Max Kahn: The Future of the Nerd Rage Championship Series

Nearly 12 months ago, Nerd Rage Gaming owner Norman Cohen and I were eating falafel and discussing the future of Magic tournaments in the Midwest. had announced a decreasing number of events and their shifting focus to the eastern United States, and both of us were disappointed that there would be fewer opportunities for our local players to play at Competitive REL.

We had some experience in running efficient, high-quality tournaments, and toyed around the idea of running our own tournament series. After a few more meetings and a lot of dedication, the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Trials were created. While the inaugural season of the CT Series isn’t over, we felt like this was an appropriate time for us share our thoughts about the 2016 NRG CT Season. After sharing our thoughts on how the 2016 Season went, I’ll show you how we built on those ideas for 2017.

What We Liked

The Leaderboard: Personally, my favorite part of the Championship Series in 2016 was the hype surrounding the 2016 Leaderboard. Each month, players on the leaderboard would continue to show up to the events to maintain their standing and ensure their spot in the Championship. This helped to continue incentivizing players to show up to the events, and still feel good about their performance even if they didn’t win a Trial to automatically earn a spot in the Championship.


Special Prize Support: The June and July CTs each added a case of Eternal Masters in the prize pool in addition to the $1,000 in cash. This helped to introduce the CT series to players that hadn’t heard of it before and accounted for 195 of the 495 players that played in our nine CT events this year.

Format Diversity: Since Nerd Rage Gaming started running tournaments nearly four years ago, one of our major goals has been to support the Legacy format. We believe that while Standard and Modern events may attract more players, Legacy events attract players that may not necessarily play in those events, so it will get those players more opportunities to play Magic. In this year’s series, we scheduled four Standard, three Modern, and three Legacy events in order to diversify our schedule. Expect a similar breakdown of formats for the 2017 Series.

Championship: Well, we haven’t had the 2016 Championship event yet, but from everything we’ve heard, people are very excited about it. Our announcement of the format for the Championship Event was posted last week, so take a look at it if you haven’t already.

What We Need to Improve

While we could sit here and say that the 2016 NRG CT Series was perfect, there’s nothing perfect about each event that we run, and we always look for places to improve the efficiency and the organization of the tournament structure.

Point Structure: After taking a look at the attendance of our Championship Trial events, we determined that there was an imbalance in the way that points were distributed. Ten points for a second place finish is a whole lot, and all six of our current leaders have at least a 3rd/4th place finish, with the top three each having a 2nd-place appearance. Even players who came in 2nd Place in just one Championship Trial are currently ranked at 28th and 29th place. Since more than 270 unique players that have played in the Series, we feel a single runner-up appearance isn’t worthy of that ranking.

Communication: For our more popular June and July CT events, we had issues with preregistration due to our in-store cap of 99 players. For the June event, we had to turn away eight players who had intended on playing in the event, but could not because of our cap. For future events, we will be more clear in the event announcement about the maximum capacity of our events and make sure that current attendance is accurately updated as more people pre-register for our events.

June and July Trials Prize Support: While these events were are two most attended Championship Trial events of 2016 (with 99 players and 95 players respectively), we didn’t appropriately distribute the prize support to match the increased attendance. We received some feedback (especially from Top 16 competitors at those events) that additional prize support should have been added to the Top 16 competitors at these events, since being in the Top 20 percent of an event is quite the accomplishment, even if you just missed the Top 8 Playoff. We’ll be modifying this distribution for the 2017 Series.

As always, Nerd Rage Gaming values all feedback we receive about our events. If you have any feedback you’d like us to hear — either positive or negative — feel free to let us know via email at

With all that being said, let’s take a look at the 2017 structure for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series.

The 2017 Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series

First, note the new name. The 2016 events were all considered Championship Trials. Because we’re making some changes, we won’t be referring to all of our events as Championship Trials, but we’ve decided to put all of our events under the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series umbrella, which, in 2017, will contain four types of events:

    Championship Trial (CT)

    Championship Trial Plus (CT+)

    Super Championship Trial (SuperCT)

    Championship Event


Championship Trials and Championship Event

First, we’ll touch on the changes that we’re making to the events that we offered in 2016, the Championship Trials and the Championship Event. The structures of these events are remaining nearly the same, with a few tweaks to numbers. Because of the imbalanced point distribution this year, we have decided to revisit the points structure for the Championship Trials events. Below is the summary of the changes.

As in 2016, the winner of each of the 2017 Championship Trials will awarded an invitation to the Championship Event. We’re increasing the prize pool of the 2017 Championship Event to $5,000 split among the competitors, rather than the $2,500 they’ll be competing for in a few weeks at the 2016 Championship Event. In order to support this, we’re increasing the entry fee for our regular CT events from $25 to $30. Each Championship Trial will still award $1,000 in prizes to the Top 8 players.

The first Championship Trial events in 2017 are:

        January 28, 2017: Modern

        February 18, 2017: Standard

        March 4, 2017: Legacy

Championship Trial Plus

In June and July, we hosted events that added Eternal Masters as prize support in addition to the $1,000 awarded at each Championship Trial event. As of 2017, events with additional prize support are being renamed to CT+ events. We feel it was important to distinguish these events from our normal Trials, since our attendance at these events and prizes warranted a different tournament structure. Because of this, we’ve decided to add additional prize support in the form of product to Top 16 finishers at CT+ events. However, we aren’t yet releasing a breakdown of the prize structure for these events, since we don’t know what allocation numbers will be for Modern Masters 2017 Edition. Once we have this information, we’ll release specific details about where and when these Championship Trial Plus events will occur and our prize structure.

Super Championship Trial

The final event type that will be represented in the 2017 Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series. This event will only occur once in 2017, likely during the summer, and will be Series’ most prolific event of 2017. The SuperCT will award $5,000 in cash prizes to the Top 32 players of the event, and distribute leaderboard points in a structure that is more reminiscent of the 2016 CT distribution. While we’re still working out the final details for this event, here’s some information — subject to change — that should appropriately demonstrate how important this event is to the 2017 Championship Series:


Wrapping Up

As should be obvious, the 2017 Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series is our way of providing even more value and incentive for players to show up and compete in our events. From the Championship Trials feeding a larger Championship Event, to the CT+ events awarding cash and product down to Top 16, and the SuperCT event awarding $5,000 and additional leaderboard points, there’s one thing I can guarantee: The 2017 Championship Series will be insane.

There are still more announcements coming soon, so be sure sure you follow us on Facebook and Twitter so that you can be notified as soon as more information becomes available about the 2017 Series and more.

Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @MaxPlaysMTG if you have any questions or comments about this structure. Until next time!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series and the Judge Manager for all Nerd Rage Gaming events. When he’s not answering your judge calls or working behind the scenes at your local event, he splits his time between Chicago, Seattle, and Twitter.

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Max Kahn