Helene Bergeot, the director of Organized Play for Wizards of the coast, made a number of announcements yesterday morning..  There was so much to dig into she made one overarching post, that then links to three separate articles that detail all of the announcements. Here is a link to that post. Go on, read them and come back, I’ll still be here.

The first two articles covered in there are about changes to Platinum level pro compensation, and some World Championship information.  Neither of those has a whole lot of relevance to most magic players, but if you are interested, or those things relate you, please follow the above link.
What I want to talk about today is what’s covered in the third article.  The 2017 Grand Prix Schedule.

Every year around now they announce when the Grand Prix and Pro Tours will be for the next year.  In the last couple years that announcement was over the weekend during the Pro Tour around now.  It’s nice to see it going up during the week along with these other Organizing Play announcements, rather than being stuck inside of a bigger event going on around all of it.

No matter how nice that is though, I normally wouldn’t find enough here to write an article.  Yesterday’s announcements includes some things that aren’t just business as usual though.

Before I go digging too deep into the list though, here is a direct link to the article with the Grand Prix Schedule. Let’s just hit the big flashy items first, then go into some of the smaller, and personal notes about this schedule. What I think might be the biggest item, at least for the potential future impact, is the new format that two of the GPs will be in next year.

GPs San Antonio, on March 31-April 2, and Madrid, on December 8-10 will both be Team Unified Modern.  Any team constructed format uses not only the card pool rules of the format, in this instance the Modern card pool, but in addition the team of 3 can’t have more than 4 of any card that is not a basic land, in all of their decks combined.  This mixes things up a lot, because not only can’t you all just play the same deck, you also have to divide cards that some decks share, like lands, up between the three decks. Only 4 Scalding Tarn can be played in all three decks, for instance.

This is a brand new format for Grand Prix, though Helene said it is a format used during the World Magic Cup (which I just learned from this article, and it makes me suddenly more interested in that tournament, I might have to actually watch coverage for it this year). I think this is a huge announcement, not just because it sounds cool, but also because this is wizards putting a format front and center for some Grand Prix that is fairly obscure, and a bit out of the more standard competitive formats that we normally see.  This might be a sign that they are willing to experiment a little bit with GP formats, and we might see other new things in years to come.

And to go a little out on a limb, this might also be a sign that Wizard’s is okay making some moves to shift Grand Prix away from just being a pillar of Organized Play that feeds into the Pro Tours. They still are very much that, but in recent years they have also become so much more.  Grand Prix provide gathering points in time and space for magic players to come together to hang out and play magic, sometimes in interesting ways they never have before, and that can be hard to facilitate in smaller groups, but the large presence of a GP brings together enough player to make those things possible.  I was able to participate in a Vintage Artist Constructed event at the Grand Prix a couple months ago here in Minneapolis. That is a perfect example of the type of format that is hard to get together without the backdrop of a large event, like a Grand Prix, around it.

The next big thing is what’s happening in Las Vegas next year.  Last year, with the launch of Modern Masters 2015, Las Vegas was one of three cities that had a big limited MM2015 Grand Prix. The one in Vegas was so big they planned to split it into two different events, with two different top 8’s and two full sets of cash payouts.  Apparently that wasn’t big and grand enough, because next year they are going to three Grands Prix over the 4 day weekend.  And this time they are splitting them up through out the weekend, and running three different formats.

  • On June 15-16 a Legacy GP is going to run.
  • June 16-17 will feature a standard GP
  • Finally June 17-18 a modern GP will fire.

So this is new and exciting for like 3 different reasons.

This is the first time there was 3 events in the same place, and kind of the first time there were multiple different events.  Las Vegas last year was, technically, two Grand Prix, but they were the same format, and happened in the same place and time, so while it was two events, it really resembled one big event.

Then, these are all different formats.  And, these three Grands Prix are all starting on different days, meaning not only that people can play in multiple, but it also means that there will be a Grand Prix going on all 4 days of the weekend.  Normally a Grand Prix has a full day, or sometimes two in the case of 4 day events, of run-up prior to the main event.  This event is going to not only have three Main Events, they will be staggered so that every day of the weekend there will be at least 1 “Main” event running.  And the middle two days will have two happening simultanous to all of the other normal activity of a Grand Prix, like Vendors, Artists, and Side Events.

I was able to make it to Las Vegas last year, and it was a lot of fun.  Unfortunately there is very little chance I’ll be able to attend this monster of an event next year.

That’s the big news from this schedule release, but there are a number of smaller things I want to hit real quick:

The number of Grand Prix for 2017 is increasing over the number we had/have this year.  There are 53 scheduled for next year, this year the number was like 48.  I’m really glad to see this number go up, after it had gone down this year (2015 had 54 GPs).  Over the last few years I have attended 4 Grand Prix in 4 different cities, and they have been some of the best experiences of my life.  I spoke briefly about that in this article a couple months ago, which I wrote about my hometown, the Twin Cities in Minnesota (in the United States), before the Grand Prix we had here this year.

Hopefully having more Grand Prix will allow more players the opportunity to have such experiences themselves.

Additionally, there are more limited events scheduled for next year.  Last year one of the pieces of criticism was a reduction in limited events scheduled over the year previous.  It’s nice to see Wizards take that criticism into consideration, and then act on it.

As a part of the increase in limited events, there are also more Team limited Grand Prix too.  This is a format where you build 3 decks out of a sealed pool of 12 packs, for your team’s 3 players. Helene said that the community had been asking for more team events, which was also likely a contribution to Team unified Modern showing up as a Main Event too.

So, that’s the highlights, personally I am very excited that Minneapolis got a Grand Prix next year, giving us two in a row now.  In the past we’ve gotten one every other year for a bit, so I am really glad to see that changing.

Outside of attending the Grand Prix in my own backyard, and wishing I could make it to Vegas for that hopefully ludicrous event, I might try to get some friends together and head to Columbus for the Team Sealed Grand Prix there.  It’s the closest Team Sealed Grand Prix to me next year, and it’s a format I’ve wanted to try for a while.  Minneapolis to Columbus is only about a 12 hour car ride, so it sounds like it might make for a run road trip, so we’ll see how that goes.

What’s your take on the schedule for next year?  Anything happening near you, or anything you are hoping to make it to?

Alex Newman
@alexandernewm on twitter
Moltenronrick on Tappedout.net

Alex Newman

Alex Newman

I have been a gamer as long as I can remember.Playing NES games on my Dad's old system are some of my first memories.

I started playing Magic when I was 8, and Revised had just been released, and have been playing on and off since then.

I like to write, and I like magic, so writing about magic was a natural step.

I live in Minnesota, USA where it's pretty cold, then fairly hot, and then pretty cold again.But at least we don't get Earthquakes, hurricanes or *that many Tornadoes.
Alex Newman

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