Expectations for Pro Tour ONE

I know it seems odd to be writing about the Pro Tour in two weeks, when the new set is out now.

My financial advice for people playing in prerelease events remains the same as always: Sell it all. Find someone who wants your lands. Move it and don’t wait around. Someone will see the sweet foil you opened and want to trade for it right now, not realizing (or not caring) that it’ll be 1/3 the price in two weeks.

So whatever you can move, right now, do that.

As for the Pro Tour in Philadelphia, on Feb 17-19, that’s a more complicated plan.

It used to be that Pro Tours were such big events that we (MTGPrice writers) would do round-by-round coverage of the Constructed games. Being featured on camera tends to do amazing things to a card. Here’s an example I made money from:

For context: In July 2017, Pro Tour Hour of Devastation happened, and put six Mono-Red decks into the Top 8. All of them were running three or four copies of Hazoret, who is really the perfect top-end card for an aggro deck. Because so many top results included this card, and so many on-camera matches showed players just wrecking with the card, the price took a huge jump.

Personally, I bought copies that Friday for under $5 and resold them within two weeks at $15-$20, before fees. I even wrote about it that Friday, which when looking through the archives, you might note that we featured round-by-round coverage of the PT. Yes, Hazoret is an example from five years ago, but that’s a really clear example of on-camera play plus tournament results turning a $5 mythic into a $20 mythic.

Wizards really wants this era back. They don’t like to give away the money, to spend the cash on streaming and commentating, but there’s a measurable impact on card prices and therefore tournament participation. 

What we’re looking for is card prices moving because of these results. If the prices move significantly, and sell at the new prices, then we’re looking at a notable chunk of the population who meet the following characteristics:

  1. They want to play in paper tournaments
  2. They have a tournament in mind that they are buying for
  3. They are willing to invest into a deck that is good for that format.

There’s a lot to be said for the growth of Arena during the pandemic, and how it papered over the complete loss of paper play/transitioned online play, but when Standard was a healthy, thriving format, everything at Wizards was that much better. A couple years after that PT, we got a Modern-lite format in Pioneer, which is notable for skipping the fetchlands and some of the more busted mechanics. 

Pioneer doesn’t rotate, and that’s the format that PT ONE will have. Standard can breed some resentment with more casual players, because your cards are probably going to lose value and they are definitely going to rotate out of the card pool. Pioneer skips that problem, but trades it for only some cards being relevant, both in the metagame and in the financial sense.

At this point, I’m waiting on seeing Pioneer pushing prices, and same with Standard. The smallest subgroup for those three characteristics is probably those who have a paper tournament that they want to play in, because so many stores closed and not many have opened. 

It’s not there yet. There’s a small effect, as we can see the card that Nathan Steuer used to overpower people over and over again in the October 2022 World Championships did bump from a dollar to $2.50:

As a counterexample, though, Haunted Ridge was in a tremendous number of decks that weekend, is a big-time Commander card, and is also used in Pioneer. It’s grown in price, but that’s started to trend downwards at it looks towards rotation in a few months:

This is the edition that paper tournaments would be exerting pressure on if there was a lot of demand. Not the foils, not the FEA, not the Double Feature versions. It’s hanging out at $10, which is still very good for a rare, but given the decks it is in, I would have expected it to keep the $12-$15 price a bit longer.

So to put it all together, I’m not expecting to see any big jumps this weekend, at least none that have staying power. I won’t be shocked at some cards having minor gains, but there’s nothing on the horizon that makes me think there’s long-term use going on. When I see cards getting big gains from tournament results, I’ll rethink this policy, but for now, I’m avoiding trying to cash in on one event’s results.