Previously / Compare and Contrast To: Reflections on the 2017 Magic Online Championship

Previously: Speculations on Duo Standard

Compare To (Frank Karsten at Channel Fireball): The Mythic Invitational Wasn’t Perfect—And It Was Still a Smashing Success

And Remember, Guys, You Asked For It: The “And” of MTG Arena

Two years ago we were treated to a virtuoso performance on all fronts at the 2017 Magic Online Championship. All the players on the Sunday stage played the best Magic we’ve ever seen. The commentary drew us into exactly that which made the games, and the game of Magic in general, great. I called upon the game to bottle that lightning, and build upon it to create our future.

At the Invitational we experienced a very different digital tournament.

Some stuff was great. We made giant leaps forward in some areas.

Including viewers. We’re playing in a different league now.

We turned ourselves into a real e-sport! Woo-hoo!

Other areas, not so much. We mustn’t let the good distract from fixing the bad.

I won’t speak of the minor technical difficulties, as this is already far too long and they are doubtless being addressed. Frank Karsten mentions them in his article, along with good suggestions for the Arena client.

This is a case of ‘I should get this out there one way or another’ so I’m doing that. I hope it helps.

The Great

You can’t argue with a million dollars in prizes. Competitive Magic’s biggest flaw has always been the size of its prize pools. There’s still room to improve, but I think it is safe to say: Problem solved. This is no longer the lowest hanging fruit.

Physical production values were off the charts. Game play on Arena is much easier to follow even for invested veterans like me. For new and casual players, it’s a transformation. The game looks and feels exciting and fast paced.

No doubt the stage looked like we wanted it to look, and we had the commentary teams we wanted to have, no matter the expense.

Things felt instinctively like they were supposed to feel. High stakes, high tension, high drama. The money and stage did their jobs quite well.

Becca Scott, Brian Kibler and the other commentators were (someone please create the supercut so I can link to it here, and also watch it multiple times) very excited. That latest draw (again, supercut please) was huge. If Richard Hagon had been on site, I would have worried if he could have survived.

Viewership followed. Before the final day we were already breaking 100,000 viewers. Arena stream viewer numbers are a different order of magnitude.

Magic is still super awesome. Magic reliably creates great moments, giant swings, complex key decisions, heroes and stories. There were some truly epic games on camera. We have great potential as a true spectator sport.

If we can keep improving the product, the sky is the limit.

We’re going to need to do that. A lot of things were less than optimal this weekend. We can’t let top line success distract us from that.

Let us start with the biggest enemy: Dead air.

Dead Air and Repetition

Dead air is the central villain of any Magic broadcast.

While Magic content is on screen, Esper torture sessions we’ll talk about later not withstanding, your floor is high. The floor is even higher when both hands are visible. You’re watching Magic. That’s why we all tuned in.

The ideal broadcast contains other things. Deck features are great. Previews of match-ups give crucial context. Interviews can add a lot when done well. The story of the tournament and its players is worth telling. A few preview cards and promo cards add spice.

Magic is still where it is at. When in doubt, show more Magic. 

More importantly, don’t give us dead air.

An interview is almost always good the first time it is shown. Each time it is repeated, it gets worse.

A cheesy player introduction is good fun the first time it is shown. Each time it is repeated, it gets worse.

Other features are similar. I want to see that deck analysis once. I definitely don’t want to see it five times. I don’t want to constantly be going over the same brackets and same match results.

Streams are about getting viewers who stick around all day. That means new content.

I lost track of how many times I saw the same short clips of pure fluff. I lost track of how long Kibler and the others sat around speculating about War of the Spark cards they’d never seen before, trying to get constructed hype up for well-designed limited cards. Presumably because they were on the screen with a high amount of zoom. And because the awesome preview video with all the feels.

We had quick recaps of a few matches, where we could have had time-shifted matches.

The first two days were not as bad on these fronts. Saturday made it very easy for the mind to wander. On Sunday, most of the time there was nothing on the stream to see. Eventually we switched over to basketball and kept an eye in case a match started.

Then there were the constant ads, all in heavy rotation. It was a bit much.

At our would-be watch party, at best we were sort of watching.

More and Better Magic Games

There was zero need for things to be that way!

We could have easily filled all that time with quality Magic content.

Playing all games on Magic Arena means having full recordings, with hands, of every game of every match of the tournament.

Why not show them to us?

I realize things are marginally better when the players are in the feature match area in the big chairs. I don’t care. At all. This is a crazy, very not important, not-worth-worrying-about concern. It’s fine to start with the match of your choice. It’s not fine to be tied only to two matches that are selected in advance.

Once those two matches are done, if not sooner, we should choose the games and matches that are right for viewers. Then show them.

Before the first round, during breaks, during down time late in the day without alternate rounds, show matches from other rounds.

There are lots of good ways to choose matches. Here are some ideas.

Pick decks, match-ups and players we haven’t seen.

Pick games and matches that were exciting, or offer interesting decisions or whatever else you prefer, as suggested by the players or by a volunteer group watching the secondary matches. Or post all the matches on different streams, and then judge via feedback which ones were the best, and show those.

Pick games and matches of the right length. Next round starts in 23 minutes, so find a game or match that lasts 15-23 minutes and show that one.

Pick games and matches by players who did well. On Sunday morning we might show select games by the top 4 competitors from previous days.

Pick the match-up we’re about to see, and show previous games won by both sides, to illustrate how it might work.

Pick via the Twitch chat or a Twitter poll, if you’d like.

The important thing is, pick.

In other tournaments we’ve evolved the technology of the time-shifted match. A match is recorded, then played back, often at accelerated speed, and commentary reacts in real time. This is awesome. With Arena, we can supercharge this.

We also could have chosen better feature matches.

There were a number of cool decks (and players) that were never on camera. Many of the early round matches we saw were echoed many times in later rounds. We should have spent the early rounds actively avoiding Esper players, and seeking out players with some spice.

More Other Content

That is not to say that we should uniquely rely upon Magic matches. Other content is also both welcome and abundantly available. Advantage should be taken.

As usual, before we innovate, we should take advantage of existing excellent technology. Look at what we’ve done in the past that worked. Then do that.

With a field full of streamers, both MPL players and other professionals, we have access to a wide variety of content creators who love Magic and want to increase their profile. We can use that.

Deck Analysis and Matchup Previews

I have loved it when players preview their own matchups and sideboarding, especially on Sunday stage. Ask for volunteers from the field. Put their deck up on screen, give them a microphone and a prompt, and let them talk.

It should be easy to get deck explanations from enough players to have one from each major archetype.

It should also be easy to get a top perspective on both sides of every matchup between popular decks, and every potential Sunday matchup.

Not every player will give a great preview. Some will, some won’t. Tape in advance. Take the ones that are good. Lose the ones that are bad.

One could argue, as players have in the past, that such features put the player at strategic disadvantage. This is a concern, but we’ve already told MPL players they must prepare for Mythic Championships in the open on their streams. That’s the same concern, but writ large, and everyone has accepted it.

Strategic Analysis

One of the best ways to get better at Magic is to go over games and do a postmortem. Why did the game play out that way? What could either player have done differently? Can we do a deep dive into decision points, and ask about all the factors going into what the right call is? With the benefit of not only hindsight but focus and time, one can go much deeper after the game than even the best player can go during the game.

I find such analysis fascinating.

Getting one or both players of a match into the booth, and having them watch a replay with the ability to pause and accelerate, and discuss and debate their decisions, seems super high value to me. So does simply watching a match on replay with one of the players as a commentator. Consider what is probably the best Grand Prix coverage of all time, which followed Reid Duke each round. Copy a lot of what was good about that, both in the previews discussed above and in analysis after the matches.

Going deep is admittedly difficult to square with the average experience level of the audience. We need to aim at viewers who are trying to learn what the rules are and what the cards do, or simply admire the pretty animations, in addition to those who would love going deep.

But you know what? That’s what makes Magic interesting to watch. I’ll quote directly from my older reflections:

I didn’t think of it at the time, but what Sunday reminded me of most was sitting back for a Mets game and listening to our world-class broadcast booth for a well-played, close game. Ron, Gary, and Keith aren’t afraid to share their opinions about anything, or to geek out or rant about little details, or to relax and tell you stories. Like Magic, baseball can be slow at times, pausing quite a bit between actions, and it suffers when it gets too slow. Also like Magic, if you are not interested in the details, strategy, and atmosphere of the game, it is boring. Those who go out to the ballpark and do not watch the game are skipping the game because it’s boring, but it’s boring because they are skipping it by not giving it the attention it deserves.

Thus, we need to strike a balance the same way professional sports broadcasts do.

If you’re looking for how to do that, watch a New York Mets baseball broadcast. It is chock full of esoteric knowledge and opinion, the tiny details of games that new fans will have zero idea about. Yet it is also accessible out of the box even if you know nothing about the game. It can be done.

Another example is to look at what ESPN does in the biggest college football games with its Megacast. On six different channels, the same game is presented six different ways. The coaches film room breaks down the game as its most central characters break it down when planning for their next match. The fan casts are highly partisan. The regular broadcast is there for those who want it. On different nights, I choose different options. It’s awe inspiring.

In Magic it will be harder. Some of the expert content will need to be gated and made distinct from the main broadcast, a la the film room of the megacast. We also likely could benefit from a ‘beginner’ broadcast. On the main broadcast, we’ll need to work hard to explain deep strategic thinking in ways new players can also follow.

What strategic analysis we did get seemed to be one line explanations for why matchups were lopsided in ways that they were not. But the players also made similar mistakes in many places, making it hard to find too much fault here.

Human Interest

It was cool to see interviews asking about players’ favorite experiences of the weekend, or how they were feeling going into a day’s action. Once.

Often it seemed like the process was to instruct the on-air talent to ask a one-line question, get a ten second answer, give a reaction that indicated how great that answer was, then move on. There was no tying to the broader picture, no following up, no relation to the game of Magic. Players were reduced to a single anecdote repeated over and over, clearly not rehearsed or selected.

If we’re going to intentionally sum up players with fifteen second clips of them saying what a great day it is for Magic, and show them lots of times, at least then they should know that this is their job, write up what they want to say, be coached on delivery, and deliver the goods. Do multiple takes if needed. This stuff does not come naturally. Then players can decide what persona to present, and will present better ones. This can still be combined with raw post-match reactions.

Better would be to do longer and more of them, so they could each be used more sparingly, and/or edited for the best parts, and they can go into more depth. If a Magic player wants to tell a long story – and they often do – there’s a good chance it’s a good story and I want to listen to it.

Mark Rosewater’s podcast on my good friend Brian David-Marshall highlighted how the stories of the players and the Pro Tour drive player engagement, and how important his pioneering of this angle was to coverage’s success. I agree completely. But what matters are deep stories. We want to know players over the course of many events, hear about the little things and the big arcs. A ten second set of stereotypes and tropes, or a catchphrase that wasn’t even well chosen, is not good characterization.

Result Reporting and Highlights

The weakest part of current traditional tournament coverage is when we are being updated on match results and how players are doing. We are read a list of how a bunch of players are doing, who won and who lost to who. Sometimes I want to know, but it’s pure scoreboard watching.

With no matches left to cover, it makes sense to use this to fill remaining round time, but if one wants to know how things are going for more than a small number of matches, a broadcast is a terrible method of transmitting that information.

If anything, reporting lots of results directly onto the stream is to me a detriment, because it is a spoiler. This prevents watching rounds out of order. Which would matter even more if we had better rebroadcasts.

Website Ho!

You know what’s great at reporting results? A web page that one can click on. Wizards used to be good at this. Can we bring this back? Please? We should have all the public information available in easy to access form on the web. All decklists, all results, should be easy to find. Somehow we have fallen so far away from this ideal that the stream becomes the entirety of the coverage, but that makes no sense. 

It especially makes no sense for results and things like decklists and deck analysis, but it also makes no sense for the games themselves. Why can’t we watch any Invitational game we want, right now, on demand? Seriously. Why not?

Want to watch your favorite player’s rounds in order? We got you.

Want to view your own matches and maybe create a commentary track or companion article for them, or just analyze them in detail? All of which I would totally do all the time? We got you.

Want to watch all the copies of your favorite deck or match up? We got you.

Want to go around clipping highlights for an awesome YouTube video? We got you, too.

Want to create a full matrix of how any element impacted win percentage, from number of lands in the opening hand to dead cards in the matchup to which spells are worth countering? A true deep dive? We’re all over that.

And so on. The possibilities are endless.

The other thing one might want to do is experience the tournament without spoilers.

SFSN: The Spoiler-Free Sports Network

This is one of those startup ideas I am way too busy for and I know ideas are worth nothing, but I do hope someone creates it someday. I plan a full proposal write-up at some point.

In the meantime, we can start with Magic. We should have a place where one can view matches with a bar that determines when ‘now’ is and what parallel things of which we want or don’t want to be made aware. Then we can journey through what happened at our own pace, without worrying that we will be spoiled.

Another concrete suggestion is that there needs to be dead time at the end of all match/round/day videos, enough so that we can’t infer from the length of the video what happened in the match. Thus, if a round goes less than an hour, the video is the same length as if it went to time. If showing an non-timed round, go up to the reasonable maximum one could have expected. When I say ‘dead’ time it can literally be static or a fixed screen saying ‘thanks for watching!’ if we’d like. Alternatively, we can use that time for post-match analysis or information, or to show another match of the appropriate length, as we prefer.

Keep Your Nerve

This one will come with time. There were a lot of first time jitters. That makes sense. We had new announcers and announcing teams, high-stakes Arena games, a giant stage and an epic prize pool all for the first time. Both players and the coverage team were in awe of the moment.

Next time, that will be a lot better. A few years from now, challengers will have the issue, but most competitors and the whole coverage team will be old veterans of this new level.

Know Your Game

There’s no nice way to say this. I won’t name any names, but we need to not pretend that what happened here didn’t happen.

A huge portion of the coverage team, including some of those doing commentary, had no idea, or not much of an idea, what was going on in the games.

They were all super excited. Which is great. It’s not enough. The team needs to be on the ball.

If you’re going to do interviews or man the reporting desk, you don’t need to know as much as the color commentator. The color commentator doesn’t need to know as much as the play by play. The play by play commentators need not study enough to compete. There still remains a minimum level that one has to meet to do a good job. More than that is great, and it will show, but you need to know the game, know the players, know the format and its major cards, decks and match-ups. And know what your role is, and how to execute on it. Be a professional.

If you do find yourself behind the camera, and you have no idea what is happening in the game, or what the right play is, just admit that. Ask the play by play announcer with more experience. If you’re the play by play, point out that the situation is complicated and hard and how cool that is. You can’t wait to see what the players do with this tough decision. Nothing wrong with that.

hate it when definitive strategic statements are made, over and over again, criticizing the players, that I know to be wrong, as the claimant doubles and triples down. When they could be thinking more about what was actually going on.

We also saw tons of excitement-based commentary during games, talking about how huge swings and moments were (that often were quite the opposite), but not explaining the interesting things about the game at all. Hopefully this was not on purpose, but only a side effect of not being fully prepared with knowledge or for the faster pace of play that comes with Arena.

This is totally, totally not about going after any particular person. This is not, repeat not, anyone on the team’s fault (although if they come back still not ready, that would be different, and if it was bad enough I’d start naming names).

It is the fault of the people who put together the teams for not checking, not making the right preparations.

If that was growing pains and trying people out, totally fine. But it can’t happen again. Not like this.

Life Total Tiebreak and Double Elimination

Everyone knows this is a horrible, no good, very bad solution to matches going to time. It always has been. When Gerry Thompson was forced to concede to Wyatt Darby in a won position in game three, it stung. Later, when I Googled for ‘Mythic Invitational’ the two highlighted results were something non-flattering that we won’t discuss here, and an article criticizing deciding games on the basis of life totals.

This was far from the worst case scenario. Fast Arena games kept most matches from going to time even with Esper mirrors. There was no visible stalling or foul play anywhere. The match we saw that featured a life total tiebreak gave both players the chance to play the game with the tiebreak in mind, and Gerry could have conceded a previous game much faster to save the time needed to win.

So all in all, we got off very light. Next time we might not be so lucky.

The obvious offender is double elimination. In addition to its hyper randomness, double elimination forces the elimination of draws. Without draws, we need some sort of tiebreaker.

In exchange, we get excitement and easy to understand brackets. I don’t love it, but I understand and accept the need for it. If we could do longer and more skill intensive matches it would be far less painful.

What else can we do if we’re committed to elimination brackets?

Our choices are to eliminate time limits, have both players lose, or to choose a better tiebreaker.

Both players losing isn’t viable in context.

Eliminating time limits interferes with the tournament schedule. So do other things, and there were lots of fast-finishing rounds that resulted in lots of dead air, so one could plan to make up the time elsewhere. It would almost certainly be fine, and you could reserve the right to call the match if needed. But alas, that is almost certainly not good enough.

So we need a better tiebreaker. It isn’t obvious one is available, or even possible. Life totals at least have the advantage of being law. There’s a number, make yours higher, everyone knows the rule and can choose plays and decks accordingly. Ugly sometimes, but gets the job done.

What I totally don’t want is a subjective judgment call. Even if it is used sparingly, judges and staff need to not be put into that position. It’s not fair to them, it’s not fair to the players or to the tournament. Eventually they’re going to get one wrong, or there’s going to be one so muddled it’s a giant train wreck, and once you have the option to intervene, it’s your call and no amount of punting will change that.

Chess clocks are also an option. Magic Online matches won’t go to life totals, because one player will lose to time. We could in theory add those clocks into Magic Arena for matches without a turn time limit, and choose a limit such that the round must end on time.

In theory, we could have the clocks count up, and say that whoever’s total time used was lower wins the match if it goes to time. But that runs into the problem of ‘player ahead on time now knows they should stall because they have a big enough time lead’ and I don’t see a solution to that. All the solutions I can think of reintroduce all the disadvantages of counting down, so you might as well count down.

Unless we go the chess clock route, I think we’re mostly stuck. We should use 60 minute rounds whenever possible and be ruthless about slow play and especially stalling.

One partial solution is to present the sudden death rule up front, and treat it as a good, exciting thing. Sudden death! Fans hate sudden death overtime in sports for its randomness, but they also love sudden death overtime. It’s exciting and action packed.

Another solution of course is to not have so many damn Esper decks, which combined with Arena’s speed should solve the problem almost all the time anyway.

Player Skill

Player skill on display at the Mythic Invitational was far lower than at the Mythic Championship or similar past events, let alone the above-referenced Magic Online Championship. What happened?

Several things.

First, the format forced players to bring a diversity of decks, forcing them to play styles they were uncomfortable with. There are certainly advantages to forcing players to be well–rounded, but this is a price you pay.

Second, we invited competitors in ways that didn’t test for the skills they would use to compete.

The grind into the Mythic Top 8 was a killer on the community’s stamina and is gladly not being repeated. Another aspect was that it rewarded players who knew one deck inside and out and could grind out wins consistently and quickly versus non-top opposition. That’s a very different skill.

Then we invited a lot of streamers. Streamers are specializing in a different skill, which wasn’t on display. I wish it had been on display. If you’re going to invite streamers, use them also for what they do best! Tactics with multiple decks was not their forte, and often it showed.

Third, Arena seems like it instinctively rushes players. Even with nothing mechanically forcing quick moves, everything is geared towards goading players into playing faster. It worked, but this caused a decrease in quality of play. All the players who did well played a ton on Arena and were deeply comfortable with the program, but also likely didn’t properly adjust to a regular form of time control.

Fourth, there was no good testing ground for Duo Standard. Thus, when players tried to do things that didn’t make sense in regular best of one, they were out on limbs. When they wanted to test the matchups they would actually face, instead they faced best of one fields that had very different deck distributions.

Fifth, the double elimination format and the Duo Standard format did not give enough room for those playing better to triumph over those playing worse. A lot of Magic’s best were out early.

Sixth, players lost their nerve due to the stakes and setting, as mentioned above. This showed especially in the choice of decks for game three. No one dared be bold. It felt like a lot of players planned to make bold choices for game three, then couldn’t pull the trigger.

We Tried Duo Standard, Now Try Something Else

A lot of the problems were due to Duo Standard.

Thinking about Duo Standard is a fascinating exercise in game theory. My speculations were a lot of hit and also a bunch of miss; in another article I’ll go over what happened, and what I think explains the differences, and what we’ve now learned.

Also what I think the players did wrong.

Without stepping too much on that much deeper article’s toes, I think it is safe to say that we tried Duo Standard and found it wanting.

Duo Standard resulted in less deck diversity in terms of general archetypes. Where we did see a new deck, it was because of Mastermind’s Acquisition.

Duo Standard resulted in less diversity within each deck, even within the main deck build. Without the ability to sideboard out poor cards, or fix problems, players universally opted for ‘safe’ configurations.

Duo Standard took away sideboarding, which has the most strategic depth of any portion of the game, and also creates a lot of the diversity of experience since different players pursue different strategies even with identical decklists and sideboards to work with. 

Stop trying to kill sideboarding. Seriously. Stop trying to kill sideboarding. The game is a shadow of itself without sideboarding. It turns into an endless grind if one isn’t careful. Sideboards make us think about every detail of our opponents’ deck, how they think, what they anticipated, how they think about us, what they expect, how they might plan for a later game. It makes the game rich.

That doesn’t mean no best of one queue. Players need to start somewhere. Sometimes we want to try out a new thing or get in a quick game.

But seriously. Stop It.

Duo Standard also often results in situations where if the flip on which deck plays which goes one way, one player gets two great matchups, and if the flip goes the other way, the other player gets two great matchups.

Then for game three, you have a pure guessing thinking game. Not what we had in mind.

Coin flipping was the order of the day for many distinct reasons.

Combine that with double elimination and an established format full of aggressive decks, and it’s no surprise that skill testing was at an all-time low.

Please. Let’s keep experimenting.

Good news! Wizards has already announced that they have recognized that Duo Standard did not do what they needed it to, and will continue to experimenting.

The problem is that the phrase ‘closely resemble your at-home play experience’ seems to be code for ‘no sideboards.’

This misguided goal may doom us all.

To be blunt, it’s a stupid goal. Professional and advanced play of games often involves additional twists that don’t make sense at home. People understand.

Does your little league game use a bullpen? Should MLB stop using one because you don’t? Does your touch football game not use distinct offensive and defensive players? Should the NFL fix this?

Of course not. That would be insane.

Rule of Law

This is another point on my list of things to write about extensively and carefully, and ties into my recent posts on Privacy and Blackmail. It is almost impossible to underestimate the value of true rule of law.

Rule of law opposes rule of man. It says that we choose rules, then we follow those rules. It says that the record reflects what happened, that rewards and punishments are not chosen based on politics and alliances, or who placated or served the powerful.

Without rule of law, power, wealth and survival come from politics. One’s prime directive is to make alliances, sell one’s self and serve powerful interests in hopes of reward. Such systems make communication impossible, invoking the Snafu principle.

What is unique and great about games? Games are the avatars of rule of law. You have a closed system with fixed rules. The rules cannot be broken. Those who navigate those rules best, win. Even as Magic’s rules and cards change, the winners are those who play the best. We give the power to the players.

I was playing games to get away from power and politics long before I knew that was what I was doing. I believe the same is true of many others.

When Wizards fails to communicate their plans and set clear rules, this causes two huge problems.

The first is that players cannot plan their lives. They don’t know what is being asked of them, or what is being offered to them, or what they must accomplish.

The second is that we weaken rule of law. When decisions are made without prior formulas, it is impossible to not worry that the fingers on the scale are (at least in part) choosing in order to get the results that they want. To invite the players they want, and not the ones they don’t. To give advantage where it would help them.

Thus, instead of focusing on winning at Magic, we are forced to focus on doing what we think will please the Powers That Be. Feedback becomes unreliable. Players praising Wizards and the game, whether or not #Sponsored, are hard to trust. Players must constantly think about what would look good, what would be popular, what would get their streaming numbers up or convince key decision makers.

This happens even if the decisions are in fact being made without considering these things. 

The key thing about power is avoiding it. That is hard. Power creates more power by default. Poor is the man whose pleasures depend on the permission of another.

It is great when Wizards says well in advance, we will take players from Arena according to this formula (the new formula of an event among the top 1000 is far superior to an exhausting ladder grind, so kudos for fixing that right away), or the winners of these qualifiers, or those who score highly on these point systems. Some systems are better than others, but having a system at all is the most important thing!

I would implore Wizards to enshrine as much rule of law as they possibly can, while still getting the things they need. I’m totally fine with setting aside slots (in Invitationals, or even in the MPL) for big streamers or other game ambassadors. Things other than play skill matter. It’s true. 

But (in addition to being inherently political themselves) success in such tasks is very hard to quantify and the temptation is not to. We should be as quantified and objective as possible in choosing which streamers, in a way that streamers can know in advance. Even more importantly we should draw a distinct line between where being a good player versus being a good ambassador (versus a combination of both) is what we are judging.

Same with other choices.

I’m even totally fine with reserving a few slots (again, even in the MPL) for ‘Wizards’ choice’ and making it explicit that those slots are based on politics. There are big benefits, and this is big business. But let us isolate that, lest we lose that which is most precious.


Lets boil down and summarize what needs to happen to make events like this great.

  1. Minimize dead air. Minimize repetition. Let us watch as much Magic as possible.
  2. Make all games available both during stream and at the website.
  3. Website needs to provide the information we want, and also allow watching of matches without exposing us to spoilers.
  4. Ensure commentators know the game, players, cards and format.
  5. Keep focus on deep stories and deep strategy whenever possible.
  6. Do longer and deeper interviews and round analysis with players.
  7. Keep focus off of coin flipping and repeating how huge and exciting things are.
  8. Choose matches with more deck diversity.
  9. Keep experimenting with formats, but accept that Duo Standard is a failure. Stop trying to kill off sideboards.
  10. Maintain rule of law.



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