Last week had one of the biggest pieces of Magic news in years. Let’s get right to it.
Updates to Professional Play
That headline barely scratches the surface. On December 6th at The Game Awards, Elaine Chase, the Vice President of Esports, announced that $10 million would be up for grabs between Magic: The Gathering and MTG Arena in 2019. This was quickly followed by an official release on the main Magic website. There is a lot to digest in the article but one thing is for sure: professional Magic is going to look drastically different in 2019.
First up is the creation of the Magic Pro League. This is a league of 32 players who will have combined streamer/player contracts with Wizards of the Coast worth $75,000. These players have already been determined and we will find out who they are in the not-too-distant future. These contracts will replace any Pro Player Club benefits these players may have received in 2019. The members of the Magic Pro League will compete in weekly events (on MTG Arena) as well as Mythic-level events on Arena or in the paper realm.
To kick off the new era of Magic Esports, there will be a $1 million MTG Arena invitational at PAX East March 29-31, 2019. The tournament will feature the members of the Magic Pro League (MPL) battling against challengers. More information on the event and how to potentially battle in it will be coming in January 2019.
2019 will also have Mythic Championships for both MTG Arena and analog Magic (which has come to be referred to as “tabletop” in recent releases). Pro Tours will now be Mythic Championships and the 2019 versions will each award $500,000 in total prizes. But two of these tournaments have been canceled: the Pro Tours in Sydney and Dallas-Fort Worth. The remaining events are now Mythic Championships. The schedule is:
- Mythic Championship Cleveland: February 22-24
- Mythic Championship London: April 26-28
- Mythic Championship Barcelona: July 26-28
- Mythic Championship Richmond: November 8-10
Invitation policy for Barcelona, Richmond, and the MTG Arena Mythic Championships, as well as the dates of the digital events, will be announced before the start of each qualifying season. Players who perform well at a tabletop Mythic Championship will earn invites to future tabletop tournaments. The prize pool for all tabletop Mythic Championships will trickle down to last place. After the Mythic Championship in London, the events will no longer offer travel rewards. Finally, the events in Barcelona and Richmond will no longer have “narrowed regionalized invitations.”
The release from Chase also goes on to detail that Grand Prix at MagicFests hosted by ChannelFireball Events will have a total prize pool of $2.5 million. In the same segment, Chase mentioned that Wizards of the Coast is looking forward to more partnered events both for tabletop and MTG Arena.
Chase then went on to discuss items that would be removed from professional play moving forward. The upcoming World Magic Cup (December 14-16) will be the last such event for the foreseeable future. The Pro Tour Team Series will also sunset after the 2018-19 season. Nationals will once again be retired. The Pro Player Club will also be phased out. Benefits earned will be honored through 2019 but the last event to award Pro Points will be the Grand Prix in Seattle (June 20-23, 2019).
Finally, after the 2019 ballot, the Pro Tour Hall of Fame process will be changing. Who is eligible and the way they will be elected will look different in 2020. As with many other parts of this announcement, Chase asked the audience to stay tuned for further details.
That was the end of Chase’s article but hardly the end of the news. There is a new homepage for competitive Magic that currently gives a brief overview of the new structure. An article on ScreenRant by Cody Gravelle includes a quote from Chase about the impending arrival of a “Standard Plus” format on MTG Arena.
There was also plenty of reaction from the community. Perhaps the most immediate notable impact of the announcement was with regard to Magic Online. With barely a mention in the official release, many took this as a dark omen for the long time digital product. Certain online stores ceased buying collections and the value of Treasure Chest prize boosters decreased significantly. This prompted a response from Magic Online:
#MTGO is definitely still part of the Magic esports program. Players will still be able to qualify for tabletop Mythic Championships through Magic Online tournaments. For more about MTGO’s plans, @CKiritz's State of the Program article will be out next week on the MTGO site.
— Magic Online (@MagicOnline) December 7, 2018
There are still plenty of questions left to be answered. Who are the 32 members of the Magic Pro League? How does one qualify for events on MTG Arena and will they take place remotely or in person? How do Grand Prix fit into this structure? Wizards of the Coast has everyone talking about these changes and for better or worse, 2019 will give us plenty of answers.
Silver Showcase Auction
The decks from the Silver Showcase are now up for auction. The Showcase featured the top Pro Point earner from each geographical region, as well as four special invitees, who then drafted cards from Beta, Arabian Nights, Antiquities, and Legends. The proceeds from the auction will benefit the Child’s Play charity.
2019 MagicFest Promos
The promo for 2019 MagicFests has been revealed as a full art Lightning Bolt. The card will be available in both foil and non-foil versions. Non-Turbo Town MagicFest Grand Prix side events will award promo basic lands with new art (also visible at the link). The art from the full art Lightning Bolt, by Kekai Kotaki, is being turned into two playmats with each one being made available for half the year.
Also nestled in the promo release is a change to the scheduling of Constructed Grand Prix. Starting in 2019, the cut to Day 2 for Constructed events will still take place after round 8, but the first round of “Day 2” will now take place on the first day of the event.
Grand Prix Liverpool and Portland
There were still Grand Prix to play this weekend! First up was Grand Prix Liverpool and Team Unified Modern. The tournament takes teams of three who must then share the entire Modern card pool between them, but no deck can share any cards aside from basic lands. Only one player can get Lightning Bolt, for example. With the World Magic Cup taking place starting Friday, the tournament was filled with National Teams. And it was one of these teams—from Mexico—that won the day. Dagoberta Silva, Marcelino Freeman, and Daniel Becerra navigated their way through the field and emerged victorious. With one title under their belts this trip, is another close behind?
(Tobi) In the finals of #gpliverpool the Mexican national team of Daniel Becerra, Marcelino Freeman, and Dagoberto Silva defeated Carlos Moral, Sergio Garcia, and Ricardo Sanchez and claimed the trophies. Congratulations! pic.twitter.com/7t4uqK5pOR
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) December 9, 2018
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic Ocean and the continental United States, Grand Prix Portland featured plain-old Modern. Grixis Death’s Shadow had a good Sunday. Not only did Daniel Becerra use it to help propel his team to victory, Tyler Putnam used the same strategy to secure a trophy in Portland. Also of note in this Top 8: Yuta Takahashi made another trip to the final rounds with his trusty Blue-Black Faeries deck.
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) December 10, 2018
Grixis Death’s Shadow
What we now know to be the last World Magic Cup starts this Friday. National teams will battle in Barcelona to claim the title of the final World Magic Cup champion!