Announcing Liberty Magic Baltics

Posted on June 3, 2020

I play Magic: the Gathering off and on since 1999, and follow the coverage off and on since 2002.

I’m still somehow mediocre at the game, but with some preparation I could spike a tournament or two, going in a year of grinding from scrubbing out of PPTQs in round 2 to regularly Top-8’ing in Limited and Modern formats. I had memorable wins and I had memorable losses, but one of the most fun in Magic is tournament preparation and travelling with my team.

I always dreamt of contributing to making a strong Magic: the Gathering community. Once I could, I’ve started a Magic: the Gathering team. Pinnacle of our success was my boys qualifying to the 25-year anniversary team Pro Tour. I’ve also offered sponsorship for another Pro Tour trip for a player from my region who has qualified and represented the colors of the team in the toughest Magic: the Gathering circuit.

It was a dream and it felt like it’s attainable. It felt like passion converts into results and sky’s the limit. But the sky got chewed and swallowed.

Simic Sky Swallower

Simic Sky Swallower

Wizards’ quest for predictable promotional costs

Organized play being a promotional funnel for Wizards’ produt is not a new take on the subject. Being a business endeavour, it’s logical that Wizards of the Coast wanted to optimize costs and make it easier to reason about the expenses. During the Arena release hiatus we didn’t get organized play announcement for a month too long. It caused distress and a reason to be pessimistic in terms of how the things would shape up. Once the announcement was released, my take on it was “hey, it’s not all bad”. However, the red flags such as shifting the burden of payment for the travels to the team owners or worse, players themselves, were present. The shift of priority to MPL as a facility to promote the product continuously was also troubling (especially given the lack of transparency about the rotation of players in MPL).

Speaking of red flags, if we return to the introduction section, we’ll see that a big priority and fun in competitive Magic for me personally were local competitive events. And heck, they were competitive. We have some pretty strong players in the region, some hitting top-1000 ELO in the world in their careers. Not being able to compete in PPTQs and the country’s championship was a big blow.

Worldwide crisis of 2020 caused WotC to pull the OP flying carpet in the least ethical way possible.

Flying Carpet

Flying Carpet

In a bait-and-switch scheme, they have at the same time increased the density of qulifying events and altered the payout volume and the payout scheme. There were no entry fee refunds, of course. The person who blew the whistle on that decision prior to the announcment got banned from playing the game, including online.

For me, it was the last drop and the last time I was granting Wizards of the Coast a benefit of the doubt. So I’ve read “you are not your DCI number” mantra (or is it “Arena token” these days?) and started thinking about what can be done in order to get what I want from Magic: the Gathering, which is basically high quality competition in the region.

I figured that the best I can do is to think globally and act locally, so without dragging it out even more than it’s needed…

Introducing Liberty Magic Baltics

With the failure of WotC to support the full vertical of competitive play, I feel like the best we can do is to start building distributed community clusters. Inclusion and freedom to participate must be the most important thing. Outside the events held WPN stores, high quality proxies should be allowed as long as it clearly states “NOT FOR SALE” on each card or is otherwise trivially distinguishable from a Magic: the Gathering card manufactured by a WotC subsidiary. If you ask me, use of high quality proxies should be encouraged for outside-of-WPN play because buying cards even on the secondary market is validating WotC’s policy-making.

I want my community cluster to be all about the competition and the quality of gameplay, this is why my venue is open for small 10€ buy-in tournaments with non-flat prize distribution (a normal tournament will net 40€ for the first place and 20€ for the second). I won’t collect rake but I will invest my own money into providing competitors with missing cards and equipment to compete.

During first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic, I will do my best to organize some 10€ buy-in tournaments via XMage.

Check out curated list of Liberty Magic Baltics venues and submit your own by reaching out to me over E-mail.

Let’s play competitive Magic: the Gathering our way.

Karn Liberated

Karn Liberated