I have to admit, sometimes I forget that the MOCS even exists. For those of you who may not be familiar, the Magic Online Championship Series, or MOCS for short, is Wizards of the Coast’s digital tournament series. Basically you compete on Magic the Gathering Online, MTGO for short, and earn qualifier points for tournaments that can get you to the Pro Tour and win lots of prize money.

It’s important to note what an accomplishment it is for the 2017 MOCS to exist in the capacity that it does. We really aren’t that far removed from MTGO being taken completely offline because these events weren’t being managed in a satisfactory manner. The 2016 season was certainly a successful one for the MOCS (even if I forgot all about it) but 2017 is shaping up to be even better.

Last week, Lee Sharpe took to Daily MTG to lay out next year’s tournament circuit. There are a handful of improvements being made including more qualifier events, changes to pro-level benefits, a bigger prize pool and more. The new season begins after downtime on September 28th. That’s this week! Your quest for Pro Tour glory could begin in just a few short days!

So how does this all work anyways? It’s not the clearest picture because there are a lot of different paths players can take to get to each rung of competition. The easiest thing to do is start at the top and work our way down the ladder. At the top of this tournament series are a few major marquee events:

  • The Pro Tour Challenge (at each Pro Tour)
  • The 2017 Magic Online Championship

These are both invitation-only events. The Pro Tour Challenge is open to players who finish first in a MTGO PTQ, finish first in an MOCS Open Event, or finish in the top two of an MOCS Playoff event. The first two, MTGO PTQ and MOCS Open, are both non-invitation events. You just show up online and play Magic for many, many hours and pray to walk away with an invite. PTQ’s occur fairly regularly on MTGO but the MOCS Open Events will only take place twice for each Pro Tour.

The MOCS Playoff events are a different type of event as they require an invitation to enter. Those invitations are given out to anyone who finishes with six or more wins in an MOCS Monthly event. The MOCS Playoffs occur once for each Pro Tour. The MOCS Monthly events, as the name implies, occur monthly. Actually they occur twice a month, as you get one opportunity to play limited and one to play constructed though you obviously don’t have to do both.

So how do you get into the MOCS Monthly events? You have to earn qualifier points either by being in a Pro Player club or by doing reasonably well in other MTGO events listed here. That’s it. Simple enough right? Wait, wait I forgot to explain how to get into the 2017 Magic Online Championship. That event has 24 invitations which go to:

  • The defending Magic Online Champion
  • The top-two finishers of each MOCS Playoff (8 total)
  • The winner of each MOCS Open Event (8 total)
  • The top members of the MOCS Leaderboard not already invited

Sorry, I know, that last one came out of nowhere. If you play in MOCS events (Playoffs and Monthlies, not Opens) then you can earn leaderboard points and qualify for the championship that way. It’s a way to award people who do consistently well in these events without ever finishing at the very top.

So now that you know how to get there the question remains: should you?

From a technical standpoint there isn’t as much to worry about with MTGO as there used to be. Even though the interface itself leaves a lot to be desired the game no longer crashes constantly the way it did a few years back. You still can’t play it on a non-Windows computer and you certainly can’t play it on mobile devices. So if you enjoy being tethered to your laptop or desktop for hours while playing Magic then there’s no technical barrier to your entry into the MOCS.

If you’re not a member of a Pro Player club, then picking up 35 qualifier points can be daunting. You only have to do it once to get on the path but if you don’t make it through that first MOCS Monthly you’ll need to find another 35 points. Let’s say you’re a pretty good drafter and you can consistently finish first or second in 8-4 draft queues. If you finish in first 50% of the time and in second 50% of the time you’ll need to draft 24 times to earn enough points for a monthly event. If you consistently finish well in constructed leagues, say five wins 50% of the time and four wins 50% of the time, you’ll need to play in 18 leagues to earn enough qualifier points.

I’m not saying don’t do it, but you should know what you’re getting into. If you already play that much every month or you think it’s a commitment you’re interested in taking on for yourself, then go for it! But what if you don’t play that much? I think it’s worth looking at this circuit in three-month spans. If you draft twice a week, for example, and you finish as well as mentioned above, then you’ll qualify for one Monthly event every three months or so. That’s not so bad. For league play in constructed it would take you about four months playing once/week to qualify.

That’s not awful and if you want to play on the Pro Tour you should probably plan for that level of commitment anyways which actually makes the MOCS a pretty great deal. You were already going to play on MTGO quite frequently, might as well work your way down another path to the Pro Tour while you’re at it.

As I said earlier, there are a lot of changes from 2016 to 2017 but the important thing for you to know is that they all make it easier to get onto the MOCS path and get to the Pro Tour. That’s good news. More importantly is that there’s a path for Magic players who may not have the ability to attend in-person tournaments on a regular basis for whatever reason. Magic Online isn’t just a way for the pros to prepare for tournaments but it’s also the only way to legitimately play for people who can’t get to stores for events.

So if you’re already playing MTGO regularly, even if it’s just once a week, make sure you check out the MOCS and don’t miss out on what could be your ticket to the Pro Tour.

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