Hello again everyone! As I mentioned last time I was with you, with a profile of the Greninja list I played to Madison, I’m off UG duty until our article marathon begins on June 25. But, until then, our other staff have you well in-hand—and for those of you not yet subscribed, you can currently use coupon code PRENAIC for 10% off your first month, quarter, or year!
A bit ago, I wrote about the specter of Best Finish Limits and the effect they could have on our tournament structure heading into next season. For those not in the HeyFonte Facebook group, you missed out on some really strong resultant discussion between Carlos Pero, I, and others, but I’m glad to have been able to start a conversation. Ultimately, we’ll see what TPCi deals us for next season.
Another area where we’ll likely soon know more about TPCi’s mindset is Regional Championships for the 2019 Championship Series. It figures that we’ll have news eventually here, but before we get there, I’m going to take today to run through the 2018 Championship Series’ edition of the United States+Canada zone TCG Masters’ Regionals circuit.
With my sincere regrets to readers from other areas of the world, I simply lack the data needed to draw any of the interesting conclusions I’m hoping to look at within the US+CA rating zone. This’ll probably be more readily apparent as we work through, but as a bit of an ecosystem on its own, there are some elements unique to NA to consider. Trying to do the same with Europe or Latin America would put me out of my knowledge area, and I’m not interested in providing bad information.
- The Goal: Key Regionals-Related Topics
- The Data: Method to my Madness
- The Circuit by the Numbers: Fast Facts
- The Expanded Issue
- Regional-by-Regional: Key Figure Breakdown
- In Conclusion
The Goal: Key Regionals-Related Topics
A few key issues and trends have emerged this year that seem worth exploring:
- Location shifts. We saw Philly vanish; Hartford replace. We saw Seattle “move” to Vancouver. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m pretty interested in seeing how attendance moved along with those events.
- On the whole: growth! For the second year in a row, the circuit seems to have grown substantially. With all but 3 events beating their prior year’s overall attendance number, for many, it was a successful year.
- But, about those 3…Expanded as a common thread? Roanoke, Costa Mesa, and Salt Lake City were the 3 events that did not show growth this season. There are maybe some other things to look at as causes for their attendances losses, and we’ll explore them. But, if Expanded is the culprit—and, in full transparency, I suspect it will prove so—what other patterns can we see in players’ format preferences? Many empirically believe Expanded is harming the circuit. Can we see that trend in numbers, or is it going to be left to speculation forever?
Those are the 3 guiding areas I want to explore as overall questions, then the second half of the article will be a location-by-location breakdown of top trends and notable tidbits about each of the 15 events on this year’s US/CA circuit. In a bit more transparency, unlike most things I write, I’m going to be writing this over a series of days and nights mostly spent in a metal tube at 35,000 feet—in case you aren’t already aware, I made the trip to Singapore for their Special Event, and this is my time-killing project while on that venture.
Without further ado, there’re some numbers to look at!
The Data: Method to my Madness
As you may know by now, I do a lot of analysis on the ways players earn Championship Points (CP), the what-if scenarios behind different Championship Structures—say, last year’s midseason CP bump—and Regional attendances. I derive all of this data using Pokémon.com Final Standings for each Regional and International Championship, then augment my data with knowledge of final standings at things like the Mexico City Special Events or Jakarta’s Regional Championship. This is rather easy for me, as I usually have access to these standings from attending, but where I find gaps, I find people in the community to help me out.
Using each player’s Pokémon.com display name as a key, I can then see which players attended which events, how well they did, and look for trends from that. Reverse-engineering the CP structure isn’t much of a task once all of that data is collated, but I’ve never attempted the type of Regional-by-Regional attendance association that I’m going to explore today.
The principal flaw with this data mapping methodology is the dreaded “Not Opted into Rankings” finisher on Pokémon.com. Fortunately, this is usually not too great a composition of a given Regional Championship field, but it does mean I can’t track the player event-by-event and does add a small caveat to what I present. Still, there are some compelling trends to examine, even with those players minimized. Throughout, any percents (such as percent of players that returned year-over-year) simply don’t consider not-ranked players as part of the player base—so, actual numbers could be higher or lower, depending on the statistic.
Sadly, I lack the data for Juniors and Seniors. I do believe there could be a number of interesting items to glean there, as well, though I fear the not-opted-into-rankings problem could be more pronounced. As is, we forge ahead with the Masters.
I should also note that I’m not going to discuss any of the prizing elements of events. That’s for another, to come at a later point, piece.
In addition, it’s important to note that certain statistics I’ve listed on Twitter and elsewhere to date that could be compared to some on this page involve various permutations that also factor in International Championships and the Anaheim Open. Every stat in this article ignores the Anaheim Open or the International Championships.
I use the nearest airport’s IATA code to identify Regional cities. SNA, for John Wayne International Airport, refers to the events in Anaheim and Costa Mesa. YYZ is Toronto. Those are the most likely to be confusing, but Google might help you otherwise. In addition, when I use “2017,” I mean the 2016/2017 Championship Series that culminated in Worlds 2017. Similarly, 2018 refers to events from either 2017 or 2018 that counted toward the 2018 World Championships.
The Circuit by the Numbers: Fast Facts
- At least 5141 Masters participated in a North American TCG Regional this season (+/- a few not-opted-in folks). That’s up about 900 players, or a bit above 20%, from last season’s mark of at least 4262.
- It’s important to note that aged-up Seniors are “new” players for this purpose.
- Of the 5141 that played at all, 3219—more than 60%!—only played a single Regional Championship this season. Over half of the “player base” at a Regional level only played in one Regional Championship this year.
- Over the last two seasons, 7415 folks participated in a North American TCG Regional in the Masters division.
- Of the total, only 1989 players participated in a Regional during both seasons. That is, only 1989—less than half—of the players that played a Regional in one season played one in the other season. So, most of this season’s Regional participants didn’t play in a Regional last season. Perhaps even more importantly, the same is true of last season’s players moving into this year!
- Turnover is very, very large on a year-to-year basis for most events.
- Below, you can find a summary table outlining each event’s growth/loss moving from last season to this season. I’ve omitted prior seasons’ data because there is simply too much cross-contamination in terms of date arrangements to make the comparisons meaningful. It’s important to remind that these are just numbers surrounding TCG Masters—but, it’s equally important to remember that a vast majority of each event’s entry revenue is from that demographic.
- 1-time attendees are the big focus issue of this piece today. As you can see in the below table, some events have more of them than others (so, this means Toronto had the most players that only attended itself). I’ll reference this table later, but it’s generally pretty interesting.
The Expanded Issue
It’s remarkably hard to separate geographic biases from Expanded/Standard biases in this year’s data. I’m confident that there is information here to demonstrate Expanded was a detractor to attendance factors, and I imagine this could most effectively be analyzed by examining attendance patterns among Expanded events (do “Expanded players” really exist? Initial data suggests: maybe) compared to Standard events. Unfortunately, this is extraordinarily cumbersome in my current data setup, so while I work on better options, I’m going to leave this question here.
But, in my mind, look at the biggest drops and gains in attendance this season. Now, look at the format changes. Every single true-same-location drop was an Expanded event, and 2 of the 3 were Standard->Expanded changes. Now, some of the biggest rises? Expanded->Standard shifts.
Seattle/Vancouver also fell, but moving across an international border is a pretty big deal, and as we’ll see later, there wasn’t much player sharing between these two events—I hesitated even to link them. Dallas was the biggest jump in the year, and was an example of Standard->Expanded that bucked the trends, but I would argue Dallas’ 2016/2017 New Year’s Eve date makes it hard to draw too many conclusions. It’s both an exorbitantly expensive travel weekend and likely conflicted for many players.
I think a figure I mentioned earlier plays at the issue as well, and perhaps suggests TPCi is playing with fire attempting to push Expanded on its players and organizers in such a high profile manner: most of our players participate in only a single Regional Championship. Of the 3219 that played only one Regional Championship, 1307 of them experienced an Expanded event.
This is a ratio that can’t be completely explained away by any combination of event counts (there were more Standard events), attendances (Standard events had more players in general), or other factors: even when adjusting for everything I can think of, we still have about a 10% residual factor implying Expanded itself is a factor in players’ one-time experiences. They choose Standard more often. I’ve seen, but not yet completely analyzed, trends implying players that attended 1 event in each season—but not a geographically corresponding event in the most recent season—tended to choose Standard more than they chose Expanded. More to come on that probably after NAIC, though.
2837 TCG Masters attended only a single NA Regional Championship in 2015/2016. Of them, 1003 were an Expanded Regional. Unlike with this season, I have little trouble statistically explaining this away with things like geography and the lesser presence of Expanded events. 1880 of the 2837 haven’t played a Regional Championship to date. 682 of the 1003 Expanded-first time players, though, haven’t returned, which is a larger proportion than those who participated in a Standard event for their only experience of last season—by about 5%. The numbers suggest that Expanded is a detriment to the likelihood that a player participates in another Regional.
Expanded isn’t new-player friendly. Nobody paying an iota of attention can doubt that. And, in my opinion, the numbers are a convincing case that Expanded is hurting event attendances. But, I think as a community we’ve largely missed the boat on what’s causing that effect: given the number of “new” players at any given tournament, Expanded’s condition as an less-popularly enjoyed format has to take a backseat to more practical issues of card acquisition and meta complexity, which serve as barriers to entry.
If TPCi wants to spare its organizers a year of scary waiting on attendance numbers, I’d strongly suggest that steps should be taken to make the format more new player friendly: that can include anything from corrective reprints to more radical changes to guarantee the format’s longer-term stability. One of my ideas is freezing the format at the start of the season, then only cycling in a year’s worth of new sets every September 1st. Expanded is big enough to not get stale, but we play it so little between set releases that it hardly ever manages to develop into something most players feel they have a grasp on. Emphasizing the format at an IC or forcing its emphasis at a local level could be useful as well, though I feel the latter is playing with fire from a retail relations standpoint.
One fix that unfortunately will probably not work on a significant level is the one they employed: moving away from the every-other-event format rotation. While this was a big complaint of mine last season, and this change will help those who attend a lot, it’s not all that useful to the majority of players (who only attend minimal events each year). Therefore, it’s unfortunately not as awesome a change for recovering event attendance as it seems. It is a good step in opposition to doing nothing, but I don’t think it’ll save organizers from suffering Expanded influenza, especially later in the season. I hope TPCi considers other action.
But, you’re not here to read me fix Expanded, and I’ve written enough on it as it is. Let’s get into an event-by-event breakdown of what went down at Regionals this year.
Regional-by-Regional: Key Figure Breakdown
Each of the following sections focuses on a Regional Championship from this season. It breaks down the total attendance, Masters attendance, retention rate, and growth rate from year-to-year. “Retention rate” refers to the percentage of 2017 attendees that returned in 2018. The next section breaks down the 10 Regionals where this event’s attendees were spotted most often (So, on Memphis’ page, you’ll see that 42% of Memphis’ attendees also went to Collinsville, the most of any other destination). This is sort of like retention rate, but uses this event’s attendance as the divisor instead. Finally, there’s a breakdown of how many of each event’s attendees attended 1 Regional, 2 Regionals, etc.
In the first section, you can find a table breaking down the number of 1-time attendees at each event this season. If you prefer to browse the below simply as numbers, or need a more mobile-friendly view, a PDF of all 15 Regionals’ summaries is linked here.
The beginning of the season showed us that we were headed for new frontiers: the first Regional event in history to get the 800 threshold for a 6th Day 2 Swiss round! Little did we know what a year it’d become.
As you can see, expectedly, this event shared a lot of its common attendance with St. Louis and Memphis: stunningly, the Midwest is the Midwest. I’d call some attention, though, to this event’s low rate of 1-of attendees—and, for that matter, around 40% of its attendees attended 3 or more Regionals, which made it one of the more “experienced” fields in this season’s assortment. It’s also notable for how many of its 2017 attendees returned in 2018: the 46% mark was only surpassed by Toronto.
With very solid growth on the year, drawing from a demonstrably significant base of players that played more Regionals than the average this year, there is no numerically sound attendance reason for Fort Wayne’s elimination this year. It’s a market that could sustain the number of events it had, and a particularly painful contraction in some respects. We’ll likely never know the true basis.
In New England’s triumphant return to the Regionals circuit, it saw a pretty solid attendance crop. It was also the first New England Regional to be in a major flight hub itself, and the attendance likely reflected that. I decided to consider Philadelphia a close enough comparative to use it here in year-to-year statistics, though there’s obviously a bit of a TPCi rebuff there since we’ll have both on the calendar next year!
The addition of Philadelphia to complement Hartford is a smart move. As I wrote a few months ago, this was a scene that looked underserved, and this data confirms it: 40% of Hartford’s attendees made it their only event of the year, so adding a second event only a (relatively) quick trip away will serve the area well. This area demonstrated some willingness to travel, too, with a third of its players also attending Charlotte’s Regional. This bodes particularly well in a year where the Eastern Seaboard is loaded with events. With Fort Wayne out of the picture, many of the Great Lakes players will probably consider traveling a bit further for one as well, and therefore I’m generally excited for the New England/DelMarVa area headed into next year.
While the move up I-4 probably didn’t do the event any favors, and a Standard->Expanded swap was probably not ideal either, it was still surprising to me to see Florida be one of the more stagnant events on the circuit this year. Nevertheless, with 35% of its attendees calling it their only event of the year, it’s an area I’d expect to be pretty insulated from changes. Even the seeming pill of death provided by Easter Weekend (bookended by Spring Break flight prices) in an off-major airport city and Expanded probably won’t hurt too badly, though I would guess it will not grow significantly this season.
A third of 2017’s players showed back up to play this year, including a significant number for whom it was their only Regional in either season. Florida is generally somewhere people like to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a dip in its results this upcoming season.
I love the city, but its elimination is unfortunately not a terribly surprising move in my mind. For the well-traveled, it was a common skip, which is probably owed to flight prices being unseemly from much of the States’ landmass. It had a pretty loyal one-and-done crowd at 40% of the event’s attendance, but this is one example where the percentage doesn’t mean much isolated from the raw count: with only 346 Masters, it came on looking unhealthy (even for the Northwest after Portland 2018 returned some decent numbers), and it posted a drop in numbers over its pseudo-counterpart from Seattle 2017.
Unfortunately, there comes a point when the Pacific Northwest will become a self-fulfilling prophecy for Pokémon—as events go away due to low attendance, the player base probably only shrinks further—but the economic realities of smaller tournaments continue to rule at the moment. Cost is not linear for these events, and simply saying “set up for 500!” isn’t a third of the investment of the “set up for 1500!” we see east of the Mississippi. It’s a sad irony that Pokémon’s own backyard is reduced to Portland alone for the upcoming season.
San Jose was a bit meaningful, personally: my first missed event since the move to Regionals’ year-round structure. I wasn’t alone, either, as it had one of the lower attendances by the 8+ group. Being the Bay Area as it is causes some issues, and being on Thanksgiving weekend (in California!) probably didn’t do attendance any favors either. Nevertheless, it saw healthy growth, and the fact that it was at least 38% “locals” making their only run of the year, it probably should do well next year even as it’s a late season stop.
38% of December 2017’s crowd made it back out this year, which is pretty good considering the move backwards in dateline. This is an event whose figures I’m super curious to see moving forward into next year, as moving off the holiday trends should be a good result for flight prices, which is generally good for business. Being late in the points rush won’t hurt either.
It is notable how scattered San Jose attendees’ other events tend to be. The recent other California events are a bit of a hub, but after that point, San Jose players seem to end up pursuing events in some other version of anywhere.
Some have proposed to me that this is a successor event to the scene in Athens, GA, but neither the geography nor the numbers lead me to buy into that claim with any seriousness. Memphis is pretty unique in the high-attendance events for its particularly low rate of players that attend only it: with less than 20% of the event having that distinction, Memphis seems to be located in the middle of a bunch of big playerbases rather than on top of a particularly large local one. This bodes very well for it in the upcoming year, especially as Fort Wayne exits, as the Eastern Seaboard and Midwest have honestly never had better travel situations than this year’s. More travelers should be an implicit benefit to Memphis.
I’m surprised how few of Memphis’ players ended up attending Roanoke, and while Roanoke is an issue to dive into more later, it indicates to me that Expanded could’ve been a factor as the season waned—especially given the 20% of Memphis attendees that attended Roanoke’s 2017 edition.
Dallas is one of the more mysterious of the 2018 season’s meteoric attendance jumps. Its Masters attendance over doubled, which is pretty incredible considering it wasn’t a total lightweight to begin with. Boosted by a bit less than half of its 2017 attendance returning, the only event where I have to truly write 2016/2017 to designate what I’m talking about probably wasn’t helped last season by its New Years Eve/Day weekend. To me, it was a pretty awesome concept that didn’t overlap any sort of school or other obligation. But, it seems that others were dissuaded by the whole “other party things you can do on NYE” issue, and flight prices are never generous around the holidays.
And, Dallas as a flight destination can’t be understated. As the most strictly convenient destination on the circuit—you literally don’t leave the airport—costs for players in late-January probably were the cheapest of any event this year when taken in aggregate. It has one of the wider geographic reaches in terms of its similar-event marketability, and for such a year-over-year jump, doesn’t have a particularly high one-and-done percentage.
This was right before community sentiment, in my barometer, truly took off against Expanded, so I’m not surprised that it wasn’t visibly harmed. With that said, I have no doubt that it was harmed to some degree, and should the trend of growth continue for next season, I’ll be very interested to see how big a Standard Dallas could get,
One of the only Regionals I routinely don’t know what to label, the St. Louis metro area has always been kind to event attendance. Collinsville isn’t even particularly close to a meaningful airport, with St. Louis-Lambert about an hour from the tournament itself. Nevertheless, it posts good numbers year-after-year, and while it’s on the upper end of one-and-done rate for the Midwest’s mega-tournaments, a healthy number of its players also participated in Memphis, Fort Wayne, and Madison—as we’d geographically expect.
This geographic trend in the Midwest is undeniable, and makes me all the more curious to see what will happen with the lack of Fort Wayne next year. I actually think it could end up being a bigger deal than it’s currently being given credit for, as its centrality likely made the “one-more” call for a number of the Midwest and lower Northeast’s players that much easier. With one less “easy” Regional on the plate for next year, I hope none of these players’ overall play patterns are affected too strongly.
Nevertheless, even a routine gargantuan like Collinsville “only” saw 40% of its 2017 Masters return for 2018. It’s quite telling of the state of affairs, and explaining of how we’re approaching the 3-million mark on POP IDs, when even the biggest of events don’t return more than half of their attendees from the prior year. More than ever, the core “competitive” group is only a fraction of the player base. When we see Collinsville’s organizers doing things like adding chair reservation options for newer parents at their Oaks, PA event to kickoff next season, it’s important to remember this: the competitive crowd is a minority, and marketing to the non-regulars is essential for TO success.
San Jose’s southern cousin seems to have always had the Bay Area beaten slightly in attendance, but the gap narrowed this year when Costa Mesa seemed to reap the “rewards” of player discontent with Expanded. Even when keeping my earlier discussion in mind—accessibly is probably more of a problem than the meta—player tone surrounding the format is also incredibly important, as a sea of negativity on the online message scene regarding Expanded is probably an attendance deterrent as well.
I was surprised that the 3rd most common event association here was Dallas, though it potentially speaks to my theory about Dallas as a cheap airport option: I can’t imagine LAX–DFW was particularly expensive in late-January (or, really, vice-versa in March). Otherwise, the events a bit more isolated than others, with its 10th-most-common-association only being at 12%—therefore, it’s not particularly surprising that a third of its players attended only it.
I don’t really have any strong feelings as to what the move down to Anaheim Convention Center will do, as the LA area isn’t the worlds easiest flight in any world. Therefore, I’m not sure there’s ever going to be an awesome place to put it. It could be interesting to see if some of the Worlds 2017 casual crowd drifts back in, though.
To say the least, Charlotte wasn’t the most acclaimed event on the circuit, but it had a fairly healthy player base. Next year, it’s off to Greensboro, which could prove an interesting flight dynamic since GSO isn’t the most exciting flight availability in Pokémon history and RDU poses some transportation challenges. Nonetheless, it’s very interesting to see Memphis and Hartford at the top of its shared attendances, as all 3 will be operated by Top Cut Events next season. There’s some room here to play both on geography and organizer loyalty going into next season.
Half of this season’s attendees attended only 1 or 0 other events, and 30% of the room experienced it as the only Pokémon Regional of their season. Hopefully we can see a rebound in terms of experience this year, and hopefully the Charlotte crowd is back to give it another shot under a different vision.
Portland was one of the biggest growers in the circuit, which is one of the bright spots in what’s looking a bit ugly for the Pacific Northwest this year. Unfortunately, it’s saddled with an Expanded format that is not well-liked at the moment heading into next year and optics of event loss that will not play well in the Pacific Northwest. It’s interesting to me that its “top” association is the now-dead Seattle instead of its own past year’s event, but almost 40% made the return journey, which is a pretty good mark.
Dallas actually looks super out of place as the 3rd most shared attendance, but it’s just more of a testament to the powerful geographic and infrastructure advantages afforded to Dallas’ arrangement in DFW.
Portland had one of the weaker fields in terms of CP earnings this year, and a relatively-inexperienced field in terms of one-and-done players as well. It’s one of my favorite events of any given year, though, and growth like what it experienced this year is a good sign in an otherwise presently dicey area for the game.
Salt Lake City
I’m fairly sure that it was a very open discussion that SLC’s Regional would not be returning for next season even by midday that Saturday in May, but sadly its attendance encourages that decision. It’s another event where Dallas shows up as a strikingly common association, which can be interpreted as suggesting SLC was a high-traveled to venue. The distribution of attendees by attendance rate at other events encourages this conclusion as well, though it’s a bit surprising given the historically pricey nature of SLC flights.
As one of the only attendance drops this season, Expanded loomed here as well. Strikingly, only 22% of the 2017 crowd came back for this year, which served to be one of the worst rates on the circuit. As much as I hate it, because I’m a huge fan of the atmosphere and have always enjoyed the city, this is one removal decision that probably makes a lot of sense for all involved parties given the volatility the event would’ve presented from a numbers perspective this year.
As it is, we will see where Cascade Games’ forage into Pokémon takes us when Denver “replaces” Salt Lake City next spring.
In Toronto’s second year removed from the Kitchener days, we finally saw its attendance balloon. Downtown was clearly a good venue for attendance purposes, and I’ll be curious to see how the looming move out to Brampton will affect things in the upcoming year. Unsurprisingly, a highly-loyal local player base meant 43% of this year’s attendees participated only in Toronto, and half of last year’s made it back for this season.
I think this is one of the more higher-volatility picks for attendance on next year’s schedule, as the move to Brampton could go either way depending how travel aspects work out. Nevertheless, it proved this year to be an extension of the Midwest “network” of Regionals that I mentioned earlier when discussing Collinsville, as its top shared attendances are mostly those Midwest events. It’s also under the Top Cut Events/Carta Magica banner for 2018, joining many of its top shared attendances.
The poster child for Expanded fever. Let’s do a quick economics thing here: with 299 lost players at $40/head, Roanoke was on the hook for about $12,000 less revenue than last year. If I impress one takeaway on you from today’s piece, let it be that poorly attended events are bad news for everyone, and that revenue drop is why. Not coincidentally, Roanoke was one of the best judged—maybe the best—events I’ve ever attended, and that includes International and World Championships. As it happens, planning a staff for 1000, then only needing it for 600, allows liberties.
While it was great for player experience, I can’t imagine it was great for the TO experience, and as I say, that’s bad for all of us in the end. When you see higher entry fees this year, this won’t be the primary reason, but I would bet it will be part of the reason: everyone is up against volatility that cannot be accounted for as the format twists and turns at TPCi’s whims (or lack thereof).
Those who did make the trip to Roanoke were well-experienced with the year, reinforcing the notion that Expanded is not a new player’s cup of tea. Only 20% of attendees called it their only Regional of the season—and the number was closer to a standard 35% last season.
Roanoke did have the advantage of being the first event after the “bump” last year, but even still, such a pronounced drop is rather harsh and unpredictable. I expect it’ll rise somewhat over last season being Standard, but Thanksgiving isn’t a date that generally lends itself to flight prices at far-reach spokes like ROA, so it could be interesting in that regard—though, many have Friday off to travel!
One of the other surprises to this year, and the dagger-in-the-heart to the “Roanoke fell because it was late in the season” theory. Only a week later, Madison surpassed many expectations in its size, which strongly suggests Roanoke wasn’t exactly victim to the calendar. In its own right, though, Madison demonstrated itself to be part of the Midwest ecosystem I mentioned earlier, with a (relative) lot of 3-4 Regional attendees and a highly-common association in Collinsville.
As normal, it was one of the more loyally attended events, with 42% of 2017 returning for the 2018 edition. Overall, for the first time ever, it came very close to the 1000 mark, and ought to remain stable moving forward given it resides on its tradition weekend for the upcoming season.
The biggest takeaway here: the competitive players are a minority, and often a very serious minority. As we head into the upcoming season, organizers have to sell an experience to players of all experience levels, but for a plurality, it’s a strong possibility they’ll not attend another Regional this season—or possibly ever again! When we saw VIP arise, the most competitive were loudly skeptical, but it sold, and now I feel comfortable explaining why: the circuit is mostly players with no care for CP, looking only for an experience.
When entry fees rise again this season, realize that the “that’s $10 by 10 Regionals!” argument is going to ring hollow as a fiscal reality for most organizers. Nobody is saying that the established players are not cared about, but it’s certainly important to keep perspective on their size relative to the rest of the player base. Decisions are always best evaluated in context, and I hope I’ve provided some interesting context for you today.
I could’ve written, and written, and written on this subject, but I thought this was a fairly appropriate level to cut it off at. I’ll probably draw tidbits and factoids from this analysis in pieces for the next while, so sorry in advance if it’s not your cup of tea.
If you need one more takeaway, it’s that Expanded is a looming specter of problems for everyone—and, if it’s a marketing push, it’s one that’s not working. (Or, something slightly less ominous than that, but you get the idea.)
At the end of the season, I’ll have a final statistical analysis to bring you on the World Championship delegation from North America and the source of their CP. In the meantime, I need to prepare for my nth weekend on the road in the final leg of this Top 16 chase. If you have any questions or commentary, as always, find me @cschemanske or on the forums.
Otherwise, as always, all the best.