Rivals of Ixalan is here! The prerelease has now come and gone, by the time you’re reading this the set is likely live on MTGO, and the slate of competitive Magic featuring the latest expansion is now spread out before us. So what is the Rivals of Ixalan competitive season anyways? This is the period of time between the Rivals of Ixalan release (Jan 19) and the Dominaria prerelease (Apr 21) when Rivals of Ixalan will be the latest set for all competitive events.

More specifically, we’re looking ahead at 14 Grand Prix events, two RPTQ weekends, one Magic Online Championship, and of course, Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan itself. To get ready, lets take a quick look at these 18 events which will be the main focus of the Magic community for the next three months (until we get some Dominaria previews at least)!

January 19 – Grand Prix Indianapolis

  • Format: Team Limited
  • Venue: Indianapolis Convention Center, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA
  • Past Champions: Andrew Cuneo (2017), Brandon Burton (2016), Brent Clawson (2015), Ben Stark (2013), Tom Martell (2012), Jelger Wiegersma (2008), Eric Jordan (1998)

The season gets underway with one of the most popular competitive formats in the world: team limited. Teams of three players open eight packs of Rivals of Ixalan and four packs of Ixalan and then get to work building three sealed decks to compete with on day one. You have eight rounds of competition in which to secure six victories to return to build a new pool of decks on Sunday and play another six rounds. The top four teams will pair off for two drafts to determine the champion.

This is the eighth(!) Grand Prix held in Indianapolis, a city very closely tied to gaming culture thanks to Gen Con. However, this is the first team Grand Prix ever held in the city and should be an exciting one as we introduce a brand new format. The list of past champions to hoist the trophy in Indianapolis is an impressive one and makes you wonder which team may be in line to win it all.

January 26 – Grand Prix London

  • Format: Limited
  • Venue: ExCel London, London, United Kingdom
  • Past Champions: Marcio Carvalho (2016), Fabrizio Anteri (2015), Timothee Simonot (2013), Daniel Royde (2011), Diego Ostrovich (2003), Kai Budde (2001), Michael Sochon (1997)

Expect many of the pros to be in town for this event en route to Spain ahead of the Pro Tour. London will be our first look at high-level Rivals of Ixalan limited individual competition and it should be an exciting event. Also, this is the first of three cities we’ll travel to this season where Kai Budde has won a Grand Prix in the past!

January 26 – Grand Prix Houston

  • Format: Limited
  • Venue: George R. Brown Convention Center, Houston, Texas, USA
  • Past Champions: Owen Turtenwald (2016), Shahar Shenhar (@013), Adam Yurchick (2010), Josh Smith (2002)

Players who don’t make their way to London ahead of the Pro Tour may very well be playing in Houston which runs the same weekend. For those of you who love to watch tournament coverage on Twitch, you’ll want to take note that London, not Houston, will be getting live video coverage this weekend, so plan accordingly.

February 2 – Pro Tour Rivals of Ixalan

  • Format: Modern / Limited
  • Venue: Bilbao Exhibition Centre, Bilbao, Spain

You only have a few weeks to wait before the marquee event of the season gets underway in Spain. Will I be waking up at 3am to watch coverage here in New York? Maybe, but that could be because it’s when my newborn likes to eat her post-midnight snack! Regardless, you should be tuning in for the first Modern Pro Tour in two years, since Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch in Atlanta in February of 2016, which many will remember for being completely dominated by Eldrazi.

Since then Eye of Ugin, Gitaxian Probe, and Golgari Grave-Troll have been banned (or banned again in the case of Grave-Troll) while Ancestral Vision and Sword of the Meek were unbanned.

Many articles have come out in the past few months about how amazing Modern is as a format, but the scrutiny of the spotlight of high-level competitive play has been problematic for the format before. Is Modern safe this time or will we be banning more cards once the dust settles in Bilbao?

February 9 – Grand Prix Toronto

  • Format: Modern
  • Venue: Enercare Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Past Champions: Robert Anderson (2017), Robert Lombardi (2016), Lucas Siow (2015), Ari Lax (2013), Willy Edel (2012), Jon Smithers (2010), Antonino DeRosa (2006), Brian Kibler (1997)

This season will be dominated by Modern competition, obviously beginning with the Pro Tour and then continuing with a return to Toronto for the first of two Grand Prix tournaments in 2018. Will the Pro Tour reshape the metagame or will we all be wondering why the new “fixed” Blood Moon makes ‘Tron decks even better? Time will tell!

February 16 – Grand Prix Lyon

  • Format: Modern
  • Venue: Eurexpo Lyon, Chassieu, France
  • Past Champions: Thomas Enevoldsen / Christoffer Larsen / Michael Bonde (2017), Damien Bouillot (2015), Jeremy Dezani (2012), Florian Koch (2010), Yann Hamon (2003), Raphael Levy (1998)

It’s back-to-back weekends of Modern competition and, by the way, both Lyon and Toronto will be featured on live coverage on Twitch. So make sure you get yourself a front-row seat to three straight weekends of Modern on-camera all weekend long. By the end of it you’ll either be Googling where your closest Modern tournaments are or you’ll be ready to bite the head off of the next person who writes an article about how much fun Modern is!

February 23 – Grand Prix Memphis

  • Format: Standard
  • Venue: Memphis Cook Convention Center, Memphis, Tennessee, USA
  • Past Champions: Jack Fogle (2015), Michael Pustilnik (1999)

Finally, 37 days after the release of Rivals of Ixalan, we’ll get our first look at the Standard metagame on the big stage. Up until Memphis, the format will be largely defined by SCG events and the Magic Online environment, but once the Grand Prix rolls through town it could be a new ballgame.

March 2 – 2017 Magic Online Championship

March 9 – Grand Prix Madrid

  • Format: Team Trios
  • Venue: IFEMA – Feria de Madrid, Madrid, Spain
  • Past Champions*: Rodrigo Togores / Cristian Ortiz Ros / Adrian Ramiro Cano (2017), Carmine D’Aniello (2016), Aleksa Telarov (2015), Immanuel Gerchenson (2014), Ivo Grossholz (2012), Andreas Muller (2010), Lasse Norgaard (2008), Kai Budde (2004), Steven O’Mahoney Schwartz (1998)

After taking a week off for the MOCS we return to Grand Prix action in Madrid, the second of three cities we’ll visit this season in which Kai Budde has won a Grand Prix. Team Trios will bring us our first Legacy action of the season alongside more Modern and of course the Standard environment as well. Twitch will bring you all of the action from Madrid, a treat for those of us who long for more Legacy coverage.

*There is no official coverage for Grand Prix Madrid 2000, if you have any information about this event please send it to [email protected]!

March 9 – Grand Prix Santiago

  • Format: Team Limited
  • Venue: CentroParque Event Center, Santiago, Chile
  • Past Champions: Mauro Sasso (2017), John Chavarria (2016), Rodrigo Lopez (2015), Eduardo dos Santos Vieira (2014), Luis Navas (2013), Igor Silva Pinto (2011), Matias Gabrenja (2001)

While teams are competing in constructed play in Spain, they’ll be diving into Team Limited in Santiago, Chile. This will be Santiago’s first ever Team Grand Prix event and it should be a well-attended one. There are not too many events in Latin America this year so expect many of the top players to be in attendance. Unfortunately there will not be any live coverage from Santiago.

March 16 – Grand Prix Phoenix

  • Format: Modern
  • Venue: Phoenix Convention Center, Phoenix, Arizona, USA
  • Past Champions: Sean Miller (2017), Robert Berni (2014), Carlos Romao (2006), Sean Fitzgerald (2000)

Modern is back on the menu in Phoenix, Arizona. This will also be the weekend that 25th Anniversary Masters Edition is released which I’m sure everyone will be very excited for. Could the timing of the release and a Modern Grand Prix mean that this supplemental set will be chock full of Modern staples? Obviously not but we can certainly have fun speculating!

March 23 – Grand Prix Kyoto

  • Format: Team Trios
  • Venue: Pulse Plaza, Kyoto, Japan
  • Past Champions: William Jensen (2017), Yuki Matsumoto / Yuuki Ichikawa / Kazuyuki Takimura (2016), Yuuta Takahashi (2015), Rich Hoaen / Mike Hron / Alexander Hayne (2013), Yuuya Watanabe (2007), Akira Asahara (2003), Tsuyoshi Fujita (2000), Yoshikazu Ishii (1998)

Kyoto has hosted team Grand Prix events twice in the past in 2016 and 2013 and will now do so for a third time. Unfortunately there will be no video coverage from Kyoto or any of the following events as the video team gets ready for Dominaria season. However, Nico Nico will have Japanese-language coverage of the event from Kyoto, so you can follow along!

March 30 – Grand Prix Amsterdam

  • Format: Team Limited
  • Venue: Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Convention Centre, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Past Champions: Lukas Blohon (2017), Pierre Sommen (2011), Michael Havlik / Richard Hornansky (2007), Carlos Romao / Jose Barberos / Wilfried Ranque (2003), Chris Benafel (2001), Kai Budde (1999), Emmanuel Vernay (1997)

Did you know that Amsterdam was the host city for the first ever Grand Prix tournament all the way back in 1997. This is also the third and final stop this season in a city where Kai Budde was once champion. There’s a lot of history in Amsterdam which is back on the Grand Prix schedule for a second straight year after a six-year hiatus between Pierre Sommen’s victory in 2011 and Lukas Blohon’s in 2017. This is also the first team tournament in Amsterdam in over 10 years!

April 5 – Grand Prix Seattle (Legacy/Limited)

  • Format: Legacy (Apr 6 – 7) and Standard (Apr 7 – 8)
  • Venue: Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington, USA
  • Past Champions: Jarvis Yu (2015), Robert Smith (2012), Yann Massicard (2009), Ernie Marchesano (2005), Bob Maher, Jr. (2000)

I have to voice my extreme displeasure that the first Legacy Grand Prix of the year will not have any video coverage. Not only is Seattle the first Legacy event on the schedule, but it’s the first of several “Super” Grand Prix events which feature two events in one weekend. The second event will be Standard giving a very diverse range of formats in which you can see people play Search for Azcanta.

April 13 – Grand Prix Sydney

  • Format: Team Unified Modern
  • Venue: International Convention Center Sydney, Sydney, Australia
  • Past Champions: Jim Wilks / Simon Linabury / Ivan Schroder (2017), Scott Lipp (2016), John Seaton (2015), Paul Jackson (2014), Allen Zhang (2013), Jeremy Neeman (2010), James Zhang (2006), Andrew Grain (2003), Gordon Lin (2000)

Would you believe that this is the first constructed Grand Prix that will be hosted in Sydney since an Extended Grand Prix won by Gordon Lin in 2000, nearly 18 years ago? It’s even more amazing that there have been eight other GP events in Sydney since then, but every single one of them has been limited or team limited.

April 13 – Grand Prix Hartford

  • Format: Modern
  • Venue: Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford, Connecticut, USA
  • Past Champions: N/A

The season ends with a Modern tournament and the first ever Grand Prix event in Hartford, Connecticut. New England has long been the home to many Grand Prix venues including Providence, Boston, and Worcester and now Hartford joins the list. Once again there will be no live coverage from Hartford as the video team prepares for the Dominaria season which kicks off on April 27th.

Stay tuned here every week for recaps of the weekend’s events, previews of the upcoming events, and a look at the Pro Tour Team Series competition.

Rich Stein is a retired Magic player, an amateur content creator, and a Level 2 Social Justice Sorcerer. He hopes to eventually become a professional content creator and a Level 20 dual class Social Justice Sorcerer/Bard but he’s more than content to remain a retired Magic player. You can follow his musings on Twitter @RichStein13.

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