MTG Arena Announces First-Ever Cash Prize Tournament With a Twist

by in Magic: The Gathering Arena | May, 19th 2020

I love MTG Arena, and I spend more time than is probably healthy playing it. Though I have only hit Mythic Rank twice so far, I feel like I have the skills to pay the bills. Now I can try to prove that once and for all in MTG Arena’s first-ever cash tournament! This is a two-day event in MTG Arena with some fun twists.

What are the twists? You don’t have to play all your matches at one time, and you can keep entering, as long as you have the Gems or Gold to do so on Day 1! This isn’t just a “the first 100 players who make it win cash” either. In theory, hundreds of players could make it all the way. So, let’s talk turkey!

Weekend PTQs or tournaments for MTG can be an absolute slog. You spend the whole day playing or waiting. It can drain someone’s energy. This tournament’s doing something different, and something I hope they come back to, should it see success. But who can participate? Anyone over 18 in eligible territories can enter, and as many times as they want, too.

What You Can Expect

Thanks to this global lockdown, the ability to play in MTG tournaments is all but gone, and so many people, myself included, miss it. However, the problem for me is that I simply don’t play a lot of physical Magic. I have a much larger digital collection. So I, along with many other players, have a shot at 2,000 in cash! There are also prizes in the form of gems and in-game rewards, but the big prize is the $1,000/$2,000 in cash.

Though this is the perfect time for such an event, Jay Parker, game director of MTG Arena, says this has been in the works for a while now. “We’ve been working on the Arena Open for a while, well before the global quarantine,” he said. “We run top-level esports tournaments in Arena, but we also wanted a more open and accessible competitive tournament, and that’s where the Arena Open comes in.”

Unlike any MTG tournament ever though, we can play at our own pace. The two-day event takes place May 30-31. You just have to play your seven matches on May 30. You’ll play up to seven matches (or until you get three losses, whichever comes first). If you get seven wins on Day 1, you receive 2,000 gems and a token for entry into the Day 2 event. Here’s where the best of the best await. Now, if you can get at least six wins, you’ll win cash. Six wins gets you $1,000 and 7 wins earn $2,000.

This is also a Best-of-One tournament, where a single match decides a winner. Traditional MTG tournaments are best-of-three, or best-of-five, so this MTG Arena cash tournament is different in so many ways. This is honestly for the best because the best-of-one format is much faster. You have to think faster, and don’t normally have access to your sideboard to help you out of sticky spots.

“One of the great aspects of playing at your own pace is that players can take breaks as needed between matches. They can get hydrated, or even step away from the keyboard for a few minutes if they feel themselves starting to tilt,” Parker said. “While there’s still a window in which players must complete their matches for Day 1 or Day 2, we’re giving them the chance to control the pace and intensity of their experience, which could only be done in an event like this.”

But I do admittedly worry about this tournament. This is a tournament with cash on the line, and no judges around to uphold the rules and behavior required. I don’t believe there’s a ton of cheating in MTG Arena. But any online game can have cheating players who hack, spoof, or do whatever it takes to win.

MTG Arena has reportedly increased its security to hopefully deal with this, while also introducing many new players to the thrill of competitive play. “While we’re always monitoring player behavior and scrubbing through our code to ensure we’ve fully protected players, we cranked that scrutiny up several notches over the last few months in preparation for this tournament,” he said. “Maybe you haven’t had the time to prove your skill through the journey to Mythic, but you know you’ve got the skills to do it—well here’s the perfect chance to show that off, and win some great rewards in the process.”

Tournament Details

Time: May 30 (8 a.m. PT) – May 31 (7 a.m. PT)
Format: Standard, Best of 1
Entry Options: 20,000 Gold or 4,000 Gems, Multiple Entries Allowed
Length of Event: 7 wins or 3 losses
Entry: 5 Godzilla Lands

Win-Based Rewards:
0 wins: No reward
1 win: No reward
2 wins: No reward
3 wins: 400 Gems
4 wins: 800 Gems
5 wins: 1200 Gems
6 wins: 1600 Gems
7 wins: 2000 Gems + Day 2 token

Time: May 31 (Players must join between 8 a.m. PT and 10 a.m. PT)
Format: Standard, best of 3
Entry Options: Qualification Token (1 per player at most)
Length of Event: 7 wins or 2 losses

Win-based Rewards:
0 wins: No reward
1 win: 2000 Gems
2 wins: 4000 Gems
3 wins: 6000 Gems
4 wins: 10000 Gems
5 wins: 20000 Gems
6 wins: $1,000
7 wins: $2,000

This is a very exciting event. There doesn’t seem to be a limit on potential winners either. I doubt players will have to wait very long to get their matches either. I play MTG Arena in a wide variety of times, and never seem to wait very long. I suppose the one thing that worries me is the RNG. I have so many matches where it seems whatever I’m playing has a very hard counter, and my opponent conveniently has it. They also conveniently have amazing starts.

Now, I know these things happen, but I can’t help but wonder how the match-ups are going to feel in this tournament. It’s very much a first-of-its-kind event, so we’ll just have to see how it goes. Are there going to be cheaters? Long waits? People frustrated with the present meta playing anyway? People roping the timer down because they’re salty? All of this and more could happen. We’ll just have to wait and see!

It’s almost time for the MTG Arena cash tournament, and we’re hyped! Are you planning on participating? If you can, will you play multiple times to try and get further and secure a spot on Day 2? If so, what decks are you planning on bringing to the table? We’d love to know!


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