What’s good, Spirit Squad!

Today we’re going to talk about the recent developments surrounding Magic: the Gathering Online (MTGO) in particular. For anyone who didn’t already know, Daybreak Games has taken over MTGO and has been making efforts to push the platform to new heights. The last month or so has held some especially key moments that lead me to believe that Daybreak getting its hands on MTGO might have been the best possible scenario for the platform!

There have been quite a few quality-of-life changes that have happened since the takeover, but three points in particular give me massive amounts of hope for MTGO’s future:

  • Weekday Challenge events,
  • a MTGO-specific content creator program, and
  • Commander Leagues

Dre, what in the world is a Challenge event?

Challenge events are scheduled weekly events that have much bigger-than-normal prize potential than events like 5-match Leagues or even your local game store’s Friday Night Magic event (but please spend coins at your local game store, they need us!). There are challenges for each of Standard, Pioneer, Modern, Legacy, Vintage, and even Pauper, and this is where you can expect to face off against a lot of the world’s best players and deck specialists.

I am not exaggerating when I say the following: I honestly believe I am much more likely to make Day 2 a large event like a Star City Open or outright win a Regional Championship Qualifier tournament than I am to make Top 8 of a MTGO challenge event. If you want to level up your game, then MTGO is absolutely the place to be.

Challenge events used to be held only on Saturdays and Sundays, so they’ve always been a thing. The change here is that Challenges have been added to every day of the week (except Tuesday…), so now players who either want to take more time playing high-level Magic, want to take their chances at winning tournaments more often, or simply have to work weekends and couldn’t play in Challenge events previously all have much more opportunity ahead of themselves!

…and speaking of opportunity:

This is where we talk about the MTGO Content Creator program.

This one’s a relatively quick bullet point, but the folks at Daybreak Games have decided to bless a few content creators with accounts that give them access to whatever cards they may need for online play. This program is going to help ensure that the loudest voices in the Magic: the Gathering community have the ability to show off their own deck brewing and playing prowess as a whole, but this also paints MTGO in a positive light to thousands of potential new players (read: customers).

The other big reason a content creator program is going to be good for MTGO is that they’re going to be the way most would-be players end up finding out about any big-deal changes that may help more players change from casual to competitive, or at least more involved than they were previously. For example, Daybreak just announced that the basic MTGO account that everyone pays $4.99 for will now include 5,000 or so cards to brew with AND pre-constructed deck for MTGO’s biggest formats:

  • Pauper Delver of Secrets tempo
  • Pioneer Mono-White Humans aggro
  • Modern Infect
  • Legacy Burn
  • Commander Braids, Arisen Nightmare

It’s not lost on me that I, a content creator, am the one bringing you news of this. Have your fun.

On to the most exciting announcement!

One of the “jokes” I’ve made for a long time is that, if you want to limit-test a game, put it in the hands of competitive Magic: the Gathering players. We are cutthroat and unapologetic about it. Heck, I’m probably one of the friendliest tryhard players out there and I called for a judge at an Uno tournament once.

(I also won that tournament.)

So what’s happening is that MTGO is, for the first time, going to have Commander Leagues! In 60-card formats, a League is a 5-match tournament that gives you prizes based on your record, and you can play a match whenever you want. That would take an ungodly amount of time in Commander-land, so their solution is to have 4-person Commander pods (just like paper Magic), but it’s winner-takes-all. This puts Commander in a unique position in that, for the first time, the hyper-competitive MTGO players who would normally choose to not interact with Commander much, if at all, have a tangible reason to invest in the format.

  • cEDH, or Competitive Elder Dragon Highlander, is about to be ALL over the Internet. Make no mistake, Commander is already by far the most-played format in Magic, and introducing a new source of competitive play is going to affect the game. Expect lots of discourse on your Discord server or comments section of choice soon!
  • MTGO making Commander into a “real competitive format” means that you should expect to see news of more and more cEDH tournaments attached to IRL play. If you want to be a part of that at your local gaming store, it’s probably time to un-proxy that deck!
  • Related to the point above: not that I’m a financial-advice guy by ANY stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of cEDH staples skyrocketed by the time the year’s over. I’d also not be surprised if Wizards of the Coast released a set of Commander decks that are more expensive but more competitive than we’ve previously seen within the year.

All of these will end up being major relevant points to both MTGO players and competitive players who aren’t on MTGO, but I’m very much looking forward to the future of both MTGO and Magic: the Gathering as a whole. I hope to see some of y’all in the MTGO queues, and for everyone else I’ll see y’all on the next one!

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