Multiple Vintage Champions Per Year

Today a major distinction was made, as we were told that winning the Vintage Championship does not make one a Vintage World Champion.

This year, for the first time ever, there will be two Vintage Championships. One will be held in Paris by the tournament organizers who were behind the Bazaar of Moxen, Europe's most prestigious Vintage tournament, and the second will be held by Nick Coss, who has run Eternal Weekend since its move from Pastimes/GenCon.

To start, the organizers behind the Bazaar of Moxen are genuine champions of Vintage. They are responsible for countless Europeans playing the format, and they helped turn Vintage into what it was a few years back in Europe. For years, Americans envied the attendance (and prize support) of the Bazaar of Moxen. If any European T/O were to get support from Wizards of the Coast for Vintage, it should be them. They deserve all accolades sent their way, and my future points in this post are in no way meant to detract from the tremendous work that they have done in championing the format, and creating the once thriving European Vintage community.

With all that said, and keeping that respect in mind, this change is a truly awful one.

Since 2003, we have referred to the victor of the Vintage Championship as the Vintage World Champion. Carl Winter, Mark Biller, Steve Menendian, Mark Hornung, Joel Lim, Brian Kelly and all others were received as the champions of the format. The distinction of the victor as Vintage World Champion is now impossible, as there are multiple champions when there can only be one.

What does this do?

For starters, European Vintage pilots who were interested in the title of world champion now have no incentive to fly to the United States to play. A statistically significant percentage of the competitors traveled to Eternal Weekend 2015 from Europe. Lacking the incentive to travel to the U.S. to play, I'd imagine that they won't.

Secondly, for those of us who have spent tens of thousands of dollars on cards, prepared, tested, and flew around the country to attain the title of the sole Vintage champion, the meaning of our quest is now significantly diminished, if not entirely removed. In running multiple Vintage Championships, there is no longer one acknowledged champion. Vintage Championships is no longer special. It is no longer the opportunity to compete against the best and claim your victory for that year, it is now just another large Vintage tournament. In running Vintage Champs in the U.S., and Europe, what's to stop there from being an online Vintage Champs? A Vintage Champs in Japan? If there is a Vintage Champs in Japan, and it nets 60 players, is it now more prestigious to win the N.Y.S.E. Open than to win Vintage Champs (because this one just so happened to be run in Japan)?

There is a tremendous amount of work that goes into running a large event, and it takes months upon months to organize. I know the amount of work that goes into Vintage Championships because I've seen it firsthand, and had an incredibly tiny role in it a few times. Nick Coss has done more for this format than any other T/O currently active. He has staked tens of thousands of dollars on the format and its community. He has run Vintage events through the dark times. He has promoted the format and the community at every opportunity. If there was one member of the Vintage community whom I'd deem absolutely critical, it would be Nick Coss. Everyone here owes him a debt of gratitude, either directly or indirectly.

The last Vintage Championship, run by Pastimes, had 187 players. It was the biggest attendance that they had ever had. Nick Coss, in his first year, surpassed that attendance by 50 players, with virtually no notice. In his second year, with notice, Eternal Weekend had 320 players. To my knowledge, no other American Vintage T/O can claim to have run a 300 man tournament, unless we go all the way back to before Magic rotated, and events were held in hotels. The most well-attended Vintage tournament I have ever seen was a Bazaar of Moxen several years back that had 382 players. In his third year, Nick had 482 competitors for Vintage Champs.

Nick's love of the format, work in sharing it, and tremendous efforts in running the best event possible, combined with the efforts of myriad other Vintage T/Os has helped to create a Vintage tournament that is more vibrant, better received, well-attended than anything that had existed before it. Consider that, at 482 players, Nick managed to nearly triple the attendance that Vintage Champs had just four years prior.

When you see success, you try to encourage it further. Wizards should be helping him here, and yet this will undoubtedly hurt him.

Vintage in Europe is ailing. America has achieved supremacy in terms of the best attended events, something that I wasn't sure I'd see anytime soon, let alone see at all. I love the format, and the community, and I am all for helping the Europeans rejuvenate their community, and return to where they were. But to destroy the title of Vintage World Champion, to make the title of Vintage Champion worth so much less, is at the very least odious, and at the most, offensive.

There is a way to do this. If you believe that the Vintage World Champion should be a product of a global community, you could run Vintage Championships once a year in the U.S., Europe, and Japan. You could run an annual World Championship once a year in one of those three places. You could alternate between continents. Would it be more difficult for American players? Yes. It would be more fair to the rest of the world though, and it would not deny us our champion. To run multiple Vintage Championships each year removes the incentive for many players to compete. It removes the incentive for many others to travel. It will take the efforts of Nick Coss, in particular and squander them.

I urge you to reach out to Helene Bergeot on Twitter, and to ask her to work towards solving this problem. We have had a Vintage World Champion since 2003. Will that title die this year? Please help us ensure that it doesn't.

Excellently said Nick. And I would add that Helene Bergeot (whom I respect a lot for her openness in communication and feel like I have had positive interactions with on multiple occasions) particularly distressed me on Twitter in asserting that there is no Vintage World Champion, when that title has long belonged to the victor of this particular tournament.

Ooof. With the move from Philly to Columbus, combined with a Friday tournament instead of Saturday, they sure seem to want to give Vintage as many handicaps as possible to growing the tournament further. I'm all for change, but this is quite a hurdle. Not to mention, tons of Europeans won't feel compelled to make the trip to Ohio, further impacting attendance. Why mess with a working formula????!!!! Drives me crazy.

Is Vintage big enough again that it could be broken off into its own tournament, without the baggage of the Legacy event?

last edited by joshuabrooks

So.... there's a lot to unpack with this announcement and I'm not sure I agree completely with you @Prospero

Firstly, I think you're greatly over-stating the importance of the title Vintage World Champion. Yes, it's certainly a nice title - but from a perspective outside the US, I can tell you, that for many years, it has felt very parochial. When Bazaar of Moxen was THE paper Vintage tournament worldwide, it certainly did not feel like a legitimate claim - and while that's changed in the few years since BoM imploded (more on that in a bit), it still remains a very US-centric take on things. All credit to Nick Coss for making his event latterly the focus of the Vintage world's attention - it's now the premier paper event in the world. But that wasn't always the case - and I'm sure in BoM's fat years, there were plenty of people who would rather have won a big pile of power than a painting. Not everyone sure, but I think it's good to have a slightly wider perspective on this.

Nonetheless, this change could certainly have been better handled - although Helene did mention it was coming months ago on Twitter. Personally, I think there a few alternatives that could have been considered.

  • To make the 'world' title more international - we could simply have rotated the hosting of the tournament between continents. Realistically, Europe and the US at first, with Japan at some point. And certainly, if Nick Coss is doing a great job with it (it appears he certainly is!), then have him work on it, wherever it goes.

  • If there must be two tournament, connect them in some way. I think what definitely sucks about this change is putting them right next to each other in the calendar, so they're competing rather than complementing each other. Why not do them six months apart, with a travel prize going to the winner, so they also compete in the 'other' continent's Eternal Weekend? Surely, that's precisely the kind of prize support that Wizards' backing should entail - and which could have helped elevate the status of both events.

  • Finally (assuming better scheduling), why not pay Nick Coss to be TO for BOTH Eternal Weekends. Because frankly, the announcement of BoM as TO is about as exciting as a wet fart. Their events in Paris (I'm thinking BoM Paris and the subsequent Legacy GP they did there) were lousy. The French capital is a bloody expensive place and decent venues seem impossible to come by. I have little faith it's going to be any better this time round. Besides, what Europe is clamouring for is not more of the same - rather, the Eternal Weekend we get to follow so feverishly each year - in an exciting location, with commentators we know from the PT, with amazing artists, a cast of big name players and so on. I really doubt BoM's ability to deliver this - and would have much rather Nick Coss' very exciting work on EW was exported to Europe, rather than us faffing around doing something half-arsed.

More broadly, giving it to BoM feels like a backwards step. Why is European Vintage on its arse right now? Well, because BoM canned its annual Annecy tournament and took away the focal point of the whole community, and chased TOing GPs instead. Yes, they faced a number of logistical challenges, including venue size in Annecy and the impossibility of offering the same prize pool once the price of power spiked to its current insanity. But their decision has totally decimated the European Vintage scene, leaving it in the fractured mess it is now. You can't just wave a wand and magic everyone back to an event, once you've scattered players to the winds. And so it feels very underwhelming to see them put in charge of what should have been an event on a whole different level.

So, to sum up. In theory, creating a European Eternal Weekend should have been awesome. It's been handled in what feels like a very cack-handed manner (lazy choice of TO, abysmmal choice of date, seemingly no over-arching vision, nor consultation with Nick Coss), and I honestly couldn't give a toss about going. One eye on Columbus instead... flights to Chicago seem affordable....

@sodoyouwearacape Regarding overstating the importance of the title, I know that there are many people who compete at Vintage Champs who are not interested in the title. There are casual players, there are players from other formats (who expect to do well, but don't identify as Vintage pilots first), there are others who register for Vintage Champs to pick up the sweet playmats that Nick has produced.

The title doesn't matter for many of the people who attend and play, I'd imagine. But for those of us for whom it does matter, it matters a great deal. I don't care if they create a series and have the location of the true championship bounce between Europe and the United States, but, for me, there needs to be one champion at the end of the year. The mere idea of having multiple champions is entirely counter-intuitive to me. The Yankees won the World Series in 2009. Another team didn't also win the Series that year.

I'm all for giving the event a more global feel. I have a tremendous amount of respect for what the European Vintage community had put together, and had accomplished. For many years, attendance at U.S. events couldn't hold a candle to what was going on in Europe. The Paris BoM was 65 players this year, which was a far cry from what it was just a few years ago. BoM wasn't run last year, or the year prior, if I'm remembering correctly. That there is now going to be side event Vintage at the Ovino tournaments seems like another major blow. The events that we had historically associated as major European tournaments seem to be on the way out, and nothing seems to be replacing them right now. You're where we were in 2010. It's not a good place to be.

I want to see Europe successful. Vintage is better when both the European and American Vintage communities are strong, and their marquee events are well-attended (let alone exist). We could discuss all the things that hold events back from being successful nowadays (the price on prize support, venues, the hidden costs of running events that few seem to appreciate), but for the purposes of this discussion, that's nothing more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Until there are T/Os in Europe willing to take on the risk of all of those things, address all the problems, and see if they can create a successful model for Vintage tournaments, it's nothing more than hot air.

I can't speak to issues with the BoM guys, as all I've seen previously were the attendances and prize support. It looked like a well-oiled machine. I'm sorry to hear that it isn't. Wizards has done some things that made no sense to me (like give a California company a 'New York' Grand Prix), but I can't imagine them giving Coss a European E.W.

There is a happy medium in here that reinvigorates Europe with a new event and maintains the sanctity of Vintage Champs for Nick (when a significant amount of money was spent believing that Vintage Champs produced the Vintage champion for the year, not one of several). I want to see us competing with each other for best attended event year after year. There's a way to do this, but to just have this bombshell dropped on the community like this blows my mind. This needed to be something that was discussed. They didn't appreciate the magnitude of what they were doing. That title matters, and now it doesn't exist anymore. What the hell is going on?

Funny thing is, I'd even be ok with both events being "world championships" if they were further apart, like say, 6 months apart. Them being one after the other really makes no sense whatsoever.

As the 2013 New Jersey Spring State Champion I don't mind the sanctity of championships being broken. Vintage is not the main stage of Magic: the Gathering, and we are a strong enough of a community to celebrate every victor. I hope the attendance of the two events each outshine last year's main event. That would be the true win.

@mickey.nobilis Of course Vintage isn't the main stagefor Magic, but it's what Vintage players care about most. Given that Vintage Champs was meant to appeal to Vintage players, and that there has historically only been one Vintage champion per year, Vintage players should be upset about this. I know I speak for many when I say that I don't care what happens in other formats. The distinction of Vintage champion for the year matters a great deal to me, and others.

If there is no longer a true champion, this is effectively just a large Vintage event. It loses its prestige. Prestige is what draws people to events like this. This matters.

The title "world champion" is (outside of the last 2 years, because no bom and a lot of people played at champs) a joke. Bom was the true world championchip.
In Basketball or Baseball there is no question about is it ok to call the team world champion. The MLB and the NBA are the best leagues by far. But in vintage it is not the same. Many people here in europa don´t travel to the vintage championchips and would be true contender.
A true world championchip in alternating countries would be brilliant, but hard to organize as well.

@darkritual I can understand that you don't value the title, and that a victory at BoM when it was consistently 300+ players would have meant more to you. For Americans, the world champion title has mattered more. It has historically been the biggest Vintage event of the year here, and it has now been the biggest Vintage tournament in the world for the last two years (for 2014, and then ever in 2015).

The reverse argument that you're making can now be made. BoM was 65 players this year. Winning Champs would be more prestigious.

If we analyze the situation overall, we see that Europe needs help in a way that the U.S. needed help five years ago. As an American Vintage pilot, I'm all for helping Europe, and doing what can be done, from afar. to rejuvenate the European Vintage community. I'll reiterate; Vintage is better when both the American and European communities are strong. I would be far happier seeing us go back and forth on attendance records than seeing Europe in a bad spot where T/Os are dropping their Vintage events, or hemorrhaging players.

I can appreciate your sentiment Nick but in practice I disagree with you. First of all, I don't like the implied characterization of people who don't care about about the title as people who register for the playmat or are players from other formats. When I top 8'd Champs the last two years I did not think it was an accomplishment because it was in tournaments that gave out some title. It was because they were two of the largest vintage events that have ever taken place. If that is not what you intended then let's chalk this up to me misconstruing what you wrote.

Theoretically, I understand the appeal of having a title. However, as others have said, in years past the title was not taken seriously outside of the US. Also, you can give someone a title all you want, but if they win Champs and aren't active in vintage afterwards it is difficult to consider them the champion of the entire format for another 364 days.

On a practical level, there seem to be two possible ways to keep the "purity" of the title, both of which have already been discussed. Either Champs is always in the US or it rotates. It is unfair to vintage populations in other places to do the former. The latter sounds ideal, except when you consider how many people it excludes from attending Champs each year. Not everyone that owns power is wealthy. I purchased mine with tutoring money while in grad school. I can't afford to drop 4 figures to go to Europe to play a card game. I can afford to drive a few hours with friends and share a hotel room. This is surely already the case for European and Japanese players who do not attend Champs in the US.

I think there is universal agreement that the scheduling of these events is terrible. It seems reasonable to have EU Champs in the spring and US Champs in the fall. If US Champs has 400 people and EU has 200, even if the winner of US Champs does not get the title of "World Vintage Champion" I think it's clear who would be considered as such. It's much like hockey. The existence of a Champion in Russia's KHL does not make the players on the Stanley Cup winning team any less excited about winning.

I am not trying to dismiss the importance you place in the title. Everyone can value what they want to. However I think there are many competitive players in this community who feel differently, and more to the point don't think the pros of preserving the title outweigh the cons.

last edited by diophan

The 65 players at bom are because it was just a vintage side event.
I can't predict how many people will come to Paris.
But last years vintage champs was just awesome

@diophan By no means did I intend on painting everyone who didn't compete for the title with one of three characterizations. They were meant as three examples of people who wouldn't care about the title. I know that those three characterizations can't possibly encompass everyone who doesn't compete for the title.

What the title means to the individual who wins it, and the community at-large is bound to be different for each person asked. I've gone to Champs in Indy with the Forinos, Mike Lupo, Josh Meckes, and others, and we went to win the title. If you had told us that there was a big tournament in Indy in August, none of us would have gone. I can run events out here, including events that get solid attendance. The title is what matters.

Honestly, I think rotating it is probably the best idea. Pick a T/O in Europe capable of running the event in the manner it should be run, and run it there once every two years. Run the American event here once every two years, and use Nick Coss as the American T/O. In the off years, run an American Championship/European Championship.

I also floated the idea of staggering Legacy/Vintage Champs so that in a year when the U.S. has the Vintage World Championship, Europe has the Legacy World Championship. There are positives and negatives to everything going on, but we could create a series that doesn't screw Coss this year, is more equitable for European Vintage players, and potentially helps both communities.

I think we can all agree that the best case is that each side of the Atlantic has a thriving vintage community. How do we structure these events so that they help drive that goal?

  1. Have them concurrently but provide the title of "European Vintage Championship" for BOM and "Vintage Championship" for EW.
  2. Hold the concurrently each year but alternate each year where the "Vintage Championship" is held with "European" or "North America/US" for the other event.
  3. Have the EU based "Vintage Championship" in the spring and the US based "Vintage Championship" in the fall, which would allow players the opportunity to play in both -- and might provide very different metagames.
  4. Separate Legacy and Vintage champs and have them at different alternating venues.
  5. Other options?

I think it was a great decision for Wizards to move GP formats to be the same if they are on the same weekend -- except for in the cases of Legacy and now Vintage. They should be spread apart so that people can attend all of the infrequent events each year, and not just one. The "one-size-fits-all" approach doesn't work.

last edited by spook

@Prospero said:

Pick a T/O in Europe capable of running the event in the manner it should be run, and run it there once every two years. Run the American event here once every two years, and use Nick Coss as the American T/O. In the off years, run an American Championship/European Championship.

The last sentence in particular seems like a fine compromise to me. You can call Nick Coss's yearly event whatever you want and I will still be very happy to attend it. It would become a bit weird if one year the American Championship has 400 people and the Vintage Championship in Europe has 300 people, but as I said the title doesn't matter much to me. What I do not want is for there to be no Nick Coss event in the off years.

last edited by diophan

I think alternating which Championship is the World Championship would be a great solution. There is still a sole world champion, and different locations can participate.

The more I think about it, the more I find cool design space.

The world championship gives out a painting of a piece of power each year.

The American/European event has a second tier Vintage staple given out. Mana Drain, Mishra's Workshop, Bazaar of Baghdad, Yawgmoth's Will, etc., are all great Vintage-only cards that we have at various points thought could be used as paintings for Champs.

If the European Champs offered a painting of Mishra's Workshop, I'd be significantly more drawn to attend.

@Prospero Hey Nick - I think there really are plenty of ways this change could have been made for the best of both Vintage communities. And I think that what's so frustrating about it is that it really feels like it's been thrown together on the back-of-the-envelope (again!). I appreciate the hard work that someone like Helene has do, but there doesn't seem to be anyone working alongside her or above her saying, "A European Eternal Weekend? Great. But how could we make it awesome?"

I suspect that's an indication of how thinly spread resources are at Wizards. Their instinct is to try & please all their different playing communities. But they come across as reactive (with mediocre results), rather than strategic. Which for the makers of a strategy game is, well, a painful irony.

Just a bit of clarity, too, as I notice some people comparing apples and oranges: Baazar of Moxen ran a once yearly event at Annecy, which became really big - and in 2013 or 2014 I believe, as an extension of that, they ran a one-off Paris event. Then they stopped all that and went and ran GPs. And it's only in the past 12 months or so, they've revived events under their own banner, with a series of BoM events - hence a new stop at Annecy and Paris (with much smaller attendances).

Anyway, I really hope Wizards finds a better way to plan these two events next year. It's great they listen to players, it's great their instinct is "Let's offer European players something, too", but these thread-bare thrown-together plans don't really help anyone. You have to wonder really where all that record profit is going... (spoiler: rhymes with Ass Pro)

It's really frustrating to see how Wizards keeps making decisions like this without fully considering all of the stakeholders - what they engage in events/programs for and what changes might help both Wizards and those other stakeholders achieve their goals - then they act surprised when people are upset. Sometimes they make changes to their plans, and then promise they'll do better in the future. Then they do the same thing all over again. We've recently seen this happen with the Pro Players Club program.

Here supposedly they made this change in consultation with Nick Coss, but I have yet to see a single other Vintage player say they were asked for their opinion, or any indication from Wizards that they were considering what the Vintage/Legacy community actually wants instead of making assumptions about what the Vintage/Legacy community wants.

Allow me to add a completely different perspective, probably one that isn't too popular.
The "vintage champ" who wins the event will always have an * next to it, only for the reason that not all the best players actually participate in the tournament.
Whether it be due to the lack of cards to play sanctioned, or the lack of will to travel to the event, I've never considered vintage champs to be an indicator of the best players, more so the best players out of who actually were able to show up.

just my opinion, sure nick does fantastic work organizing it, but in my eyes it's just an event I'll probably never get to.

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