Analyzing the Recent Organized Play Announcements
- Jamin Kauf
On February 20th, Wizards of the Coast announced big parts of the structure that’s replacing Pro Tours and the Pro Player Club. Jamin dives in and gives you everything that’s new, everything that has changed and everything that’s still missing.
If you care about competitive Magic, the recent months have been a very unstable for you. Pro Tours and the Pro Player Club were discontinued without any announcement on what was going to replace them. Waiting for future announcements of announcements became the norm and paper Magic took a backseat to Magic Arena Invitationals in an attempt to gather a bigger audience.
But last week we finally heard from Wizards. The big announcement that everyone was afraid of was here to clear up everything. Well, not exactly. There are still many things left in the dark, but first let’s dive into what was cleared up: Tabletop Mythic Championships and MTG Arena Mythic Championships.
Tabletop Mythic Championships
Tabletop Mythic Championships are basically the new Pro Tours. Not a lot has changed. You can still qualify via any of the following:
- PTQs at Grand Prix (now called Mythic Championship Qualifiers at Magic Fests).
- Finishing in the top 8 of a Grand Prix (or top 4 of a team Grand Prix).
- Finishing 11-5 at the previous Mythic Championship.
- Winning a PTQ on Magic Online or finishing in the top 2 of a Magic Online Championship Playoff.
- Winning a PTQ held at a WPN store (nothing is known about these yet).
- Being one of the 32 players in the Magic Pro League.
None of these qualifications grant flights to the Championship anymore. This is where the famous 10 million dollar prize pool comes from. Instead, the Tabletop Mythic Championships now pay out at least 500$ to every participant. The total prize pool of every tabletop championship is 500.000$, around half of which is used towards the 500$ minimum cash for the up to 500 participants.
Also, the winner of any championship automatically qualifies for the World Championship at the end of the year.
Magic Arena Mythic Championships
Arena Championships’ payout is 1.5 times that of the tabletop ones, meaning a total of 750.000$ for 52 players. A very easy conclusion is that the EV of the Magic Arena Mythic Championships is absurdly high compared to paper ones. It’s around 14 times as high to be exact.
Now unfortunately 32 of the 52 slots are already filled up with the members of the Magic Pro League and another four are taken by the top four finishers from the previous Arena Championship. This only leaves 16 spots for those of us looking in.
You earn one of these 16 spots by finishing in the top 1000 Mythic ranks on Magic Arena during a “qualifying month" (whatever that might be). You then get to compete in a two day seasonal playoff during which at least 128 players will qualify for the second day. After the second day is played as a swiss tournament, the top 16 players will take their spots at the Arena Mythic Championship.
Given that these slots are worth around 14.000$ on average, players will try hard to secure their spot and while I wouldn’t expect it to be incredibly difficult to place in the top 1000 mythic ranks, placing in the top16 of a playoff with more than 1000 players (depending on how many “qualifying months" feed into a playoff) will be very hard.
As with the paper equivalent, winning an Arena Championship also qualifies for the World Championship.
Pro & Mythic Points
Mythic points can be earned at both types of Mythic Championships with the difference being that participating in an Arena one already guarantees 11 points where you have to go 10-6 in paper to score the same amount of mythic points.
These points currently serve no purpose other than potentially qualifying for the World Championship. The top four mythic point earners from both the MPL players and the non-MPL players (making eight players in total) will be invited towards the big 1.000.000 dollar tournament at the end of the year.
One of THE biggest changes with the new update is hidden in “a few notes" on the original Wizards article.
“The Pro Club program will end December 22, 2019"
Pro Points mean nothing as of this date. All perks of pro points get phased out with the end of 2019 and afterwards all pro levels will be dropped.
The Things Still Missing
While Wizard’s announcement is quite long and seemingly made to answer the many questions plaguing competitors, it leaves a lot to be desired. Sure, they introduced us to the Arena Mythic Championships and the playoffs to get there, but most other information was fairly well known already (or didn’t change). Furthermore, there are many questions left unanswered.
What are mythic points good for? Introducing a point system that will only matter for a very small percentage of players seems like a lot of effort to qualify eight players for Worlds.
How do the WPN store PTQs work? It’s nice to hear that there are going be local tournaments that qualify for the Pro Tour (or Mythic Championship), but for events that are supposed to happen in three months' time, we know surprisingly little.
How can you get into the MPL? We know the current 32 members of the Magic Pro league but what should current Gold Pros do if they want to keep trying with Magic instead of giving up?
What’s the structure of the Arena Mythic Qualifier Weekends? A playoff where making top 16 rewards 14.000$ on average is a big deal and knowing more than “they’ll play some sort of Magic" would be nice.
Same for the Arena Championship itself. A 750.000$ tournament that is happening in four months doesn’t have a set date or tournament structure.
(On a personal note: an important tournament that’s coming up for me is the Magic Online Championship that’s happening in three months and there has not been any announcement regarding formats either.)
Last and nearly the most important question: how often can you use the word Mythic in one article without sounding completely insane?
Alright, now that we’re all caught up about what’s going on with tournaments, let’s take a look at the whole picture.
The 32 players in the Magic Pro League are the clear winners of all of this. Not only is a 75k$ yearly salary great, they also get to play all the Mythic Championships, with the Arena ones already adding up to an EV of ~42.000$.
And this is a good thing. These players are treated like the top players should be treated. They have proven themselves again and again and now they get to reap the rewards.
The obvious (and much discussed) losers of this are all other pro level players. Any player who plays around the gold/silver level gets left in the dust. No more qualifications, no more airfare money, nothing. Through this, only the ones who are truly obsessed with Magic as a game will stick around as they basically lost all monetary incentive. They went from being able to play Magic consistently to having to spike random events to even play a Championship.
What do these changes mean for your average “non-pro" competitive player? First of all, Grand Prix are basically worthless to grind now. Wizards has shown that they don’t want Magic Fests to be a competitive event and now it’s basically “make top 8 or go home" if qualifying for the Mythic Championships is your goal.
Furthermore, the return of local PTQs could be a great thing for local competitive players. These events would give them an outlet to qualify for Championships without having to commit to traveling for Magic Fests.
Last but not least, the Magic Arena Championships give competitive players a great opportunity to grind from home. Spending travel money is very restrictive when it comes to Magic tournaments as it will often cost a lot more than the tournament entry itself. Being able to play for serious amounts of money from home is great (as Magic Online has shown) but with Magic Arena you don’t even have to pay tournament entry fees.
Dramatic Reversal by Eric Deschamps
In the end it’s up to everyone to decide on their own whether they like these changes or not. I’ll give you my personal thoughts on these changes:
The worst thing are gold pros losing all their incentives to play Magic. The new system rewards spiking random tournaments more than consistency which is obviously bad for pros outside the top 32 and good for competitive players who aren’t pros yet.
The best thing about these changes is that they enable “lower-tier" competitive players to play more competitive Magic to try and qualify for a championship.
The most annoying thing about this announcement is that we still know very little about most upcoming tournaments.
That’s all I've got for you today. I’m still a bit worried about where Wizards is taking Organized Play but there are some glimpses of hope. I hope we can get more information soon.
If you have something on your mind you want to tell me, you can do so in the comments or hit me up on my personal Twitter, I’m always open for discussion.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.