The Future of Scandinavian Open
This article is for the Magic community of Scandinavia. My name is Eskil and I’m the Project Lead of Scandinavian Open. I would like to talk to you about Scandinavian Open’s future. To do that, let’s start by looking at the past. If you you’re just interested to see the announcement at the end of this article, feel free to skip ahead.
The origin story
In 2013, an idea formed. It started in the heads of several people, independently. We didn’t live in the same towns and had very little connecting us, except our involvement in the Magic community. We took to the internet and found like-minded friends.
I was joined by Björn Andreasson, Samuel Korsell and Tobias Fjellander and together we made the idea into reality. Later on we were joined by Jakob Moe who deserves special mention for what he did with our live coverage.
We wanted to see a tournament circuit in northern Europe, not unlike the StarCityGames of the US or Bazaar of Moxen in France. Something that could grow into a recurring feature for the competitive players of Scandinavia and make us have more great events to look forward to. We wanted large-scale tournaments with tons of prizes and players wanting to travel from other countries just to participate. Less than a GP, more than any other event your local store could offer up.
Thus, the idea of Scandinavian Open was born.
We started building this non-profit organisation that would provide our community with Scandinavian Opens. We had no money, no staff apart from ourselves and only our connection to the Magic community to work with. Turns out, connections help. With the support of several stores and other organisations, we managed to get hold of funds and product enough to run our first event.
We planned our first event for the start of 2014. We were hoping to get over 100 participants to start out with to break even. With 200, we’d make some money to help grow our concept. Our game plan was to move closer to our goal of the large events one inch at a time.
During our process, Richard Hagon got in touch with us, having caught scent of what we were trying to do and wanting to support it. He offered his services at a discount to us and we hired him for our coverage team. This obviously lent us a great deal of credibility and we appreciate this act on his part to this day. Thanks Rich!
We had a somewhat problematic venue. We were to be a feature at a large convention that showcased fun activites for youth. This was great and we were looking forwards to showing Magic to anyone who hadn’t encountered it. However, the convention organiser told us a few days before the event that they would move us from our agreed upon location to another spot. Into the thick of the convention. I was concerned about sound. Turns out, the sound was horrendous. It was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that we would intermittently have basket balls come flying from other exhibits into ours, bouncing off the tables. As astute organizers of Magic, we realized that this would be somewhat problematic.
We were saved by the organisation NärCon that was also participating during the convention. They offered up part of their venue space to us. Although not as large as we’d like, it was still a blessing when measured in basketball risk index.
The event came around. We started registration. Soon we reached 100 players and the line still ran long. We exceeded 200 players. I started to dare to hope that we could reach my dream high of 250 players. We reached 292.
Despite having a venue where we barely could fit (something a lot of players can relate to I’m sure), the event was received very positively. Economically, we seemed to be able to grow faster than we’d dared to hope.
What happened next?
As we started running more events, we gained more people interested in devoting their time and energy to the concept. I won’t name all of you but if you have ever been part of the judges, casters, text-coverage crew, producers, technicians, designers, spotters or any other aspect of this venture, thank you for all your hard work. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to run all these events.
However, there was an issue. Our attendance had dropped since that initial event. We weren’t getting 200 people to our events any longer. We weren’t even getting 100. More importantly, we weren’t getting enough to break even. We weren’t accumulating capital to get better equipment, more staff and grow together with the increasing demand. There was no increasing demand.
Why did this happen? I have theories, yet there’s likely several factors that combined to give us this outcome.
During 2015 we launched a formal Scandinavian Open Points system as well as a Scandinavian Invitational. There were levels you could gain which would give you benefits throughout the season, as well as the season following that. There was an Invitational you could qualify for with over 2000 euros in prizes to the eight participants. We were in other words hoping that we could make the events sufficiently appealing for enough people to come play.
In the end, we didn’t.
We have a great community and a lot of people that were cheering us on for the work we put into this and what we were trying to create together with all of you. You are all great! When all things are added up though, we realise that there’s not a large enough part of the community able to travel to Scandinavian Opens and that’s okay. We started this for the community and always knew that if it turned out the community didn’t want it or couldn’t support it, then we would have to adjust to that.
We are doing this out of our spare time, something we have very little of. When we realised that the options are to shrink Scandinavian Open even further or to stop, we decided to stop. It takes a lot of effort to run something like this and I’ve seen it become a strain on both me and my great team when we are constantly worrying about breaking even.
I don’t want this to be a depressing announcement though. I want to give a shout out to all the people who have made this real. You have given your spare time with little to no compensation to show for it, just to create an experience for fellow Magic players. You are great!
If you are a player that has enjoyed one or more Scandinavian Open events, I’d be really happy if you could join me on social media and show your appreciation. Being shown that what you did mattered gives volunteers that feeling of success and I think each and everyone of the Scandinavian Open crew has earned it. I hope you do too.
I also want to thank the community of northern Europe! You are awesome for trying to make this work. It was always a joint project and it was always about you. We tried to build it together and in the end, we couldn’t quite get there, yet you are the kind of community that grows. I have every faith in the future.
Finally, thanks to Dragon’s Lair, SvenskaMagic, Prisfyndet, Vasa Gaming, NärCon, Playoteket and SvMTV. You have all been part of supporting this project and given a lot of players a lot of happiness. I hope they see this and help you in all your future endeavours to entertain the Magic community.
So is this the end?
Maybe. For now. In the foreseeable future, we will not be running events. For now, this is goodbye.
However, who knows what happens down the line? Maybe we will find a way to revive Scandinavian Open. For that to happen, we’d need more people involved in planning and executing these events, more funds to run them and most importantly enough players wanting to build themselves a tournament circuit like ours.
Will that happen? Time will tell.
Thank you all for reading!
/ Eskil Myrenberg