Mythic Qualifier Update

Ian O'Brien

Hi Magic Players,

As you may have heard, the Mythic Qualifier weekend that we are running on 3rd/4th August has suffered from extremely poor ticket sales. It's pretty difficult to put our fingers on exactly why this was, but let me give you some background for context.

When we were first introduced to the idea of Mythic Qualifiers, the steer that we were given can be summed up as Wizards wanting these events to feel like a "Mini Magicfest". They had a 226 player cap which was thought to be a sure sellout. We were invited to tender our proposition for the event, so we set about figuring out what we could do to make an event which was essentially a modern-era PTQ feel like something special. We chose a great venue, we contacted a couple of singles traders, we organised side events and most of all, we looked at a level of entry fee + prizes that would make the event feel like there was something real to be won. The upshot of all of this was a £55 entry fee with a flight and cases of Magic boosters, plus more boosters for high-finishing records.

We were pretty unsure of this level of entry fee as it was high, but in order to offer the levels of prize support that we felt we had to, this was where the entry fee needed to settle. The break-even point on this event was very high, and we weren't even sure we would hit it; as it happened, the events around the country were not as successful as Wizards expected them to be. Whilst Spain, Italy and other bastions of Magic to whose standards we are regularly held sold out multiple events, the UK was running in the +-150 bracket. We made some money on the first event - about £50-100 - and we didn't account for staff meals and drinks during the day in there, so overall we probably lost some. On a 120-odd man Magic tournament with a £55 entry fee.

We took player feedback from that tournament. It was, from the players who were there, overwhelmingly positive, but still there was a feeling that the price was a little too high from a lot of corners. That left us in a tough position; less entry fee = less prizes = less attractive event. It felt like a lose/lose situation.

Then, we were asked if we wanted to run another event. This time it was to be Modern, the UK's favourite format. We figured this would be a good chance to try again. We spoke to multiple competitive modern playgroups across the UK, solicited feedback on prizes. People didn't want boosters. Cash came up a bunch of times. We rolled with that and even ran the exact prize structure past a few people, who told us they thought it was great. They told us they'd love to play. We reduced the entry fee down to £47.50 for early bird, we added a higher percentage of that as prize pool than we did for our first event. Our break-even point went up again, but with 120-odd players for Standard, we figured that this would be fine for Modern. Our expectations seemed reasonable.

We sold less than 80 tickets across two events.

Let that sink in for a second. The UK's "most popular" competitive format, a format that we all were worried was going to have support dropped a couple of years ago, has finally gotten big competitive events back that the community has been asking for since PTQs were abolished, sold 80 tickets. We didn't see it coming. Nobody did. And honestly, I don't really know what to say about it. Maybe we've done something wrong with this event that I can't figure out. Maybe the price being similar to a GP just makes the event unpalatable, but GPs have an economy of scale that we could never match. Maybe we should have run it cheaper, and with much reduced prizes? Is Liverpool an unattractive location because people feel that it's difficult to get to? Are there too many events in the calendar? Is it too close to a GP?

Please tell us, and please tell Wizards. I'd love to know what it is about this event that made you decide that it wasn't for you. If "premium priced" small scale events are too expensive for what they offer in your opinion, then it would be valuable for WotC to lower their expectations around these events being a "mini magicfest" because mini magicfests cost money. If you would rather see them be cheap qualifiers, then make your voice heard. Or if it's something else, say that too. We will make sure the feedback makes it to them.

In the meantime, clearly this event can't go ahead in the form in which it was planned. We'd hoped that with ticket sales closing on payday, we might have a big last minute rush - it's absolutely not unheard of for that to happen - but it didn't. So, players who have registered have received an email with revised event times and expectations. We'll be dropping the prize support, refunding 50% of everybody's tickets and the events will likely be 5/6 rounds. Anyone who wants a full refund will get one, along with an offer of compensation in the form of heavily discounted Magic products, which we hope will go some way to offsetting any out-of-pocket expenses.

We apologise for all of this. We're sorry. We're a small business, and we're not in this industry because we're here to make our millions. We're here because we love what we do, and we're excited to run big events like this because they are cool and we love Magic. We weren't able to do that this time round, and it's genuinely saddening and absolutely embarrassing. 

Hopefully the other Mythic Qualifiers this season do better than we did. Please support them, if you care about these events being available and want to see them continue.

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