On Thursday morning, Wizards of the Coast posted an article via Magic.gg about the upcoming 2021-2022 competitive season, including an announcement that has become a major discussion point in the Magic community: the end of the Magic Pro League (MPL) and the Rivals League at the season’s conclusion, with no specifics about what will replace them. We posted an article shortly afterwards summarizing the details of the announcement which you can read here if you missed it.
In the hours that followed Wizards’ post, reactions started pouring in on Twitter and other social media platforms from all across the Magic community and, well, it hasn’t been enthusiastic. In particular, questions were raised about the future of high level play and the “pro dream”: players at the highest levels of Magic have typically been paid a salary, and in the past they received additional appearance fees for events. Many members of the community speculated based on this morning’s announcement that the elimination of the Rivals League and MPL would also include the elimination of salaries for Magic’s top players, and Wizards has since confirmed this fact.
The article from Wizards announcing the dismantling of the current system for high level play explicitly excludes any details about what the replacement systems will look like, which has led influential members of the Magic community, including MPL and Rivals League players, to express deep concern and frustration about the future of Organized Play. Some even went as far as to say that professional play is “dead.”
Some answers and a little more detail about the future of competitive Magic were offered by Wizards Senior Communication Manager Blake Rasmussen on the Weekly MTG stream Thursday evening. Rasmussen answered a number of questions from live chat about the announcement and the future of Organized play over the period of an hour. If you want to hear everything he had to say, we recommend you watch the video on demand on the official Magic Twitch channel, but here are a few highlights from the stream:
- Wizards wants to focus their spending more on “friendly play” and “aspirational play” rather than on professional play. Wizards believes the amount of money that they have been spending on professional events is disproportionate to the number of players who participate in more casual festivals and events.
- Organized Play at Wizards of the Coast is under new leadership, which Rasmussen cites as a reason for players to believe that the systems will be more well-run. He acknowledges that Wizards is “not blind to the fact that Organized Play doesn’t have the greatest reputation.”
- There will be Organized Play and high level competitive events in the future, but there will not be salaries for the top players. He said of the issue, “There’s not going to be that guarantee that once you get to the top you’re going to continue receiving a paycheck no matter how well you do. You’re going to have to keep performing.”
Additionally, Rasmussen did address the question of why Wizards would announce the ending of the MPL and Rivals League programs without providing any details on the future of competitive play. He said that Wizards wanted to give players involved in the leagues a warning so that they could be informed about life planning and major decisions, but he also confirmed that the Rivals and MPL players were already notified through a private Discord. Ultimately, why the announcement was done in this way is still in question.
Only time will tell what Wizards of the Coast has in store for the future of organized play and competitive Magic more broadly. In the meantime, players continue to express everything from disappointment and anger to cautious optimism. We here at MTGA Zone will continue keeping you updated on the latest news from Wizards, so be sure to check back with us regularly for the latest.