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The Future of Magic Esports – What it Means for MTG Arena

Yesterday morning Magic: The Gathering players around the world received an announcement regarding the changes and future outlook of competitive Organized Play (OP) for the 2020 season onward. You can read the full article by Elaine Chase (the Vice President of Esports at Wizards of the Coast) here!

Now that we’ve had a bit of time to digest the information, we thought we’d give everybody an overview of the new system for MTG Arena players interested in competing at the higher levels for their share of the $10M prize and player support that Wizards are offering Magic: The Gathering players for the season coming up ahead.

The Current System

These are the two official Wizards of the Coast sanctioned avenues MTG Arena currently has been featuring in competitive play. This will still be in place until the end of the 2019 season – which ends with the World Championship tournament (held in February 2020).

Mythic Championship

As things stand, MTG Arena players have the opportunity to compete in MTG Arena-specific Mythic Championships (formerly known as the Pro Tour) – a high stake MTG tournament. So far this year we’ve had our first Mythic Championship III, won by Matias Leveratto. We also have MC V coming up and MC VII after Throne of Eldraine is released to finish off the season.

Players can qualify by ranking in top 1000 in either Constructed or Limited in ranked ladder play at the end of the one month-long seasons, which feed into a Mythic Championship Qualifier Weekend event, which then allows the top 16 players of the event to enter the respective Mythic Championship tournament.

Magic Pro League

In its inaugural season, 32 Magic players were selected to participate in a league competing against each other in weekly matches via MTG Arena and a contract was also awarded to them by Wizards. This was initially based on their Pro Points (now called Mythic Points, encompassing both paper and online MTG) ranking from the previous season, and then subsequent discretionary invites were made after some players pulled out or were disqualified.

The league is also divided into “Splits”, named after the latest expansion (e.g. Core Split for Core Set 2020, currently going on at the moment) and players faced each other exclusively on MTG Arena on the Standard format. Winning the divisions (as Carlos Romao recently done in his Pearl Division) allows the player to automatically advance to the second day of the next Mythic Championship.

The New System

So how is this all changing and how will it affect MTG Arena players that want to compete at the highest level? The above infograhic shows the separate pathway that players from tabletop/paper MTG and MTG Arena can take, which ultimately can lead to their spot in the professional Magic Leagues and the ultimate MTG tournament – the World Championship.

Mythic Invitational and Mythic Points

  • Mythic Championships are now being named differently (again) according to the mode of play – Players Tour Finals for paper MTG, and Mythic Invitational for MTG Arena (not to be confused with the tournament held earlier this year). The structure remains similar – three per season with a $750,000 prize purse. Winners of these tournaments will also be granted an invite to the World Championship at the end of the season.
  • Top 1200 ranked Mythic players qualify (currently 1000) for the Mythic Qualifier events, presumably with similar rules to the current system.
  • Mythic Points will be the official name for the points awarded to players for competing and doing well in top-level MTG Arena tournaments (Player Points for paper Magic). Your ranking determines your ability to be eligible in the Magic Pro League or the Rival League (see below). You can earn these points via three event types:
    • Mythic Invitational tournaments themselves.
    • Players who make Day Two of the Mythic Qualifiers (top 16 is invited to the Mythic Invitational)
    • Top 1200 ranked players can qualify for a Mythic Point Challenge tournaments, which award Mythic Points.

Magic Pro League and Rivals League

  • There will now be two tiers of leagues for top level Magic players – Magic Pro League (top tier) and the Rivals League (bottom tier).
  • The competitive season is also being changed from January to December to mid-year to mid-year. The next season will run from January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020, and will become a partial season with less tournaments and less players in the new Rivals League.
  • The full Rivals League will consist of 46 players in the 2020-2021 season, where MTG Arena players can occupy a minimum of 12 spots depending on their performance in MTG Arena tournaments that award Mythic Points described above.
  • Rivals will receive invites to both paper and MTG Arena events, including their own Rivals Mythic Qualifier which feeds into an invite to the main Mythic Invitational tournament. They are also given a contract for appearance fees.
  • The Magic Pro League is also being reduced to 24 players, with the possibility of being relegated to the Rivals League.
  • The MPL Gauntlet will be the name of the tournament that determines the promotion and relegation of players in the Rivals League and the Magic Pro League.

Discretionary invites aside, MTG Arena players are given an equal number of slots and opportunities to compete.

Wrapping Up

MTG Arena continues to have a big part in competitive Magic and in its core the system remains largely the same for MTG Arena-only players. Despite initial teething issues into the new era of Magic esports and organized play we’ve faced so far, the game continues to grow and attract more players as Wizards continue to invest more into the platform.

It is also good to see Wizards starting to have a bit more clarity and organization as they separate paper and online Magic and try to balance between the two. The biggest question will be whether MTG Arena is ready for the “official” release out of the open beta phase.

We can also now clearly see how a MTG Arena player can go from zero to becoming a competitor in the Magic Pro League or the Rivals League in the coming years. However, if you want to be invited to the next Rivals League (at least) you will have had to do very well in the current Mythic Championships!

We hope to see MTG Arena players soon become true contenders and we will follow you in your journey along the way as well.

More Reading

Here’s some more detailed articles written by accomplished players, especially relevant on the implications this announcement holds for tabletop Magic.

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