MTG 2019 World Championship shifts from tabletop to Arena

The loss of Limited Draft rounds is a major change.

Ondrej Stráský wins Mythic Championship VI
Screengrab via Twitch.tv/magic

Magic: The Gathering’s World Championship in February will be played on a new platform: Magic: The Gathering Arena

“Played for the first time on MTG Arena with $1,000,000 in prizes, 16 incredible players from around the world will fly to beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii and compete for the trophy and title of World Champion.” WotC said

This will be the first time that Worlds is played on the digital platform and could be a significant break in tradition for the event. Previous Worlds have followed more-or-less the same format. Each day begins with a three-round draft, followed by four rounds of Standard. The final day is a simple top-four Standard playoff.

But drafting on Arena, at least currently, isn’t considered acceptable for pro play because you draft against bots, not other players. These bots have predictable patterns that players can strategize around and even potentially manipulate to their advantage. While Wizards is hard at work improving these bots, it’s doubtful players will ever accept bot drafting at the highest levels of competition. 

This leaves few other formats on Arena to pick from. Similar to this past season’s Arena Mythic Championships, Wizards could also forego other formats and only have Standard, though the community is already calling this possibility a big mistake.

Arena does bring with it several benefits, like improved visual effects and clarity. And peak viewership during Arena Mythic Championships was significantly larger than the ones held in tabletop. We’ve reached out to Wizards to see what formats might be in play for the event.

Regardless of the format, Worlds will still feature 16 of the game’s top players and will certainly be one of the highlights of the year for MTG players and fans.

Correction Dec. 12 3:20pm CT: The original version of this article contained multiple inaccuracies. It was also updated by the author without editorial oversight, which directly violates Dot Esports’ editorial standards and policy. We apologize for the errors.