New rules have been instituted to the Pro Tour that hope to counteract the negative effects that big team scouting has on the health of any given Pro Tour. To clarify, Wizards of the Coast felt that big teams with big players had an unfair advantage over the smaller players without teams, so they did something about it. Here are the changes they made:

Electronic Decklist Submission:

All decklists must now be submitted electronically (they’re testing it for this Pro Tour, and will keep it if it works well). Decklists must be submitted before 7pm the night before the Pro Tour. Players are only permitted to use the English card names when submitting electronically.

My thoughts: This seems like a decent change. It certainly makes it easier for the Tournament Organizer to keep track of decklists. However, forcing players to use the English card names seems a little unfair and cruel to those that don’t speak English.

Reaction: Lukewarm.

Pairings:

Pairings are now put up WITHOUT your opponent’s name on them. Once pairings are put up, electronic devices are prohibited until the player finishes their match. Feature matches are announced without saying who plays whom. Pairings are posted online a few minutes after each round starts. The round starts at promptly 4 minutes after pairings are announced.

My thoughts: I know this will be one of those things that I hate now and get used to over time, but it seems to me that it undercuts some of the fun of seeing pairings, especially at a Pro Tour, when your opponent can be a big name Magic celebrity. However, on the flip side, I do like that it takes away the scouting element of Magic tournaments, which is one of the only things I dislike about big tournaments. Previously, big teams could have an easily-accessible spreadsheet that had the name and deck of a lot of people in the room, giving them a big advantage over the small players who do not have the sheer manpower to have their own spreadsheet. Additionally, starting the round at a consistent time will make the tournament more organized and will keep it running at a brisk, yet controlled pace.

Reaction: Positive.

Overall, as someone who has Pro Tour ambitions and pays close attention to the Pro Tour, I’m happy with these changes. They are certainly unexpected, but take away some of the morally grey areas of the gamesmanship that takes places outside of the tournament matches themselves. I understand that pro players may feel a little hard done by with these changes, but I think they have to recognize that giving the minnows more of a fighting chance against the sharks is only good for the Pro Tour and keeps it fresh and healthy.

Matt Sperling released an article this morning on these changes, in which he suggested that he likes the changes, except he feels not terribly excited for the unknown pairings, as he feels that it is not the most optimal way of keeping the playing field level. Instead, he suggests that the correct system may be to have decklists, or a portion of decklists, become public information at the beginning of matches. To that I say that that system of leveling the playing field actually disrupts the balance in a different way. The way that people play against an opponent based on what deck they are playing is massive. So, if I’m playing a combo deck, I sure as hell don’t want my opponent knowing I’m playing a combo deck before we even start playing.

It will be interesting to see how these changes effect the Pro Tour, but overall I’m happy with these changes and excited to see how they play out.

Until next time.

For a look at what the Pro Tour metagame might look like, click here.

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