Magic: the Gathering has gone through some huge changes in 2019. They’ve become a full fledged eSport. It has seen massive spikes in the amount of money being put into the game. Most importantly, the player base has seen an upward trajectory through a series of horrible design mistakes. If 2019 was the year of eSports for Magic, it was also the year of terrible design on the part of Wizards of the Coast. In the competitive formats for Magic, there have been 14 cards from 2019 banned or restricted. That’s not the total number of cards for the year. That’s just from cards made in 2019. So for their most important tournament of the year, Wizards of the Coast needed to knock it out of the park for the formats. They didn’t.

Why Is It A Problem?

This is an issue for a multitude of reasons. Let’s go through them.

  1. Worlds is supposed to feel special by putting pressure on the players for multiple formats. In the past we’ve had: modern, standard, limited as a Worlds format. Now with this change to Arena, they’ll have to either draft outside of the computers and then put the decks onto Arena, or just not have draft at all. What does that separate Worlds from the last Arena Mythic Championship then? I know all of these 16 players weren’t invited to that tournament (Justice for Eli 2019). That’s about it.
  2. It doesn’t assuage the concerns for paper competitive Magic. Making their most important tournament of the year, Arena only, sure doesn’t help those people that think their pioneer and modern collections are going to be worthless (Legacy and Vintage players are safe in their ivory towers of 1K and Play for Dual tournaments). Not putting a spotlight on the other formats of Magic makes those players feel even less comfortable. I could be Chicken Little running around screaming, “the sky is falling” here, but it could be a sign of things to come.

Maybe It’s Not That Big Of An Issue

After some thought on the issue, I still don’t agree with the decision. What I can see is that it’s Wizards of the Coast promoting their online client and a brand new standard format with the release of Theros: Beyond Death. I don’t like that it’s only going to be the normal PT format of standard-limited. But it definitely doesn’t mean that Magic is dying. Wizards of the Coast would be stupid to cut off more than 50% of their business by killing the paper game.

The only person you should be rooting for at Worlds.

I’ve skipped watching the previous Arena only Mythic Championships because the standard formats were atrocious. That’s on Wizards of the Coast to design cards better or to replace members of their design team. This tournament is going to be sixteen of the best players in the world competing at the highest level. I’ll be rooting for Eli Loveman the entire time, so tune in this February for Magic: the Gathering’s World Championships.