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3: Pro Tour Coverage
Coverage of Magic’s biggest tournaments has improved in many ways.

There are broadcasts of competitive Magic tournaments nearly every weekend, but the only ones with enough prize money and prestige to draw the majority of the world’s best players are the quarterly installments of the Pro Tour. All members of the Hall of Fame are invited (many come), and the rest of the competitors are the winners of regional qualifying events.

Pro Tours begin with booster drafts. With Swiss pairings, the first wins are the most advantageous, so this tourney ensures that each draft format is duly analyzed. When the Standard portion begins, the coverage team often highlights creative decks in the field. Then, after a few rounds, the undefeated competitors begin to thin out as the nascent meta takes shape (Pro Tours have traditionally been held immediately after new cards are legal; now there will be a few weeks in between). On Saturday there’s another 3 rounds of draft and 5 of Standard, after which the Top 8 finishers advance to Sunday competition.

Wizards has developed a coverage crew with a variety of strengths that help make the tournament comprehensible to less-experienced fans. During matches, there is a play-by-play announcer as well as color commentary from a pro or a Wizards employee who gives insight about what the players may be planning and what options they may be considering. Viewers are expected to know what many of the cards do (or look them up) but they also display cards in full to clarify and introduce us to new tech.

Between rounds, the hosts share stories about the many players they know, and interview some about how their decks work. This personal element made less sense to me at first; but over time I realized that the ability these guys and girls have to stay on the Pro Tour year after year is an indication of just how great a game Magic is: it rewards good strategy so much that you can overcome luck. And, they mostly stay friends and have a great time.

Since this coverage is broadcast on http://twitch.tv/magic, there is a well-moderated chat with thousands of fans (and some of the commentators read it to see if they missed anything). Magic fans are smart, and the jokes can be pretty good.