Tuesday, 14 June 2022 09:04

The Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame Induction Problem

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For the longest time, the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame had a very stringent entry policy.

When it first began in 2005, you needed 100 lifetime pro points, having made one's first major tournaments (Worlds/Pro Tour) no more than ten years prior to nomination, and not currently be ineligible for sanctioned play (note that previous suspensions do not count).

And for a long time, this system worked. Each year, between three to five players always made it in like clockwork.

MTG Hall of Famer, Jon Finkle

While Americans tended to get in more, people from all over the world were well represented. In fact, so many were getting in that new rules had to be installed.

In 2014, the number of pro points needed was bumped up to 150. In 2017, an requirement of needing at least two Pro Tour single-elimination round finishes were added, although in 2019 this was diluted to be a certain number of top finishes through several tournaments.

All in all, the number had to keep growing, right?

Well no. Not exactly.

The MTG HOF quickly encountered the Baseball Hall of Fame voting problem of having so few sure-thing candidates anymore due to most being elevated during the years, which along with more strict requirements, meant that few, if any, were being chosen. The reliable number of 3-5 coming in each year ended in 2016 when two (later reduced to one due to a scandal) were added. Despite some loosening happening of the requirements, the numbers failed to improve. With only one coming in in 2019, and none for 2020 and 2021.

Something had to change.

Luckily, a solution came up.

Much like other hall of fames that tapped their supply of great players in the first few decades, they decided to open it up to others. After all, what is the sport of baseball without umpires, owners, managers, and other who helped build it? Similar goes for Magic.

At first they tinkered with added those who had a "profound impact on the game", but then settled on bringing in innovators, contributors, and longtime stewards.

MTG Hall of Famer, Antoine RuelAs they said in 2020, "So we're taking this year off from inductions to construct a new Hall of Fame, one that encompasses not just competitive play, but all of Magic—including its innovators, contributors, and longtime stewards. Like each year's Hall of Fame discussion, we know you'll have thoughts and feedback for creating the new-look hall, so stay tuned: in 2021 a new Magic Hall of Fame is coming."

And, in 2021, no one got in. Again.

But hey, growing pains and still recovering from COVID played a part. But now, officially, people like Richard Garfield, Mark Rosewater and everyone on down now has a chance to get in, as the full story of Magic needs to be told.

In the 1940s and 50s, when other Hall of Fames began switching over to a more broad group, there was a distinct lull of a few years while voters and other readjusted to these new people and pushed all inter-sport politics aside to get in. Owners, managers, and others, once derided, were soon recognized for the part they played. And hey, players started coming in again with force too.

And, if the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame continues with that model, we'll see a similar rise in new members soon. And, who knows, maybe a physical hall of fame in a building down the line -- or, at the very least, a hallway at the Wizards of the Coast headquarters.