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The incredibly popular trading card game Magic: The Gathering is entering the esports world in a big way.
There have been digital offerings of the competitive fantasy card game for a while but a new initiative from Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast is pushing Magic onto the scene with its new Mythic Championship events.
The move is centred around a massive $10 million prize pool for the 2019 competition. This is split evenly between the more traditional tabletop Magic competition and Magic: The Gathering Arena, which is the new esports face of Magic.
The really exciting part about this is this competition is going global, which means Australians have just as much a chance of taking home the grand prize as anyone else.
“Today is an extremely important day for Magic: The Gathering as we announce our commitment to esports and our Magic players by introducing a new tournament structure with a $10 million prize pool,” said Chris Cocks, President of Wizards of the Coast.
“We have worked diligently to create a program that will establish Magic as a major player in esports, particularly with Magic: The Gathering Arena in the collectable card game category.”
It’s always been surprising that we haven’t heard more from Magic: The Gathering as an esport. It already has a huge global following for the physical games which have been around for as long as I can remember.
Hearthstone is a wildly watched esport that consistently rakes in money from players and viewers alike and in a lot of ways feels very based on Magic.
It feels odd that it’s taken so long for the planeswalkers to really burst onto the scene – but it’s exciting that it’s finally happening.
“The past 25 years of Magic competition has led us to design this comprehensive esports program that would support Magic: The Gathering Arena, while increasing our investment in tabletop Magic,” said Elaine Chase, Vice President of Esports at Wizards of the Coast.
“Magic Esports will catapult the game to new heights while providing support to the players by giving them the platform to build their brand and bring Magic to a broader audience.”
This also comes with the new Magic Pro League which will feature the top 32 players globally. They will get automatic entry into the Mythic Championship games which means as a viewer you’re guaranteed to see very high-level play. There are also boasts that these players will be offered competitive pro contracts.
It’s hard to say what this means as of yet but as esports is finding its feet on the global stage we are starting to see conditions and pay for pro players improve.
Having another huge company with a history of tournament support pledging to support a pro league is a big deal and hopefully a step to improving esports as an industry.
Everyone else will still have an opportunity to prove themselves and battle the pros. While details on how to do this are still to come, Magic: The Gathering Arena is always having online tournaments where players can climb the ranks.
Whether you want to try your hands at building a superior deck or participate in a draft and make the most of what you have there’s an opportunity for all play styles to experience competitive MTG.
I’m certain we’re going to see some Aussies in the competition. Australia has always had an impressive Magic community and if we can prove ourselves with twitch reactionary games on the world stage then this is going to be cake.
Magic is also a bit of a meatier game than some other trading card games on the market. There’s a plethora of lore and abilities with different card types.
Most beginners can still jump in and play (though they may spend a bit of time reading the cards), but if you want something to really sink your teeth into then there’s a lot on offer here.
It has such a long history behind it so there’s a lot of refinement in the game but also in the way they do things.
Bringing this level of experience to a pro league as well as a tournament structure with a $10 million dollar prize pool is a big deal for esports.
It’s also nice to see less traditional esports bust onto the scene in such a large way to further enhance and diversify the offerings.
As a horrendous nerd, Magic has always been a fond pastime but competitions have been nearly impossible to take part in from all angles. Not only have they been hard to get to, but owning physical cards also acted as another boundary.
Add to that connecting with others who wanted to play, or even trying to watch it as a high-level competition, which could be nearly impossible.
This initiative to really bring Magic: The Gathering onto the global esports stage alongside other digital card games like Hearthstone is a big step in making it more accessible to everyone.