Blake Rasmussen spent the whole episode of Weekly MTG answering questions about the upcoming to change to Magic Organized Play and Esports.
Rasmussen stressed that while professional play in regards of things like Magic Pro League contracts, appearance fees, and the “gravy train” are going away, high level events will exist in certain capacities. The equivalent of what are called Mythic Championships and MagicFests are planned to still happen, but they will not be supporting careers in pro Magic play. Rasmussen put it in the words of an associate as, “we are not going to subsidize the lifestyle of the top 200 players.”
Rasmussen said the idea of fractional invites to larger events and the chance to chain multiple event qualifications are being looked at, but nothing is set in stone as of yet. Qualifying events as well as third-party events aren’t going anywhere. He also recognized how the MPL from the start didn’t work out how it was expected and was failing in its goal. The idea of trying to tweak or adjust the current system wasn’t going to work so they’re instead opting for the clean break so that the new system isn’t dealing with baggage from the previous system. Contracts for players in the MPL and Rivals will be honored throughout the final season.
The move of removing pro play salaries, travel, and appearance fees will allow that money to go to the wider organized play system going forward. In fact, Rasmussen said that the new vision is to balance the five categories of play away from the heavy focus on professional or “elite” play. The five categories include:
- Friendly play (local game store level)
- Aspirational play (drive to play at a higher level in stuff like States)
- Elite play (higher level events similar to Grand Prix or Pro Tour)
- Festivals (things like CommandFests)
- Digital (playing on MTG Arena and Magic Online as an on-ramp for players anywhere to have access to varying levels of play).
Rasmussen mentioned that in-person play will return at the local and regional levels first. Large-scale events will still have to wait until it’s safe due those types of events requiring international travel, large groups of people indoors, and being very close to other people. They would like to be able to hold as many MagicFest-type events in as many locations as they can assuming they draw adequate attendance. The idea of rebranding events to Pro Tours and Grand Prix is on the table and being discussed.
The Magic Hall of Fame is also being looked at. Rasmussen said that the HOF is not dead, but “Paused” for the time being. He said it will come back in some fashion. When asked why players should trust WotC to rebuild organized play after previous failings, Rasmussen said that the Play Studio is under new leadership.