Wizards, Hasbro Reveal Magic: The Gathering Esports League, $10M Prize Pool
- Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro have announced the Magic Pro League, a new esports league for the 25-year-old collectible card game.
- MPL will be played primarily on Wizard’s new Magic Arena digital platform.
- The league will feature 32 top players and a prize pool increase to $10M USD for the game’s competitive scene.
This evening Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro announced at The Game Awards the creation of an esports league for Magic: The Gathering. This new league will accompany a prize pool increase to $10M across the game’s various competitive play formats, roughly doubling the amount of prize money available to players previously.
“Magic is not a new entrant into competitive gaming,” Elaine Chase, vice president of esports at Wizards of the Coast told The Esports Observer. “We’re a new entrant into esports, but we have a very proven game, we’ve got a proven fanbase, we’ve got a proven competitive structure that’s held up for 25 years. It’s got the full weight of Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro, making this a major initiative for us. We’re coming into this and we mean business, and we’re eager to make business with all of the other folks in the ecosystem.”
Magic was originally launched back in 1993 as the world’s first collectible card game, and has remained a leader in that market for 25 years. According to Wizards, the game has over 35M players to date, spread across over 70 countries. Recently, Wizards released Magic: The Gathering Arena, a digital platform for the game that has been designed in part to tackle the demands of modern online gamers, which previous digital products struggled with.
The current Magic competitive scene involves a wide variety of physical and digital events, with the most frequent being the thousands of competitions hosted in card shops around the world using physical Magic products. Top players can advance to Pro Tour events which define high-level play, and reward points that seed players into the yearly World Championship. There are also a large number of open events, with the most popular being the Grand Prixs that take place throughout the year in cities all over the world.
Digital events currently include online Pro Tour qualifiers and an online-only series leading to a digital equivalent of the World Championship, the Magic Online Championship. No details have been released on the future of these events following the launch of Wizards’ new esports league.
This new platform will provide the backbone to Magic’s new esports league, called the Magic Pro League. MPL will feature 32 of the world’s top players competing in weekly matches on Magic Arena. These matches will lead into events called Mythic Championships, where MPL pros will compete against other top players. In March, the first Mythic Championship is set to take place in Boston at PAX East, a massive gaming festival.
Details of how these new events will tie into the existing Magic competitive structure, along with how aspiring players can get into Mythic Championship, will be released early next year. While no partners or sponsors for the league have been announced, Chase said that the new competitive structure was designed to “provide lucrative opportunities for the pros, for other players, for sponsors, for esports partners.
Also notable is the fact that each participant in the MPL will receive a $75K “play and streaming” contract, adding stability for top players that can commit to the competitive structure.
Wizards is making esports a major focus as part of its larger attempt to rebrand its game as more than just the tabletop card game that it’s largely been known for over the last 25 years. This can be seen in the company’s partnership with esports giant Tencent for Magic Arena’s launch in Asia, and in new initiatives that target existing esports pros and influencers like the $1M Pro Tour 25th Anniversary and Silver Showcase, which invited several esports influencers into a high-stakes Magic tournament. Wizards has even shown a willingness to experiment with a new esports broadcast format at “Grand Prix Reid Duke,” which highlighted a single player over the course of the tournament and was well received by viewers.
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