As January turned into February, we got a slightly clearer picture about coverage of Grand Prix in 2019. We also learned about the “and” of Magic: The Gathering Arena and about the Mythic Invitational coming up in March.

The “And” of Arena

In an article released on Thursday, January 31, Aaron Forsythe, the senior design director for Magic, and Chris Clay, game director for Arena, released an article that talked about the parallel paths that the digital and analog versions of Magic will be taking in the future.

The key concept of the article centered on the word “and.” Arena will not just be a representation of tabletop Magic but will do things in addition to the original game—things made possible by being a digital platform. Tabletop Magic will largely remain the same: best-of-three with a sideboard will still be the way high-level paper Magic is played, but Arena gets to do things a little differently.

The article ran through a number of updates to things like Draft bots and traditional competitive play. But it also teased a new format: Arena Standard. The format will use the same card pool as paper Standard but will not include sideboards. Instead, this new take on Standard will have players bring multiple decks per round and be able to swap between games. A similar format will be piloted at the Mythic Invitational in March. Importantly, Standard and Arena Standard will have independent banned lists. Many members of the community have noted the uptick in modal spells recently, which seem tailor made for the upcoming format.

The Mythic Invitational

The format and player list for the million dollar Mythic Invitational, taking place March 28-31 at PAX East, have been announced. The winner of the event will take home $250,000 while everyone who finishes outside the Top 16 will earn $7,500.

The list of invited players include members of the Magic Pro League (less Rei Sato), as well as a cadre of well-known streamers and former Pro Tour Champions. The invite list includes players such as Luis Scott-Vargas, Pro Tour champions Andrew Elenbogen and Wyatt Darby, Hall-of-Famer Gabriel Nassif, Grand Prix winner Jessica Estephan, multiple-time English National Champion Autumn Burchett, and many more. MaferMTG withdrew from the event shortly after the invite list was announced. A replacement has yet to be announced.

There are eight slots still up for grabs. These will be filled by the 8 top-ranked mythic players on Arena during the February 1-28 preseason. According to this tweet by Chris Clay, these ranks are determined using a Glicko rating system.

The format for the event is duo-Standard. Players will submit two Standard legal decks and will use both in the course of a match. Players can submit the same deck twice. There will not be sideboarding between games of a match, but players can prepare a sideboard to use with Mastermind’s Acquisition.

Matches will play out as such: which deck each player uses first, as well as who is on the play, is determined at random. In the second game, the loser of game 1 is on the play and the other deck is used. If there is a third game, play-draw is determined at random but the players get to select their deck.

The tournament uses a double-elimination structure. On the first day of the competition there will be four 16-player pools. The four players that survive each pool advance to the second day. Another double-elimination bracket will leave a final four, who will play in a final double-elimination bracket on Sunday for the championship.

Questions Answered?

Many questions lingering around the world of Magic were answered in part this week. First, CFBEvents announced that as of Grand Prix Toronto, ChannelFireball would be providing text coverage for all Grand Prix at MagicFests.

No announcement about video coverage was made, but Blake Rasmussen mentioned on WeeklyMTG that Wizards will make an announcement when Wizards “has the full picture.” Rasmussen acknowledged that this was a “point of anxiety” for the community, but declared that the idea that the budget for tournament coverage had been reduced was a “fiction.” According to the video, the budget for coverage has increased. With regards to video coverage specifically, Rasmussen said: “we [Wizards of the Coast] are just not ready to talk about it yet. When we have that information ready to go we will” talk about what video coverage will look like in 2019. Rasmussen went on to say more information will be coming, but only once the “full picture” is determined. Blake Rasmussen also shared this tweet with regards to Mythic Championships and professional play:

Rasmussen has said that Wizards of the Coast is moving away from partial announcements. In the past, this practice led to more questions than answers. On Weekly MTG he noted the amount of uncertainty and made it clear that an update was coming, but that it would not be released until all the details were confirmed. These announcements will include how to qualify for the Magic Pro League moving forward, as well as how to qualify for Arena Mythic Championships.

The Mountain Goats and Wizards of the Coast

Alt-folk-rock outfit The Mountain Goats are releasing an album inspired by Dungeons & Dragons. The album, In League with Dragons, releases April 26.

Grand Prix Sydney

Ravnica Allegiance Limited was on display again at the Grand Prix at MagicFest Sydney, a week after New Jersey players got another chance to try their hand at the second set of guilds. Shuhei Nakamura made the Top 8, tying him with Martin Juza for most Grand Prix Top 8s all time. Jarron Puszet—a veteran of Australian Magic—took down the tournament with a powerful Rakdos deck. Featuring two copies of Rakdos Firewheeler and Constructed all-star Light Up the Stage, Puszet put a hurt on his opponents on his way to the winner’s circle!

Looking Forward

Next week we get our first look at Modern with Ravnica Allegiance during the Grand Prix at MagicFest Toronto. You can follow the text coverage here on ChannelFireball!