This week, Star City Games president Pete Hoefling released a statement detailing some of the important changes coming to the SCG Tour for this upcoming year. As the SCG Tour is solidly the second tier of professional Magic, I think it’s very important to discuss these changes and talk about what it means for the players, SCG’s future, and competitive Magic as a whole. If you have not read the announcement about the changes, it can be found here.

I would like to preface this by saying that I support all of the decision that SCG made wholeheartedly. Sure, some of them don’t please my personal preferences, but they are running a business which needs to make money before anything else. These are just what I think about these various changes. I am looking at this through my own personal lens, so keep in mind that my opinions on the changes are not my opinion on the business decisions that SCG are making, but rather how excited or not excited they make me about SCG events in the future.

I’ll be rating the changes as follows:

Sweet: Good

Sour: Bad

Gone: This isn’t going to last.

Change#1: Two Invitationals per Year, Down from Four

Rating: Sour

Why did they make this change? I get that Invitationals lose SCG a lot of money, but it’s also the biggest hallmark of the Tour. This change sucks for grinders. Doubling the prize pool for each Invitational is not nearly as appealing as more events. I wish I could play in Invitationals more often, but if this had to be done to keep SCG alive then I guess it’s necessary. I love the format of Invitationals and I hope more Invitational-like events spawn out of this disappointing change.

Change#2: Cutting Legacy events (Classics and Opens)

Rating: Sour

I love Legacy! I think Legacy is the second most skill-testing format, after draft, and I can’t imagine a world where I don’t get to play it. My most skill-intensive matches of Magic have almost exclusively been Legacy, and it’s where I find I’m having the most fun. This announcement was twice as disappointing as I expected it to be, as SCG has decided to cut down on Legacy Opens (from 3 to 2) and also remove Legacy Classics altogether, unless the accompanying Open is Legacy or a team event. It feels like we got hit with a solid jab and didn’t expect the uppercut. While I’m personally disappointed with this change. There are 3 things that needs to be understood…

  1. SCG is a company that needs to make money.
  2. Competitive Magic as a whole is healthier if SCG is healthy. Just having the Grand Prix circuit is bad for the game.
  3. Standard (and Modern for that matter) Opens make SCG more money than Legacy.

Sorry, everyone. I love Legacy, but SCG needs to do what SCG needs to do to stay competitive.

Change#3: Where is the Player’s Championship? Gone?

Rating: Sour

The Players’ Championship was not mentioned at all in Pete Hoefling’s announcement, so we have to assume that it is gone. I loved the Players’ Championship. The obvious reason for removing it was that they weren’t making money off of the event. We’ll get to what they replaced it with, but the Players’ Championship provided a big goal for SCG Tour grinders, who would then become characters to root for for the people watching, and would really create a nice narrative around the Tour. With the advent of super teams, Starcitygames could have stuck with this model and continued to benefit, but they didn’t. So, I think that this is probably one of Starcitygames least justifiable changes to the Open series structure. Even if the Players’ Championship itself wasn’t making them money, they’ll likely lose money because of fewer entry fees from not only those players competing for their places in the Players’ Championship, but players who loved the drama of the Tour and wanted to chase that dream themselves.

Change#4: Instead of the Player’s Championship, You Get … Cards?

Rating: Gone

This is so ridiculous. Anybody who would have qualified for the Players’ Championship has access to Magic cards, meaning that they only get the fiscal benefit of getting these sets of Magic cards that they can win by placing on the leaderboard. This is a joke, and if they keep this system, then nobody is going to care at all about their placement on the leaderboard. Some people don’t seem to mind this change, I think it is probably the worst thing coming out of this announcement.

Change#5: Team Constructed Open Type Added

Rating: Sweet

This change is all gravy. I think it’s super sweet to have multi-format tournaments, and this one is fun, unique, and competitive. For those who haven’t read, one member of the three player team plays Standard, the next plays Modern, and the last plays Legacy. I think that this idea is sweet and is going to lead to great Open tournaments that gets a huge amount of viewers and is very fun and interesting to cover. I can’t wait to see this one in action, and I’m glad that SCG is incorporating team tournaments. It’s interesting how they chose to do their team constructed tournaments in a very different way than the Grand Prix circuit, but I think we can all agree that this is the most exciting change to come out of Pete Hoefling’s announcement.

Change#6: IQs are Gone. Replaced by Super IQs that Give Out SCG Points

Rating: Gone

This system was bad for the SCG Tour before, and it will likely be bad again. Nobody is going to care about the SCG leaderboard anymore, but it will still oversaturate the system with points and implode the system from the inside. The bias towards players in the Northeast will increase and, frankly, all of the old problems with the system will arrive. I don’t fully understand why SCG did this. By combining Super IQs and IQs, smaller stores are going to get crushed, as they can’t afford the heavy payouts. SCG had always maintained a really good relationship with the small-to-medium sized stores out there, even better than Wizards of the Coast. This change will have a big impact on that.

Just to end on a positive note, at least the new playmats are sweet.

Read here about how to sideboard with what I consider to be the best Standard deck in the format.

Long live Magic.

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