Competitive Magic: the Gathering is in the midst of its shortened 2020 season, with multiple tournaments on different platforms awarding more prizes than ever before. We have two leagues of players that are the face of the game we all love, rising and falling, with high quality coverage following their journey. This is the beginning of a new era in competitive Magic and it’s one of the best times ever to become a fan and watch the game at its highest levels.

There is, however, one issue that has surfaced over and over since Magic’s transition to its new esport structure and the changes after its first year. I have seen this asked on Twitter, on Reddit, and even in the small talk on the FNM of my LGS: “How does this all work?” So, fear not, I will do my best so you can watch the next tournament and understand exactly what’s at stake in every match during the 2020 season.

The Players

The main protagonists of this story are two leagues of players, each with their own goals and standings.

First we have the 2020 Magic Pro League, which contains the Top 20 players from the 2019 MPL plus the 4 top-scoring non-league players (Challengers). The newcomers to the League were Hall of Famers Gabriel Nassif and Raphaël Levy, not-really-retired pro player Ondrej Strasky and the new rising star Chris Kvartek. You can get to know them all with the official roster.

The perks of being an MPL include appearance fees and qualification to every Players Tour Series event, every Players Tour Finals, every Mythic Points Challenge and every Mythic Invitational in the season (more on each event later).

Then there’s a second league of players fighting their spot in the MPL’s next season’s: the Magic Rivals League. This league is filled with some impressive names in the game, including Hall of Famers, established players, and rising stars alike. This league houses the players that were MPL last year but didn’t make it into the Top 20, the best tabletop and best Arena Challengers last season, and six discretionary invitees.

Being a Rival brings certain advantages, which include appearance fees and qualification to every Players Tour Series event and every Mythic Points Challenge in the season. They also have their own ways of qualifying to the Mythic Invitationals, which are still not entirely known.

Of course, not every player is a pro player, and not every pro player is included in the two leagues. Those remaining are the Challengers, the non-league players that can gain entry into one of the leagues. You will see many of them in every professional event and you may even aspire to climb their ranks. The top Challengers will either be directly promoted to the Magic Pro League or to the Magic Rivals League.

The Events

Wizards has drawn a clear line between the tabletop circuit and the Arena circuit by having each type of event award a different type of point. Tabletop events give Player Points (PPs) and Arena events will earn you Mythic Points (MPs). This distinction means that the two types of events will have different effects in the professional season and the goals for each player may vary between circuits. One extreme case is Rival Simon Goerzen, who announced that he’ll be focusing mainly in the Arena circuit while skipping Tabletop events.

The tabletop events are divided in Series. A Series consists of three regional Players Tour events (conveniently abbreviated PT), one for each “region” (Americas, Asia/Pacific and Europe), that feed a Players Tour Finals event. The regional events have been described by some pros as halfway between a GP and an old Pro Tour. These three Players Tour events play out like most competitive tournaments, with two or three days schedules and a mix of limited and constructed. They award Player Points and money prizes, but the new thing is that that top performing players will qualify to the Players Tour Finals for that Series. There is one Finals for each Series, which also awards PPs and money prizes among the invited players.

There are two Series this season. Series 1 regional events already took place (PT Phoenix, PT Nagoya, and PT Brussels), and the Players Tour Finals for Series 1 will be held in Houston, TX, on April 24-26. Series 2 events start right afterward, with PT Copenhagen on May 1-3 and PT Charlotte and PT Kitakyushu on May 8-10. The Finals for Series 2 will be held in Minneapolis on July 10-12.

Members of the Magic Pro League are qualified for one regional PT event in a series and to the corresponding PT Finals, while Rivals are only qualified to the regional PT and have to earn their way into the Finals. For example, for the first Finals events in April, only seven Rivals will be playing: Grzegorz Kowalski, Mike Sigrist, Thoralf Severin, Alexander Hayne, Sebastián Pozzo, Louis-Samuel Deltour, and Eli Kassis.

For the Arena circuit, things are a little more complex. There are two types of events that can be played from home and award Mythic Points based on match wins: Mythic Invitational Qualifiers and the Mythic Point Challenges. Mythic Invitational Qualifiers earn invitations to the Mythic Invitational, but also award MPs according to match wins. Rivals are invited to them, but members of the MPL are not. There are also Mythic Point Challenges, which (we think) play similarly but don’t award invitations to Mythic Invitationals. In this case, MPL members can join too, with the first of them coming February 29. Check your email, you might be invited too!

Then we have Mythic Invitationals, which is the rebranded name for the Arena Mythic Championships of last season. These events award MPs to the competing players, which include all MPL players, some number of Rivals and other qualified players. I’m saying “some number” of Rivals because while all 32 Rivals are invited to Mythic Invitational Ikoria, their fate for the next Mythic Invitationals is currently unknown. There are two Mythic Invitational events this season: Mythic Invitational Ikoria, on May 14-17, and Mythic Invitational Core 21, on July 23-26. This second Mythic Invitational is very likely to be the last tournament of the season!

The Stakes

What’s at play for the MPL?

To summarize, MPL are qualified for:

  • Regional Players Tour Series 1 and 2 (PP) (Series 2 on May)
  • Players Tour Finals Series 1 and 2 (PP) (Apr 24-26, Jul 10-12)
  • Mythic Point Challenges 1 and 2 (MP) (Feb 29, Apr 04)
  • Mythic Invitationals Ikoria and Core 21 (MP) (May 14-17, Jul 23-26)

The MPL members will earn points at those events towards a combined score that amounts to the total of all their Players Points from tabletop events plus all their Mythic Points from Arena events. Their goal is to stay in the Top 16 by the end of the season to return in the 2020-2021 MPL.

The next four players (17th-20th places) will compete in a playoff-style tournament called the MPL Gauntlet, which will also feature Rivals trying to find their way into next season’s MPL. Finally, players ranked 21st-24th at the end of the season will automatically be relegated to the 2020-21 Magic Rivals League.

What’s at play for the Rivals?

Here it is what Rivals are qualified for:

  • Regional Players Tour Series 1 and 2 (PP) (Series 2 on May). By doing well there, they can earn their way into the Finals.
  • Mythic Invitational Qualifiers (MP)
  • Mythic Point Challenges 1 and 2 (MP) (Feb 29, Apr 04)
  • Mythic Invitational Ikoria (MP) (May 14-17)
  • They will have a way to qualify for Mythic Invitational Core 21, but we know not all 32 of them will be invited (TBD).

Rivals have two separate scores and standings: one for Players Points (PP), and one for Mythic Points (MP). However, it is possible that in the specific case of determining how to pass down an invite the combined PP+MP score will be taken into account for entering the MPL Gauntlet playoffs, so they won’t want to lose their sights on the combined standings.

The top performing Rival in each type of standings will enter the 2020-21 MPL, while the next six (2nd-7th) in each will qualify for the MPL Gauntlet. If there are less than 12 players invited this way because one or more players earned a qualification in both type of standings, then the next Rival in combined MP+PP scores will be invited.

What about the rest of the players? Challengers (non-league players) will have two separate scores too, like the Rivals: tabletop Players Points (PPs) and Arena Mythic Points (MPs). At the end of the 2020 season, the top performing non-league players Rival in each type of standings will enter the 2020-21 MPL. Finally, Challengers and Rivals that didn’t make it into the MPL or Gauntlet will be ranked against each other, with the 2nd to 13th in PPs and 2nd to 13th in MPs joining the 2020-21 Rivals League.


All in all, it’s not a simple season, but if I could figure it out, I’m sure you can do it too. There are some things still to be clarified by Wizards of the Coast, and we know some aspects are still being tuned with the feedback from the players, but this is the backbone of what’s going on in the professional circuit. I keep track of events, standings and what’s at stake in each tournament on my Twitter account, so be sure to follow me so you don’t miss a thing! I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Until next time, have fun!

Don't Miss Out!

Sign up for the Hipsters Newsletter for weekly updates.