The Hunt for Pro Points

Posted in Event Coverage on June 20, 2015

By Frank Karsten

You may have heard of Pro Points. But how can you earn them, what benefits do they bring, and who is hunting for them in Copenhagen? This article will provide an answer to all of those questions.

How to Earn Pro Points?

Pro Points, short for Professional Points, are mainly earned by placing highly at Grand Prix and Pro Tour events. As an indication of how many points you can score for certain finishes: At a Pro Tour, participating gives three points at minimum, and a Top 8 finish yields at least 18 points.

At a Grand Prix, an 11-4 record nets one point, while a quarterfinal loss yields four points. However, only a player's six best Grand Prix finishes during a season count (at least, for most of the Pro Point benefits). So when, for example, a player has one Top 8 and five 11-4 finishes at Grand Prix tournaments in a season, then they may say, "My worst GP finish is 1 point."

Besides Grand Prix and Pro Tour events, points can also be earned at the World Magic Cup and World Championship, but the large majority tends to come from PTs and GPs. Next, let's move on to what benefits these points bring.

Possible Benefit #1: Pro Tour Qualifications and Grand Prix Byes

The 2014–2015 Professional Points season begins August 4, 2014 and ends August 2, 2015, and all tournaments included in that time period make up the season. During that season, there are three thresholds or levels that you can reach, and if a player reaches a required number of Pro Points, he or she is immediately promoted to that level for the rest of the current season and for the next season.

The thresholds and main benefits of the various levels are as follows:

Silver level: 20 Pro Points

  • Qualifies for the next Pro Tour that this player was not qualified for through other means.
  • Two byes at every individual Grand Prix.

Gold Level: 35 Pro Points

  • Invites and expenses-paid air travel to all Pro Tours.
  • Three byes at every individual Grand Prix.

Platinum level: 46 Pro Points

  • Invites, expenses-paid air travel, hotel accommodation, and a $3,000 appearance fee for all Pro Tours.
  • Three byes and a $250 appearance fee at every individual Grand Prix.

This is just a quick summary that leaves out various smaller benefits and details. For further and more precise information, please see the official guidelines and procedures.

Possible Benefit #2: An Invite to the World Championship

The World Championship, which this year will be held on August 27–30, pits twenty-four of the world's best pros against each other to see who will win the biggest title Magic has to offer.

Invited are the reigning World Champion, the Magic Online Champion, the captain of the 2014 World Magic Cup winning team, all the Pro Tour champions from this season. Besides those players, there are 20 slots that are all based on Pro Points. There are slots for each geographical region and a slot for the player who attained the most points at Grand Prix events throughout the year, so it won’t necessarily come down to the 20 players who scored the most Pro Points during the season, but these slots will somehow be decided by Pro Points.

Last year, the cutoff for the so-called "Pro Points at Large" slots was at 47 Pro Points. This season, several pro players have performed even better, and well over 50 points may be necessary to guarantee a spot.

Possible Benefit #3: An Invite to the World Magic Cup

The World Magic Cup, which this year will be held on December 11–13, gathers representatives from over 70 countries all over the world to compete in a variety of four-person team formats.

To be invited, you either have to win one of the three World Magic Cup Qualifiers in your country, or you have to be the player from your country who scored the most Pro Points in the previous season.

The Players Hunting for Points this Weekend

So, there are plenty of benefits to be gained if you score enough Pro Points over the course of a year. For the current season, however, there are not many events remaining to score points. After this weekend, there are three more weekends with Grand Prix events, as well as Pro Tour Magic Origins in Vancouver, but then it's over.

I checked in with a number of players who were hoping to add to their Pro Point totals this weekend, asking about their current situation and their goals.

Ondřej Stráský: 50 points. He already got to Platinum and would very likely make it to the World Championship even if he failed to score any additional points besides the three he was guaranteed for showing up at Pro Tour Magic Origins. "That's why I'm playing Affinity today. I'm not really chasing points, so I chose a deck that is sweet and that I want to learn to play over a deck that I am more familiar with." Strasky unfortunately faced too many Stony Silence and failed to make Day 2.

Jacob Wilson: 49 points. He already achieved Platinum status and would very likely make it to the World Championship. However, he still had to vie for the spot on the Canadian national team with Shaun McLaren, who was two points ahead of him at the moment. Wilson's sixth-best Grand Prix result awarded him one Pro Point; so if he were to finish in the Top 8 of Grand Prix Copenhagen, he could replace that one-point finish with at least a four-point finish to give him a lead over McLaren going into Pro Tour Magic Origins. Wilson made Day 2 with an 7-2 record, so his hopes were still alive.

William Jensen: 44 points. Locked for Platinum but not for the World Championship. "I am here to have fun, but if I win the Grand Prix, I pretty much lock Worlds. And it's on the way to Singapore." Alas, Jensen's Goryo's Vengeance deck didn't hold up; his 6-3 record was not enough to advance to Day 2.

Ben Stark: 40 points. Already qualified for all Pro Tours thanks to his membership the Hall of Fame, Stark hadn't locked up anything yet and needed a good finish here. "Top 8 locks me for Platinum," Stark explained at the beginning of the day. However, he quickly racked up three losses and did not make Day 2.

Martin Jůza: 39 points. He did make it to Gold so far, now his sight was set on Platinum. However, it's quite hard for him to score many additional points because his worst Grand Prix finish netted three points. However, with a win this weekend, he may still have an outside shot at the title of Grand Prix Player of the Year and the corresponding invite to the World Championship, which disregards the six-event cap on Grand Prix points. Alexander Hayne and Pascal Maynard (at 35 and 31 points from Grand Prix events this year, respectively) were currently in the lead, but Jůza hadn't done badly either with 27 points at Grand Prix events this year so far. At the end of Day 1, Jůza was 7-1-1.

Marco Cammilluzzi: 37 points. Any points he would score this weekend would help him on his quest toward Platinum. Cammilluzzi made Day 2 with an 7-2 record, so he was still in the running.

Raphaël Lévy: 32 points. "I am currently in the lead for the French WMC slot, but I'm trying to stay ahead of Pierre Dagen, who is at 27 points right now. Also, a Top 8 finish at this Grand Prix may get me closer to Platinum." Levy finished the day at 8-1 with his crazy Loam Pox deck, while Dagen posted a 7-2 record.

Lukas Blohon: 29 points. "I'm chasing Gold. I already have six finishes this season, and my worst Grand Prix result is one point. So if I go 12-3 here, I replace a one-point finish with a three-point finish, which puts me at 31. That, together with the three guaranteed points from the upcoming Pro Tour, doesn't add up to 35, so I need to Top 8 here to lock Gold." Blohon's record at the end of the day was 6-3, so he failed to make it to the Sunday competition.

Fabrizio Anteri: 29 points. He was in the exact same situation as Lukas Blohon, so the fact that they would be testing together for the next Pro Tour was only appropriate. Unlike Blohon, however, Anteri made Day 2 as he piloted his Super Crazy Zoo deck to an 8-1 record.

Martin Müller: 28 points. He had a seat at the World Championship already, being the captain of the Danish national team that won the previous World Magic Cup, but he still needed to score a few additional points in order to make it to the coveted 35 for Gold. Müller finished the day at 8-1.

Denniz Rachid: 24 points. Going into this tournament, he was in the lead for the Swedish World Magic Cup team slot, but Magnus Lantto (21 points) and Joel Larsson (20 points) were hot on his trail. What's more, Rachid wasn't yet qualified for Pro Tour Magic Origins, whereas his rivals were. "I need to score at least one point, otherwise Lantto will pass me for sure. So I need to do well here, and then I'm just hoping for bad fortune for my friends," he said with an evilish grin on his face at the start of the day. Later, I learned that Rachid got his third loss, and he would have to watch the Swedish team from the sidelines this year.

Branco Neirynck: 11 points. He was in no position to make Gold or Platinum, although clinching Silver was a realistic goal for him. More interestingly, however, he was being chased by Amand Dosimont (eight points) for the slot as the Belgian team captain. Both of them had secured invites for the final Pro Tour of the season, and any point they might score in Copenhagen could influence who would go to the World Magic Cup. Neirynck finished the day at 7-2, but so did Dosimont.

Niels Molle: 3 points. Chasing the spot as the national team captain for Ireland, he said, "It's tight with another player, so I came to Copenhagen in the hope of scoring another pro point here." Molle finished the day at 7-2.

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