Ixalan, Worlds, Pro Tour, Nationals, and RPTQs

Posted in Competitive Gaming on April 18, 2017

By Helene Bergeot

Hélène Bergeot started her career with Wizards of the Coast in France in December, 1995; afterwards, she spent a few years in the European headquarters based in Belgium and eventually relocated to the Renton office. She is currently the director of organized play and trade marketing.

We've got a lot to share with you. Here's a quick overview of what we're announcing today:

  • The fall set is named Ixalan, and will be releasing on September 29, 2017. It will be legal for the 2017 World Championship's Standard and Limited play. Pro Tour Ixalan is November 3–5, 2017. This also means that Grand Prix Providence and Shizuoka will both be Team Sealed GPs as part of the release weekend.
  • 2017's Nationals will take place September 9–10, September 16–17, and October 14–15; they will be a split of Standard and Booster Draft, and Pro Points will be awarded at them.
  • Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers will have entry fees, will increase from 32 events to 37, and will award invitations via a scaling system based on attendance, all starting with the round that feeds Pro Tour Ixalan in November.
  • We are reverting the Pro Tour Top 8 bracket back to traditional single-elimination and are adjusting the Pro Tour prize money and Pro Point payout to Top 8 players starting with Pro Tour Amonkhet.

Ixalan's Release Date, And What This Means for Premier Play

We're excited to reveal the name and release date for the fall set, which will be the start of a new block and lead to a fresh new Standard Constructed format. That set's name is Ixalan, and it will be released on September 29 later this year.

For many of our players, this will come as a surprise, since the Pro Tour scheduled around this set will take place November 3–5, rather than two weeks after the new set's release. We're trying something different with this set, and are instead timing the 2017 Magic: The Gathering World Championship, which will be just one week after Ixalan's release, to highlight the new set. This is an experiment to see how utilizing the World Championship to highlight a new Standard fares, and we will be seeking feedback once the schedule bears itself out.

This will mean a few things:

  • The 2017 World Championship will be the first major event to feature a new Standard and Booster Draft format. For the World Championship, we are exploring ways to address the narrow window competitors will have between the set's release and the event.
  • The Pro Tour, which usually happens two weeks after a set's release, will instead happen five weeks after. Between the release of Ixalan and the Pro Tour, there will be a few weeks of time where players can play new Standard decks, and one of the weekends for Nationals will also spotlight the new Standard.
  • The Team Limited Grand Prix that will take place September 30–October 1 in Providence and Shizuoka will be using Ixalan. This means that those Grand Prix will provide the opportunity to play with the new set during the weekend's release.

These are changes from how we have been scheduling events for years, but ones that we're excited to see.

More details regarding Ixalan will be revealed during the big June announcement we will be making, so check back then for more. We'll also have more info on the World Championship as our 2016–17 season nears its conclusion.

2017 Nationals Info

Following up on our announcement in February about the return of Nationals, we've got some more details to share with you about these events for 2017.

When Are They?

Nationals will be scheduled on the following three weekends:

  • September 9–10
  • September 16–17
  • October 14–15 (Previously announced as September 23–24)

Who's Invited?

For 2017 Nationals, we will use the same Planeswalker Point thresholds as the World Magic Cup Qualifiers, found in Appendix C of the Premier Event Invitation Policy. Players who meet the Planeswalker Point threshold in their country and satisfy the residency and eligibility requirements are invited to compete in this year's Nationals.

For your convenience, we've published the full list of players eligible to compete in their country's Nationals today. We strongly encourage you to look for your name on these lists. If you cannot find yourself on there and believe you should be on the invited players list, contact us immediately via the means provided in this article.

What's the Format?

We heard you loud and clear. You remembered Nationals as a multi-format celebration, and we're going to bring that back. The formats for 2017 Nationals will be a combination of Standard Constructed and Booster Draft, using Hour of Devastation and Amonkhet. For Nationals taking place the weekend of October 14–15, Booster Draft will use Ixalan.

The exact split of formats will be determined based on the total attendance for a country's Nationals.

We're excited to provide the beloved multi-format Nationals that the community has asked for!

Is There a Participation Promo?

Each player that participates in their Nationals will receive an Inkmoth Nexus promo card.

Invitations to the World Magic Cup

The 2016–17 top Pro Point earner from each country represented in the 2017 World Magic Cup will be their country's team captain in the event. They will also be allowed to compete in their respective Nationals for the title of National Champion.

The two finalists from each Nationals will be the two other players invited to represent their country in the 2017 World Magic Cup alongside the team captain. In the event that the team captain makes it through to the finals of their Nationals, the remaining invitation will instead be passed down to the person who finishes third at their Nationals.

Pro Point Updates

With the return of Nationals, we're excited to announce that the tournament will award Pro Points! Players who compete at Nationals will earn Pro Points based on their finish order as follows:

Place Pro Points
1 3
2 3
3–4 1

World Magic Cup Prize Changes

With the addition of Nationals and the awarding of Pro Points at that event, we have reduced the number of Pro Points that are awarded at the World Magic Cup, starting with this year's event, to balance the number of Pro Points with the thresholds for the different levels. The revised payout can be found below:

Place Pro Points
1 6
2 5
3–4 4
5–8 3
9–16 2

We believe this change will ultimately be a benefit to players, providing more players with another, more open, opportunity to receive Pro Points, even if it's increasing the number of Pro Points we introduce into each season.

With the switch to three-person teams, we've also updated the World Magic Cup prize structure to account for this. We are still awarding $250,000, but have adjusted the prize payouts to better account for prizes that are divided amongst three players rather than four.

Place Per Player Per Team
1 $15,000 $45,000
2 $8,500 $25,500
3–4 $6,000 $18,000
5–8 $4,000 $12,000
9–16 $2,000 $6,000
17–32 $1,000 $3,000
  Total $250,500

What about Nationals prizes? The number of days my Nationals will be? Format split? Entry fee? We want to know more!

Additional information about your respective Nationals will be determined by your country's Nationals tournament organizer. Once we have finalized the list of organizers for 2017 Nationals, we strongly encourage you to check with your country's organizer for full information.

More info on 2017 Nationals can be found on the event information page. We look forward to seeing the return of this beloved program in the coming months!

Regional Pro Tour Qualifier Updates

Since its introduction in 2014, Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers (RPTQs) have created an opportunity for players to qualify for the Pro Tour that offers a better overall player experience than the previous Pro Tour Qualifiers, both in their more manageable event size and the length of day.

In these two years, we've received a lot of valuable feedback regarding the program from players as well as organizers, and today we'd like to announce some changes to the program that will go into effect starting with the round that qualifies players for Pro Tour Ixalan the weekends of August 12–13 and August 19–20.

Entry Fees

Based on discussion with stores, we have made the decision to allow organizers to charge an entry fee for Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers.

We're aware that change may cause some discussion among players. Know that we did not make this change lightly, and we will be monitoring feedback about RPTQs as we always have. If you have a specific experience that you'd like to share once we're in the round of RPTQs tied to Pro Tour Ixalan, let us know.

Scaling Invitations

In the interest of fairness, the first of these changes is our shift to a variable invitation system. Invitations to the Pro Tour and to the next RPTQ round will be awarded to players from an RPTQ based on the attendance of that event. Invitations will be awarded as follows:

Attendance Number of Invitations Number of Invitations to Next RPTQ Round
8 Players 1 2
9–42 Players 2 4
43–93 Players 4 8
94+ Players 8 8

Invitations will be awarded to the top finishers from each RPTQ based on the above breakdown.

Magic Online RPTQs will award eight invites regardless of attendance. Additionally, we will not be charging entry for Magic Online RPTQs.

More Locations!

We're excited to announced that the number of RPTQs we run each round is increasing from 32 to 37, starting with the round tied to Pro Tour Ixalan, providing players with more choices on where to go. More details on a region-by-region basis can be found below.

The Asia-Pacific region will move from 5 RPTQs per round to 6. Europe will be moving up from 9 events to 10 RPTQs per round. Latin America will be moving from 3 RPTQs up to 4. Finally, North America will go from 15 RPTQs to 17. With this increase, we're also looking to broaden our rotation of regions to which we bring RPTQs.

The list of RPTQ locations for the round that feeds Pro Tour Ixalan will be posted in May.

The combination of a scaling invitation system based on attendance along with the increase in the number of RPTQs hosted each round will offer regions more options and a more balanced invitation system, and we look forward to seeing this program continue to grow in time.

Pro Tour Top 8 Bracket and Payout Adjustments

Based on player feedback, and because the changes to the Pro Tour's Top 8 bracket and prize payout are not working as we intended, we will be reverting the Pro Tour Top 8 to a traditional single-elimination bracket and adjusting the Pro Tour prize payout for those eight players, effective for Pro Tour Amonkhet.

As discussed in July of last year, the new bracket and updated prize payout was implemented to reward players for finishing the Swiss rounds with a better record. At its core, this was done to mitigate intentional draws in the last rounds of a tournament. However, the reality is that players valued a Top 8 appearance so much that IDs were happening anyway to ensure that possibility. With the bracket and prize structure not living up to its intended purpose, we have decided to change back to something more familiar with our players and viewing audience.

We're still looking to reward players for a good finish in the Swiss rounds, and the updated prize money and Pro Point payouts will reflect that, but with less discrepancy between finish order than the previous version. The updated prize payout is below.

Place Prize
1 $50,000
2 $20,000
3 $15,000
4 $12,500
5 $10,000
6 $9,000
7 $7,500
8 $6,000
9–16 $5,000
17–24 $3,000
25–32 $2,000
33–48 $1,500
49–64 $1,000

And the following will be the adjusted Pro Point payout at Pro Tours.

Place Pro Points
1 30
2 26
3 24
4 22
5 20
6 18
7 17
8 16
Match Points New Pro Points
36+ 15
35 12
34 11
33 10
32 8
31 7
30 6
28–29 5
27 4
0–26 3

Pro Tour Amonkhet will take place in Nashville, Tennessee, May 12–14.

That's all for today. As always, we're always listening to your feedback, and we are excited to share more about the future of Organized Play in June with you. Until then!

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