Magic: The Gathering reveals Pioneer, a new sanctioned format

Magic is expanding its esports formats.

MTG Mythic Championship IV top-eight
Image via Wizards of the Coast Magic: The Gathering

Magic: The Gathering is adding a new non-rotating format to tabletop and Magic Online to expand the number of formats in competitive play.

Pioneer is a sanctioned format that was revealed earlier today. It’ll include Magic sets starting with the Return to Ravnica through the present Throne of Eldraine.  

Image via WotC Magic: The Gathering

In an attempt to bridge the gap between the Modern and Standard formats, Pioneer will be available to play on a competitive level via tabletop and Magic Online. Launching first in MTGO on Oct. 23, players will have the opportunity to craft and playtest via Weekly Sunday Format Challenges. In addition, there will also be a play lobby and a league. 

Competitive play in MTGO will begin in November. But it’ll be for Players Tour Qualifiers (PTQ) only. 

  • Friday, Nov. 1
  • Friday, Nov. 8
  • Friday, Nov. 15
  • Saturday, Nov. 23
  • Friday, Dec. 6
  • Saturday, Dec. 7

Entering the 2020 season, Pioneer will be featured at the first Players Tour Series (Feb. 1 to 2, Feb. 8 to 9). And beginning in March, paper Magic will begin including Pioneer at select PTQ and Grand Prix tournaments. 

Until the format is explored in further depth, only five cards are banned from the Pioneer format. The purpose of these bans is to apply constraints on mana availability in hopes that it’ll add diversity to the format. 

  • Bloodstained Mire
  • Flooded Strand
  • Polluted Delta
  • Windswept Heath
  • Wooded Foothills

Pioneer is similar in nature to the Modern format, encompassing a select number of sets to enable “cross-block synergies.” And there’s hope that it’ll also provide additional format diversity on an esports level. There are no plans, however, to add the format to MTG Arena anytime soon.