The World Magic Cup is one of the most exciting tournaments we hold every year. Players from all around the world come to represent their country for pride, glory, and the spirit of competition. It's truly my favorite event.
While we've received a lot of great feedback on this tournament over the last five years, most conversations about the World Magic Cup also triggered repeated requests to revive Nationals, as the same national spirit that people enjoy about the World Magic Cup was once also captured in these yearly tournaments that brought the communities of entire nations together. We loved the spirit of Nationals as well.
So we're bringing it back.
We'll get into the details below, but here's how it will work: The top Pro Point earner for that season will remain the Team Captain. The other two slots—yes, two, more on that in a moment—will be the top two finishers at Nationals! National Tournaments will be held all around the world on one of the following weekends: September 9, 16, or 23.
In addition to Nationals, we'll also be making some tweaks to several events associated with Grand Prix, including the end of in-store Grand Prix Trials and the return of the Sunday Pro Tour Qualifier at Grand Prix.
Now let's look at the details
Bringing Back Nationals
Moving past WMCQs
Over the past five years, the World Magic Qualifiers (WMCQs) provided an avenue for players to qualify for the World Magic Cup while alleviating the issues that had led us to cancel Nationals in a first place. Primarily, the lack of seasoned organizers in many countries was translating into Nationals being the main (if not the only) tournament, and it was impeding the development of regular play opportunities necessary to the development of local Magic communities.
The WMCQ program has helped establish a robust network of organizers, and we now feel we are ready to bring them the opportunity to organize Nationals.
To participate in their Nationals, players will still need to accrue a certain number of Planeswalker Points by the end of the Yearly Award Season (May 28, 2017), with a threshold differing based on the size of the country, as outlined in the Premier Event Invitation Policy.
A Return to Three-Person Teams
When we introduced the World Magic Cup, we originally implemented a four-person team model, with one player being a coach who could interact and help teammates, but who could not play for a portion of the event. We made that choice so that even if a member of a national team could not attend the tournament, the other players could still participate and represent their country.
A side effect repeatedly mentioned by World Magic cup competitors was that the four-person team model created a situation where some players spent large parts of the tournament not playing Magic and, in some cases, created an awkward tension across teams.
To help mitigate this issue, we are going to return to a three-person team model. The top Pro Point earner in the 2016–17 season will continue to be invited to represent their country as the Team Captain. The rest of the team will be determined after each country's Nationals, with the Top 2 finishers earning invitations and airfare to compete in the 2017 World Magic Cup.
A Shift Back to Standard
Last year, we ran the Constructed portion of the World Magic Cup as Team Unified Modern, and made updates to the Unified Constructed rules. While we liked what the change to Unified Constructed did, the feedback and result of Modern being the Constructed format of choice was mixed.
Based on this feedback and combined with the fact that we are looking at ways to highlight more current formats (i.e. formats based on current sets and accessible to all), we will be making the change back to Standard as the Constructed format that will be supported by the 2017 World Magic Cup.
This means that the format for all Nationals will also be Standard.
We will start scheduling Nationals in March, and plan to post detailed information about these events by the end of May at the latest.
Changes to Grand Prix–Adjacent Events
Sunday Pro Tour Qualifier Starts This Weekend
I'm happy to announce that we are bringing back the old Pro Tour Qualifier as one-shot events that players can participate in on Sundays at all Grand Prix as a new Sunday option for attendees.
The winner of each Pro Tour Qualifier receives an invitation to the Pro Tour that the Grand Prix is feeding. These events will be first come, first served and will have a maximum capacity of 225. We encourage anyone interested in signing up to do so as soon as they're committed to playing.
The End of In-Store Grand Prix Trials
The Grand Prix Trials (GPTs) tied to Grand Prix Las Vegas will be the final in-store GPTs to take place. While some good was accomplished by having Grand Prix Trials in local stores, more often than not this program had mixed success and limited turnout.
GPTs will continue to be held on-site on Fridays of Grand Prix before the main event for players who wish to earn byes for that event. Players can also continue to earn byes in Grand Prix main events by hitting the yearly Planeswalker Points threshold, which can be found on the Grand Prix page.
Much of what we've announced today has been shaped by the feedback we received from you, feedback we welcome. If you have any questions or comments regarding this announcement, you're welcome to share that on social media via @magicprotour, where our community team and I will be working to answer any pressing questions you may have.
All the best to you in 2017, and we look forward to seeing you at an upcoming premier event.