Harry Ryttenberg (@mrfridays) and I were discussing this video the other day as a kickass example of how to make an entrance.
And it jogged my memory back to the last Pro Tour, when I suggested (on Twitter) that Magic really needed to get its act together re: entrances and theme music. Right now, the PT webcasts basically exclude anything cool. There’s no hype, no added drama, and the play-by-play – while very professional – has no edge to it. (This is by corporate choice.) Thus Harry and I decided that the notable MTGers needed their own entrances, complete with blaring theme music and video segments.
Making an Entrance
Defunct Japanese MMA organization Pride and WWE have had the best entrances ever (and the Chicago Bulls). For whatever reason, they understand how to use music, lights, and video to increase the tension way beyond where it normally would be. Don’t understand? Try these on for size:
(The actual live intros start at 5:45 or so). I saw this one the first time it aired on pay-per-view and it made my hairs stand on end. I only watched the next one on youtube and haven’t been a WWE fan since it was called the WWF, but this ALSO made my hair stand on end.
From the sublime
to the surreal (Genki Sudo is fucking awesome)
to the downright creepy
these set the stage for everything you are about to watch. If the Undertaker didn’t have his entrance, he’d just be an ugly seven-foot tall dude in tights walking into the ring.
Now obviously Pride and WWE spend millions and millions on production budgets, but they’ve been doing this sort of thing for decades and used to have much cheaper budgets. For Magic, even if you played some sort of fantastic highlights video for all the stars (complete with awesome theme music) and then a more generic one for the n00bs, I think you’d get a huge improvement.
Pre-Match Interviews for the Quarterfinals
Have you ever seen the pre-fight interviews for boxing or MMA? Basically, some interviewer goes to the dressing room of each competitor before the fight to ask about what strategies they might employ against each other, how they feel before the fight, some animosity that came out during the lead up to the fight, etc.
It seems like Magic could certainly do something like this to play before the Top 8 matches. You know the annoyingly same Top 8 profiles people do again and again? Why not make those video? Tell us about your QF opponent. Is there anyone in this Top 8 you have a rivalry with/you really want to beat? Encourage some gloating/story telling from the weekend. This will also help in star-building, because we’ll get one more chance to see personality behind the guys slinging cards. Language barriers would certainly cause some problems, but it feels like there is so much more that could be done to create some tension beyond what happens when the cards are being played.
Speaking of which, I think we could use some more flair in the announcing department. Rich Hagon was chosen because he spoke more to the common man than the Pro Tour player (and likely because he has a spiffy English accent), but this man certainly gave us some of the more memorable lines from Pro Tour coverage ever:
Osyp and Gabe Walls contributed to one of the more mythical and entertaining pieces of booth coverage from Magic’s past at U.S. Nationals 2004, but it was never televised outside of the venue. Needless to say, they were hilarious and not particularly family friendly, causing Chris Galvin (former VP of Organized Play*) to walk back stage, steam coming out of his ears, and shout “Get Them Out of the Booth!” in the quietest shouting voice you have ever heard. It was scary. Magic might not have been ready for that at the time, but I think there’s space for something more in that vein now.
Seriously, compare our current combo to Osyp and then that to some of the classic WWF combinations
Why can’t we amp it up a little? When Skaff was around, Wizards wasn’t afraid to flirt with a serious amount of camp in pursuit of marketing and entertainment bang…
So why can’t we get a heel and straight man relationship? Why can’t we play up the rivalries more (like Sperling and PVDDR disliking each other, or Wise and Benafel back in the day, or Mike Long and anyone, but particularly YMG)? There’s a vast amount of entertainment value just waiting to be erm… tapped.
The guys who are most likely to end up as the great MTG announcers with the cool catch phrases and detailed knowledge of the community they can access for great anecdotes are those that are doing it every other week for SCG/GGS Live. Practice and a little more time will go a long way toward sorting out who is good at creating a compelling live narrative and who is just a donk talking over a Magic match. I don’t generally have the time to watch the live streams, but they are certainly better at creating incredible moments for the audience at home than text is, whether it’s Craig Jones flipping a Lightning Helix off the top (which was Olivier Ruel’s idea), Nassif’s Cruel Ultimatum, or something like Kenny Mayer casually dropping Battle of Wits into play off his opponent’s Show and Tell. The Magic world is ready for constant video bombardment.
Hopefully all of the coverage production teams are scouring TV and the internet in an attempt to figure out who they should be stealing from. Current coverage of StarCraft events, poker, sports, and WWE (not a sport) have a huge head start, some serious audience crossover, and should be an excellent source of inspiration. Magic is champing at the bit for more video coverage with the entertainment values turned up to 11, but now it’s up to the coverage teams to figure out how to do that while maintaining a tight budget and the integrity of the game.
Firestarter – What theme music/entrance would be appropriate for the following current pros/former MTG greats?
Paulo Da Rosa
Feel free to pick a couple that inspire you and tell me WHY you picked what you did. If you want to shortcut a link to movie montages or youtube along with an explanation, that’s fine too.
@mixedknuts on Twitter
*I believe. Titles are confusing to me.