormous leonin wielding a twin-headed axe.” Recent theories concerning his arrival on Kaladesh focus on Ajani’s journey to find Tezzeret. He first learned of Tezzeret on Phyrexia from Elspeth Tirel, and went on a series of planeswalks to find him.
It will be interesting to see where Ajani will fit into the storyline. According to the flavor text of Impeccable Timing, we are led to believe that Baral, Chandra’s longtime antagonist, has laid a trap for Chandra and Ajani arrives out of nowhere to save her. Hopefully we will learn more of the story, and Ajani’s relationship with the Gatewatch, over the coming weeks.
4. Reigning World Champion (and GP Master) No Longer Automatically Qualified for Worlds
In a Twitter response by Helene Bergeot to her Organised Play Announcement on August 2nd, it was revealed that the current World Champion will not have an automatic seeding into the next year’s World Championship. The reason behind this is because other sports have similar policies, and it increases and reinforces the legitimacy of tournaments by creating a level playing field for all Professionals. Her post also goes on the explain that because Worlds awards players with so many pro points, it actually provides a springboard for the next Worlds. Also, the pro point system will be changing so that pro points are only earned on every game won after their third. This means that pro points can only be won in the 4th round of a Swiss tournament and later. Due to this, representation of high quality players over an extended series of Pro Tours and GPs should improve.
This year, the following slots qualified for Worlds: all Pro Tour winners of the past season, the reigning World Champion, the top 4 pro point leaders from North America, the top 3 from Europe, the top 3 from Asia-Pacific, the top 2 from Latin America, the Player of the Year, GP Master, MTGO Champion, Mid-Season Master, Outstanding Hall of Famer, Draft Master, and Constructed Master. If a player earned more than one qualification, one of those slots would free up, and any free slots would be filled with at-Large pro point leaders.
Next year, the following slots will qualify for Worlds: all Pro Tour winners of the past season, the MTGO Champion, Standard Master, Draft Master, North American Champion, European Champion, Asia-Pacific Champion, Latin American Champion, and 13 At-Large slots, which are now labeled as “Top-Ranked Players”.
Answering questions about the 2017 World Championship seats #WotCStaff
— Helene Bergeot (@HeleneBergeot) September 14, 2016
This new policy sparked some controversy on social media, as newly crowned Brian Braun-Duin took issue with the qualification restructuring. Not only was he the reigning champion, but he also qualified with one of the special “Masters” slots. Additionally, three of the Top 4 reached Worlds with special qualifications. A handful of pro players, primarily PVDDR, Ben Stark, and Eric Froehlich, took to Twitter to chime in that slots such as GP Master were less legitimate as At-Large, even arguing that the quality of play on-camera would potentially suffer if “special” qualifications were allowed at Worlds.
— ben stark (@BenS8528) September 14, 2016
Notably, the primary difference between the GP Master slot and a Platinum player who qualifies based on total pro points is where those points were earned. The Grand Prix Master title is conferred on the player with the most points earned at a Grand Prix level, while a pro player with minimal GP attendance might earn more pro points overall because of the sheer number of pro points awarded at the Pro Tour level. As a result, many assumed that pro players who were against the GP Master qualification slot were in favor of Pro Tour grinders getting higher preference than Grand Prix grinders.
— ben stark (@BenS8528) September 14, 2016
BBD objected to this argument, pointing out that his victory at Worlds was proof that the GP Master slot was a legitimate qualification. In turn, the counter-argument was that players are not invited to events based on their potential to win, but rather their achievements prior to the event. To the contrary, BBD and his supporters shot back that the fact that Braun-Duin won the tournament was proof that the GP Master slot was as legitimate as any other, and the GP Master race made for an interesting narrative.
Ultimately, this argument came to no real conclusion. What we can learn from the decision from Wizards of the Coast is that a greater emphasis is being put on the World Championship as the culmination of the Pro Tour season, rather than the competitive season as a whole. Grand Prix grinders will have to earn their Pro Tour invitations and progress from there to some strong Pro Tour finishes in order to have a shot at attending the World Championship. Coupled with the coming season’s policy on Grand Prix appearance fees, which are limited to five per season to cut down on travel fatigue, there appears to be a dramatic shift in the way in which the Pro Tour and GPs are handled in the scope of the professional season – namely, the Grand Prix is a launching point into the Promotional Tour, and the Pro Tour is the gateway to Worlds.
5. Kaladesh Full Spoiler Released
The full list of cards for Kaladesh have been released and has brought with it some interesting cards relating to the usage and usefulness of artifacts as its main theme. For reference to those who do not follow the storyline, Kaladesh is Chandra’s original plane. With such an emphasis on artifacts, it will be interesting to see if any cards find their way into the eternal formats in the form of Affinity decks or ones along the same lines.
The full spoiler release heralds the penultimate nail in the coffin for certain cards in the current Standard, with such cards cycling out as Jace, Vryn’s Prodigy, Collected Company and the Painlands, with the incredibly strong deck Bant Company losing its value engine and potentially suffering a truly crippling blow. This gives the option for other decks to come to the fore as competitors for ‘strongest deck’ and therefore expect a large amount of heavy aggression in the first few weeks of the release.
6. Popular Magic: The Gathering Articles This Week
- 4 Great Pauper Decks To Try Out For Under £30, by Brad Pearce
- Magic: The Gathering Spells vs. Creatures: Is Standard Balanced? by Joseph Dunlap
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 Joe