Magic: The Gathering, a 25-year-old trading card game that makes the headlines for its expensive cards, overhauled its competitive structure to place a bigger focus on esports with a prize pool worth $10 million.
The new Magic competitive structure will be made up of two major programs, namely the Mythic Championships and the Magic Pro League. The Mythic Championships will continue the large-scale tournaments of the trading card game, which are held either in physical venues or online, while the Magic Pro League will be made up of 32 top-ranked professional players who will compete in weekly matches on Magic: The Gathering Arena, which is the game’s newest digital version.
Wizards will distribute $10 million in prize money throughout 2019 between the two programs. Players in the Magic Pro League will also receive streaming and playing contracts worth $75,000, which according to Wizards of the Coast VP of esports Elaine Chase, also encourages them to regularly stream matches on their personal channels.
“Our investment in 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,” Chase said in a statement.
The popularity of Magic: The Gathering continues to this day, but its physical version does not stream well for online viewers to watch. The game’s primary digital offering, Magic: The Gathering Online, also hosts several tournaments, but since it was launched in 2002, it pales in comparison to today’s digital card games, especially in esports viability.
Magic: The Gathering Arena looks to bring the card game into the modern age, backed by an over two-decade-old competitive scene and supported by Wizards of the Coast owner Hasbro. While it remains to be seen if it will be able to go toe-to-toe with esports titles such as digital card game Hearthstone and the newly crowned Best Esports Game at The 2018 Game Awards, Overwatch, Magic: The Gathering Arena certainly has the potential.
The new competitive structure of Magic: The Gathering has drawn the interest of at least one former pro player.
I would like to announce that I am un retiring.
I will do my best to play some of those crazy $$$ MTG stuff next year, both paper and digital.
Got a lot of work to do. Stream starts 10am PST tomorrow. Time to git gud.
— Savjz (@Savjz) December 7, 2018
The first of the new Mythic tournaments, which will each have a prize pool of $500,000, will take place at PAX East in March 2019.