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The Week That Was: Embracing the Gathering

May 17, 2024
Corbin Hosler

No one escapes The Gathering.

That's the tagline for MagicCon: Las Vegas, and it's a cheeky way of saying something we bring up all the time: that the best part of Magic events is hanging out with other Magic players. We certainly saw proof of that earlier this year at the sold-out MagicCon: Chicago: people really like playing Magic.

Enter Las Vegas, where there is more Magic to be played than ever before. The highlight will be Magic World Championship 30, and that's just where the opportunities begin.

Looking for high-level competition? You can play Limited in a $100,000 event or qualify directly for the Pro Tour in a single tournament. Aiming to play your favorite Constructed format? The Secret Lair Showdown gives Modern specialists a chance to shine—and win the coveted Dark Ritual, which of course goes perfectly into the decks of many who will be competing for the Legacy Cup and the trophy that comes along with it in Las Vegas. Standard, Pioneer, Pauper, Legacy—whatever your favorite format, there's a way to play it in Vegas.

Are you interested in any of the myriad other ways to play Magic? The Command Zone will be full of featured Magic creators. And there's formats like Full Box Commander Sealed or Duel Commander that offer all kinds of ways to play Commander the way you want. Or maybe you're looking for a little adventure and exploring the Unknown? Gavin Verhey will be your guide.

It all comes together in Las Vegas, and the full schedule of events is available now and tickets can be purchased here!

Here's some of the highlights from the complete schedule that stand out to me:

The $100,000 Limited Open

Limited Play is a core part of competitive Magic—every Pro Tour opens with Draft—and coupled with a clamor for high-stakes, the Limited Open returns to MagicCon .

While the World Championship features the best Magic players in the world over the past year, that only amounts to a few hundreds players—leaving everyone from Pro Tour regulars to Friday Night Magic veterans to Hall of Famers in town for the weekend.

And it's an opportunity for players to make a name for themselves. The winner of the Limited Open in Vegas last year was Jason Ye, who used the Pro Tour qualification to showcase phenomenal Limited skills and make multiple, memorable Pro Tour runs.

And this time, there are several invites up for grabs in addition to the prize money: $20,000 to first place and at least $2,500 to each member of the Top 8.

A Direct Path to the Pro Tour

There are dozens of ways to play competitive Magic at a high level, many ultimately leading to a tabletop Pro Tour, prestigious online event, or even the World Championship—and it can all begin at a local game store.

You can play in qualifiers for Regional Championships, and with a strong performance can qualify for the Pro Tour or Worlds. Take Nicole Tipple. She went from playing locally to advancing to the Regional Championship, where she performed well enough to qualify for Pro Tour Thunder Junction—and then went on a deep Day Two run.

That's the most common path to the Pro Tour. But at MagicCon: Las Vegas? You can play in a throwback PTQ—that is, a Pro Tour Qualifier that sends you straight on to the Pro Tour—and turn a notable experience at MagicCon into an unforgettable one.

For those of you born this century or so, I could explain the full experience that was driving to every PTQ in plausible deniability distance because the appeal of winning just one tournament to qualify for the Pro Tour was just too good to pass up—but instead I'll just say that the existence of a direct line to the PT for not just one, but four people at MagicCon: Las Vegas is a huge draw for aspiring gamers. And there's no Constructed prep necessary: we'll be digging into Duskmourn: House of Horror boosters.

Dark Ritual

Need I say more?

Okay, I will. Like the iconic Brainstorms from 2023 (there were exactly four awarded), Dark Ritual is the top prize for this Secret Lair Showdown. If you're feeling confident in your Modern skills, try your hand at earning one of the most coveted cards in Magic's history.

There's also prizes available to everyone who enters: participants will receive a promotional Spell Pierce, and the Top 32 competitors will also earn a unique copy of Murktide Regent.

Full Box Commander with BDM

Brian David-Marshall is the original Magic historian, author of this column, and Magic coverage at all. Tournament Magic would not be remotely what it is today without BDM inventing it when Savannah Lions was a Powerful Magic Card.

BDM is a still a busy man—when he's not hosting panels or emceeing events, he's jamming as much old-school Commander as he can—and you can join him in Las Vegas for several events. There's Commander and Cocktails, Commander Boxing League, and a silly event with a flair: Grand Melee Full Box Commander.

What is Grand Melee Full Box Commander? Well, it's a lot of words to describe dozens and dozens of players sitting in an extended circle and all playing the same game.

It gets a little wonky, but somehow it works. Players can only influence the players to their left and right—no shouting across the room what your spell does—and you do it all with a full box and BDM at the helm. Viva Las Vegas!

Oh, and there's also this line that I love: "If an infinite combo is demonstrated, that player will be congratulated for winning, and be dropped from the event. All other players will continue play."

Piece together an infinite combo from a single box of cards and assemble it in the wildest game you'll ever play, and you'll not only get maximum prizes but a reprieve from the madness? No one escapes The Gathering, unless you go infinite. Good luck brewing!

You Don't Know What You Unknown

If there's one thing the Unknown events with Gavin Verhey have become known for, it's for no one knowing what's going to happen (except Gavin, of course). I know that's a lot of known unknowns and all that, but one thing I do know for sure is this: Gavin knows what he's doing.

The rules, too, are simple: bring nothing with you, because the fun and cards will be provided as your experience the Unknown. There's three Unknown events throughout the weekend, including one made specifically for two-player teams. From unique content creator-inspired card designs to group design sessions to map out future Unknown cards, Verhey has turned these into can't-miss events.

All Roads Lead to Vegas

This is true both of competitive Magic play leading up to Magic World Championship 30, and the Magic world in general—the biggest tournaments, the most exciting events, and often the largest gathering of Magic players of the year, there's a lot of history for MagicCon: Las Vegas to live up to—including Jean-Emmanuel Depraz's extraordinary run to the world title last year.

You can find the full event schedule and purchase your badge for MagicCon: Las Vegas now.

The Path to Magic World Championship 30

With the months to the World Championship counting down, Frank Karsten and I have been looking back at World Championships past that make up an integral part of the all-important historical fabric of our game.

This week we're going back to 2002, when Carlos Romão delivered Brazil its first World Championship title (a second would come almost 20 years later when Paulo Vitor damo da Rosa won in 2019. Frank covered the fascinating Psychatog deck that Romão won with, and I have to say that this deck really struck a chord in Magic history—it was one of the most feared decks players would talk about with awe when I entered the game in 2008. Buoyed by the first of what would be many strong South American testing teams, Romão bested 244 other players in Magic's ninth World Championship.

Carlos Romão, winner of the 2002 Magic World Championship

Winning the World Championship is an incredible, career-defining accomplishment that can never really be topped. But Romão's "post-playing" career—and I'm hesitant to call it that because Romão vs. Shota Yasooka at Pro Tour Kaladesh was one of the first PT finals I covered and that was in 2016—but what Romão has done outside of the battlefield is perhaps his true legacy.

And that's because his influence stretches far beyond that World Championship. Romão didn't just inspire the next generation of great Brazilian Magic players, he was there and available to help the entire region develop. Seeing a community in need of a place to play and improve at Magic, Romão stepped up to make sure developing players had a home.

The result? A steady stream of the world's best players. There is no stronger community than the regional Romão helped to develop, and the sprawling list of highly accomplished players—including Pro Tour winners and world champs—is a testament to the legacy Romão has built beginning with his historic World Championship title in 2002.

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