Nestled amongst the busy play schedule of a Magic Weekend—filled with public events, gunslinging, and of course the U.S. National Championship—was a small gathering of interested parties on Friday night. Just outside the main hall, a few dozen lucky folks enjoyed themselves at the Wizards Play Network cocktail reception. The Wizards Play Network, which was announced earlier this year, has been slowly falling into place in the public's eye and this weekend's cocktail reception was a public unveiling for a number of selected participants in the Chicago area.
Who was in attendance? Matt Johnson, a tournament organizer and player connected to Tenth Planet in Indiana, was one attendee. He said he's excited about the prospects of the Wizards Play Network, in particular the chance to host Prereleases for his local players. "We've held Releases in the past, and those have gone well. I'm excited about it," Johnson explained. The Magic aficionado knows a thing or two about organizing events, as he's been hosting Friday Night Magic since the very beginning. "We gave away River Boas for one of the first prize. They were awesome," Matt described. "I even met my wife playing at FNM!"
Organizers, Judges, and Wizards staff enjoy themselves.
There were other local luminaries from the Chicago Magic
world as well. Ron Reiman is attached to Pastimes, a large gaming store in Chicago that can be seen running PTQs, Grand Prix, and even some of the side events at U.S. Nationals this weekend. Like Matt Johnson, he also had positive things to say about the Wizards Play Network. "I think anything that expands Magic: The Gathering
or builds it is a good thing. There are endless possibilities with Magic
." He went on to explain that he was looking forward to being able to receive support for his local players for offering formats outside the realm of the normal tournament experience. "We run a lot of formats that aren't officially sanctioned," he clarified, indicating he was looking forward to having more prizes to offer his players for enjoying games of Elder Dragon Highlander, Free-for-All, and other formats.
More cocktail party attendees.
The Wizards Play Network will not only expand the types of events Wizards of the Coast will encourage organizers to offer players, but recognizing local organizers who aren't necessarily attached to a retail store. Sherwin Ng is one such individual, running events for his local players at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He runs weekly booster drafts for college players on campus and is excited about the possibilities the Wizards Play Network holds for him and his group of players.
Magic creator Richard Garfield and Vice President of Organized Play Chris Galvin
The mood was cheerful as the night progressed and organizers and officials helped themselves to free cocktails and a sandwich buffet line. Placards conveniently outlined the new organizer levels in the WPN, starting at Gateway and progressing to Advanced, and what it will take to earn each level. A number of Wizards staff were on hand to dutifully answer questions, and rumors of Richard Garfield sightings abounded. Before calling it a night we spoke with one final participant, the man in charge of Pro Tour side events (including those at U.S. Nationals weekend), Steve Port. What did he think about the Wizards Play Network?
"I think the WPN is awesome!"
(If you're interested in more information about the Wizards Play Network or want to become involved, visit http://www.wizards.com/wpn)