I've said it before and I'll say it again, Magic: the Gathering is the best game in the world. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 and… other factors, the current path to playing Magic professionally is not exactly intuitive.
At the top of the Magic competitive world are League players, those being members of the Magic Pro League (MPL) and Rivals League. All other players called Challengers. The path from Challenger to League player is long and hard, but this season, 12 Challengers who walk that path will play their way to fame and fortune.
Here's how you could be one of them.
At the pinnacle of Magic right now are the Magic Pro League (MPL) and the Rivals League.
The members of the MPL receive appearance fees as well as invitations to most premier level events. They play in MPL-only events which affect their final standing at the end of the season.
Similar to the MPL, Rivals League members receive smaller appearance fee payments as well as invitations to most premier level events. They also play in Rivals-only events which affect their final standing at the end of the season.
In short, League members get:
So how do you join their ranks?
At the end of the season in mid-2021, membership in both Leagues will change depending on the results of three invitation-only tournaments: the Challenger Gauntlet, the Rivals Gauntlet, and the MPL Gauntlet. As a Challenger, your goal is to compete in the Challenger Gauntlet.
If you can make Top 4 at the Challenger Gauntlet, you're guaranteed a spot in next season's MPL. And if you make at least Top 12, you compete in the Rivals Gauntlet, with a guaranteed spot in the Rivals League and a shot at the MPL if you make Top 4.
So the Challenger Gauntlet is the goal. And the only way to it is through one of the season's three Split Championships.
As you can see, there are many paths to the Split Championships, but only a strong run at the Championships will get you to the Challenger Gauntlet. So let's look at the ways you can qualify for the Split Championships.
The best part is, you can do them all from the comfort of home, in your pajamas.
It all starts here.
By playing ranked games on Arena you'll improve your rank with wins and fall down with losses.
At the bottom of the ladder is the Bronze rank. You'll start here and work your way through Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond before finally making your way into the Mythic rank.
Once you reach a rank, you can't fall out of it, so no matter how hard Platinum 4 beats you down, you're not going to fall back into Gold.
When you hit Mythic, you'll be assigned a number or a percentage. This is your Mythic rank. Winning games will pull you out of the percentages and into a numbered rank. Losing games will decrease your rank or even send you back into the percentages.
At the end of the month, the top 1200 Constructed players and the top 1200 Limited players qualify for a Qualifier Weekend.
To find out when the next Arena Open is, keep your eye on the MTG Arena event schedule.
The Arena Open is an event occasionally hosted by Arena where players are able to compete for cold hard cash… and also gems.
In previous Arena Opens you only had the option to play best-of-one Standard or best-of-one Historic. In the most recent Open, you had the option of playing best-of-three Standard or best-of-one Standard on day one. The format will change from Open to Open, but having the choice of playing best-of-one or best-of-three was a great change.
Qualifier weekends reward the top players of each month with a two-day tournament.
Here are the ways to qualify for these weekends:
Alternatively, you can qualify through Red Bull Untapped qualifiers, Star City Games satellites, and other tournaments usually found on mtgmelee.com.
If playing Arena isn't your cup of tea, or you want to play any format older than Historic, Magic Online is the program for you.
One of the great things about Magic Online is that it allows you to qualify for premier level events (and then the Leagues) by playing Magic formats that aren't available on Arena. While you'll still have to play Championship events on Arena, Magic Online offers a diversified pathway.
To look up upcoming events, check out the Premier Play Schedule.
You can earn Qualifier Points by playing various Magic Online events, including:
Super Qualifiers allow you to enter using event tickets, which can be purchased from the in-game store.
You can earn a format token or Showcase qualification by earning qualifier points and entering these events:
Whatever path you choose, your goal is to qualify for one of this season's three Split Championships and finish 11-4 or better, or make the Top 8. Do that, and you're qualified for the Challenger Gauntlet.
The upcoming Championship is the Zendikar Rising Championship on December 4-6. The event will showcase both the Standard and Historic formats, in a split format tournament.
Here are the different ways to qualify for Split Championship weekends:
If you achieve 30 or more match points in the Zendikar Rising Championship, you'll qualify for the Kaldheim Championship.
Achieving 30 points in the Kaldheim Championship will qualify you for the Strixhaven Championship.
Top finishing Challengers in each of the Championships will also qualify for the postseason gauntlet tournaments.
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Organised Play has been changed quite a few times recently, but with the effect that COVID has had on in-person play and tabletop Magic, these changes are understandable.
Magic Esports has mentioned that as the worldwide situation changes, Organized Play may need to shift again, so be prepared. For now though, this is the path to Magic glory.
Best of luck. You got this.