Posted in GRAND PRIX UTRECHT 2014 - COVERAGE - EVENTS on August 9, 2014

By Tobi Henke

Eleven days ago, various changes to the Premier Play system were announced, concerning almost all levels of Magic Premier Play from Pro Tour Qualifiers to the Pro Players Club, from Grand Prix to Pro Points. If you haven't heard the news yet, check out Helene Bergeot's article here!

Obviously, this was a topic heavily discussed among players here in Utrecht. The general consensus was definitely in favor of the changes, verging on enthusiastic approval even. One person who was visibly excited for the updates was Valentin Mackl, a Gold level pro from Austria, who had formerly been a vocal critic of some issues with the previous system.


"Overall, all of these changes are great," Mackl began. "Of course, for me personally, the fact that Gold level now comes with paid airfare is the biggest improvement by far. Otherwise, Gold could get quite, well, expensive. But that's not the only thing I like about the new system."


Mackl cited the change to the way Pro Points are awarded as one example. "Giving out points based on match score rather than final standing is such an obvious improvement. It doesn't matter too much for most European GPs nowadays, but I played in both Grand Prix Las Vegas and Richmond with more than 4,000 players each, and trying to place within the Top X there was an exercise in futility. Very frustrating."

Mackl also regarded the new cap for number of Grand Prix finishes that count toward a player's Pro Point season total as a definite improvement. "Moving from five to six is a good idea. Getting to Silver and Gold is a little easier now, which is important for someone trying to break into Pro Magic," he explained. "And since the point threshold for Platinum was only raised slightly, by three points, reaching the highest level is about as difficult now as it was before."

He did have some qualms regarding the change to the Constructed formats played at Pro Tours. "I'm not so sure about all Standard all the time. I never liked Block, but in my opinion they shouldn't have cut Modern. I recently really got into that format and now it's limited to something like one European Grand Prix per year."

Regarding the switch from large Pro Tour Qualifiers to a two-tiered system of Preliminary PTQs followed by one Regional PTQ, Mackl said, "It's certainly better for players who don't have so much time to play. Instead of traveling to a different city every weekend, they now have one big event. On the other hand, it's pretty bad for people living the grinder/roadwarrior lifestyle. Maybe a good change would be not to have all of the Regional PTQs on the same date and allow people to qualify for more than one. But really it's way too early to tell. We'll have to wait and see how the new system works out in practice."

In any case, Mackl was looking forward to the new season: "Even more so now with all of these updates!"