Wizards of the Coast removed scheduled Banned and Restricted announcements today to allow for increased flexibility.
Over the past year, Magic: The Gathering has grown in formats, products, and competitive play. In an attempt to increase response time and not be bound by a scheduled window, WotC has canceled advanced Banned and Restricted announcements.
“Going forward, we’ll no longer be making a commitment in advance to when the next B&R update will be,” WotC senior game designer Ian Duke said. “While we still expect changes to come in a similar pace, and will always announce changes on a Monday, we’ll be allowing some flexibility in the exact week of changes.”
The Banned and Restricted team is hoping that having the flexibility for updates will prevent bans from happening in close proximity to major events. But with the increase of tournaments around the world, Duke admits that conflicts may occur.
“We’ll still do our best to avoid making changes to a format too soon before a major event so as not to negatively impact players’ plans and preparations,” Duke said. “That said, given the number of major events now being held nearly every weekend around the world, and the need to make sure we’re addressing the health of formats in a timely manner, some conflicts may arise.
Duke also said that the removal of scheduled announcements was made to potentially prevent a decrease in attendance at tournaments due to an unbalanced meta or an unhealthy format. A decrease in attendance at Grand Prix tournaments was reported prior to the recent bans of Oko, Thief of Crowns, Veil of Summer, Once Upon a Time, and Field of the Dead.
A Banned and Restricted update will occur sometime in January, according to Duke. After the January announcement, WotC will shift Pioneer updates to coordinate with other format updates.