Magic: The Gathering is upping its competitive portfolio, introducing a new competitive structure that includes both digital and physical versions of the game and an increased prize pool. The idea is to go full eSport with Magic, including massive tournaments, additional sponsored events and even a roster of professional players taking part in regular match-ups.
Revealed during The Game Awards on Dec. 6, Magic: The Gathering is set to undergo a complete overhaul in terms of competitive play. While the physical card game has been making a splash for about two decades, Magic: Arena is a newer, digital version of the popular trading card game that’s made quite a splash of its own since its launch. Wizards of the Coast has decided to leverage the popularity of both formats, making a more comprehensive tournament structure whether you’re playing physical, digital or both.
To help the digital format hit the ground running, a special Magic: Arena Mythic Invitational event will be hosted out of PAX East from March 28-31 with a $1 million prize pool. More details concerning this tournament will be revealed in January, which is when we’ll also find out who, exactly, has been invited to compete.
In a recent blog post, WotC’s Elaine Chase explained that 2019 is going to be the biggest year yet for Magic organized play, combining what is already being done on the physical front with an approach to the digital format not unlike what you might be used to in games like League of Legends or even Overwatch. Next year’s prize pool is a whopping $10 million, which is double that from 2018. As noted in the announcement, this new format should prove lucrative for players, sponsors and, of course, eSports partners.
This all hinges on the creation of the Magic Pro League, which will initially play host to 32 top-ranking players from around the world. These folks are getting contracts to play competitively and stream matches regularly, and they’re basically going to be treated the same as professional athletes in any other sport. Folks who follow Magic learn about their favorite players, but the MPL will keep them in the spotlight and make it way easier for more casual observers to learn who they are and cheer for their favorite players. WoTC will be rolling out profiles on each of the 32 players soon, with regularly scheduled matches set to begin in 2019.
As you might have noticed earlier in this update, the upcoming Magic: Arena tournament is being called a “Mythic” event, which is apparently how WotC plans to distinguish these higher-level tournaments across both the digital and physical version of the game.
I, for one, am excited to see Magic: Arena getting so much support here in the early goings. Not everyone can find folks to play the physical game against in their hometown and others are unable to travel for tournaments. Magic: Arena brings that kind of competition to everyone and, if your skill level is high enough, maybe you’ll find yourself being labeled a pro in time for one of these high-paying tournaments.