MagicFest London, Prereleases, and Judges

Written by Jack Doyle
Level 3, United Kingdom

Written by Jack Doyle
Level 3, United Kingdom

Hi, everyone.

Recent announcements by Wizards of the Coast and Channel Fireball Events have caused a lot of discussion in the community about the impacts of the ‘prerelease MagicFest’ London. As one of the members of judge leadership in the region, I wanted to share a few words about the topic, knowing full-well that it’s causing rifts between different aspects of organised play — players, judges, and tournament organisers (and all of the potential overlap between).

First of all, judges no doubt understand the importance of prereleases as part of the organised play calendars of local stores. It’s a huge event and financial undertaking, as threads like this one by Dave Salisbury and other passionate tournament organisers indicate. I’m sure like myself, many other judges pride themselves on playing in their local brick-and-mortar stores and bolstering their community by being present at these events, supporting the investments of time and money made by their local organisers.

It’s also no secret that Grand Prix events of the past, and MagicFest events of the present and future are huge, huge draws, for players and judges alike. Each of the days of MagicFest London look to be run as four flights, not to mention the Pro Tour/Mythic Championship being run alongside draining even more resources from the judge community. I feel like I also don’t need to point out that with a large, in-region MagicFest such as London, people are going to have financially committed to it — accommodation and travel being huge costs in a city like London.

It’s clear to me, and to many others, that choices are going to be made in the upcoming weeks. Stores are no doubt going to forego running prerelease events for a multitude of reasons. Judges are surely going to have to make decisions whether they support their local stores or attend an event like London where they may already be committed somehow. Stores, especially those close to London (as pointed out by Dave in the aforementioned Facebook thread) are going to suffer financially from the decisions that have been made, and those that will be made.

Most of the people I’ve talked to about this are of the opinion that a prerelease GP/MF is a really cool idea. With enough warning and careful management of how it all would work, it could have been an excellent experience. This is sadly not what we have. It’s going to be a rough time for those involved, and it’s important that we understand the motivations and priorities of each other during such a time that will cause friction between these groups of highly passionate people.

As the Regional Coordinator for the United Kingdom, Ireland, and South Africa (UKISA), I spend a lot of my time proud of judges, supportive of stores, and as a resource to players. This does not ebb and flow with the decisions made by multinational companies. It really doesn’t. If anyone from the region would like to reach out to complain, converse, or critique, I’m happy to listen. I’m always happy to listen. You can get in touch with me best via email.

Thanks for reading.