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Rating System . . . Transform!

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It feels like just yesterday that Total rating was the new kid on the block. Before that, we had separate ratings for Constructed, Limited, and Eternal formats. Total didn’t solve any of the old system’s problems, and by lumping everything together, it made your rating even more skewed toward your most recent big tournament. It also flipped the bird to format specialists, though with the then-new PT structure, format specialists were basically screwed anyway. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, as Pro Tours really should reward players that are good at more than one format. I can say this without bias, as I think I would have been better off if any of the last three PTs I attended were strictly Limited.

Just like that, not only has Total been replaced, but the entire Elo system on which DCI ratings were based from day one has been scrapped. I, for one, welcome our new Planeswalker overlords. FNM is one of my favorite tournaments to play in. It’s how I got my start in competitive Magic, and to this day, I still show up to my local store to burdle FNM almost every week. Now that I don’t have to worry about losing points by going 4–0–1 at FNM, I can actually play. Worlds is still using the old system for invites, so if Montreal goes well for me, I’ll be sitting on my rating just a little while longer. But rest assured, after the cutoff date, I will be playing as many FNMs as I can. It’s pretty clear that this was WotC’s goal with the new system, and for that I applaud them. However, the Planeswalker Points system isn’t without its flaws.

The name sounds really cheesy.

I realize this is a fantasy card game with goblins, elves, and wizards, but Planeswalker Points? Really? I don’t think I can ever say it out loud without my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I don’t even see the need to name the system at all. I would have been perfectly fine with Lifetime/Competitive/Professional rating.

It’s overly complicated.

Maybe this is my old-man brain, but I had to read the info page at least three times to understand how it works. Even then, I’m still not completely clear on where I stand. For example, I have one of the highest Lifetime ratings in Canada, but as far as I can tell, Lifetime rating means absolutely nothing. Why even have it, then? I think I have a pretty good idea on how GP byes and PT invites work, but how many people out there still don’t know? How Nationals invitations work hasn’t even been defined yet. It’s still a ways away, but I don’t like operating in the dark.

You have to play. A lot.

I’m pretty sure this was intentional, but it’s basically impossible to get any rating-based rewards if you can only play Magic once in a while. You have to grind out multiple tournaments a week in order to be rewarded, because there are people out there who do play sanctioned events almost every day. Those of us who, you know, have a life outside of Magic aren’t going to be able to keep up with the grinders. Again, I’m sure this was intentional, but it’s really going to suck for the guy who only has time to play one or two GPs a year, Top 8’s one of them, and gets basically nothing for it. Sure, he gets the monetary prize, but he’s not qualified for the Pro Tour, and still has to grind into Nationals. The best he can hope for are byes at the next GP, which he may or may not be even able to attend. At what point does that player decide it’s not worth his time to play in GPs at all? You could even extend this case to the Pro Tour itself. It would suck for someone to win a PTQ, do really well at the PT, and have to face the possibility that he has to PTQ for the next one. Knowing that Top 50 qualifies for the next PT, you had something to aim for. Now that that’s been taken away, you have no idea if you should make plans to attend the next PT when the tournament is over. You just have to play as much as you can and hope.

The numbers still need work.

I heard through the grapevine that someone did the math, and with the system as is, if you’re not a SCG grinder, you essentially have no chance to ever qualify for the Pro Tour on rating. The SCG series is definitely great, but to use a commonly quoted example, it doesn’t make any sense for a player like Alex Bertoncini to be qualified for the PT while Paulo Vitor isn’t. I appreciate the effort to reward players who play a lot, but I feel that there needs to be a bigger spread between professional events, nonprofessional competitive events, and casual/FNM events. Take my case as an example. I got 444 points for finishing thirty-first in Nagoya. Going further back, I got 51 points for 5–0’ing a twenty-person FNM. According to this system, winning eight or nine FNMs is roughly equivalent to Top 32’ing a Pro Tour. That doesn’t seem right to me. Either the FNM multiplier should be reduced, or GP/PT multipliers should be increased.

Planeswalker Points has experienced an unknown error.

This one is somewhat understandable, as with the launch of any new website. However, over a week after the launch date, the site still consistently crashes for me. I’m not trying to do anything crazy—just trying to use it for the mundane task of seeing how many byes I will get for next season and how far away I am from qualifying for the PT on rating—you know, its intended purpose. None of these things are relevant right this minute, but it doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence when I can’t even get the site to work.

For the most part, Wizards does know what it’s doing, so I’m sure the issues I’ve outlined will be fixed in the coming weeks. None of these problems are fundamental to the system; it’s just a tweaking of the finer details that needs to be done. Once the flaws are corrected, Planeswalker Points will be a success.




Next week, I’ll be bringing you guys a GP: Montreal report, and after that I can’t wait to dive into Innistrad. I’m very excited by the new set and look forward to howling like a madman after transforming a bunch of werewolves. AWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Until next time,

Nassim Ketita

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