Wicked Awesome B.O.

Thoughts on the Boston Open at Worlds 2015

As most of you have probably already heard, there is going to be a new side event at Worlds titled the Boston Open. The Boston Open will award the same Championship Points as a Regional Championship, and have similar non-CP prizing, with the champion receiving six booster boxes and a Worlds playmat. Prizes scale down from there.

I for one am a huge proponent of this type of event, and an increase in side events in general is something I’ve been suggesting for years. Throughout this article, I’m going to break down the reasons why I think this event is a great idea, and address some of the critiques that have been vocalized by the community.

The Good

There’s a reason for everyone to go to Worlds now!

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Everyone has a meaningful motive to play!

I’m going to let you in on a secret: I go to Worlds every year, regardless of whether I’m qualified or what side events are being held. I’ll likely always attend Worlds until either I die or the Pokรฉmon TCG does, barring any unforeseeable financial or scheduling issues. I love Worlds, and I use the event as an excuse to take a small vacation and see friends.

However, I realize that I am privileged to be able to do this. Not everyone has the time or financial capability to fly to a multiple-day event without some kind of incentive. In the past, the Last Chance Qualifier served as that incentive, and as a result many players attended Worlds without an invite, hoping that they could clinch one by winning the Grinder. With the LCQ taken out of the equation, players worried that this year’s Worlds would be much smaller and therefore not as fun.

With the announcement of the Boston Open, I’m hoping that neither is the case, and I believe this type of event is the perfect replacement for the LCQ. The Boston Open will once again encourage non-qualified players to attend Worlds, which is a benefit for both TPCi and the community as a whole.

You’re no longer dead after Day 1.

The Boston Open is being held on Saturday, with registration running both Friday evening and early Saturday morning. This means that players who were knocked out of the first day of Worlds will have a chance to salvage their weekend with a fairly large-scale tournament! With many players — especially those traveling internationally — booking week-long trips, this will be another way for them to kill time, get the bad taste of Day 1 out of their mouths, and hopefully win some prizes.

It’s a legitimate side event.

Looking through the rest of the side events on the Worlds website, most of them are pretty small scale: a lot of Ancient Origins drafts, a handful of tournaments for welcome kits … things like that. These tournaments, while cool and likely to occupy a good chunk of my weekend, aren’t exactly going to net you any serious amount of prizes.

The Boston Open is the exact opposite of that. Even if you don’t care about Championship Points, the monetary value of a case of booster boxes is relevant to most players I know, and with prizes extending all the way down to a booster box and playmat for Top 32 in Masters, the event is an absolute no-brainer as far as value is concerned.

The Questionable

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Players have debated the day and format.

Even with all of the positives of the event (and I would like to reiterate that I think the event is awesome), it hasn’t come without controversy. In this section, I’ll tackle a few of the biggest questions and quarrels that the community has posed since the announcement of the event.

BCR-on vs. XY-on

The event was originally announced to be XY-on, but the Pokรฉmon website was quickly edited to clarify that it would be held in our current Standard format, BCR-on. This has been met with mixed reviews, with some players hoping to gain an edge over the competition by playing in a large-scale XY-on tournament early in the new season before archetypes are solidified, while others not as eager to prepare for a new format are glad that the tournament was reverted to BCR-on.

Personally, I’m glad that the event is BCR-on, mainly because I feel that it’s unfair to expect players to prepare for such an event with Worlds — a BRC-on tournament — happening the same weekend. Even if you’re not a competitor, chances are you have a friend or teammate playing in the World Championships that you could spend your time helping. Take this Facebook message I sent to some friends, for example:

boston open prep text

Here, I’m asking for the help of two players that aren’t qualified for/aren’t attending Worlds because I know that it wouldn’t be fair to ask for help testing XY-on from players that are qualified for Worlds (because their focus is BCR-on).

Not only that, but XY-on would put me in the awkward position of deciding whether it’s more important to help my friends test BCR-on for Worlds, or to help myself prepare for the XY-on Boston Open. This was a situation I was uncomfortable being put in, and I’m sure there were others that felt the same way.

Additionally, if you’re a Worlds competitor, it would throw another wrench into the equation. Unless you have close friends who have been actively preparing for an XY-on Boston Open, you are going to automatically be much worse off than most of the other players in the tournament who have prepared for XY-on — both because you don’t have experience in the format, and because you have less than 12 hours to physically recover from an intense day of Pokรฉmon … and then find and build a deck.

I understand why some players are in favor of XY-on. If the event was held starting on Day 1 of Worlds, so that no Worlds competitors would be able to play in it, I could maybe see that being the better choice, but even then I’m not sure. Overall, there will be plenty of time to play XY-on throughout the next year, and I think TPCi made a wise choice here.

Friday vs. Saturday vs. Sunday

One discussion I’ve seen pop up here and there is whether the event should start on Friday, Saturday, or even Sunday. From what I’ve gathered, here are the concise arguments from all sides:

  • Friday: No Worlds players will be allowed to play, so the tournament will be a more even playing field for unqualified players.
  • Saturday: Worlds players who get eliminated during Day 1 will be able to play, giving them something to do for the rest of the weekend.
  • Sunday: Everyone but the Top 8 players of Worlds will be able to play, meaning that the highest percentage of players will be able to register for the event.

I believe that starting the event on Saturday is the correct decision. As we talked about before, starting the event Friday would take away a major draw of the Open, which is players eliminated during Day 1 of Worlds. Starting the event Sunday, while allowing more players to play, seems a little silly, as then you would have the event ending very late Sunday, or the Top 32 would have to be held on Monday inside of a Denny’s. (The convention center is only booked through Sunday.) Additionally, there is something to be said for Worlds Day 2 players already being rewarded heavily enough, and not needing another Regional-level event to play in.

Once again, I believe TPCi made the right decision.

The Suggestion

Now that I’ve gone through the debates in the community, I’d like to offer a suggestion for improving the experience of this kind of event in the future. I think we can all agree that we would like to see more events like the Boston Open, and I hope that as a community we can convince TPCi to make small changes in order to improve events in the years to come.

Announce it earlier!

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More notice would be much appreciated.

Announcing this sort of event a month before Worlds is not enough time. Not only will players have to book overly expensive travel arrangements, but some companies require more than a month’s notice for any significant amount of time off. Additionally, more time to test the format and acquire cards would be warmly welcomed by players.

I can only imagine that the event was announced this late because it’s the first time something like this has been held. I hope that — should this event continue to be held at future Worlds — we will be given at least another month’s notice, so that more players will be able to attend.

Conclusion

The Boston Open is a fantastic idea, despite the small shortcomings it may have. I have confidence that it will be an awesome event and a great start to next year’s Championship Points race. I hope that by dissecting the event at all angles I have given you the encouragement necessary to book a flight to Boston and enter the event. You’ll just have to get through me first!

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