Fans of Magic: The Gathering can look forward to a whole new esports variation. The game’s creators, Wizards of the Coast, have stated that from 2020 onward it will prioritize the Arena digital version over its tabletop counterpart.
Competitive gaming future
Rather than featuring just one Mythic Invitational, next year will see three of these esports tournaments. This move comes at a time when Magic: The Gathering’s audience has doubled on Twitch. This year’s Mythic Invitational garnered three times the viewership of the previous tournament. More notably, it quickly became the most-watched Magic broadcast in the game’s history.
In related news, The Magic Pro League — already a well-established competitive gaming feature — it is set to be joined by a new Rivals League. This will aim to bridge the gap between amateur gamers and pro-level Magic players.
By featuring the top 12 digital players not previously in the Magic Pro League, Rivals will significantly open things up. In addition, there will be six discretionary invites, inclusion for the bottom four players of the Magic Pro League season, and the bottom 12 gamers from the Major Pro League Gauntlet.
The Major Pro League Gauntlet should give Rivals League gamers the chance to play at the highest level. Then, the poorest-performing Major Pro League players will get relegated to the Rivals League.
However, it’s the Magic World Championship that promises to the biggest event on the calendar for this legendary collectible card game. This will give gamers the chance to compete to take a share of the massive $1 million prize pool.
A true spectator event?
The 2019 season will culminate in a Magic World Championship in February 2020. Then, the next season will feature winners of each of the Mythic Invitational events.
This isn’t to say Wizards of the Coast are completely giving up on the tabletop version of the game. The Magic World Championship will also be open to tabletop players who won on each of the Players Tour finals. The new Players Tour regional tournaments will look to cut down on the expensive travel costs that blighted the 2018 Magic Pro Tour and encourage more players to take up Magic on a regional level.
For background, the tabletop version proved wildly successful during its 25-year history. But by boosting esports play, Magic hopes to realize its potential as a spectator event.
With well over 1.1 billion games played since Magic: The Gathering Arena came on the scene, this is one of the sleeper hits of the esports world.