The Magic Pro League has been surrounded by controversy lately with the suspension of Yuuya Watanabe and the resignation of Gerry Thompson. This alone was enough to create controversy, but their replacements have also been met with backlash. Janne “Savjz” Mikkonen and Jessica Estephan were chosen to fill the slots, leaving many asking why more successful players weren’t chosen.
Wizards of the Coast officials responded by saying changes had been made to the selection process. No longer would players be selected for the pro league on the principle of merit alone. Instead, players would be selected with a greater emphasis on diversity to fill 16 discretionary invitations for Mythic Championships. This means that players who are considered minorities within the community may be selected for these 16 slots, regardless if another player of a larger demographic has more experience or merit. In addition, those players with “more engagement” are more likely to be selected as well. This means those that have a high Twitch or YouTube following or are considered popular are more preferable.
Reid Duke is a well-known and renowned player, so much so that he hardly needs an introduction. He’s been playing the game since 1995, made top 8 in four Pro Tours, and played in 32. He has also won several Grand Prix and even a Magic Online Championship. It comes as no surprise to many that he should be considered an expert on the field of pros. In the past, he has remained remarkably neutral on WOTC policy. However, this latest change in policy even provoked a response out of the reserved pro:
Of all my work in MTG, the most thankless has been the long hours of studying alone, and the 100s of events I’ve played to disappointing results. I hope it will always be a priority to reward people who devote themselves to Magic purely for self-improvement and love of the game.
— Reid Duke (@ReidDuke) May 13, 2019
Duke put in countless hours of training and paying his dues to make it to the MPL and clearly wants to see that kind of effort continue to be rewarded. It remains to be seen whether that can still be achieved with the Magic Pro League’s new direction.
Duke reached out to us to clarify the meaning and intent of his tweet and to iterate that he was not against the specific additions of Mikkonen and Estephan to the Magic Pro League. He was simply expressing his support for other pros that took the same path of dedication and training that he did.
I think Jessica and Janne will be positive additions to the MPL. My tweet was made to show support for any dedicated players who may feel like they’ve been left out of the recent changes.
– Reid Duke
It will be interesting to see the results of the Magic Pro League’s new direction and whether any tweaks are made in response to the community’s reaction to the changes.
[This article was corrected from a previous version that contained some inaccuracies regarding Duke’s status with the league.]
I’m a veterinary student based out of Illinois. I enjoy (and sometimes stream) Shadowverse and MTG in my spare time. Follow me on twitch at https://www.twitch.tv/elpieps