According to a recent announcement by Wizards, they are planning on doubling the amount of large scale Grand Prix events for next year.
Starting in 2012, the number of large-scale tournaments will increase significantly. Our goal is to double the number of Grand Prix offered next season, putting our 2012 target at approximately 40 events around the world. This also allows us to add events in cities and countries that haven’t typically hosted Grand Prix in the past. An important part of building the global Magic community is providing the chance for more players to participate in large-scale Magic events, and the success of the current Grand Prix program is great proof that the player base is hungry for more. When a Grand Prix comes to your area, it’s a can’t-miss event for all Magic players.
I have a feeling that this is because of the high amount of interest in higher stakes public events. Star City Games’ “Open Series” which runs two $10,000 tournaments most weekends (when there isn’t a Grand Prix or Pro Tour scheduled) has taken off. Hundreds of players are playing Standard and Legacy because of these events. I encourage adding more of these kinds of events for the public. I have yet to have an opportunity to play in one of these Grand Prix events. The only major Magic tournament to ever come to Salt Lake City, was a constructed Grand Prix in 2004, when I was taking a much needed “break from the game”. I would love to see them have more of these style events and even one that is in a city that I could go to regularly (at least once or twice a year). The closest one for me this year would be Denver. Hopefully, this means there could be ones in cities like Salt Lake or even a yearly event in Vegas or Denver.
These events do come at a price however.
Another significant change next year is that Pro Tours will become private events focusing solely on the main tournament. The Pro Tour will continue to feature the same high level of competition as before, with expanded online coverage highlighting even more breaking news, exclusive deck tech, and hot cards from the top minds in the game. For players looking to get their fix for public events and other activities previously offered alongside the Pro Tour at Magic Weekend, the expanded Grand Prix program will provide ample opportunity to interact with the wider Magic community at large-scale events.
As many hobby stores create great, large-scale play events and we add large-scale Grand Prix Magic events, we will be eliminating Regional Prereleases in North America starting with the Magic 2012 Core Set release this summer. The store-run events and Grand Prix will more than fill the absence of Regional Prereleases, providing players with similar opportunities to gather with hundreds of their fellow players for a shared gaming experience. This also shifts the focus of new set celebration events to Wizards Play Network locations.
Pro Tours previously in the past have been celebrations of high level tournament play. They would feature many unique tournament opportunities to the Magic community, including the chance to meet and play against members of Wizards. Pro Tours always include many artists who make the excellent artwork for the cards and seeing them switch to “private events” is a little disheartening. I wonder if that means that each Pro Tour location will also run a Grand Prix the same weekend to kind of mimic the side events that we are presumably losing. I understand that making it a private event Wizards can better allocate resources to make both the expanded Grand Prix program better but also the Pro Tour program. I think we should wait see all the details on what exactly that means for the average player.
As for Regional Prereleases, this really saddens me. I’m not a fan of store run prerelease events. Mainly, I typically do not have a store that I can patron for such events. The store that I am currently playing at is just in it’s infancy and the shop owners are working diligently on getting “certified” so they can run events like Friday Night Magic and Prereleases. But they are also working on building a profit as well. I loved big style Regional Prerelease events. They stopped having one in Utah around four years ago. Many larger areas still have had them. The reason I loved going to the big style ones is they were as close to a Grand Prix or Pro Tour atmosphere that you could really go to. The ones in Utah usually attracted anywhere between 500 and 1000 players, which would fill an event room at the Salt Palace or the State Fair Park. My buddies and I would all climb into the car super early in the morning and drive two hours to get there. The best part of the prerelease at least for me, is that most players will be really unfamiliar with the cards. Making it a “more even playing field”. It was also a great chance to road trip with some buddies. I’m sad that these are going away, but I’m also excited by the proposition that there will be more high-attendance style events in the future.
For the full press release: SOURCE