Blake Rasmussen and Steve Sunu brought Bear Watson and Ben Drago onto today’s episode of Weekly MTG to answer questions regarding the update to the 2020-2021 Magic Esports Season.
The group went over some of the information from the 2020-2021 Magic Esports update and the future of the Magic Pro League and Rivals that was announced on Tuesday before diving into the questions. They also plugged the Players Tour Finals happening next weekend and the second Arena Open on August 1-2.
Watson started things off by discussing how the team arrived on the structure of MPL and Rivals, as well as the path for challengers. Players looking to go pro can aim for Rivals with the MPL being an extra reward for a great year. While there is heavy churn from the MPL to Rivals, consistent players can maintain status in one of the two leagues with consistent play.
While there are limited opportunities for competitive play, the path to Rivals is clear for new players. By reaching top 1,200 in Mythic on Arena during a month from June to August, a player can participate in the Zendikar Rising Qualifier Weekend event. With a strong performance in that, they can chain another strong finish at the Zendikar Rising Championship for a shot a Rivals. With each upcoming set having a similar schedule, players can set goals to strive for the Rivals league with clear benchmarks.
For Magic Online players, they can qualify for the set championship by winning a Super Qualifier in any of the supported formats. If those winners don’t play on Arena, they will be provided a stocked Arena account for the Zendikar Rising Championship event. Watson noted that while the current system isn’t perfect, it is a half step to reaching their long-term goals and that this isn’t what the system will look like long-term after the re-introduction of tabletop play.
Watson also addressed the difficulties in cultivating a system for a game as old as Magic where they need to appeal to new players and enfranchised players. They have to balance online play with the history of expected tabletop play while goalposts are constantly moving with changes to esports. He said the team will re-examine things in a post-COVID world, when they get there.
Drago covered how his team did their best to wrap up this year’s Players Tour and did their best to satisfy players who earned invitations in tabletop play. They are aware of players who were unfairly affected after COVID-19 and are keeping them in mind as they look for ways to make good as competitive play shifted to online.
Drago also addressed Limited players concerns for their lack of competitive vents, particularly on Arena. He said Limited events on Arena are very important to the team and they want to support them as soon as possible when they have the technology ready to run competitive Limited events on the program. While talking about Limited, Drago also answered why the current system isn’t called the Pro Tour, mentioning that the current events are championship level events, but they don’t fit the legacy of the old Pro Tour. He said they don’t need the name of the Pro Tour for the events to still be opportunities to play at the highest level.
They wrapped things up by confirming that the Players Tour Grand Finals will still be happening and that they hope to have a date for the event soon. They are also still working on how to execute the Magic Online Championship, but have nothing to announce at this time.