Thanks, That Was Fun: Summarizing the August 2019 MTG OP Changes | Pretty Deece

I’ve been thinking about this twitter thread[a]
a lot lately. As someone who’s spent two thirds of his
life being way too obsessed with Magic, nothing that’s happened in 2019 has really lit a
fire. For the first time in my life, it’s all
kinda just washed over me. The gameplay for the constructed formats has
been acceptable, the sets have been pretty cool, but man, I cannot pretend that a billion
Arena-native tournament series all simultaneously vying for my attention is a thing that I ever
wanted. I never traveled to enough Grand Prixs in
a year for them to be anything but really big PTQs, but now that that fact has gone
from implicit to explicit, wow is it difficult to get amped up about going to a Grand Prix,
let alone get two other people to share a hotel room for one with you. Back to that Twitter thread. That is Ben Drago. Ben is the Senior Manager of Competitive Gaming
at Wizards of the Coast. He’s telling two lapsed Magicians who suddenly
find themselves ambivalent about the game not to lose hope. Why not? It is really easy to feel like a rube when
you’re forced to wait till the middle of Q3 for the Organized Play announcements for
the following year. Nothing says “we have your best interests
at heart” like a good old-fashioned sweat, am I right? The 2020 organized play announcement hit yesterday,
and, uh… yeah. It was really hard to understand. It was dense and convoluted and unintuitive
and to make sense of it I had to hole up in a conference room and put a bunch of post-it
notes on the wall. Here’s proof. That took me probably about two hours. I figured I couldn’t be the only one who
had a tough time unpacking this, so I’ll try to explain it the best I can. So 2020’s going to start with what WotC
dubbed a “partial season.” A trial run, if you will. The Magic Pro League will exist, and it’ll
have 24 players: the top 20 players from the inaugural MPL class based on Mythic points,
and the top 4 non-MPL players, based on mythic points. In case you forgot what Mythic points were,
they were 2019’s version of Pro Points and you could only earn them at Mythic Championships. So that’ll be 24 players. To go with it, there’ll be this thing called
the Rivals League, which, uh… whatever, it doesn’t matter. The Rivals League will consist of: The bottom
12 players in the MPL, the next eight best non-MPLers for arena AND tabletop after the
four non-MPLers that got pulled into the MPL, and four discretionary (cough cough streamer
cough) invites. So that adds up to 32 players. The deal here is that the MPL is still the
MPL, but the Rivals League is meant to function pretty closely to how Gold used to. With Silver, Gold, and Platinum, you had something
to aspire to; now, you can think of Platinum as the MPL. The Rivals League is there as a way to retain
players, keeping them qualified for tournaments so that professional Magic isn’t so all-or-nothing. Thanks to the Rivals League, if you make a
run at the MPL and narrowly miss, you won’t just be banished to the shadow realm. You’ll be banished to the Rivals League. Which honestly doesn’t really sound so bad. Both groups will be under contract and will
earn five figures guaranteed, paid out in the form of event appearance fees. So let’s talk about some of the year’s
new events. The MPL Gauntlet will close out the trial
run season, probably sometime in July. It’s a 16-person tournament that will close
out each season and determine the next batch of MPLers and RLers. Okay, so the top 16 MPLers… they don’t
even need to play in this. BUT WAIT HANG ON. How do you rank MPL players? What does top 16 even mean? Uhhh… okay. So player rankings within the two leagues
are determined by three things: mythic points, which are different now, player points, which
we’ll get to, and MPL Split Play, which, God I don’t even know. Do lots of people watch that? There are so many things happening on Arena
at any given time—who has time to watch it all?! Serious question! There are so many Arena things happening all
the time that it all just kind of blends. With such few desirable gameplay options (don’t
even get me started on ‘bot drafting), all Arena streams are more or less the same, and
if seven MPL members are live at the same time, how do you even pick one to watch? That’s not a rhetorical question. I don’t know. Whatever. Mythic points and player points. These represent points that you can accrue
by playing Arena and not-Arena, respectively. We’ll start with the new definition of Mythic
Points. You can only earn Mythic Points on Arena,
and you earn them from playing in: Mythic Invitationals, Mythic Qualifiers, and Mythic
Point Challenges. You might remember Mythic Invitationals from
last year as the thing with the big prize payout and the pyrotechnics and the horrendous
format and the invites that made everyone mad online. That’s… not so much what they are anymore,
although they are still played on Arena, so maybe they’ll bring the pyrotechnics and
the cringey post-game interviews back. Who can say, right? Who can say?[b] There’ll be three Mythic Invitationals per
season. You can qualify for those one of four ways:
being in the MPL, being in the RL, via a Mythic Qualifier, or via a discretionary invite. There are two Mythic Qualifiers per Mythic
Invitational, and to play in one, you have to be one of the top 1,200 ranked constructed
or limited players at the end of a qualifying month. From there, you play a two-day qualifier tournament,
and if you make Top 16, congrats! You just qualified for the Mythic Invitational. But you can still get Mythic Points from these
tournaments, as long as you make day two. Okay, here’s the bizarre thing to me: Mythic
Points don’t do anything for you within Arena. They don’t qualify you for more tournaments,
they don’t do anything. For eleven months out of the season, they
are irrelevant, and for everyone but the Top 70 players in the world, they will remain
irrelevant. At least with Pro Points, they mattered for
end-of-year rankings but also could qualify you for a Pro Tour in the middle of a season
or potentially get you more byes at a Grand Prix. I guess my gripe is that Mythic Points feel
like they should also qualify players for Mythic Invitationals and that consistently
good players outside of the MPL and RL shouldn’t have to spike a bunch of crap in a row just
to even have a chance maybe making one of the two leagues. Staying on the “train” seems insanely
difficult now. I dunno. This is such a bummer. This whole thing is so confusing and I’m
not even halfway done. Just try to bear with me, I guess. So you can look at Mythic Invitationals as
functionally identical to the Mythic Championships that were played only on Arena. They, alongside Mythic Qualifiers and Mythic
Point Challenges, award Mythic Points that determine players’ ranks within the MPL
and RL. One more quick thing: for Mythic Point Challenges,
you qualify for them the same way you would a Mythic Qualifier, except that MPL/RL players
are automatically qualified for those and highly incentivized to play in them; since
they’re not on the outside looking in, the Mythic Points influence a lot more variables
and just have way more value. So that’s the Arena side. The non-Arena side is, um. Yeah. It’s called the Players Tour. And I say non-Arena because tabletop’s kind
of a misnomer, since you can qualify for Players Tours via Magic Online. So yeah, they’re just gonna keep that program
in purgatory for a little while longer, I suppose. Just let it keep limping along till it finds
a sinkhole and then that’ll be it. So yeah! The Players Tour. Why not just call it the Pro Tour? Whatever. Let’s, um… let’s talk Players Points,
which are kinda the non-Arena counterpart to Mythic Points. You earn Players Points through Players Tours
and Players Tour Finalses. Is that the right grammar? I have no clue. The plural on Players they insisted on using
is throwing everything off. Whatever. So Players Tours are actually Regional Players
Tours, and there are three regions: the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific. There are three Players Tours per region per
year. You can qualify for them via: Players Tour
Qualifiers, which I assume are the ones that happen at MagicFests, Wizards Play Networks
Qualifiers, which happen at local game stores, Grand Prixs, Players Tour Premier Events,
so, like, Star City Games tournaments, the Pro Tour Hall of Fame (RIP), being in the
MPL/RL, and discretionary invitation bestowed by Wizards of the Coast. You can also chain invites together by achieving
a certain record in the previous Players Tour, or if you qualified for the previous Players
Tour Finals. Regional Players Tours are pretty similar
to Pro Tours, but Players Tour Finalses are a little more exclusive, coming in at about
120 players, as opposed to the 250-500 players range for the Regional Players Tours. There are four ways to qualify for a Players
Tour Finals: be a top finisher in a corresponding RPT, which is based on record and not place
finished, be a top finisher from the previous PTF, which, again, is based on record and
nothing else, win a Grand Prix within the qualifying season, or be in the MPL. So RPTs feed PTFs, but there’s nothing in
any of the articles that states the cadence of the events. So we’re left to speculate wildly! I assume that Players Tour Finals happen after
Regional Players Tours, which all happen on the same weekend or very close to it. I’ll demonstrate this by putting it all
on a timeline. So here’s when the real deal season one
starts, in August 2020. And the other end is when it ends. And they didn’t say when it ends, so, screw
it, we’ll just say it ends in July. I dunno. Who cares? So within this season, you’ve got these
three qualifier seasons, and inside each of those, you’ve got all this crap. It’s like nesting dolls for people with
addictive personalities. So yeah, you’ve got the Players Tours and
the Players Tour Finalses, and then you’ve got some GPs and some qualifiers at your LGS,
and all the nonsense on MODO that’s probably gonna crash when you’re 7-0, and then you’ve
got the SCGs, and who knows if they’ll award invites at Opens or Invitationals or what
but let’s just assume Opens because that would be the best timeline and God knows we
all need that, and now this thing’s looking pretty crowded, right? But wait, you forgot the Arena stuff, which
looks pretty damn similar: three qualifier seasons, two qualifiers per season, a smattering
of MPCs, and holy moly. That is… that is a lot. That is a ton of Wizard Squares. If you’re like me and you thought the choice
overload was bad when trying to decide what to watch on Twitch on a Tuesday night, wait
till you’re trying to figure out which competitive Magic path makes the most sense for you.[c] Before wrapping up here, two quick things. First one: just like Mythic Points, Players
Points don’t do anything if you’re on the outside looking in. They might get you noticed, but until the
season’s done, you’re just accruing numbers in the hopes that they will do something. Which is not totally different than it was
before, but at least Pro Points gained got you something in the middle of season, whether
it was appearance fees or byes or a qualification, whatever. It was a good thing. It made sense. I’m fine with Organized Play not wanting
to mix Mythic Points and Players Points and I think that’s a sound plan, but playing
your ass off just to earn these things that are literally useless for eleven months is
going to drive players nuts, especially ones on the outside of the MPL/RL looking in. So yeah, those are the way player ranks are
determined! What a fun detour! Where even were we? The MPL Gauntlet? Sure! Let’s head back to that. The MPL Gauntlet is a tournament that will
close out every year-long season, and it’ll also close out the trial run season that starts
in January. So here’s what happens when the MPL Gauntlet
starts, and it’s a lot of stuff that happens: First, the bottom four MPLers go straight
to next year’s Rivals League. Do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Next, the Top 16 MPLers, based on the three
point criteria we already went over, go straight to next year’s MPL roster. They don’t even need to suit up. Also, the top two RL players in both Mythic
Points and Players Points go straight to the MPL. So that’s 20 of the next year’s MPL players
accounted for. The MPL Gauntlet serves to determine the remaining
four. So the MPLers ranked 17th through 20th play
in the Gauntlet, as well as the 3rd-8th placed Rivals players for both Mythic Points and
Players Points. So four MPLers plus 12 RLers make up the Gauntlet. We don’t know what the tournament format’s
gonna be yet, but yeah, a handful of MPLers and RLers get to fight in the coliseum every
year for our amusement. The top 4 competitors go to the MPL, and the
rest go to the RL, along with the bottom four MPLers, the top 12 non-MPL Mythic and Players
Points earners, and 6 discretionary invites. So the MPL and the RL account for 70 players
in total. The dream of being able to sustain Magic as
a career is now attainable for that many more people. But 70 still doesn’t feel like very much,
and it doesn’t scale to accommodate more players like Pro Points did. This system feels unpleasantly zero-sum, which
I suppose is what it’s supposed to do because casuals don’t like seeing pros scoop to
other pros because only one of them needs the pro points or whatever. Be that as it may, that MPL Gauntlet seems
mighty unpleasant to play in, and if that tournament structure isn’t very thoughtful,
I could see it turning more than one of its participants off of competitive Magic forever. Pretty Deece is mostly predicated on the fact
that Magic: the Gathering is ginormous. It’s really big. That’s Magic’s advantage, and why it’s
one of the most enduring games since the Industrial Revolution, despite its exhaustively comprehensive
rules engine.[d] Like, the fact that Magic’s so complicated should really do a better job
at keeping the game from growing, but it doesn’t. A lot of the game’s strengths come disguised
as drawbacks. If you think Magic doesn’t translate well
to digital play because of its depth, you’re not wrong, but it’s also that depth that
makes it so sticky for its players. You’ll never pick up a video game that straight-up
doesn’t work 28% of the time, but Magic persists despite mana screw because in a world
where user experience is optimized and streamlined to an unsettling degree, Magic is able to
stand out as a unique experience that does not care about you. And that’s thrilling! Magic carries a quarter-century of design
mistakes and blunders and you know what? Some of them are super fun! Comboing off with a storm deck, winning on
the first turn with a Channel, or a Tinker, or whatever… is sweet, and there are formats
built around trying to do just that. It is really hard to be optimistic about these
Organized Play changes. Last year, they killed the Pro Tour brand,
one that had been a Magic mainstay since 1995, in favor of Mythic Championships. And now those are dead too. But unlike Mythic Championships, there are
no longer any analogues to the Pro Tours of old. The closest thing to Pro Tours that exists
going forward is probably the Players Tours, and even those are a bad comparison because
the idea of a regional Pro Tour is ludicrous. It’s a Pro Tour—the travel, awful and
prohibitive as it sometimes was, was a key part of its identity. But that’s a pretty privileged position,
I’ll admit. You might have noticed there was no mention
of the Hall of Fame yesterday. I’m not saying the Hall of Fame as it existed
was perfect or even sustainable, but not treating the game’s history as expendable when it’s
such a huge contributor to its success feels like such a punt. The plan to have Arena and tabletop exist
alongside each other is sound, even if it is a little complicated and overwrought, but…
man, I don’t feel like it needs to come at the expense of the game’s past. I dunno. Maybe it needed to change… again. I dunno. Organized Play’s branding and approach has
changed wildly two years in a row, and it’s impossible to discern what their metrics of
success are. Like, what are they looking at? What’s going to keep it from becoming three
years in a row? I dunno. I guess we’ll see. Okay, so real quick before we go, if you enjoyed
this video, engage with it in as many ways as you can because we’re all just gaming
YouTube at this point, right? But if you have to pick one thing to do to
show that you like videos about Mercadian Masques or Standard formats from the 90s or
whatever, click the top link in the description. It’ll take you to, and if
you buy cards from that link, we get credit for the sale. Like, people in the company can see that people
followed the link to buy cards and they can go “oh wow, we really need Jon to make more
videos about Phyrexian mana” or whatever. By the way, did you see that Phyrexian mana
commander? Crick or whatever it’s called? That card is so dumb—I can’t believe they
made it. Whatever. Anyway, click the link, buy cards, you were
gonna buy cards anyway, TCGplayer has the best prices on the internet, it’s a no-brainer. Thank you so much for watching, and I will
see you next time. [a]
[b]use for b-roll
[c]the timeline. i can do a mockup if you like
[d]could use clips from other deeces as b-roll here

About the author


  1. That is just a bunch of name that make no sense at all, is so complicated, why would does this? The "mythic ______" is just a dumb and cringy "gamer" thing.
    Want to be a pro mtg player? Just became a famous streamer, is the easier and the only understandable way

  2. 12:58 you said top 2 RL and MPL players but the graphic says top 4, does that mean top 2 RL and top 2 MPL, 4 total, or was that a typo.

  3. I started to watch this video for the factual explanation of OP would work in the future. I could not finish it due to the poor attitude of the host, which completely turned me off to it all. I don't think these changes will fix everything, but I think it's a step forward.

  4. dang man, because of your pretty deece series, everytime I hear your voice, I just get locked in, ready to learn.

  5. Tbh, I don't care for Arena games as broadcast series. I have always and will always prefer tabletop mtg for both playing mtg and watching it. If I had to boil it down to one thing over another, I care more about modern and eternal formats than standard. The only time I watch standard is around a year or so after the events because I look for new strategies with older cards for brewing that people haven't used yet. I don't really get excited over standard anymore, not since Khans of Tarkir. Throne of Eldraine looks great, but I probably still won't compete in it. Now that I see what WOTC is doing to standard players, I want even less to do with it. This just looks like an aneurism waiting to happen.

  6. I tried to watch this, after 9 minutes of complaining and not really working to make it clear, I became really disappointed that TCGPlayer thought this was a good idea. Plenty of crying on the Internet, didn't need it for the marketplace saying "buy cards for this terrible product."

  7. I’m so tired of the Magic Community being so Toxic against the Streaming community. Whats so bad about inviting streamers to compete, if they’re good then it raises awareness for Competitive Magic and proves they belonged there, if they wash out then it didnt really matter, they didnt take a slot away from a tournament grinder cause they didnt win in the first place. It makes me feel like the majority of players are so apposed to change they would rather magic grind to a dead halt then so innovation

  8. Don't try and do something else while you are watching this video. You'll learn nothing and have to watch again. Also, I dunno wtf happened, but I went to sleep a few months ago, woke up, and suddenly everyone I knew used the word "cadence".

  9. I'm glad somebody was willing to stand up and say there's a problem with this new announcement. So many people have acted like this was a big improvement, but really the Pro Tour is actually dead.

    Last year they had no clue what they were doing, this year they created a mess which only helps Arena…is that sustainable?
    Arena is not getting more popular. It can sustain a certain amount of decrease, but this isn't positive right now.
    Meanwhile, Arena has helped the paper game get more eyeballs, and this new system does nothing to draw them into paper.

  10. I'll try to remember to use that link for my next order. This is probably my favorite YouTube series about Magic, followed by Spice8Rack. I look forward to whenever you hit th Kamigawa/ Ravnica standard retrospective.

  11. Wizards is experiencing an all time high in player interaction and rather than cultivating the long term player base they are cash grabbing and throwing garbage against the wall in an effort to increase views and short term revenue. It's pretty painful.

  12. Seriously the best description of the game and why we all love to put up with the complexity and design mistakes at 14:30. Such an insightful series.

  13. As a grinder my main issue with op in the last years has been a lack of events. This is a godsend to us mid-level grinders.

  14. Why not call it the pro TOUR!??? because that makes it seem these people could make a living playing magic. wotc is just trying to be more…. transparent


    I still feel incredibly lost even after the full explanation. I'm going to go order my Cream of the Crop for my Ayula deck off the link, though!

  16. Unpopular Opinion.

    If you’re not an aspiring pro then stop complaining about the system for a while until wizards figure out how to incorporate Arena into the pro scene.

  17. it's not that complicated… it's a large program and there is a lot going on, but it's not complicated. just a lot of moving parts. if it was more simple, everyone would complain about that. This gives opportunities and might allow some pretty intesne game play for fans with matches that actually matter. It's worth seeing how it works, but it's cool to complain about it. It might suck, but it might work.

  18. While I agree this sounds confusing and i appreciate your work, your gaphivs were kinda terrible. You had graphics for topics goes directly down and then so the right instead of continuing down. You only had square bars but no lines or indicators connecting them. There was color coordination but no indication if that was reagent or an explanation of it.

    Aside from graphics it seemed as though your frustration was getting in your way of explaining, which is reasonable but not helpful.

  19. Wizards hasn't known what the hell it wants to do now for years.. Changing things so quickly that they can't even meaningfully measure the data because they haven't really let anything be for what feels like more than a year..

  20. Just wanted to point out: at 14:33, apparenly the frequency of your pbpbpbpbpb is nearly an exact multiple of the camera framerate, and looks really silly. That is all.
    (Also, here's hoping for more p-deece in the future!)

  21. These videos by Jon, the whole Pretty Deece series is absolutely my favourite magic content out.
    I will definitely use TCG player to showy support for what you guys are doing, keep up the great work, look forward to the next one and more breakdowns of OP's convoluted announcements

  22. It's like watching European football, with winning tournaments that qualify you for other tournaments relegations and promotions from two separate leagues it's all a bit convoluted like you say you're 100% right

    Also I dont think that mono black commander will be banned, hes from a precon and wotc wouldn't want that on their face again especially due to the fact its phyrexian mana again. Alright it doesn't mess with the colour pie but damn is it powerful

  23. Why they are doing this? It ties into their newfound progressive politics, they are now like bioware, despite outward success, they are internally in freefall.

  24. Just found your pretty deece series about a month ago and have gone through them and they all are a fun and interesting watch. I am hopeful that after some time with the new format WoTC will figure out a more streamlined variant that still includes the best parts of Magic's past. Keep up the work you do, your content is great and if anyone else hasn't seen the Profs new video at tolerian community college, I highly recommend it. When WoTC is struggling, content creators tend to step up their game and pick up their slack. I hope some discretionary invites could go to these people instead of just high value streamers as could likely be the case.

  25. This should be more factual and less biased. First you just give me the facts and let me create my own opinion. Then you put your opinion and we can discuss. Really bad video, I am unsubscribing right now.

  26. Grabs casual deck and head back to the house. Dreams dashed before they even had a chance of developing thx WOTC.

  27. Their system sounds like an awful version of the Korean GSL, which was a StarCraft 2 Pro League that had 3 Classes (Code S, A, and B).

  28. I have watched this twice and am more confused – how stupid convoluted does wotc need to make this? The game itself should have possibilites within possibilites, thats why mtg is awesome. But the ranking and tournament system gets NO value from all this convolution. Lookup KISS method and send the link to whoever drew this from their dreams at wotc.

  29. we all know we'll understand this convoluted bullshit perfectly by the first quarter of 2020. we're magic players for chrissakes.

  30. Seems pretty simple if your an MPL player, you just do whatever you want. For anyone else on the outside looking in, it is just one big mess of "all-inclusivity" with no where that is a defined start.

  31. I've been in and out of magic for the last 8 years or so, but I have to say that Jon's explanations and overtures make the essence of the game more enjoyable to view and experience. Thank you TCGPlayer and Jon Corpora for making Pretty Deece, it helps me stay in the game and feel like a member of the community. <3

  32. As someone who keeps horrible hours where if I wanted to maintain my sleep schedule and actually compete in paper events, I'd have to fly to the other side of the planet, I love these changes so far. It all seems geared to make magic more accessible.

    It'll have to be convoluted to fit the time schedule and means of access of a global audience and while some people may get nostalgic over having to travel to events and 'oh man what a great bonding experience with my buddies', the only thing I remember about those events is seeing that they were happening and not being able to attend any of them ever.

  33. I'm pretty sure arena is just the future of competitive magic. Pros: no more cheating, no more missplays/accidental cheating! Cons: no more modern?

  34. Gotta say not having magic be limited to all the normal esports kinda sponsorships everywhere and crazy hype and pyrotechnics made it feel a little more special to me. It felt more like golf than Dota and I liked it. Not important just how I feel.

  35. I'm pretty happy with Magic Arena being where most of the competition happens. I could never afford standard decks IRL, but I have a decent competitive deck on Magic Arena for the cost of nothing. If you play enough, you can acquire the wildcards you need to construct a new competitive standard deck every 4 or 5 months without even needing to lay down hard-earned cash.

  36. These changes are the opposite of deece. This series is the only reason I'm subbed to TCGPlayer and this video doesn't seem to fit.

  37. Wizards of the coast: we're just trying to make as much money before this thing collapses

    Who the f*ck watches pro players?

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