In an announcement made today, Wizards of The Coast has announced a return to the Pro Tour, with Pioneer as the first round of Regional Championships. The first Pro Tour will feature Pioneer and Limited and is tentatively scheduled for early 2023.
Wow, they did it. Wizards made me excited about the future of the game again. After the disastrous Arena economy stream, I was pretty negative going into this morning, but wow has that all turned around. Not only is the Pro Tour coming back, but there is an onroad to it out of local game stores again. To me, this was always the best part of the previous organized play systems, giving local-level players the drive to improve. Hyping yourself up to take down a GP is a daunting task, especially for younger players, but spiking a high-level local event can be in anyone’s future. So, thank you Wizards for revitalizing competitive local magic again with just a single article.
From Wizards of the Coast: “Your path to the Pro Tour has never been simpler—perform well at an event, qualify for the next level. Prove yourself the best in your region, and you could be named Regional Champion. Succeed at every level, and you just might find yourself at the World Championship.”
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the other part of the article that excited me. A focus on Pioneer. That’s right – not only will Pioneer be the format of the first round of Regional Championships, but also the first Pro Tour itself. Before Modern. Before Standard. Pioneer is at the forefront of the return to competitive paper magic, including a round of promos that include two very powerful Pioneer reprints. To all the naysayers out there still clinging to the notion Pioneer is dead: This format is here to stay.
Pioneer finally gets the recognition it deserves.
Pioneer has been the bud end to a lot of jokes during its few years of life. The past few months have seen Pioneer’s reputation with the wider audience increase significantly, but Wizards’ opinion on the format was always a little hidden. Arena events talking about ‘a non-rotating format with cards from Return to Ravnica forward’ and ‘a non-rotatinl format with no name and no explanation’ being mentioned on the economy stream had me worried about Wizards’ faith in the format…NO MORE!
Within the new structure, the events of the Regional Championship Qualifiers are not set in stone and is probably up to the organiser to decide, but the first Regional Championship and the first Pro Tour will feature Pioneer, which is an enormous vote of confidence by Wizards. With the premier events featuring Pioneer, this could also encourage local organisers to focus on the format more. This probably means the qualifiers will feature Pioneer more often as well, which I am super stoked about – as those are the events that most players will be playing in. With Wizards being pro-Pioneer and the wider Magic community being more and more pro-Pioneer by the day, the format looks unstoppable right now!
This is possibly the best news we could have hoped for. The simple nature of the “new system” fixes the issues of the Pro Tour from the past few years. I hope these events not only provide a great place for players to aim for, but also provide great coverage for anyone who can’t join.
The best thing about that – for us, personally – is that the first Regional Qualifiers and Pro Tour will be Pioneer and Limited. I’m looking forward to trying to play in the events near me and wish the entire Pioneer community good luck in qualifying in their qualifiers!
This is massive.
Pioneer serves as the replacement to Standard within the environment of Pro Play and offers a path again for anyone to move up within the rankings. Your LGS should be a huge beneficiary of this announcement, as players will look to flock to testing grounds for tournament play. This format is and should be the entry level to competitive play, and serves as a wonderful display of confidence by Wizards.This is a ripple effect that will be felt throughout Magic. Look for more Challenger Decks to come to the fray as this should now be a yearly occurence to help get more and more people into the format. Pioneer coming to Arena is looking more and more likely, and Pioneer supplemental sets (Pioneer Masters, not Horizons) are all but guaranteed. I said a few months ago that this is going to be the year of Pioneer, and I still stand by that statement.
Ryan “The Japan Hobbyist’s” Response
Smaller stores in Japan have been hurting since the PPTQ system ended. Only the biggest stores attract attention from players anymore, but this announcement means that there will be a reason to go back to other stores every weekend for a chance to qualify.
In my experience, Japanese players are very competitive, but since the old organized play system was discontinued, they seemed to be lost and aimless. I expect the qualifying tournaments to be packed over here in Japan, especially in the Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka, and Nagoya areas (whose players usually fed most of the previous Pro Tour tournaments). Outside of the Hareruya God of Pioneer tournaments, other organizers have struggled to attract large numbers of Pioneer players, but this announcement should create a lot of new players. I expect legions of new grinders playing the format all day long at one of Hareruya’s stores during the week or other stores on the weekends at one of the many newly-created weekly Pioneer events. Big Magic is also a good choice of organizer for the Asia region. They ran some great events during the Grand Prix area (the infamous sushi draft during GP Shizuoka which also sported a boxing ring and had a hilarious quiz show segment with pro players), and they also have their own tournament series during the year which attracts hundreds of players. They might not have the staff that Hareruya does but they have the experience. I look forward to seeing Kenji Tsumura, Saito Tomoharu, Yuuta Takahashi, and many other players in the tournament circuit again.
Regional Organizing hubs
USA – Dreamhack
Canada – Face to Face Games
Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) – Legacy
Australia/New Zealand – Good Games
China – Kadou
Japan/Korea – Big Magic
Southeast Asia – Oracle Events
Chinese Taipei – Game Square
Brazil – City Class Games
Mexico/Central America/Caribbean – Yellow Rabbit
South America – Magicsur