The Game Awards brought around quite a few interesting developments. But one thing definitely caught the eyes of observes – Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro announced a new $10-million competitive format for Magic: The Gathering, a league.
Esports and Digital Card Games
Card games are taking the world by a storm. With Hearthstone’s global success commanding it impressive revenue to Valve’s newly-fledged Artifact – esports is expanding its definition to include TCGs. And now, The Game Awards evening came with yet another announcement, with Wizards of the Coast and Hasbro revealing a new global league worth that will pit 32 players against each other and leave them compete for the truly big money worth $10 million.
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) December 7, 2018
This move will double the existing prizing money that has gone in supporting competitive Magic: The Gathering. The decision also coincides with Hearthstone’s newly-announced plans to rev up their own prize pool to $4 million in the 2018/2019 competitive season.
According to Wizards of the Coast Vice President of Esports Elaine Chase card games are still a new idea when related to esports and while the company itself is young in these matters, everyone is quite determined to push Magic: The Gathering as a competitive title.
Mr. Chase spoke to The Esports Observer, a respected game media focusing on breaking the latest business news.
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. – Elaine Chase
He continued by explaining that the company “meant business” and it was preparing to engage with all people across the ecosystem in order to drive the best results out of the initiative.
A Brief History of Magic
Magic is one of the defining games in the genre, with the title launching back in 1993 and remaining the top TCG title over the past two decades and a half. With the release of Magic: The Gathering Arena, Wizards signaled their readiness to break into the echelons of the esports community.
Even if you haven’t heard about it, the Magic community is well-developed, not only on a fandom level, but also as a competitive ecosystem. The game comes with delightful mix of on-site and Internet tournaments, with players progressing throughout a Pro Tour to qualify. The existing competitive format includes a sort of a “Magic World Championship”, but the format could undergo specific changes as per the newly-announced league.
The so-called Magic Pro League (MPL) will feature 32 players and it will be played on the Arena platform. Details about the specific format of the League haven’t been revealed just yet, leaving a lot of speculation swirling around.
Nevertheless, the League will definitely have a strong gravitational pull already having sent strong ripples across the community. One notable addition to the competitive format is that Wizards will endorse gamers further, offering them $75,000 contract for streaming and playing, which is a sort of a salary allowing contestants to support themselves without having to struggle with the financial end of things.