Updated: Apr 18, 2022
Players can start competing for their spot in the top tier of Magic as soon as this summer.
Fans of high-level Magic: The Gathering got a big announcement on Thursday as Wizards of the Coast officially announced the return of the Pro Tour.
That said, things look different than they did when the Pro Tour disappeared a few years ago. WotC plans to refocus Magic on the tabletop experience while giving players multiple paths to pro play.
With four levels of competition, each with a bigger prize pool than the last, players have plenty of incentive to start brewing.
For those who haven't already seen the full announcement, you can do so here. Keep reading for a recap of everything you might have missed.
What is the New MTG Pro Tour?
One of the biggest complaints about pro Magic in the past few years is how complicated things were. That changes now with the new Pro Tour structure. Players can advance through four tiers of play based on their performance at past events.
Getting started is open to anyone. Making it to the next level is more challenging, and so on. First, you'll need to take down a Regional Championship Qualifier. These events will be hosted at Local Game Stores (LGSs) around the world.
Notably, Regional Championship Qualifiers will begin on July 2. That's just a few months away for those itching to get into the pro scene.
WotC also mentioned that these events can be run in a variety of formats, including Standard, Modern, Pioneer, and Limited. It will be interesting to see how local scenes decide to host their events.
In the U.S., Regional Championship Qualifiers will be organized by Dreamhack, a well-known name within the gaming world.
Players who manage to take down one of these events will receive an invitation to various Regional Championships. These will also be organized by Dreamhack in the U.S.
While information on the new Dreamhack Showdown site is sparse, we do know that there will be a massive two-day event in Atlanta this November.
From there, the fun begins.
WotC announced that the Pro Tour will be returning with three events each year that are open to players who qualified at a Regional Championship event. Along with $500,000 in prizes and the bragging rights of winning at a Pro Tour, players can also earn invitations to the World Championship. It's worth noting that Pro Tour events will be hosted in person by Wizards.
The first Pro Tour tournament is slated to take place in early 2023 barring setbacks from COVID-19.
As a somewhat unexpected twist, WotC also plans to bring back live coverage for these events. The announcement reads,
"Like the Pro Tours of old, Wizards of the Coast will provide start-to-finish streaming coverage of each event."
That's a huge development for the competitive scene and one that players have been asking for since the Pro Tour was disbanded.
Finally, the Magic World Championship isn't going away. Pro Tour events will give players another way to qualify for the crown jewel of competitive Magic. The annual event will host the best of the best for an in-person showdown with $1,000,000 on the line.
Yes, you read that right.
The World Championship is moving away from Arena and back to a tabletop format.
Pioneer in the Pro Tour Spotlight
Often dubbed one of Magic's most exciting formats, Pioneer has been in limbo for several years. Although its digital fate on MTG Arena is still foggy, it appears that WotC isn't done with the blossoming format just yet.
Surprisingly, the first round of Regional Championships will be played in Pioneer. In the short term, it is an exciting show of support for the format.
Of course, we are already speculating about what else it might mean for the future of Pioneer.
Could WotC use the revamped Pro Tour to make Pioneer its new go-to format? Are rumors of Pioneer lite coming to Arena suddenly more believable?
Only time will tell. However, this move is certainly an encouraging one for the format's fans.
Digital Paper Hybrid Model
Speaking of Arena, digital Magic isn't going away. WotC has spent the past few years pushing its digital client as the go-to for high-level competitive play.
With the return of a tabletop Pro Tour, it appears that Arena will need to find a new identity. Of course, it never was the best platform for competitive play.
Still, the client will serve a role for spikes by getting people qualified into the competitive scene. WotC mentioned in its announcement that players will have opportunities to qualify for Pro Tour events through both MTG Arena and MTGO.
We can expect more details in a "separate digital play announcement" at a later date.
Paper Takes Precedence
Arguably the most interesting part of this announcement is the focus on paper Magic. The community has been on edge about what the future of paper Magic looks like without a pro scene to back it up.
Although it has been clear over the past few years that paper isn't going anywhere, it now has a re-energized Pro Tour behind it. That's great news for formats beyond Commander (which doesn't exactly need any help right now).
It will be interesting to see how this affects the prices of staples in formats like Modern and Pioneer as players start picking up cards for tournament play once again. Likewise, if Wizards does indeed start hyping up Pioneer, cards for that format are likely to spike in price. After all, it never got a chance to shine in paper thanks to the pandemic.
Regardless of your favorite format, the "gathering" part of Magic: The Gathering has always been one of its strong suits. It's good to see that coming back at the highest level of play.
What are you most excited about from WotC's latest organized play announcement? Ready to grind a Regional Championship event? Hype for Pioneer and paper? Let us know in the comments below and on social media!
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