Within the last week there have been some monumental developments in Magic organized play. Much of what we have been used to for many years is changing. Change is scary and sometimes hard to fully comprehend until they are actually set in motion. At the moment, much of the competitive Magic scene is wondering what all this will mean both for the game and for individual players moving forward.

One of the biggest parts of the recent announcement is the Magic Pro League (MPL). Rather than dividing professionals into levels like Silver, Gold, and Platinum, there is now one singular Pro League consisting of 32 of the best players in the game. This is especially exciting for the players that were selected to be a part of the league.

My Involvement in the Magic Pro League

I am able to confirm that I will be one of the members of the Magic Pro League in 2019. The selection of the 32 players came down almost exclusively to results from the previous season—the very top players in the game. When I was approached by Wizards of the Coast to be a part of the league, I got really excited.

One of the major perks of being a member of the league is the $75,000 deal that goes along with being a member. The deal is not only about playing in high level Magic tournaments—it also involves a commitment to streaming Magic on a regular basis. This may come as a bit of a surprise to some players, but a huge part of the reason for the creation of the Magic Pro League is the push to broadcast Magic played digitally at a higher level. By having the MPL players stream, it provides the opportunity to interact and learn from your favorite players in a different environment.

MTG Arena

The impetus behind the MPL push is, simply, MTG Arena. Magic Online has always been a great way to play games of Magic, but Arena has taken the visual aesthetics of watching Magic to another level. Ultimately the goal is to bring more viewers and eyes on the game we all love. A variety of other similar strategy games take off in the esports realm, which has led the MPL to be a combination of digital play and tabletop Magic.

Mythic Championships

The highest-level Premier Events have been called Pro Tours for many years. This is what we are used to, and it is natural, over time, to develop a certain level of attachment to a name. However, since competitive Magic is changing in such a significant way, Pro Tours will be no more, and in their place we will have Mythic Championships. While the name will be different, I expect the Tabletop Mythic Championships to be more or less identical to Pro Tours as we have come to know them.

There will also be Mythic Championships played on MTG Arena, which is the major difference between Mythic Championships and Pro Tours. By having the name Mythic Championship shared across both tabletop and MTG Arena it promotes the idea of the digital Mythic Championships having the same type of prestige as a Pro Tour.

Breaking Down the $10,000,000 Prize Pool

Ten million dollars is a lot of money. When I first heard that figure, I was ecstatic, but I also realized how Wizards can make this work from a budgeting perspective. The idea is to have larger prize pools, while cutting some of the behind-the-scenes costs from the Pro Tour system, like plane tickets that was were a previous feature of qualifying for a Pro Tour.

Plane tickets were a pretty important benefit for players trying to travel to a tournament from very far away. To help offset the cost of purchasing your own plane ticket, the tabletop Mythic Championships will guarantee a prize to every place.

While taking away rewards and tournaments, such as the World Magic Cup, isn't fun to hear about, I believe the added prize money is enough to compensate for those changes. We are talking about a total of four tabletop Mythic Championships with $500,000 in prize money at each one. Keep in mind this is only the tabletop Mythic Championship Events, and I wouldn't be surprised to see similar figures for the MTG Arena Mythic Championships as well.

With larger prize pools comes more hype and better marketing for the tournaments. Yes, two of the Pro Tours that were previously announced won't be taking place, but Wizards is clearly going to be running enough events and providing enough prize money to make up for that.

So... What Now?

I know that we would like to know all the information about the new e-sports and competitive gaming program. There are certainly details that remain unknown at the moment. When taking on a project of this scale, it is hard to have everything figured out at once. While some may have thought the decision to create the MPL and push Magic as a legitimate e-sport happened quickly, I don't believe that was the case. Wizards of the Coast has been working directly with pro player advisers for a little while now. It is my impression that they've been waiting for the right moment to make this change and launch the e-sports program.

What This Means for My Life

Before the announcement of the MPL, most Magic pros struggled to make ends meet financially. The amount being paid out by Wizards wasn't enough for a comfortable living. Now with the new contract, the new larger prize pools, and my current sponsorship deals and content production, I will be in a good spot financially. I want to make sure my daughter has access to everything she might need, and money helps facilitate that. It is a great feeling to reap the rewards of being one of the best Magic players in the world. How long will this last? I'm hoping long-term, but I really have no way of knowing at this point.

The next task on the docket for me is getting into the world of streaming. Expect to see me streaming regularly starting in January. Make sure to join me on stream, I love chatting with readers, and followers. The lifestyle of streaming is going to be different, and healthier than the one I have been living the past few years. As someone trying to collect Pro Points I had been flying out to Grand Prix's a lot, and they would absorb a lot of my time and resources, not to mention that I don't think the amount I had been traveling was good for me or my home life. I expect to be flying less on a weekly basis in exchange for putting effort into my stream in order to make it great!

Hall of Fame Changes

The Hall of Fame as we know it won't be around after this year, according to the latest announcement. As someone who was just inducted into the Hall, I am very happy I had a chance to live out that dream. Though it seems like the Hall will be restructured, that doesn't diminish the accomplish of making it into the Hall in any way. I have no idea what the Hall of Fame will look like after this year.

Community Reactions

I love how much the Magic community cares about a big announcement like this. I believe that most players are excited for what this means for the future of the game! I count myself among this group, as it could mean both great things for myself and the game as a whole. These changes will take a little getting used to, and there are some sacrifices that were made in order to make them happen. In the end I see a bright future for competitive Magic, and am looking forward to playing in the Magic Pro League, though competing against other amazing players will certainly not be easy!

Thanks for reading,

Seth Manfield

@SethManfield
twitch.tv/sethmanfield