The first Players Tours are nearly upon us, and we've got some details for the nearly 1,000 players who are qualified to play in Nagoya, Brussels, or Phoenix.
Let's look, first, at the Players Points awarded by final record (for players who don't make the Top 8) and by final place in the Top 8, then we'll give you a bit of a look into our thinking and process in coming to these final totals. Finally, at the bottom, we'll also have the prize payouts for each event.
To create a more equitable distribution of points, Player Points will be earned through Round 15 of all tournaments. Because the Americas and Europe are expected to have higher attendance, those events will run a 16th round to more cleanly create a break for the Top 8 and final prizes. No Player Points will be earned in that 16th round.
Swiss (After Round 15, not in Top 8)
We are, admittedly, a bit behind on this because we've been having a lot of discussions behind the scenes to find the right balance between regional representation, tournament integrity, and expected attendance. Let's talk a bit about why we've set up the points in these events this way.
First, when global attendance numbers vary by the amount we expect across regions, there isn't a good way to run a perfectly balanced system that also balances for our Rivals/MPL system. If you weigh points based on attendance, players from smaller regions have a harder time accumulating enough points. If you distribute points exactly evenly, you create incentives to travel to regions with lower likely attendance. We must choose which imbalance we're most comfortable with. It's something we've seen repeatedly with variations in Grand Prix and PTQ attendance, and we've accepted some level of variation across tournaments by region.
Despite differing attendance expectations, the prestige of making Top 8 at one of these events should not go down based on where you live. A 4th-place finish at Nagoya should be as valuable in our system as a 4th-place finish in Phoenix. First place should certainly be the same. To do otherwise would be to further exacerbate already existing regional imbalances for access to the Rivals and Magic Pro Leagues.
Therefore, when tackling points distribution across Players Tours, we made a conscious decision on how to treat acceptable variations:
We want to provide the most equitable opportunities for individuals to reach the highest levels no matter what region you're from. However, regional attendance variations come with inherent differences, and if we are going to choose which region gets an advantage, we chose to give a (slight) advantage to individual regions that have historically had disadvantages—in this case, APAC.
Our process comes down to two big considerations—expected attendance and global accessibility.
For the Asia-Pacific region, based on qualifications and player density, our projected attendance estimates put the tournament in range of a 15-round tournament. For the Americas and Europe, we project 16-round events. This most closely matches models based on regional tournament data combined with the number of qualified players living in that region. That said, this is our first Players Tour under the new tiered model, and there may be some adjustments based on real-world attendance. We will certainly be watching closely (and breaking out our spreadsheets).
However, running one event at 15 rounds and two others at 16 rounds and awarding points differently creates incentives that would advantage the APAC region more than we were comfortable. As such, we chose to award points only through round 15 around the globe. It's a bit novel, but we believe it's a reasonable tweak that makes things more equitable.
So why did we go the other way with the points awarded in the Top 8?
In short, we don't want to undermine the prestige of winning a Players Tour. It's a big deal. But if we award fewer points in the Top 8 to a region—in this case Asia-Pacific—based on attendance, that's going to feel like less of a big deal. And it shouldn't be any less prestigious just because you happen to live in Japan or China or South Korea versus the United States or France.
Additionally, if we further decreased the points in the APAC region, the advantage would now swing back toward the Americas and Europe. Given our mantra above, we weren't comfortable making a Top 8 finish worth less and instead chose to allow an advantage for the APAC region (in that there are fewer players vying for the same point totals).
That said, again, this is the first Players Tour under the new system, and we will be watching region switching to see how player behavior works in the real world and will be ready to adjust for the second round of Players Tours. There is a level of region switching that we would not be comfortable with. For example, we would consider a Top 16 made up entirely or nearly entirely of players based outside their given region as a problem. Should that happen, we will consider alternate solutions.
We're excited for this first round of Players Tours. We've never had an event this global with this many players for this level of prestige. We're looking forward to two great weekends of play, and to hearing your feedback along the way.
Prize Payout Structure
We had previously announced the total prize pool. Below, you'll find the breakdown for each of the events.
Players Tour – Americas
Total Prize Pool: $250,000
Players Tour – Europe
Total Prize Pool: $200,000
Players Tour – Asia Pacific
Total Prize Pool: $150,000