Aug. 14th, 2019

A Fresh New Face on Competitive Magic

Competitive EdgeOpinion Pieces
A Fresh New Face on Competitive Magic

Today, Wizards of the Coast announced its new plan for competitive Magic, and its a far cry from the lack of clarity that we've had for months. For those unaware, the competitive Magic scene has been in somewhat of a freefall this past year. Last year the Pro Tour was replaced with Mythic Championship events, and the Magic Pro League (MPL), with lack of communication on what the ladder for getting to these higher reaches of competitive play would look like. Criticism of the MPL in particular centered around the nebulous requirements (if any at all) of becoming a member. We've gotten things like pro-contracts where players are required to stream, a new tournament structure with Mythic Championship Qualifiers. Honestly, the whole thing is a bit too much to get into, but I think something was certain to all: the past year has been a mess for competitive Magic: The Gathering.

There is a lot of speculation as to why this is the case, but I think that probably the one assumed by most, as well as the most likely is that plans to revamp competitive Magic got accelerated due to the huge success of Magic Arena starting last year. Magic is getting lots of new players into the ecosystem, and Arena has been the dominant force in that regard. However, Arena does have some glaring blind spots to pre-existing competitive play, including non-rotating and eternal formats like Modern and Legacy. There are a lot of players who have been invested in Magic for a long time, and shouldn't just be thrown by the wayside for a new system.

Wizards of the Coast seems to have heard the dismay amongst its playerbase, as today they've unveiled a new structure to competitive Magic. You can read all about it here. In short, there's going to be two halves of competitive Magic, the "Mystic Invitational" side which is dedicated to Magic Arena, as well as a "Player's League", with focus on tabletop gameplay and includes support for MTGO events. For those worried about there being no future for competitive Magic, myself included, I think we can breath a little easier. I believe that this is the updated that was originally planned for the future of Magic Arena, with the failure of the past year being the result of an accelerated timeline due to the success of the new online experience.

Only time will tell if this new system will be an improvement on ones prior, but I think that a stated, albeit complicated direction, is something that many players have been looking forward to.

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