Magic: the Gathering has been a worldwide phenomenon, with the card game debuting at GenCon in 1993 and only growing in scope from there. It’s a game with over 35 million players. So, when the digital age began and e-sports emerged as a major form of entertainment, Wizards of the Coast got on the bandwagon with Magic: the Gathering Arena. A near-instant success, Arena has, according to one Reddit thread investigating the numbers, an estimated 6-8 million players. So, with 2019 so far being Arena‘s most prosperous year to date, Wizards has unveiled a number of changes and innovations to its system, as well as a few changes to tabletop Magic tournaments as well.
According to Wizards’ main hub for Magic: the Gathering Arena news, magic.gg, competitive Magic on both fronts is getting a rather major overhaul for their 2020-2021 season. “We have a lot to announce today,” a page on the site titled “The Future of Magic E-Sports” muses, “all of which has been in the works for months and is based on feedback from players, pros, and partners.” The page details these bullet points on the changes that Magic players can expect to see in 2020:
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.
What does this mean for digital or tabletop play for people who aren’t playing competitive or professional circuits? Honestly, probably not a whole lot, but for those invested in professional Magic: The Gathering (Arena or otherwise), there looks to be more opportunities for professional renown on the horizon.