If you haven’t heard, Wizards of the Coast announced today that Channel Fireball will be the sole tournament organizer of Grand Prix events for 2018. Like many of the other articles that I write on this site, I’m going to talk about the pros and the cons of this. I just want to posit something before I get more in depth, which is that I believe that we may see the structure of Grand Prix change fundamentally.

There have been some signs of this recently, between the Super Sunday Series begin eliminated and old-style PTQs returning, the lack of a Modern Masters 2017 Grand Prix, and the proposal-based structure for applying to host Grand Prix. I don’t know what the future changes are going to be, but I certainly see them coming. First, I am going to discuss the positives and then I am going to discuss the negatives.

Positives

Without a doubt, Grand Prix are going to be a better experience overall. As someone who has played and done well in a lot of Grand Prix, Channel Fireball runs theirs excellently. The Magic secondary market is a customer service-oriented industry. If people want the cheapest price they go to eBay, but they buy or sell their cards to Channel Fireball because they are excellent at what they do. The people who manage their events and their storefront are undoubtedly incredible and can really only be challenged by the likes of SCG.

Channel Fireball will do what they know is good, but also be willing to innovate. Hopefully we will see them do new, innovative, and exciting things. Additionally, we may see prize tickets carry over, or other Grand Prix rewards systems. Who knows, they may offer a price to register for maybe any three Grand Prix. Also, it makes the branding of the Grand Prix much more streamlined, meaning that people will know exactly what they are going to get going into events. It’s also going to be easier to hold Channel Fireball accountable when they screw up, because they are the only company running the events.

Negatives

There is one huge obvious negative, which is that we now have only one company dictating the price of Grand Prix entries. Grand Prix prices are likely going to be as high as $120 next year because of this change, which is a bad thing for players and a bad thing for Magic as a whole. Magic is already a very expensive hobby, and the unfortunate fact is that these GPs are going to continue increasing in price because the entry fee is clearly not affecting the amount of people who sign up for the events.

What makes this even worse for players is that the rise in entry fee is likely to not effect the total prize payout, or even the distribution, which is currently awful by all accounts. Additionally, we may see Channel Fireball move away from innovation and choose to try to gouge it’s consumers for all they’re worth. I really worry that with complete control, any company is going to care less about it’s customers and their money. Hopefully, Wizards can try to set a price ceiling for Grand Prix entry costs which would alleviate a lot of my concerns.

Verdict

Overall, this change could (and likely will) fundamentally effect the way we experience Grand Prix. Without a doubt, we have to give it a chance. Channel Fireball is a responsible store that is dedicated to helping Magic and the competitive scene grow. Frankly, a lot of people including myself will pay any price to play in a Grand Prix, because the Pro Tour invitation is just so enticing. A price increase, however, would undoubtedly effect players’ ability to enter the tournament and enjoy the game we all love, which is a bad thing for the game as a whole. However, only time will tell if it’s the pros or the cons of this decision that reign supreme.

Are you excited for Modern Masters 2017 yet? I know I am! Read this article from Ben Pall to learn more about how the limited format will shape up.

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