First things first, I'm locked in for this event, and I haven't been so excited for a tournament weekend in years.
For those who don't know, Star City Games has pulled out all the stops for what I believe is a game-changing moment for the way that MTG tournaments may well look and feel in the future – and the implication for the secondary market could be profound.
I don't have any current affiliation with SCG and today's article isn't about plugging their event, but even unendorsed, I believe the event is significant and interesting enough that it deserves some serious discussion and consideration. SCG CON is not only the Invitational (SCG's flagship event) but a full-on Anything Magic Goes festival.
Why SCG CON Is Unique and Significant
I'm going to frame my discussion like this: the Pro Tour is next weekend and I am literally looking past it to SCG CON.
Perhaps things would be different if I were qualified for the Pro Tour, but perhaps not. I don't really care about Standard. I wasn't excited to play the last several Standard Pro Tours I attended and I'm not sure anything has changed for me in that department.
On the other hand, SCG CON as a high-profile event is a departure from the rigidity of the PT. Instead of a few hundred qualified players with name badges sequestered in a desolate, roped-off hall and removed from fanfare of the rest of the community, SCG CON has gone the complete opposite direction and declared: "We're having our Invitational the weekend after the PT, and everyone is invited to celebrate playing Magic. Bring us your Vintage, Bring us your No-Banned List Modern, and Bring us your Pauper! Come as you are."
Right? The main event is the Invitational, but there are a dozen great events that a fan of the game could legitimately be excited about. There's a Vintage Power 9 Open, a "No Banned List" Modern event (WHHHAAAT?), large-scale Pauper events, tons of Legacy, and even 93/94 Old School events. No matter what events you are into, this Magic bonaza has a game for you.
It's an interesting idea and one that, at least for me, captures the spirit of why I love and play the game. It reminds me in some ways of what Grand Prix Vegas represents, a Magic spectacular, except that SCG has decided to put the fringe formats in the limelight.
Obviously, the Invitational itself is geared toward the more traditional tournament grinder formats, but there are a dozen great reasons to attend even if you're not qualified. I'd argue that this is one of the more attractive event experiences for the majority of people who play Magic that has ever existed.
I would love to see the actual Pro Circuit events (PT and GP) follow suit with what SCG has done here to incorporate more of the formats. Magic is bigger than just Standard and Modern, and it feels like SCG has its finger on the pulse of what people enjoy about the game.
How Will This Impact Magic Finance?
Good question. I was beginning to wonder myself. It felt strange to spend a few hundred words singing the praises of SCG!
"Tournament Magic," as it has traditionally been understood and conceptualized, revolves largely around Standard, Modern and Sealed. These are great formats with a ton of appeal. They also have one very important thread in common: they are all three cheap-ish to play, at least by comparison to the Eternal Formats.
But wait, you say, isn't Pauper a "cheap" format to play? Yes, and it is beyond my comprehension why WOTC hasn't yet made Pauper an official, competitive tournament format. It baffles me and I don't understand it.
Nevertheless, the point is that it's easier to get players to an event for a format they can afford to play. Vintage and Legacy have that Reserved List, high-price-tag thing going on that keeps regular folks away. It doesn't mean these formats aren't great. It just means that they are less likely to get a larger turnout because of the cost of entry.
I love the way SCG has woven pricey and inexpensive niche formats together in order to create an environment where there is something fun for everyone, no matter how they like to play the game.
It's a Big Moment for Vintage
When I was in my early twenties, I was all about the Power Nine Open Series. Back in the day, when given the option between playing PTQs and Grand Prix or traveling across the country to play Vintage, it wasn't even a close decision. I love Vintage and always have.
The escalation of Reserved List prices has basically crippled paper Vintage. Aside from the few Eternal Weekend Championship events, there are few opportunities to play Vintage in a large, in-person event. I'm glad this is a thing now, and I won't be missing the opportunity to crack Black Lotus once again.
It's a Big Moment for Old-School Magic
Another format that is going to get lots of lip service in two weeks is Old School. The format gets a weird rap where people assume it's cute or silly. It's not. The format is great. The games are good. There is a reason that Magic went from an obscure, small-print-run game into an unstoppable juggernaut.
The fact that it was great then had a big part to do with it! It's fun for me to relive the glory days of playing Magic as it was, and I think that it's even a great experience for player's who didn't get to experience it the first time around. It's a piece of historym and there isa good reason for it to exist.
Another Reason to Hoard Old Cards
I don't know what SCG CON means for the future of tournament Magic events. I hope that it's more than a one-time thing. In fact, I hope this is the kind of thing that happens a couple of times a year!
More large events that cater to the Eternal niche crowds like Vintage, Old School, and Legacy, creates greater demand for Old School cards. The only thing that keeps demand steady-ish is that there are simply not many good events worth taking one's Moxen out for a walk. Is that bound to change now?
If it does, and I hope it does, it means that Reserved List staples could be primed to make significant gains.
Has anybody else noticed that for all of the buy-out, Reserved List craziness, Power has only ticked up modestly admist all the chaos? I still think it's coming, and when it does, it's going to be crazy. Events like Vintage Power Nine Opens at SCG CON can only add to demand for these coveted Old School gems.
Whether you are excited to attend an event like this (as I am) or just watching the stock ticker on Reserved List cards, it goes without saying that a trend toward tournament organizers providing a serious outlet for Eternal players is a big deal in terms of the viability of mostly overlooked Eternal formats.
As a player, I'm at a point with the game where I want to play what I like. I think a lot of players are figuring out the same types of things when thinking about traveling to tournaments. I hope this sticks. It's a big win for individuals who enjoy more than just the traditional Standard, Modern and Sealed formats. What's got you most excited for this event?