Decline of Vintage in Europe

Hello fellow Vintage enthusiasts,

after a small break of nearly 2 years (been busy meeting the love of my life :)) I'm back to the game now and as I like to do, I'm sucking up all the data that I can. Apparently the last months have been really wild, with a lot of broken cards entering the format and getting restricted again, as well with some former staples like Misstep saying "Goodbye". The format seems to be in a constant flux right now and I'm really eager looking forward to play it.

The problem though, is the mass-disappearance of Vintage players in Europe. Of course I can and will do play big events on MTGO, but that is not the point. There seems to be an Exodus and I want to find out whether it's something regional or rather a know phenomenon.

My main starting point with events was the Cardmarket Series. It's kind of a tournament series with different stops in Europe. Up until 2017, they held comparably big Vintage tournaments, set them on a break for 2018 and returned in 2019 (apparently the turnout was not as big as expected, but the loud voices in the community made them bring them back).

In 2017, the events had 47, 34, 30, 33 and 28 players respectively. In 2019, we got 14, 43, 17, 18 and this weekend a meager 12 (!), with just one more chance left for a bigger tournament. Ignoring the outlier in Ghent with 43 players, these numbers are weak and I don't understand how the format lost 2/3 of its player base in just 2 years.

I'm not sure whether it's that people sold their cards due to economical reasons, but Oldschool cards made a huge leap in 2017 or 2018 iIrc, so that is a possibility. Maybe it is that people were used to Vintage as a rather stable format and the changes that happen were disliked. Could also just be that the rewards have been massively cut and most people just played in all the tournaments, which they don't do anymore.

Honestly, I'm just puzzled what exactly happened in the last years. If people are demoralized I'd like to know.

I hope we can get a healthy discussion going on here. I'm interested in what the reasons for the decline could be and if it is just Europe, or if it is happening in other places as well. I'm definitely going to attend Cardmarket Series in Prague (it's a rather short ride for me and a beautiful and cheap city, so a trip there is definitely worth it, not just for Vintage) and I hope a lot of people here are going to do as well!

There is also the European Eternal Championship Weekend in Paris happening the weekend before Christmas, which I plan to attend but I'm not sure I can afford it right now. I wonder whether having the event in Paris just before Christmas is a good idea anyway, but that is open to discussion as well. And whether or not you are planning to attend.

Thanks for all the responses, let's see how many European players are active here (I guess the majority here is rather NA-centric, but maybe some of you are going to attend the European Vintage Champs as well?). Let's try to keep Vintage alive as well as possible. If the numbers at the Cardmarket Series keep being that low, I don't think that they are going to keep Vintage in the future, which would diminish the number of events even further.

I'm an Italian that started in late 2015 and keeps hearing about the old glory days of 100p leagues every weekend and 300p tournaments. I'd be really long to explain what happened to Vintage in EU, it's probably a mixture of factors, each local scene having his own.

The rise in popularity of Legacy saw many migrate to it for a variety of reasons and each other new flavour of the month format would also bring away some more. Old School especially has received a very different treatment in EU, here it's not a nostalgia format were one can drink and play like Garfield intended, but it's been a vendor promoted format with TOs actively pushing it at the expense of Vintage due to being invested, just look at what happened with Ovino years ago.

There is a complete lack of information/publicity, if the only thing everyone says about Vintage is that no one plays it anymore, that's bound to become true. Sadly we don't get to take much advantage from the VSL spotlight, Rodrigo asked by Randy how EU Vintage is doing replied "just fine" and I've never heard Andreas talk about paper events. They're not obliged to do anything, but I'm sure it'd be of some help. The lack of general interest also reflects on how much the avg Vintage player from EU is up to date, not many get to play in P9Challenges due to timezone difference and a quick glance at the decklists of a random event will outline the situation.

In the US almost ALL events other than EWNA allow some number of proxies, here thanks to Wotc EU/Italy policy in open contrast with the mothership not many TOs dare to organize them. And even local leagues have been suffering from that, here in Italy we're left with only two (ours in Florence and Senigallia) that get 20ish players per month.

Events have also a big part in this. Ovino it's a shadow of it's former self, in general decline, with the TO withdrawing support to Vintage, pushing Old School at its expense and stubbornly refusing to allow proxies despite having no sanctioning at all. (Ovino will be the upcoming weekend, I can tell you Vintage won't even fire, I myself will drive twice the distance to the Senigallia league). BoM killed Annecy, the other major, creating their own series with no Vintage, pursuing GP organizing. Sadly someone at WotC decided to task them with EWEU which has been REALLY disapponting, confirming the bad reputation they acquired after Annecy. MKM also with all those different TOs is generally considered really bad in terms of logistic, prizes etc, I can tell you close to no one is going to fly to an MKM from Italy. They have an history of dropping Vintage or putting it into terrible timeslots.

As I said, publicity and information is really scarce, many do not even know EWEU exists and I know most Legacy top dogs only recently discovered it, but refuse to go to an event held in the expensive Paris, poorly run and routinely scheduled like the weekend before the ONLY Legacy GP in EU after a 1y hiatus or the weekend before Christmas, I'll probably be there, but honestly don't look forward to it.

Also on publicity: you didn't even mention (cause you probably don't even know they exists and this speaks at lenght about the situation) two of the events that I've been recommending to every foreign player and that even friends from the US come to visit for.
Nebraska's War, the defacto Eternal tournament in EU at it's 7th edition, with a 300p Legacy and TWO Vintage events.
4 Seasons, a 4 stop, player run event with a 150p Legacy and a (finally) 15-proxy Vintage that has been ahuge success.

As for what to do, I don't think we can go back to the glory days of old, but we can definitely try to get back old players, introduce new ones thanks to proxies which we should finally get to use like in the US and in general create more "interest around it" so that people would talk about it resulting in maybe higher attendance. Also trying to support the events that are really worth going to (as for me I'm pretty sure which are) the playerbase is old and in EU we're willing to drive way shorter distances than in the US.

I will leave pointing out that there will be a 3 Eternal event streak in Italy in Nov/Dic, comprising the EU Legacy GP.

last edited by Log

Our monthly league in Zurich has been struggling aswell. We've had regularly over 20 and sometimes over 3o players, but now we struggle to get to 1o sometimes. I don't know why but it feels like a global phenomenon.

We used to have a nice little tournament series here in Hesse, Germany, but appearance went down with job and family business, so the organizers finally quit it and sold their power. It’s a totally understandable move but still sad. Others quit as they didn’t like Vintage becoming more powerful with new cards like Paradoxical which I understand less as the format is still diverse and really challenging. But that’s how it is in the moment with almost no real tournaments around.

I have been playing MTG since 1994 (with a break in between Vision till Lorwynn) and my favorite format has always been Vintage. What i can tell from France is (i am talking only about paper as i don't play MTGO or similar) :

  • There had been a slow but constant decrease of players in France till about 5 years ago. It is possible that explanation is the no-proxie policy in France because at the same time in USA numbers of players was quite constant or more slowly decreasing (as far as i remember).
  • About 5 years ago, when Old School started to be known there was a sudden rise in card prizes. To put it bluntly, it was more speculation/investments than players looking for cards. At that time Vintage entrance cost became really prohibitive so it is near impossible for new players to enter.
  • Many Vintage players are quite old and may quit for various reasons.
  • Cards availability is also a problem (i mean for the old stapples).

Basically what happened to Vintage is also happening to Legacy, or will happen soon for quite similar reasons. Wizards is supporting Modern as the official eternal format and they don"t care much for the other eternals formats. I am not saying they want them to die, those formats are the 'mythology' of MTG and as such are important for Wizard image but doing what could be really needed to make them alive again might not be worth the trouble.

I talked with many former vintage players and lots of them told me that they quited because at some time they did not like the meta/format. Many found Old school more attractive so they still have the cards but they don't play vintage any more. Also, some people don"t want to walk around with cards that are worth more than the car they are driving ...

With some friends we have been organising Vintage meeting once a month (we started about 2 years ago). We allow unlimited proxies so people may try any deck they may want. We could be doing that at home but we do it in a shop so people might see us. We have lots of fun and some people are coming but basically we never managed to be more than 10.

I can only agree with what had been said about MKM tournaments. There are some serious hints that BOM could happen again in Annecy next year ... so wait and see. However, there is a big Legacy event planned in France (Valence) at end of month and there is supposed to be Vintage too but i am really not sure it will fire.

last edited by albarkhane
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