Finally, a Tournament With Scaling Prizes

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One of the biggest complaints I read regarding the Grand Prix system is that the prizes are fixed regardless of attendance. Winning a 2,000-person event results in the same prize as winning a 4,500-person event, despite the vastly increased revenue of the tournament organizer. In a weird way, this makes particularly huge GPs worse value than relatively small ones. As GP entry fees have increased in the last year, prizes have not, and it leaves many players feeling salty.

That's why it was so refreshing to click the link in this tweet:


I know nothing about this tournament organizer other than what is on the site, but I am intrigued as can be by the tournament structure. First, and most important, is that prizes scale. This means a longer, more grueling tournament will be more financially rewarding for those who finish high in the standings.


Second, in true Vegas style, this tournament allows for multiple rebuys. There are two ways to qualify for day two: enter a four-round, single-elimination pod and win four matches or enter multiple pods throughout the day and win a total of six matches. If you want to grind your way into day two, it should be pretty easy. And the best part is that you can play your format of choice: pods will be available in Sealed, Standard, Modern, and Legacy.

A major difference between this event and most competitive Magic events is the round-clock policy:

If time runs out while a game is still underway, the game goes into extra turns. After the current turn, only five more turns will be played. After the last turn, if neither player has won, the player with the highest life total wins. If life totals are tied, or the third game hasn’t yet started, then play continues until one player’s life is higher, and then that player immediately wins.

What I like about this is that unintentional draws are the worst and it's pretty cool that this tournament will avoid them. What I don't like is that life totals are not the complete story when it comes to who is winning a game, and it is all but guaranteed there will be control decks that are clearly ahead but lose the match when time is called. Still, it will be interesting to see how players react and adjust to this policy.

I truly don't know if this tournament will be any good, but I am thrilled to see some of these advancements in competitive Magic tournament formats. I, for one, hope that this is a success, because scaling prizes and the ability to rebuy into a failed tournament are great perks for folks who travel long distances to play in these events. I'll be keeping a close eye on CardMageddon and will keep you updated with what I observe.

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Danny Brown

Danny is a Cube enthusiast and the former Director of Content for Quiet Speculation.

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12 thoughts on “Finally, a Tournament With Scaling Prizes

  1. Many of us have heard said before, “Magic is not poker”. Compared to poker, Magic offers little financial incentive for one’s accomplishments. There are no MTG tournaments with $500, $1000, or $5000 entry fees. But what if there were? In poker, the rewards available are proportionate to what players are willing to wager. I wonder if a market could be cultivated for high stakes Magic. More scaling prize tournaments, whether high stakes or not, would be a much welcomed trend in my opinion.

  2. I’m fairly certain WotC covers all prize support at GPs, so the amount of money a TO does or doesn’t make when running them is immaterial to the prize structure.

  3. While this is a great start, it is merely a cute innovation, and nothing groundbreaking. Why not simply grow incrementally for every 100 players? Why not designate a certain amount from each entry fee to go directly to the prize pool and then disperse it appropriately depending on the # of entries in the manner of a poker tournament?

    My LGS, and probably many others, do just that for FNM. The pack or store credit payout is larger with more people. $5 entry fee equals 1.5 packs per entry towards the prize pool.

    The above comment about the grand prix makes sense, wizards pays out what it wants to pay out, and the entry fee helps cover the overhead for the TO. Surprised WIzards doesn’t get any of it, but the TO probably pays them to host it.

  4. Although it isn’t directly advertised on the website, the cool thing about this tournament is that you can take breaks, letting you actually eat food or go to the bathroom.

  5. I tend to agree that the innovations aren’t groundbreaking per se, but I would say that the author nicely touched on the point that the innovations are highly desirable. Also, though not explicitly stated, I feel like the innovations of the tournament are really crafted from a Player’s perspective as opposed to a “big business” perspective. I am definitely going to Cardmageddon to check it out, previously having only traveled as far as Phoenix from Tucson for a GP.

  6. GPs for the past 6~ months have started scaling actually. GPNJ had a LOT more money than any prior GP. Also no mention of this being a new TCGPlayer alternative group?

    1. Not sure how it is a bs excuse? I would imagine that Magic walks a insanely fine line on gambling laws with things like the open series and GPs. Like so thin that they pray every day it doesn’t get challenged.

      1. What do you think is more likely?

        A: We can’t scale because it might violate gambling laws.


        B: We don’t scale because we wouldn’t make as much money that way.

        It could be a combination of the two, but I guarantee it’s likely 95% B and 5% A at most.

  7. Wizards does have scaling at GPS now (last 6 months) but they only scale from 65th to 100th and the again from 101st and beyond.

    Nothing changes in top 64, which is where this new one shines…possibly.

  8. in Europe, organizers are responsible for the pay out. Some of them are known to be very very late in payment (and lack of communication).

    About the life total difference. This way of defining a winner is an official one. If draw is not an option for the organization, than winner is defined by highest life total.
    We should not care about the deck you play. You should make sure you finish your games on time!

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