Magic: The Gathering Arena players recently received a huge announcement, which you can read about here. According to Wizards of the Coast (WotC), Magic‘s publisher, all of the game’s upcoming competitive tournaments in the 2020 Partial Season would take place over the next few months on Arena. This change was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on travel and large gatherings.
Many players qualified for the rescheduled Players Tour events responded to the announcement with criticism. The backlash is largely due to the huge reduction in prize money offered, as well as the perceived lack of information from the tournament organizers. In response, WotC delivered a follow-up to the announcement aimed at making the transition to Arena easier for qualified players.
WotC Tweeted on their Magic Esports account that they will provide competitors “fully stocked accounts for Players Tour events taking place in June.”
We will be providing fully stocked accounts for Players Tour events taking place in June.
While this will not be our policy for online events going forward, we heard your very reasonable thoughts and are working to make things easier for players.
We'll share more details soon.
— Magic Esports (@MagicEsports) May 21, 2020
The announcement noted that this is not the game’s usual policy for competitive events, but it’s a change that makes sense given the somewhat sudden transition from paper events to Arena tournaments. Now, players who are newer to Arena won’t have to spend time and resources acquiring the cards they need for their decks.
While this was certainly a welcome development for those who don’t play primarily on Arena, many competitors were critical of other aspects of the new tournament structure.
Frank Karsten, member of the Magic: The Gathering Hall of Fame and a popular content creator, noted that the total prizes offered by these new events is lower than what was previously offered by “millions of dollars.”
Total prize money to be paid out at replacement events is millions of dollars lower than total prize money originally announced for cancelled events.
Given COVID, I can imagine various reasons for this prize cut, but I'd rather not guess. Could you explain why this was done?
— Frank Karsten (@karsten_frank) May 20, 2020
Another competitor asked how these tournaments would run, given the fact that Arena lacks a robust method for running large tourneys. Previous big events like the MagicFest Online were hosted by a third party using Discord to coordinate matches and participants.
Will the events be ran entirely through the client?
Are there plans to give a longer disconnect window on arena before just straight up losing?
Will the event be open decklists?
— Jacob Nagro (@JacobNagro) May 20, 2020
While these criticisms are certainly valid given the scale of these rescheduled events, WotC did let players know that they would continue to release details about the Players Tour events as soon as they can. Moving multiple global tournaments to Magic: The Gathering Arena is a complicated process, after all, and players will surely expect more clarity in the weeks to come.