Skip to main content Download External Link Facebook Facebook Twitter Instagram Twitch Youtube Youtube Discord Left Arrow Right Arrow Search Lock Wreath icon-no-eye caret-down Add to Calendar download Arena copyText Info Close

The Future of Magic Esports

August 14, 2019
Elaine Chase

Español | Français | Deutsch | Italiano | 简体中文 | 繁體中文 | русский язык | Português | 한국어 | 日本語

2019 has been a big year for Magic esports. We created a new level of play and professional support with the Magic Pro League. We doubled the prize pool for Magic, making it one of the biggest in gaming. We added all-new ways to play and watch the best strategy game on the planet with the introduction of Magic: The Gathering Arena. And the results have been terrific. More people are playing Magic than ever and viewership of Magic on channels like Twitch and YouTube has more than doubled in the last twelve months. Magic fans have never had as many opportunities to play, qualify, and watch Magic as they have had in 2019.

But we see room for improvement. Magic is growing on both tabletop and MTG Arena, and we need a competitive structure that can grow with it. We hear loud and clear that our tabletop fans want more information about tabletop's future and how to qualify for Magic's highest levels of competitive play. More players, from more regions and backgrounds, should have an opportunity to play on Magic's biggest stages—regardless of who you are or where you come from. We want new fans and would-be pros to have stars they can follow, cheer for, and aspire to emulate. We think partners can be a bigger part of our competitive mix and help us bring in new players. And we see the Magic Pro League as still in its early stages of development with a lot more opportunities to showcase the highest level of play and featuring a broader cross section of players.

Our goal for competitive Magic has always been to grow both the game and its amazing global community, and the changes we have planned for the 2020–2021 season are no exception. We have a lot to announce today, all of which has been in the works for months and is based on feedback from players, pros, and partners.

Here are the headlines of what's coming:

  • The Magic Pro League has a clear path-to-pro with the addition of a new Rivals League.
  • Tabletop Magic gets an all-new regionalized championship structure—the Players Tour—with more than $2.5M in prizes.
  • MTG Arena will be anchored by spectacular Mythic Invitationals, with 3 per season, each offering a $750K prize pool.
  • The Magic World Championship remains the pinnacle of Magic competitive play and will feature the season's most accomplished MTG Arena and tabletop players vying for the game's top honor and a $1M prize pool.
  • Both the tabletop Players Tour and the MTG Arena Mythic Invitationals will offer twice as many qualification slots to players around the world, vastly increasing play opportunities no matter which platform you prefer.
  • In addition to Grand Prix, Premier Series events like the SCG Tour by Star City Games and the new LATAM Magic Series by Bazar de Bagdá will offer qualification paths to the Players Tour, and we look forward to integrating more local tournament series from around the world.
  • Magic will remain a category leader offering more than $10M in prize and player support for the 2020–2021 season, across the combined MTG Arena and tabletop prize pools and MPL and Rivals League support.

We're excited about Magic's competitive future, with more opportunities for more players to reach the highest levels of competition in both tabletop Magic and MTG Arena, and creating awesome viewing experiences for fans to watch the best minds in Magic battle for glory.

–Elaine Chase

To make it easier to follow we've broken the news down into sections:

One last important note before we dive in: this is a structural announcement. That means we'll be talking about qualification paths, ways to advance, and what awaits you when you do advance. Additional details like formats, dates, coverage, and more specifics will be available for individual events later.

The Magic Pro League and Rivals League

For 2020 we're further defining how you get to be in the Magic Pro League (MPL) and creating the Rivals League as a stepping stone to the top.

The Rivals League is a talent-development league that will feed the MPL. Rivals will make it into the MPL either through sustained success over the course of a season or through an exciting new tournament called the MPL Gauntlet.

The Rivals League will consist of 46 players as follows:

  • 1st–12th ranked digital players (not previously in the MPL)
  • 1st–12th ranked tabletop players (not previously in the MPL)
  • Bottom 12 players from the MPL Gauntlet
  • The bottom 4 players from the previous MPL season
  • 6 discretionary invites

Throughout the season, Rivals will receive invites to events, including Players Tour events and their own Rivals Mythic Qualifier and can earn up to $20,000 in appearance fees in addition to prizes earned at tournaments.

At the same time the MPL will become a 24-player league with players able to earn up to $50,000 in appearance fees in addition to prizes earned at tournaments. MPL players will also be invited to Mythic Invitationals and all Tabletop Players Tour events.

The MPL Gauntlet

At the end of each season we'll host a tournament that elevates the best Rivals League players to the MPL—and relegates the poorest-performing MPL players to the Rivals League.

Here's how the MPL Gauntlet will work:

  • The Top 16 players in the MPL automatically remain in the MPL for the next season.
  • The bottom 4 players in the MPL will be relegated to the Rivals League and cannot participate in the MPL Gauntlet.
  • The Top 2 ranked players from the Rivals League in both MTG Arena and tabletop play will automatically be offered MPL contracts and won't participate in the MPL Gauntlet.
  • The MPL Gauntlet tournament will therefore comprise 16 competitors as follows:
    • The MPL players ranked 17th–20th
    • The Rivals players ranked 3rd–8th on MTG Arena play
    • The Rivals players ranked 3rd–8th on tabletop play

The Top 4 players in the MPL Gauntlet tournament make it to the MPL

  • Players who finish 5th-16th MPL Gauntlet will be offered Rivals League contracts.
  • All points will be reset after this tournament for the start of the new season.

Once the MPL Gauntlet tournament has taken place, the Rivals League will consist of:

  • The bottom 12 performers in the MPL Gauntlet
  • 1st–12th at-large MTG Arena ranked players (who did not participate in the MPL Gauntlet)
  • 1st–12th at-large tabletop ranked players (who did not participate in the MPL Gauntlet)
  • The bottom 4 MPL players
  • 6 discretionary slots

After the MPL Gauntlet, the MPL will consist of:

  • The Top 16 MPL players from the previous MPL season.
  • The Top 4 performers in the MPL Gauntlet
  • The Top 2 Rivals from the previous season in Players Points
  • The Top 2 Rivals from the previous season in Mythic Points

Player Rankings

We will have separate tracks for player ranking points for MTG Arena play and tabletop play, with the MPL tracking rankings combining the two.

For MTG Arena play, we'll be keeping the Mythic Points. Mythic Points can be earned in the following events:

  • Mythic Invitationals
  • Mythic Qualifiers
  • Mythic Point Challenges

There's more detail on these in the section on MTG Arena events, but these are the only ways to earn Mythic Points.

For tabletop play, we'll be tracking Player Points. You can earn Player Points at Championship-level events. Those include:

  • Players Tour Americas/Europe/Asia-Pacific
  • Players Tour Finals

Details of the Players Tour are in the next section.

Finally, MPL rankings will be determined by a combination of Mythic Points, Player Points, and points earned from MPL split play. The top-ranked MPL players will be the players who do the best across all our top-level play opportunities.

Tabletop Magic Players Tour

The Players Tour is Magic's new tabletop competitive structure, focused on creating more opportunities for more players around the world through a regionalized tournament system.

There will be three regional Players Tours:

  • Players Tour Americas
  • Players Tour Europe
  • Players Tour Asia-Pacific

Whilst Players Tour events are regionalized, if you live in one region but want to play in another, you can do that. You are, however, limited to playing in just one regional Players Tour event per Players Tour Finals.

A year-long season of the Players Tour will have three Players Tour events per region, making a total of nine Players Tours per season.

These nine Players Tour events will offer approximately 3,600 invites—double the approximately 1,800 the old Pro Tour/Mythic Championship system offered.

The Tabletop Path to the Top

  • You can qualify for a Players Tour event by winning (or placing very highly) at a Qualifier-level event. These include Players Tour Qualifiers, WPN Qualifiers, Grand Prix, Players Tour Premier Series, and Magic Online events.
  • Doing well at a Players Tour will earn you prizes and invites to future Players Tours. Top finishers will be invited to the global Players Tour Final where you will face off against the most successful players in the world.
  • The final goal is to claim your spot in the Rivals League by earning enough points from the Players Tour and Players Tour Finals events.

If after this you fall just short of reaching Rivals level, you don't have to start at the bottom again:

  • Doing well at the Player Tour but not well enough to qualify you for a Final can also qualify you for the next round of Players Tours. This is based on record, not place finish and is similar to how players could string together invites under the old system.
  • Doing well at a Players Tour Finals can qualify you for the next Player Tour Finals, depending on your final record. All Finals participants qualify for the next regional Players Tour.

Players Tour Events

While winning a qualifying tournament is the most direct route to the Players Tour, it is not the only one. You can qualify in the following ways:

  • All players from the previous Finals (details on how top finishers from tabletop Mythic Championships in 2019 will qualify for the Players Tour will be announced prior to Mythic Championship VII)
  • Top finishers by record from the previous Players Tour
  • All MPL players
  • All Rivals players
  • Players who finish in the Top 8 or with at least 39 match points at individual Grand Prix
  • Top 4 teams and all other teams with at least 36 match points at team Grand Prix
  • Last Chance Qualifier winners held the day before Players Tour events
  • WPN Qualifiers
  • Players Tour Qualifiers
  • Premier Series events
  • MTGO Qualifiers
  • Hall of Fame status
  • Discretionary invitations

Prizes and the number of invites for the Players Tour events will vary by region.

  • Players Tour Americas: approximately 500 players; $250,000 prize pool
  • Players Tour Europe: approximately 400 players; $200,000 prize pool
  • Players Tour Asia-Pacific: approximately 250 players; $150,000 prize pool

Doing well enough at a Players Tour will qualify you for the global Players Tour Finals. There are three Players Tour Finals each year, and these events have smaller invite lists than Players Tours. Each set of three Players Tour regional events will feed one Players Tour Final.

  • Top finishers from Players Tour events (based on record)
  • Top finishers from previous Players Tour Finals
  • All 24 MPL players
  • Each Grand Prix winner in a qualifying season

Note the addition of a direct qualification for the winner of Grand Prix. These players will qualify for both the Players Tour and the Players Tour Finals. Players who are qualified for both may play in both events.

These events will invite approximately 120 players and will each have a $250,000 prize pool.

The Qualifying Level

There are many different ways to qualify for the Players Tour.

Players Tour Qualifiers

These are single-day tournaments where the winner will qualify for the Players Tour, similar to the current Mythic Championship Qualifiers. These events will also have a promo card attached, which you'll receive just for registering. The first one in 2020 will be:

WPN Qualifiers

WPN stores will have the ability to run their own qualifying tournaments. There will be multiple structures available to them, including a multi-day structure with feeder events that we expect to be popular. Each WPN event will be provided 32 promo cards to be distributed as prizes.

We expect the first round of these events to begin in October. Events will be listed in the Event Locator as they are scheduled, so check there to find events near you.

Premier Series Events

We are partnering with a number of prominent tournament organizers on tournament series that will be integrated into the Players Tour and will offer invites to the Championship level. These include, for example, events like the SCG Tour by Star City Games and the newly created Latam Magic Series from Bazar de Bagdá. We expect to continue to expand partner events in 2020 and beyond to create exciting new opportunities for high-level play that provide paths to the Rivals League and the MPL.

Grand Prix

Grand Prix will continue to be the keystone tournament at MagicFests run by CFB Events and the Top 8 will receive invitations to the Players Tour, but in addition the winner will also receive an invite to the Players Tour Finals. This gives an added benefit to winning at a Grand Prix.

Note that Grand Prix will award Lifetime Player Points, but they will not apply to seasonal qualifications. Lifetime total Player Points will use Pro Points as a starting basis.

Magic Online

Magic Online will continue to run qualifiers in a variety of formats, including Limited, Standard, Modern, Legacy, and Pauper. You can find the MTGO schedule by visiting the MTGO calendar.

MTG Arena Tournaments

There are three primary tournament types on MTG Arena that will award Mythic Points—Mythic Invitationals, Mythic Qualifiers, and Mythic Point Challenges.

There will be three Mythic Invitationals in a regular season, each with a $750,000 prize purse. These events will be showcases for high-level play and will offer great spectacle for viewers—if you watched either the Mythic Invitational or Mythic Championship III this year, you'll have an idea of what these events are like.

Players invited to these Invitationals will be drawn from within:

  • The MPL
  • The Rivals League
  • Mythic Qualifier Tournaments
  • Other discretionary invites

Each Mythic Invitational will be fed by two Mythic Qualifier tournaments with the top 1,200 ranked players in monthly MTG Arena play in Constructed or Limited at the end of each qualifying month eligible to compete.

The Top 16 in each tournament will be invited to the corresponding Mythic Invitational, and players who make Day Two will earn Mythic Points, whether they reach the Top 16 or not.

Finally, Mythic Point Challenge tournaments will not feed other events, but will award Mythic Points. Qualifying for these events will require the same ranking (1,200 or better) as Mythic Qualifiers.

The Partial Season

Next year will be a transition as we work towards a shift to a mid-year to mid-year competitive season for 2020–2021, starting August 2020.

Until that point, we will run a partial competitive season from January 1, 2020 to July 31, 2020. The partial season will utilize the full overall competitive structure but will hold fewer events and have qualification levels as needed to ensure a transition to the new system.

That means the transition from the current MPL-only structure to an MPL/Rivals structure will involve some different numbers and some different churn mechanisms to transition to the new structure.

After the conclusion of the 2019 Season, we'll form the 2020 partial season's MPL and Rivals League as follows:

  • 2019's Top 20 MPL players based on Mythic Points will stay in the MPL for 2020.
  • 2019's Top 4 ranked Challengers based on Mythic Points will make it to the MPL.
  • 2019's bottom 12 MPL players based on Mythic Points will join the Rivals League.
  • The next 8 2019 MTG Arena ranked players and the next 8 tabletop ranked players, using Mythic Points earned in the appropriate types of events, will be invited into the Rivals League.
  • We will add 4 members to the Rivals League at our discretion.

During this partial season, the Rivals League will have 32 players, expanding to 46 during the full 2020–2021 season.

Additionally, because the 2020 partial season has fewer events, both MPL and Rivals players will make less than a full season. Members of the MPL can earn up to $35,000 in appearance fees during the partial season while Rivals players can earn up to $15,000 in appearance fees, all in addition to any prize money earned.

Finally, the partial season will not hold a World Championship. The next World Championship will take place at the culmination of the 2020–2021 season.

The World Championship

The 2019 Season will conclude with the World Championship held February 2020. This is a change from the previously announced month of December. More details on that event will be released soon, but you can see who has already qualified and what slots are yet to be filled here.

The 2020–2021 season World Championship with a prize pool of $1 million will feature the winners of each Players Tour Finals and the winner of each Mythic Invitational and will take place near the end of the season in 2021. Additional slots will be announced prior to the start of the 2020–21 season.

The World Championship is the absolute pinnacle of Magic play, a stage where few get the chance to shine. We will continue to make the World Championship a marquee event and will announce further details prior to the 2020–21 season.

The 2019 Season

Whilst we've naturally focused on our future plans, there's obviously still a lot more to watch in the 2019 season:

Tabletop Mythic Championships
Mythic Championship VI in Richmond, VA: November 8–10

MTG Arena Mythic Championships
Mythic Championship V in Long Beach, CA: October 18–20
Mythic Championship VII in Long Beach, CA: December 6–8

MTG Arena Mythic Qualifiers
MCV Qualifier: August 17–18
MCVII Qualifier: October 26–27

2019 Magic World Championship
February 2020; location to be announced

MPL Core Split
Week 1: August 10
Week 2: August 17
Week 3: September 7
Week 4: September 14

MPL Eldraine Split
Week 1: October 5
Week 2: October 26
Week 3: November 2
Week 4: November 16

How do I get started?

With more opportunities to qualify for the biggest tournaments of the year and stake your claim as one of the top players in the world, there's never been a better time to get into competitive Magic.

  • Download MTG Arena and start working your way up to the top 1,200 Mythic Ranked
  • Join your local tabletop play community—find a store near you with the Wizards Play Network store locator and sign up for a qualifying event
  • Follow us on @MagicEsports
  • Stayed tuned to for regular updates

We'll share details of formats, dates and specifics for individual events early enough that you'll know what you need to do to qualify before you can start down the qualification path for any given event. Be sure to follow @MagicEsports for updates and bookmark for Grand Prix and Premier Series events.

Share Article