Today, Wizards of the Coast has announced that beginning in 2018, Magic: The Gathering Grand Prix will be organized and run by one company – ChannelFireball Events, a new company formed by ChannelFireball and Siteline Productions – in an exclusive partnership with the tabletop gaming titan. These changes to Grand Prix came about from an initiative from Wizards of the Coast to “increase the consistency and quality of the player experience at Grand Prix events globally”.
These changes are scheduled to go into effect beginning 2018. Further details on the 2018 Grand Prix schedule will be made available by Wizards of the Coast this summer.
Player reaction to this announcement has been mixed, with some expressing concern that allowing one company to have a monopoly on events will hurt event quality long run and allow entry fees to run unchecked;others, however, cite previous events run by other tournament organizers that suffered from poor organization and prize payouts, and say that moving to one company will eliminate those issues.
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While the quality of Grand Prix has ranged quite a bit historically from tournament organizer to tournament organizer (looking at you, Pastimes), I’m not sure giving one company exclusive hosting rights is the way to solve that problem. For one, ChannelFireball has almost always been the first company to raise prices for their Grand Prix; with them now having a monopoly on Grand Prix, players don’t have the ability to shop for potentially cheaper events to attend. Additionally, this partnership also effects global events, and ChannelFireball may be ill-equipped for some countries where the competitive Magic: The Gathering scene is radically different than North America.
Will it improve the quality of Grand Prix and set a standard for how they’re run? Maybe, but it will come at the cost of the open market.
What are your thoughts on this change? Do you think ChannelFireball should have exclusive hosting rights for Grand Prix? Let us know in the comment section below.