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The Pro Tour is Back! OP Announcement Details New Paths to the World Championship

Official competitive tournaments have been a part of the fabric of Magic: The Gathering since nearly the beginning. The first Pro Tour, Wizards of the Coast’s primary structure for Organized Play (OP), took place over two decades ago in 1996. With the rise of digital Magic play and MTG Arena in particular, the Pro Tour was rebranded to the Mythic Championship and much of the focus shifted to Arena.

While most MTG players can probably agree that having a digital path to high-level professional play is a good thing, many felt that the focus on Arena and “Esports” drew too much focus away from tabletop play. The Pro Tour became the Mythic Championship and the current system of the Magic Pro League and Rivals League. Then starting in 2020, public health concerns took all of the physical play options off the table, so to speak, and many high-level players expressed pessimism about the state of Organized Play and its future.

With many of the aforementioned health concerns fading, Wizards has been hinting that something big was coming for OP. Almost a year ago, the company announced that the MPL and Rivals league would be coming to an end, and while some interpreted the news as the death of competitive Magic, Wizards was adamant that there was something big coming down the pipeline.

After building hype for the announcement since last Thursday’s Weekly MTG stream, today was the day for us to finally learn what Wizards has in store for Organized Play – and it’s good news for those who have been yearning for a system reminiscent of the past. Starting with the 2022-2023 season, the Pro Tour will be returning with both tabletop and digital options.

The New Pro Tour

Wizards of the Coast has broken down the tabletop system leading to the World Championship into “four levels,” which funnel successful players up the Pro Tour structure. They’ve created this pyramid infographic to illustrate:

Regional Championship Qualifiers

Starting at the lowest level of play, Regional Championship Qualifiers are open to any eligible players who want to compete. These events will be “largely” held at large WPN stores and will be managed by a regional tournament organizer for each region. Wizards announced the following list of organizers for each of the regions:

Wizards has also lined up two promos that will be given to participants at the events: Lava Spike, which will be given to all participants while supplies last, and Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx for top-finishing players.

Regional Championships

Players who perform well in their local qualifying events will earn the opportunity to compete in the Regional Championships – major tournaments that will award qualifications to both the World Championship and the Pro Tour events. The complete details on how exactly these qualifications will be distributed haven’t yet been revealed, and apparently may vary somewhat depending on region and the region’s tournament organizer. Wizards says that they opted to give organizers flexibility in how they want to run the events.

Wizards also says that players will have “a variety of play options” at these events, but we have no further information about what they mean by that statement at this time. However, they did also say that the first round of local qualifiers will feature “a mix of Pioneer, Standard, Modern, and Limited,” so this will presumably apply to the other events as well.

The company emphasized that the Regional Championships are meant to be major events, and to check in with your region’s organizer through the list of organizers above for more details.

Just as with the regional qualifiers, the Regional Championships will have a promo for participating players. All competitors will receive a Teferi, Hero of Dominaria promo, and top finishers will get it in foil.

Pro Tours and the World Championship

Three times a year, players who have qualified through the Regional Championships and other qualification paths will compete in the new Pro Tour events, featuring a $500,000 prize pool and more invitations to the World Championship.

The locations and dates have yet to be announced – in fact, Wizards doesn’t know exactly when the first Pro Tour will take place, but they say they’re “targeting” early 2023.

Additionally, there will be a fractional invite system which is being called “Adjusted Match Points” that will earn invites through multiple strong performances that fall short of earning a qualification on their own. Wizards provided this list of qualification paths for the Pro Tour:

  • Be one of the top finishers at the previous Regional Championship, with invites passing down as players earn multiple qualifications.
  • Finish with ten or more wins at the previous Pro Tour.
  • Magic: The Gathering Online Champions Showcases
  • Members of the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame are invited to one Regional Championship and Pro Tour per season. Those events must be in the same round and cannot be in the same round in which they played in a Regional Championship Qualifier.
  • Players who finish with 39 or more Adjusted Match Points from the previous three Pro Tours (rolling).
  • The Top 4 finishers from Magic World Championship XXVIII (2022) receive invites to all three Pro Tours in the 2022–23 season.

Similar to the World Championships that have been ongoing throughout the tribulations of the 2020s, the World Championship will be the culmination of each season. Wizards says that the World Championship will feature “around 128 players” and an impressive prize pool of $1,000,000.

Wizards also provided a list of players who will be eligible for Magic’s ultimate Championship:

  • The Top 4 finishers from the 2022 World Championship
  • Players who finish 12–4 or better (or finishes in the Top 8) at any of the season’s three Pro Tours
  • The Top 2 from each of the three MTGO Showcase Events
  • Players to be determined from MTG Arena
  • The Regional Champions
  • The runner-up from Regional Championship events in the United States, Europe, and Japan.
  • The Top 32 ranked players that are not already invited to Magic World Championship XXIX in the 2022–23 Pro Tour 3 Adjusted Match Point standing and all players tied with 32nd place in that standing.

These are the primary details we have about the new Pro Tour structure for now, but you can also find more to read in the Pro Tour details article on Wizards’ website, and on the separate FAQ page. Additionally, this week’s Weekly MTG stream featured Wizards’ Director of Play Programs and Hall-of-Famer Huey Jensen answering questions about the new system – you’ll find a few other interesting pieces of information from that stream farther down.

So What About Arena and Digital Play?

Most of today’s announcement was unquestionably focused on the tabletop aspect of Organized Play’s future, but that doesn’t mean that digital players will be left out. Wizards was clear that they intend the Pro Tours, Regional Championships and local qualifiers to all be held in person, but they also say that there will be digital paths to Pro Tour qualifications.

According to the announcement, competitive play on both MTG Arena and Magic Online will “both feed into the tabletop path and offer its own journey culminating in the World Championships.” The full scope of what this will look like has not yet been hashed out fully, but Wizards says that they will detail the whole system sometime in late April.

In the meantime, the company did provide the following list of details concerning the digital option for OP:

  • Events on both platforms will feed tabletop events at nearly every level, including the World Championship.
  • Magic: The Gathering Arena Qualifier Weekends will continue, with some exciting twists.
  • Magic: The Gathering Online Showcase events will continue and will feed the World Championship directly!
  • MTG Arena will include new ways to qualify for Qualifier Weekends besides ladder play.
  • The updated MTG Arena qualification path will start with April ladder play and May qualification events! There will be some differences between how that first month plugs into the tabletop path and later months, but we’ll cover those details separately.
  • The digital path will have different eligibility requirements that we’ll outline in April.

Stream Q&A with William Jensen

Today’s Weekly MTG stream on Twitch was also dedicated to the Organized Play announcement. Wizard’s new Director of Play Programs William “Huey” Jensen sat with Blake Rasmussen to answer some questions from a Discord channel and Twitch, and while most of what they discussed was already covered by the article published this morning, we did collect a few other interesting tidbits from the stream:

  • The Regional Qualifiers will probably play out over two days, but the whole experience is meant to be a three-day affair. There will be other offerings at the events such as last chance qualifiers and some more casual play, such as Commander.
  • The Grand Prix events will not be returning for now, at least in name – the reason given was that Wizards believes the core experiences players want from GPs will be covered in other venues.
  • Concerning the Hall of Fame, Jensen wasn’t able to say anything specific. He did, however, have this to say: “We care, and it’s being worked on.”
  • An invite to the Pro Tour will not include a free plane ticket for the participants.
  • All player’s from this year’s World Championship will be automatically invited to Pro Tour 1.

The whole stream is available to watch as a video-on-demand over at twitch.tv/magic.

Wrapping Up

There’s a lot to take in from today’s announcements, and so far, the community’s reaction has been largely positive to the return to the Organized Play systems of the past. We still have a lot to learn about exactly how the system is going to be implemented, and Wizards says we will learn more through April.

In the meantime, you can check out the full announcement from Wizards of the Coast here. We’ll be watching carefully for more news about the new Pro Tour and keep you posted. Be sure to also check back here after the Weekly MTG Stream beginning at 2:30pm PST for more.

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Paul

Dude from Vermont who likes to play Magic and Escape from Tarkov. Musician, writer, and gamer. Submit feedback or corrections to @Paul on the Discord.

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