Why I Quit the Magic Pro League

TL;DR: I joined the Magic Pro League in the first place because it seemed easier to make a difference from the inside. I was wrong. The lack of transparency and unwillingness to listen to feedback continue to be huge issues.

A lot has happened in six months. Here are the quick hits:

1) Our contract “negotiations” involved WotC officials purposefully not answering our questions and telling us to either sign or walk. Overall, not the best way to start a new business relationship.

Things had not changed and it didn’t seem like the MPL was happening in good faith. I would have turned it down if not for two very smart people who reminded me that if what I cared about was making a difference, it would be easier to do so from the inside. They were right, and I would have regretted not trying.

2) The boot camp was mostly good but had several issues. We took a “how to stream” seminar roughly a month after most people had started streaming. The Japanese were forced to fly to Renton, WA for no real reason. We were supposed to get emails containing summaries of all the information, including vital streaming tools/links and feedback for PR training, but that didn’t happen for four months, making it effectively useless.

We also gave feedback on contractual issues (ever wonder why none of the MPL players have been picked up by esports orgs?), structural issues for the MPL (nobody knows how to qualify for 2020 or what it’s going to look like), and Duo Standard with seemingly all of it being ignored.

3) The Mythic Invitational is a huge hit, despite Duo Standard. Coverage is immediately walked back to the status quo at MCII. While not the only factor, it’s certainly a large reason why the Twitch numbers were so poor.

4) Communication is still lacking. Announcements for the Mythic grind, the MCQs for MCIII, and even our MPL league play were given with very little lead-in time.

5) At this point, it should be very clear that the players selected to represent Magic at its highest level were not thoroughly vetted.

Now, you could argue that I’m in that camp. However, I’d like to think that if things were progressing rather than regressing, I would have held onto my position. Following my Worlds protest, I’ve tried to go through the “proper channels,” but all that got me was a string of unanswered messages. I don’t think my decision to leave is unjustified.

6) There is no information about the Magic Online Championship Series finals. It’s happening this weekend and even the competitors don’t know who is qualified for the event. Since Platinum no longer exists, it’s no longer part of the first place prize and won’t be replaced by anything. Given that it’s roughly $20,000 worth of equity, advertising that it’s part of the prize pool and then taking it away (without telling the players about it no less) is concerning.

***

The system is currently a mess and since it doesn’t look like it will be fixed any time soon, it’s not one that I’d currently like to participate in.

FAQs

“Isn’t the MPL what you wanted following your Worlds protest?”

Yes and no. My protest was about far more than just pro players. The MPL existing is great for my contemporaries and I know many of them are happy with their situation. However, if the MPL comes at the expense of Silver, Gold, and Platinum pros, it’s a change that is a net negative on the ecosystem of organized play.

A big part of my protest was in regards to those who aren’t top professionals and those players have very little to strive for at the moment.

“How does this affect your relationship with Magic?”

In short, very little.

I’ll finish my obligations to the team series, which means playing the next two paper Mythic Championships (if I’m qualified, heh). In the meantime, I want to double down on doing what I do best, which is making content that helps others succeed in tournaments.

“How does this affect how we should interact with Magic?”

Keep doing what you’re doing. Don’t take my frustrations or criticisms as a sign that you should alter how you engage with Magic. I’m choosing to do the things I find rewarding and I’d be happy if everyone else did the same.

If you want to chase those Mythic Championship invites or the MPL, do it.

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23 Replies to “Why I Quit the Magic Pro League”

  1. Gerry – long time listener to the podcast jumping in to give feedback for the first time. You (and Bryan) are gems of the magic community. WotC disappoints me continuously, I am grateful that you speak the mind of me and others thinking alike – your voice is constructive, mature and compelling to anyone who is at least a little bit open-minded and that indirectly makes me feel like my voice gets a chance to be heard. Kudos to you Guys!

  2. I’m glad the community has a whistleblower like you to contrast and highlight the failings of WotC. Their shortcomings would be swept under the MPL rug and fans like me wouldn’t have any better. I didn’t think to realize about eports organizations not signing pro players until you mentioned it. More and more it seems like WotC is making things up as they go in a haphazard way.

  3. “If you want to chase those Mythic Championship invites or the MPL, do it.”

    How exactly do we do that??? 😉
    Just as long as you keep producing the great content. Love the podcast.

    1. Seems like now you need to be an established streamer/competent player to get in.

      Must sting even more now for those Platinums that just missed the 32 player cutoff to still not be in after the recent vacancies.

  4. Good on you. I hope to God you qualify for MCIII, spike it, and WIN. Show me what really matters.

  5. Gerry, I have the utmost respect for you. The MPL losing you is an understanble, albeit huge, loss. I hope we can get the game back in the hands of those who love it. Competitive, casual, and otherwise.

  6. I was blown away by your Worlds stand. That you are willing to walk away again from being part of the “chosen elite” on the basis of your convictions and the desire for a better ecosystem, environment and inclusion for the great many that dream of making it as a player at the highest level while supporting others to chase their dreams speaks volumes for your strength of belief and your desire for a more just balance in the community’s relationship with WotC. Keep being Gerry T. Keep being a beacon for the community and I hope I get to shake your hand one day and maybe even buy you lunch if you have the inclination. Gordon of London. @dartmoordragon

  7. Thank you for your attempts to better the magic community’s experiences at personal cost. Love the podcast, and I appreciate you taking the time and pains to explain what you see as problems and how you think it should change.

  8. “At this point, it should be very clear that the players selected to represent Magic at its highest level were not thoroughly vetted. ”

    This statement bothers me. What, exactly, would you have Wizards do differently to “vet” them? Yuuya Watanabe had no previous allegations of cheating in his history. Once there was evidence of him cheating, he was swiftly removed. Prior to that, there was no basis to disqualify him– or did you know about an instance of cheating that you’ve kept quiet about?

    As for Owen Turtenwald, again, there was no basis to disqualify him until the allegations came out, at which point they removed him. What would you preferred they have done? Post a list of all the MPL players on Twitter and said “If anyone has any sexual harassment allegations against these players, please come forward so we can remove them before the MPL starts”?

    Granted, Owen could have been removed on account of him being an arrogant jerk publicly on multiple occasions, but if we’re removing MPL members on that basis, William Jensen (see his reaction to Goyfgate) and yourself should arguably never have been chosen for the MPL, either.

  9. Seriously thank you for being the one to take a difficult stand, to bring a voice to an issue that so many of us are also fed up with. It’s never easy being the first, so thank you again.

  10. “If you want to chase those Mythic Championship invites or the MPL, do it.”

    Yes, how? And.. why? A flight to Barcelona for me is 2k.

  11. Hear, Hear! Keep up the good work and continue to contribute to the Magic community positively, Gerry!

  12. This is a fantastic stance! And to add even more stuff from the “mid-high stakes spike”, here are things I just don’t understand. 1. Why does WOTC keep making so many mistakes, one after another. Sooner or later someone or some team needs to take accountability that “something” is wrong. 2. The incentives to play the game as a spike is VERY poor. I mean I grind for days just to get top 1000, then 2 months later I get to compete against 4K people for a spot at 16 slots. Just so wotc can make the mythic tournament more “esport friendly”. There is literally no incentive to play this game I love at a competitive level, unless u live near SCGs, and if you are a competitive limited player just forget about it. There should be weekly tourneys and plenty of ways to get into a bigger tourney. And it shouldn’t be a 52 person tournament, thats insane, there is no reason they can’t do a 1,000 person tourney with same prize pool. It’s just really bad business imo. 3. Communication, I couldn’t agree more, it seems like wotc is a very young startup with the way they handle things, announcing tourneys and formats weeks before they happen. And no rhyme reason or apology. It’s frustrating to love a game so much, but being run like it’s not a 25 year old company. It’s like the only thing they are focused on is stockholders and their next quarterly report. All resources seem to go there and we the spikes are ignored. And why should they care? because we are the minorities and the MPL beta version 0.5 are just the clowns in their show to grab more cash cows. This is the longest hiatus, I’ve taken in magic in a long time. I mean War is fun, but I already qualified, and there are no trophy charts or ways to sell cards for a profit, so why play? Anyways, just want to say I was already a huge fan, but now I think your integrity is beyond refreshing in this day and age, willing to give up what most dream of getting for a something you believe in is rare and honestly almost unheard of. So kudos! 🙂

  13. Wow amazing man! It’s such a shame that the greatest game ever created is run by a company that fails miserably at so many things. Props to you for turning down that $$ and doing what you think is right. oh and PLAY ETERNAL!

  14. Im with all of that, as a longtime homie and now no idea how to even qualify I’ve just stopped attending tournaments. Completely not by choice but because I have no idea where one is or what’s going on. There are gps but I work weekends and its hard to give up the EV of a weekend of work plus flight plus hotel for the crap shoot where I break even around top 8. Where else can I even play? Well at least they gave me arena … but I’d like to use all these cards I keep getting :).

    Either way good luck to you anyway you get there,
    Because you’re the guy who always gets there.

  15. Disappointed only that I may see less of you in competition. Had the pleasure of meeting you at SCG Orlando a few years back and it remains high on my list of lifetime MTG moments. Thanks for sticking up for what you believe in to help grow and improve the game we love.

  16. Have you had any legal professionals look over your contract to see if it was all done on the up and up? My experience is that when orgz are this disorganized in one area, they are likely cutting corners on others, and this in my opinion has evolved from “people playing a card game” to “business dealings and contractual negotiations” which is much more litigious and has real world liabilities. It’s abouy time we start hitting the company where it hurts if they keep performing this poorly. Also, has anyone ever discussed the idea of a class action lawsuit against them? Maybe for promoting gambling or not addressing the dangers of gambling addiction? Time to get Magic as a brand and product out from under the oppressive ownership of Hasboro

  17. MTGA is not even up for China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, and Brunei.
    Licencing to MTGA for these countries is with tencent (a Chinese company). The freaking page is in plain chinese.
    Apart from China, the people from the rest of the countries may not even understand chinese.
    This is so damn disappointing.

  18. It takes a lot of courage to do what you are doing. Im too old and busy to try the dream, but it makes me happy that you are figthing for every one else

  19. This is pretty amazing, hopefully wizards will start doing something about it and wake up, its pretty great of you Gerry Thompson , thank you very much that you did smething like this for all the bronze,silver and gold pros around as well as for the mocs finals competitors…
    Am not sure why you would sacrifice that much for us considering wizards will probably just replace you with someone chosen completelly random as they usually do and carry on like nothing happened. 🙁
    So even though iam scared that we dont live in the environment, where this will change a lot iam really grateful that someone stood for everyone aspiring for anything in the world of MtG.
    So Gerry Thompson Really thank you very much for doing this!

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