Magic Pro League to Be Dissolved as Wizards of the Coast Restructures Organized Play
Wizards of the coast made waves yesterday as they announced some serious changes to the structure of Magic esports. They plan to remove the MTG Pro League altogether and change how Magic will be broadcast and played competitively worldwide.
The Changes to Magic
Posted on the Magic website, Wizards is aiming to change the way Magic esports runs. Brought upon by the many trials and tribulations of playing Magic during the esports season, Wizards of the Coast announced that they’re opting to open accessibility for players worldwide, as Magic the Gathering has gained many more players during the 2020 season.
Wizards of the Coast mentioned that they had bigger plans before the 2020 COVID pandemic and were planning on incorporating digital play before that, stating, “And just as we began forming plans to build on that promise with expanded reach beyond the most elite leagues, COVID sent us back to the drawing board.”
While not wanting to push the boundaries for the 2022-2023 season, Wizards of the Coast has shown their hand with their plans for the 2021 season of Magic esports. Focusing on in-person events, Wizards want to bring it back as safely as possible, with the hope of getting back into the swing of things sooner rather than later, from local tournaments to high-level in-person events.
However, a return to in-person events does not mean stepping away from digital events. Wizards noted the larger increase of digital players, opting to mix both in the 2021 season of Magic. This means that future Magic the Gathering events will not just consist of in-person games but digital games as well.
The 2021-2022 season is going to be different, according to Wizards. They mentioned focusing on fewer events for Magic Rivals and Magic Pro, as well as the post-season events and a World Championship with a $250,000 prize pool. However, the fewer events for Magic Pro and Magic Rivals foreshadow things to come.
Wizards confirmed that the current set Championship structure will still be in the season and will not change for the foreseeable future. Although, the prize pool will be increased to $450,000 over the three events culminating in the championship. However, this will be the final season for Magic Pro and Magic Rivals. Other events that are going the way of the dodo are League Weekends and Gauntlets in the 2021-2022 season. MTG Pro League and Magic Rivals players will also be competing for the World Championship at the end of the Magic 2021-2022 Season.
Wizards also mentioned updates to the Digital Qualification System for competitive Magic, hoping to streamline it for the 2021-2022 season as things start to cool down from the previous year.
What Does This Mean for Pro Magic Players?
Many players have expressed disappointment with the decision and the underlying reason that Wizards of the Coast opted to dissolve pro Magic, to begin with.
Revealed a little more on Twitter, the new system is going to stop trying to support Playing Magic as a career path, with the new system opting to make more versions of the game playable during the season, at the cost of preventing current and upcoming Magic Players from taking their skills down a career path.
“OP will not be explicitly designed to support competitive Magic as a career path. However, there will be Grand Prix, PTQ, and Pro Tour–like events. Our focus will be the amount of play and the prize money, and less focus on the lifestyle or it being economically self-sustaining.”
These remarks have sparked a lot of disdain from the community, with many large-scale players lamenting the decision to completely remove Magic Pro Tour from existence.
Professional Magic player Luis Scott-Vargas made a post on Twitter saying: “Until we know what comes next, this announcement does end pro Magic as a career. We’ve also been told that the replacement will not look like the old system and will not aim to support fully professional players.”
Another player, William Jenson, the 2017 Magic Champion, was a little more upset with the decision, saying, “After years of bad decisions, lack of coherent vision and leadership, and inability or unwillingness to improve on failing systems and projects, Pro-Magic is coming to an end. Thanks to all who supported us over the years.”
Another Magic player, Martin Juza, left a lengthy thread on Twitter with his thoughts on the choice made by Wizards of the Coast. “Year after year, they make decisions that leave everyone completely baffled, alienating the player base, disregarding all feedback. I don’t understand how completely killing pro magic can be the right call, but whatever, I hope you extra secret lair money is worth it, wotc…” He continued later in the thread saying, “I’m not sure what covid numbers they are working with, but IMO they are vastly underestimating the amount of people that buy packs and cards to build decks because of the dream to play on the pt one day, meet lsv, win 50k, maybe get on the train etc.”
While it may not be the best-case scenario for Magic esports, some players are just glad or holding out hope that Wizards of the Coast will return to a form that would allow for Magic to go back to the way it was. However, based on previous instances, such as Magic the Gathering’s shady pricing scandal from 2019, the majority of players are not holding out hope that Wizards will make good on their decision. For now, it appears that the Magic Pro Tour dream has come to an end.