Concrete Suggestions

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Concrete Suggestions

Post  TobiH on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:03 am

The other threads (especially #First Steps) are getting crowded with mixed topics, so I think this new thread might be a good idea for listing serious suggestions to improve the PT system.

I would say, to establish better lines of communication between WotC and the players (pros and PTAs), can already be identified as the minimum goal of this project, so I'm not concerning myself with that here. The following are my thoughts on how the possibility for professional magic playing might be sustained:

# The budget WotC allocates to the Pro Tour is probably fixed. (On this new lower level, that is.) Of course it would be great, if our efforts led to an increase again, but I highly doubt the chances of that.

# Logic dictates: The total amount of money can only be redistributed. That is, cutting expenses somewhere and having more prize money in return.

# After talking to a lot more people I estimate the average PT costs WotC between 7 and 9 hundred thousand dollars, including venue, staff, accommodation, equipment and transportation thereof, airfare for staff and for PTQ winners, and about 230k prize money. Gimmicks such as T-Shirts, gift bags, and the pro lounge are not a major factor in that. (Oh, and product costs for Limited events are even less a factor.)

# Well, "cutting expenses somewhere" (especially in such a magnitude as to make a difference) can only mean cutting another PT. Which is not great, but...

# ...would allow to double the prize money at each of the remaining PTs. (And still have some budget to finance more GPs, for example, to make up for the loss of total Premier Events, or more PTQs for each of the PTs.)

Downsides:

- less formats showcased on the highest level of competition

- less PTQs

- less events that might attract the media

Upsides/counter-arguments:

- let's just have those PTs played in mixed formats (Limited and Constructed) in fact that'd be more formats then, not less

- either more PTQs or more GPs should be able to make up for that (of course, Qualifiers for PT XYZ could be Limited or Constructed then)

- in all probability higher cash prizes are even much more of an attraction (we all know, how much interest the WoW-World Championships have generated by giving away 100k to 1st place)

- biggest upside of them all: It'd be possible to make a living off Magic!

Any thoughts?

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  eunck on Fri Jan 25, 2008 1:58 pm

Cutting another PT in order to get higher prize money seems good to me. But it cannot mean that there are fewer PTQs. The number of PTQs per PT would have to be raised quite a bit and the flights must still be paid. Mixed formats at a PT would also make it possible to have PTQs in differnt formats for the same PT. Sounds all good to me.
I think that fewer PTs would make it less reliable to live off Magic though, because a lower number of statistical events (in this case the money won at a PT) always leads to a higher variability. But I wouldn't mind that.

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lol

Post  JimHerold on Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:21 pm

just wrote 90 minutes and its all lost after i pressed send nice system Evil or Very Mad

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pff

Post  JimHerold on Fri Jan 25, 2008 5:23 pm

so looks like you have to make a subjekt or the text is lost when you send it...
Maybe its better like this and my thoughts were to radical anyway ...who knows i wont write all this again Rolling Eyes

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Insight in budget

Post  RuudW on Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:10 pm

The biggest problem in coming up with solid suggestions is that we have no idea about the budget figures WotC has and can only guess about that. What I read in most suggestions in the other threat is that people overlook many things as well. I have talked to Scott Larabee (head of the PT), Andy Heckt (DCI manager) and some other people from time to time but whenever I think they made a big mistake they tend to have their reasons. For example, just this Worlds in NY I sat down with Scott wondering why on earth they cut the level 3 appearance fees and he tried to explain me that that was the best way, after scrutinizing over many possibilities to cut some money. While we can never be sure about this, as WotC won't give us insight into this information, we do have to realize that they have no incentive to kill the PT!

Still, some things need to change, which is evident from the insane amounts of response we can see on this forum (thanks guys!). After reading most of the responses I think that we only have 2 main goals:

1) Establish timely, clear communication about what (pro-)players can expect in terms of professional tournaments, prize money, PT points and Player Club benefits.
2) Keep the Pro Tour healthy.

I'll explain my thoughts on these below:

1) Establish timely, clear communication about what (pro-)players can expect in terms of professional tournaments, prize money, PT points and Player Club benefits.

This is were WotC clearly went wrong. Players have grumbled about this since the Masters were cut in favor of the End of the Year pay-out, but now is the first time many players are very negatively affected. I think the pain would have been a lot less if all the changes had been known before Worlds, as it would have been clear what people were playing for at Worlds.

Now, I know for a fact that WotC would like to announce changes as soon as possible, but budgeting is dependent on more factors (sales, Hasbro, etc.) than just pro-players. The widespread angry response is a clear sign that players are an important factor. Solutions to this problem could be having one, or a small number of players be involved in or close to the process, making budget forecasts or just emphasize its importance within the organization and Hasbro, in order to finalize these things faster in the future. Notice that dialogue and a positive relation with WotC is imperative to make anything work here.

2) Keep the Pro Tour healthy.

This factor boils down to having the Pro Tour be interesting enough financially for players to actually try to get there and stay there. This is a big reason why players compete, buy packs etc. Personally, I would have quit Magic years ago if it wasn't for the PT. PT prize money, locations and benefits are the reason people play PTQs and want to reach certain levels. TobiH already made some suggestions in this direction but it's hard to speculate about the possibilities without knowing about exact budgets. What's important though, is that we can keep something like the structure we have now, with 30 players being lvl 4(6 now) and up and making money off Magic.

Ruud

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suggestions

Post  themasonjar on Fri Jan 25, 2008 7:44 pm

It seems that unlike other sports, Magic pros don't really have sponsorships to offset costs. Everyone is angry because it is harder to maintain the pro lifestyle on fewer PTs. That is because the only money that the pros receive comes from WoTC, and significant money only coming with a high finish. This means that the players are essentially employees of WoTC. Freelance, without benefits.

Professional sports organizations could never afford to support each one of their players. The company payouts don't really add up to much unless you place high, consistently, and often the money comes from teams, not the organization itself. The players can't really afford to buy uniforms, gear, plane tickets. Sponsorship offsets both of these.

Certainly, pros are necessary as ambassadors, as a marketing tool, and as a way to legitimize the pastime. We need the Magic personalities. The more oversize, the better. They would be the first to get sponsorships. I don't know who would provide the money, perhaps a local shop, perhaps gaming companies, or websites. But until this happens, there will never be enough money to go around to let the top pros make a living at the game. WoTC's 1st priority will always be to keep making cards. Everything after that, PTs, GPs, etc, will just have to come out of their meager marketing budget.

Start local. Form teams. Pat Chapin always talks up his local scene at RIW. What if that team was a solid core who tested, built decks, and traveled together? I imagine that the younger players in the area would look up to the team and want to join. It creates a cachet value, makes the whole thing a lot cooler to non-Magic players. *They could even pay dues.* Their shop could make shirts, help cover costs of the team leaders like Chapin. In return, members of the team have access to decklists, cards that can be borrowed for tournaments from a big pool, etc. All of these things already happen, but it needs to be organized if there is to be an injection of money.

The PT is at a strange crossroads. It wants to get bigger, to have more events, to be more amazing each year. But it is entirely supported by one company. And the creation of a union is a great idea - except you are not organizing against a large corporation who can afford to give better wages. The union has very little leverage since it is up against the balance sheet of a minor game company. Instead of arguing about more or less PTs, I think that the Player's Union and WoTC should have a dialogue about how to take the game to a broader audience. The game has so many great minds, especially at the top. It seems like it would be easy to find a solution by listening to what the best players have to say. If Wafo-Tapa can come up with crazy control decks, why not have him spend a few hours brainstorming ideas about how to bring in more players, sponsorships, money, etc? Now add in the ideas of Raph, Karsten, Kenji, et al and you have an untapped wellspring of ideas from the people who depend on the company just as much as its day-to-day employees. WoTC should be reminded that the pros are invested, that they're here to help.

_Mason

PS: As another suggestion, look at the way that the NASCAR circuit keeps standings. Ratings are based on a weighted combination of 3 factors. The first is the drivers finishing position in recent races. The second factor is the driver's average qualifying position in recent races. Finally, the drivers ability to finish the race (DNF index) is factored. To calculate hypothetical race odds, determine the sum of the ratings of all drivers participating in a race. A driver's odds of winning are approximately equal to their rating divided by the sum of ratings of all participants. Also, towards the end of the season, 'the chase' is similar to the player of the year race. It adds a level of excitement to the entire series. You can read more about it here: http://nascar.about.com/od/nascar101/f/whatisthechase.htm

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What can we do for WOTC

Post  morgop on Fri Jan 25, 2008 8:20 pm

One thing to keep in mind is what organized players can do on behalf of WOTC to help the game grow. If WOTC is willing to maintain agreed-upon minimal financial levels on the tour through the end of next year, then this players union should be willing to agree to make efforts to broadcast the game to new/potential players.

We should focus on methods which will potentially draw in players or increase active player participation such that it will lead to increased sales- from packs, singles sales, event fees and even successful stores and positive vibes about the game (especially when magnified by our pros). There are many ways to increase attendance and thereby sales that WOTC should be interested in having accomplished on their behalf (for example publicize local pros attending FNMs, new guru-type programs, more players becoming judges, posting real-time PT updates on other magic sites, etc.).

Let's try to bring to the table ways to increase their bottom line as well. Then we create leverage that can lead to a win/win relationship.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  amiel on Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:15 pm

I believe a player's union should also take part in the bannings and unbannings of cards ands players. and maybe also discuss rules with judges. this at all levels.

I remember some pasts PTQs where I was shocked to hear some strange rulings (DQs, etc...). This happens more in low level tournaments but it happens sometimes at higher levels.

I would like to have some players also defending in a way the players who are suspected to cheat against the inquiries of the over Powerful DCI.
Transparency at all levels is better.

As a union I don't mind paying a certain fee per year to help the union to defend my cause.

The fact of regrouping all the infos around the tournament (hotels, flights, etc...) seems not the purpose of a union, but a website. Don't mix everything.

I believe there should be different clear status : PT players, PTA, others, and then they should be able to decide to chose who would represent them the best.
Maybe this isn't the biggest priority, since the PT KL is too soon.

I think we should for now decide of a group of people that would represent us(all the players) at KL, and another group that would be responsible of organizing the union. For Obvious reasons the non qualified players to KL won't be represented in KL by one of them. But they need a representation in the long term.
I can read on different french sites support and/ or ideas. I believe it is the same everywhere, try to send those people to this site. we need it bigger and with more players (all players).

This is work, and someone, or a group should be organizing and doing this.
I don't have as much time as I used to have at the moment. I cannot do much. But as I said before I don't mind paying a reasonable fee to raise some money to pay someone (defray).

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  verbal on Fri Jan 25, 2008 11:15 pm

The problem with us being involved in the banning and unbanning of cards is that there is an obvious and clear conflict of interest if any active player is involved. Imagine the playtesting advantage if say Raph and Frank know that Wizards are banning goyf two months out from PT:Hollywood and everyone else only knows a month out? If I were wizards I'd refuse to talk about it with anyone who was playing in an event for a month afterwards or more.

On the issue of defending DQs: I'm in two minds about it. As both a player and a judge there are times I've seen some pretty crazy rulings happening. But equally, if someone is actually cheating, again from both sides I don't want them in the event. As someone who works as a union delegate in my workplace, defending someone who is in the wrong is an extremely unpleasant experience - and these sorts of pseudo-legal arguments tend to be extremely time consuming. We would often just be holding events up to defend people who are in the wrong.

That is not to say there is never a case for it - there are some circumstances (the sunglasses at GP Brisbane last year) where the accused player should at least have the opportunity to discuss the issue with someone other than a judge. It's worth considering, we'd just need to be vary cautious on how it was approached. I think it would be bad PR to be 'those guys who get jerk pros off cheating charges' as it would almost certainly become in the eyes of some of the casual/wannabe crowd.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  Icewolf on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:45 am

About sponsorship -
I tried raising funds to help my national team reach NY this year, and can't say I managed to achieve much. A lot of polite excuses, but I do give it a bit to the local lack of information, what this game is, and how it will benefit possible sponsors, also the wrong time to try to do this (the end of the Q3, when most of the major companies have already decided their budged used for sponsorship).
From my point of view, which I tried to get across to some possible sponsors, there is a good amount of target audience for some major companies. Especially at larger events, like PTs and GPs, which are visited/observed by hundreds/thousands of people.
Every professional sport has sponsors, and they do a lot to finance the whole system, in return they get the advertisement. Every major football (soccer) team has one, every league/championship has one, so why not in Magic too?
Banners, Uniforms, etc. etc. are empty atm, and the only company that gets some advertisement done on a PT or GP, really, is WoTC. Major Airlines, chocolate/refreshments, mobile communications, all these can be tapped for some much needed financing, if only the whole concept and idea, was talked about.

Dunno about how many of you Pro players have tried finding a sponsor for what you do, besides a local game shop or something. When I asked Kai, he said he did not try. And that seems like a loss to me, I know I will try to vouch for sponsorship this year again, before nationals rolls around, to try to get the best possible outcome.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  DallasP on Sun Jan 27, 2008 8:14 pm

Good afternoon everyone. 53N531 @ MTGO here. I would like to add on some thoughts about the sponsorship that has been discussed with some mates on MTGO. We considered some of the reasons why WotC hasn't already done this and came to the conclusion that restrictions from Hasbro are likely the only reason that sponsorships could be justifiably withheld from a financial standpoint. Is this something that is unshakable from a policy standpoint at HAS/WotC? Could they possibly be swayed with financial data from other venues (www.Quakecon.org, www.ggl.com)?

WotC has mentioned moving Magic to additional digital mediums. I think the obvious conclusion to be drawn is a console-based game (not necessarly MTGO). This opens the door for a Sony or Microsoft sponsorship for the pro tour, which last time I checked, were fairly sizable companies not unwilling to shell out money for advertising and sponsorship. Now obviously they aren't going to tell you all their company secrets to allow you to come to these conclusions, but whoever represents us at this meeting needs to have a truly prodigious amount of documentation and resources at their disposal. If anyone has ever participated in Cross-examination Debate competitions, you will know what I am talking about.

As the time nears KL, compile a list of all propositions you plan on offering WotC to resolve their financial issues to the point that results in the desired effects on the Pro Player system that we seek. As has been mentioned, they are privy to proprietary company information that you aren't, so your gameplan is therefore to present them with your goal, discuss what led them to their decision so that you can become knowledgable about the issue, then present them with a strategy from your list of resources until one or more stick with them.

Thanks for listening to my standpoint.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  Olivier Ruel on Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:47 am

It is not possible to cut one more PT, even if the payouts get higher in the pts left.
It is not, in my opinion, possible to cut the pro club neither.

The Pro Club is the only guarantee to be pro. A Level 6 (or is that 8 now?) knows he will make a living out of magic for a year no matter what.
Cutting a PT would make the game even more random. They're would be many more qualifiers, people qualified or invited would do everything to go and you would have over 500 players for sure on every of them. Considering you need a PT Top 8 (maybe top 16 if the payout is adapted) a year to be pro, cutting another PT and adding players on the one left doesn't seem like a good option to me.
However, if the payout was doubled, it would make a good advertising for WOTC to show that a PT winner makes 80k.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  ArminBirner on Mon Jan 28, 2008 2:54 pm

Cutting another PT with drastically increasing Payout (500k or more for every PT)
seems like the most viable option to me.

This will be to a high advantage of all now level 3 to 6 mages, and I think all PTQ-Winners and PTAs all together.
Giving the game a huge advertising boost, maybe leading to one more PT or more increased money in the long run, if this led to an economic success.
3 PTs a year is a relief for all of us who don't want to turn everything else in life (work, study, outside magic friends, familiy, a second hobby, list goes on forever) down, but still want to be part of the circus.


I am also not sharing your oppinion Olivier that this would be bad for Level 7 and 8s, because:

- There is simply MORE money to win there, in the long run you will likely earn more money playing magic.

- IN another Topic you said its realistic for the best to Top8 like 10% of their PTs wich would mean a PT Top8 every 3 years with one PT less compared to a PT Top8 in two years, but with higher Payout this would mean one PT Top8 is worth like 2 PT Top8s, which is to your advantage not disadvantage.

- Yes, PTs will propably be 500-600 players, but if this is fixed by 2 more rounds this is also to the advantage of better players.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  kcolloran on Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:11 pm

I think getting Wizards to start accepting outside influence would be one of the best things that could happen for the pro tour. Unless we're pie in the sky dreaming about the ability to get sponsorships it seems like allowing sponsors could greatly increase the money available for holding pro tours, paying prizes, having a players lounge and all the things that go with the pro tour. Similarly as we all know coverage of the pro tours has been terrible. Perhaps if an outside entity was brought in do the coverage it would improve as well. I definitely think we want to encourage Wizards to open up themselves to outside influence.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  Olivier Ruel on Mon Jan 28, 2008 8:11 pm

You can put as many rounds as you want, one tournament is still random, particularly with 600 players. And 2 PTs + Worlds would mean: one wrong read on the metagame on the constructed pt + one draft that goes awfully on a limited PT = 0 $ won in PT. I know it's already pretty much the situation now that one pt has been cut, but the more tournaments cut, the worst it will get.

Now if you really have to cut another PT, I'd better like the money to go to GPs. One first possibility would be to have 6 super gps a year (3 in europe 2 in the us 1 in asia seems fair or 2-2-2) on which the payouts would be doubled.
It would save them much money in the tournament's organisation and GP payouts would be increased by 20% which seem fine.

One last option, not the sexiest but an interesting one as well, could be to simply cut all PTs but worlds, and triple the payout on every GP. Considering the benefits WOTC would make on all the organization (it's a pretty random approximation but i'd guess around 5-600k, the payout could be increased even more). I don't really see WotC cutting all PTs, but would it be really worst?

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  sbogan on Tue Jan 29, 2008 1:22 pm

Instead of cutting a Pro tour, why not cut a few GPs. I understand that means less premier events and thus less locations visited, but the upside would be not losing a PT. Honestly, I skim GP coverages for decks since I typically haven't heard of the folks at the top of the standings and thus have no investment. It seems that most Pros have no interest in attending each GP, especially without an appearance fee or another means to cover costs.

Costs of a premier event:
Venue
Staff
Product (Limited)
Prize

The big difference is that GP can have approximately 600 people shell out ~ $25 to participate while a PT does not generate that type of entrance costs. That means a GP has roughly $15,000.00 being contributed towards the costs by the participants. With a prize pool of $30,000 ($40,000) per GP, that means you essentially eliminate the following costs of the GP:
2.5 Venues costs (possibly less due to space concerns and more days)
2 Staff costs (More staff and more compensation)
Product varies by event
and $60,000 to be added to the PT Prize pool.

Now, I'm not sure about you, but that rough breakdown leads me to think that the GP extension is what as eaten out part of PT pie and is the logical place to recoup it, assuming that is your goal.

One of the most interesting things is the whole sponsorship angle. In the US, the best thing to apply sponsorship ideas is the College Football (American) Bowl Season, Nascar races, and sporting arenas. These events are highly publicized and cause mass exposure to their product. MTG events are not shown on TV, not reported about in major publications, and are typically for a niche group. While a sponsor may bring some funds (I would not expect anything greater than $10K for a PT), it would not have the desired effect.

My idea is to essentially undo the changes made to the PT and GP schedule. I'm positive Wizards has a reason for the changes, and I want to hear that, but I have yet to have heard anything positive about it.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  Olivier Ruel on Tue Jan 29, 2008 2:21 pm

I think, not sure but think, that the organization of a PT outside the US costs more than ten times more than a GP. To really save money from GPs they would need to cut a lot, and by a lot I mean at least half of them.

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.

Post  PV on Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:26 pm

I disagree with boosting the GPs - pro tour are the tournaments worth traveling for. GPs arent, and they still won't be even if you double the prize money. With no pro tour, it becomes impossible to chase GPs, so the change only matters for locals who would attend the GP anyway or for very selected people who would go to all of them.

@Oli: at least when I talked about that, I meant that relocating some of the money gotten by cutting one PT to the other ones would make the change a lot better, I wasn't really hoping that they cut another one =/

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Hasbro having organizational troubles

Post  MichaelJ on Thu Jan 31, 2008 2:42 am

A lot of discussion has taken place regarding WotC's and Hasbro's influence on Budget and other issues where the Magic Pro Tour is concerned. In addition to being a Magic fantatic and competitive player, I also play one of Hasbro's other games on a very casual basis. This other game is Heroscape which has been around for by my estimation about four years. During this four years, Hasbro has been the only producer and supporter of Heroscape without any influence at all from Wizards. Heroscape has been constantly plagued with poor distribution tactics and an inability to produce anything fresh in a reasonable amount of time. The most aggravating example of this is the latest/next expansion. They announced the new expansion last summer at Gen Con and ComicCon with a release date of Late Fall 2007. We're preparing to close out Winter 2008 and still have no expansion. On January 22nd it was announced that Hasbro was moving complete responsibility for Heroscape to Wizards. I believe this means good things for Heroscape but I'm sure that taking on a failing project from the parent company is probably bad news for the budget. In the long run, Magic is my passion, and Heroscape is just another board game in the closet.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  mercenarybdu on Sun Feb 03, 2008 9:35 am

Olivier Ruel wrote:It is not possible to cut one more PT, even if the payouts get higher in the pts left.
It is not, in my opinion, possible to cut the pro club neither.

The Pro Club is the only guarantee to be pro. A Level 6 (or is that 8 now?) knows he will make a living out of magic for a year no matter what.
Cutting a PT would make the game even more random. They're would be many more qualifiers, people qualified or invited would do everything to go and you would have over 500 players for sure on every of them. Considering you need a PT Top 8 (maybe top 16 if the payout is adapted) a year to be pro, cutting another PT and adding players on the one left doesn't seem like a good option to me.
However, if the payout was doubled, it would make a good advertising for WOTC to show that a PT winner makes 80k.

How about we bring it back to four PTs per season with South or Central America as one of the stops. Why should Europe, North America or APAC gain an additional PT event per year?

I would also like to see more events in Canada and the rest of the US that hasn't had a single event at all in addition to other parts of APAC rather than just Japan hosting every 9/10 of them. Why should NY, NY or LA always gain one more to their count?

Introducing more GPs to the pool would reveal a lot of players who we would have never heard about to the surface as opposed to what the PTQ would offer. Yet at the same time see what each region's ideal format is like against everyone else who planned to show up in the region; with turnouts larger than the 500 players showing up at a PT to dogfight over a title.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

Post  atomsmasher on Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:21 am

i think the time is right to go back to business. we need to come clear about things that matter to us.

for me the following things are the most important:

ensuring that less pts, does not mean less ptqs.
bringing back the amateur prices instead of higher payouts for the top 8
rethink of the pro player club, may be giving lv. 3 pros the airfare to one pro tour near them or eoty pay outs.

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Re: Concrete Suggestions

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