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Challenger Gauntlet Tournament Information for Invitees

June 17, 2021
Wizards of the Coast

Challenger Gauntlet Tournament Information for Invitees

Locations and Times

The Challenger Gauntlet takes place online as a direct-challenge tournament using Magic: The Gathering Arena on the following days:

  • Day 1: Friday, August 6, 2021 – 9:00 a.m. PDT / 16:00 UTC / 01:00 Saturday August 7 JST
  • Day 2: Saturday, August 7, 2021 – 9:00 a.m. PDT / 16:00 UTC / 01:00 Sunday August 8 JST
  • Day 3: Sunday, August 8, 2021 – 9:00 a.m. PDT / 16:00 UTC / 01:00 Monday August 9 JST

Please note that the above times are the expected start times for each day's play and broadcast. Players who qualify for this event will receive instructions that may have designated check-in times earlier than listed above.


The formats for the Challenger Gauntlet are both Traditional Standard and Traditional Historic Constructed formats (Best-of-Three with sideboard) on Magic: The Gathering Arena.

Deck Submission

Players must submit each format's decklist via the MTG Melee tournament page by Sunday, August 1 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific time (6:59 a.m. Monday UTC)

Players with a late decklist submission will be unable to submit through MTG Melee and must submit their decklist to instead. Players who are late with their decklist submission are also subject to tournament error penalties, which will upgrade for every 4 hours they are late on their submission.

Players who fail to submit a decklist within 24 hours of the deadline will be automatically dropped from the tournament.

No changes are allowed to a player’s decklist past the submission deadline.


The Challenger Gauntlet is an invitation-only tournament. The following players are invited to compete in the Challenger Gauntlet:

  • The 8 highest-finishing Challengers (players who were not members of the Magic Pro League or Rivals League in 2020-2021) from the Zendikar Rising Championship
  • The 8 highest-finishing Challengers from the Kaldheim Championship
  • The 8 highest-finishing Challengers from the Strixhaven Championship

The Challenger Gauntlet invitation list is available online. If you believe you are an invited competitor but are not on the invitation list, please email


IMPORTANT: There are no direct monetary prizes for this event – only invitations are at stake.

  • Top 4 finishers earn an invitation to World Championship XXVII in October 2021 and will be offered an invitation to the 2021-2022 Magic Pro League.
  • 5th-12th place finishers (players eliminated on Day Three) earn an invitation to the Rivals Gauntlet event in September.
  • All players eliminated on Day Two will receive an invitation to the next Set Championship for which they are not already qualified.

Tournament Structure

The event will be 12 rounds of Swiss, with 6 Rounds using Traditional Standard Constructed and 6 rounds of Traditional Historic Constructed (3 per format per day on Days 1-2), followed by playoff rounds with Traditional Standard Constructed. Play-draw choice is assigned randomly by the game.

NOTE: This event has a Top 12 playoff cut instead of the usual Top 8.

Day One: 6 Swiss Rounds

Rounds 1-3: Historic Constructed

Rounds 4-6: Standard Constructed

All competitors advance to Day Two. Records and tiebreakers earned on Day One carry over to Day Two.

Day Two: 6 Swiss Rounds + Tiebreaker Round (if needed)

Round 7-9: Historic Constructed

Rounds 10-12: Standard Constructed

If a player reaches nine (9) match wins before Round 12 begins, they immediately advance to the Top 4 section of the playoff bracket and receive byes in each remaining Swiss round.

If a player reaches seven (7) match losses before Round 12 begins, that player is removed from the event.

Playoff Seeding

Seeding is determined by:

  • The round in which a player reached their 9th win
  • Their OMW%, GW%, and OGW% as of the round in which they earned their 9th win
  • Seeding for the Top 4 is locked after each round in which a player reaches their 9th win

At the end of Round 12, standings will be used to determine seeding into the Top 4 and Lower Brackets. Tiebreaker values (OMW%, GW%, and OGW%) will used to initially rank players in the same score group (e.g. who initially ranks 3rd,4th,5th, etc).

Players below 12th place not involved in a tiebreaker round are eliminated at this point.

Ties involving either 4th place or 12th place will be resolved using a Tiebreaker Round.

Tiebreaker Round (Day Two): Best-of-Three Match set of Traditional Standard among pairs of players along the cut line as described below. Play-draw choice is random for Match 1, then chosen by the loser of the previous match for Matches 2-3.

Top 4 – 4th plays 5th for the 4 seed

  • The winner of the match earns the 4 seed, and the loser earns the 5 seed

Multiplayer Scenarios – Top 4

  • If 3rd-5th are tied at 8-4, only 4th-5th play (3rd advances to the Top 4 bracket)
  • If 4th is tied with multiple players below them, only 4th-5th play (6th, 7th, et al advance to the Lower Bracket)
  • If 3rd-6th have the same record, 3rd plays 6th and 4th plays 5th in the tiebreaker round.
  • Higher-rankedwinner gets the 3 seed
  • Lower-ranked winner gets the 4 seed
  • Higher-ranked loser gets the 5 seed
  • Lower-ranked loser gets the 6 seed

Top 12 – 12th plays 13th for the 12 seed

  • The winner of the match earns the 12 seed, and the loser is eliminated from the event.

Multiplayer Scenarios – Top 12

  • If 11th-13th (and no lower) are tied, only 12th-13th play (11th advances to Lower Bracket)
  • If 12th is tied with only multiple players below them, only 12th-13th play (14th, 15th, et al are eliminated)
  • If 11th-14th have the same record, 11th plays 14th and 12th plays 13th in the tiebreaker round.
  • Higher-ranked winner gets the 11 seed
  • Lower-ranked winner gets the 12 seed
  • Losers of these matches are eliminated
    • Similarly, if 10th-15th have the same record, 10th plays 15th in addition to the matches described above – winners are seeded 10th-12th based on rank at end of Swiss rounds.

Day Three – Playoffs

Matches are best two-out-of-three games Traditional Standard Constructed. Play-draw choice in each match is determined by the higher-seeded player

Players in the Top 4 bracket have two opportunities to win one match to finish in the Top 4.

Player in the Lower Bracket must win three consecutive matches to finish in the Top 4

Top 4 Bracket

1 Seed vs. 4 Seed; 2 Seed vs 3 Seed

  • Winners finish in Top 4, Losers drop into Lower Bracket Round 3

Lower Bracket – Single-Elimination

Round 1: 5 Seed vs. 12 Seed; 6 vs. 11; 7 vs 10; 8 vs 9

Round 2: Winner 5/12 vs Winner 8/9; Winner 6/11 vs Winner 7/10

Round 3: Winner 5/8/9/12 vs Loser 2/3; Winner 6/7/10/11 vs Loser 1/4

  • Winners of Round 3 Matches finish in Top 4

Tournament Mechanics

All rounds of competition use the Tournament Match Direct Challenge settings via Direct Challenge in Magic: The Gathering Arena, which means:

30-minute time banks for player priority are enforced in-client.

  • Timers are on.
  • Matches are best two-out-of-three games.
  • Players should double-check to ensure they have not selected "Tournament Match – Limited", or "Challenge Match" in Direct Challenge settings.
  • Players should double-check to ensure they have selected the correct format for each round ("Tournament Match – Standard" or "Tournament Match – Historic").

Each round will be timed by tournament officials at 60 minutes:

  • Players must challenge their opponent by the time the round has officially started based on the time provided by the tournament organizer.
  • Players who have not been able to begin their match, but have received communication from their opponent, should contact a tournament admin once the round has begun.
  • At the end of 60 minutes, tournament admins will message players who have not yet reported their match. Players still in a match at that time are expected to respond to the admin's message to confirm they are still playing.

For the Challenger Gauntlet there are no draws, intentional or otherwise, during the Swiss rounds. Players are expected to play until a winner is declared, either via traditional means of ending a match or via a player's time bank running out.

Additionally, concessions of matches that have not reached a clear, natural conclusion are not allowed in this tournament. All competitors are expected to play to the best of their abilities to reach a point of natural conclusion for each match.

Acceptable examples of when a player may concede the game include:

  • A player is being attacked for lethal damage and sees no means of surviving the turn.
  • A player has reasoned that they have no lines of play in which they can win the current game and wishes to concede to conserve their time bank.
  • Players have been instructed to concede games in an admin-ruled match remake due to a compromised match that was restarted.

Situations in which a player conceding are unacceptable include:

  • A player has not played a single turn of a game.
  • A player is choosing to concede when it is clear they have an advantage.
  • A player chooses to mulligan to virtually no cards as a workaround to not technically concede, despite drawing multiple playable hands.

In general, the goal of this rule is ensuring that matches in this tournament are decided by players completing matches of Magic: The Gathering Arena in best-of-three Traditional Standard and Traditional Historic Constructed formats and are not influenced by outside motivations. Players that violate this rule with the intent that goes against the philosophy of this rule may be subject to penalties as defined in the Digital Magic Tournament Rules.

MTG Arena Accounts

Each qualified player will be provided access to an account on Magic: The Gathering Arena stocked with enough wild cards and gems to craft cards for both Standard and Historic formats. This account may be used by the player to prepare for, and is required to be used to participate in, the Challenger Gauntlet.

Additional rules that apply to Magic: The Gathering Arena play using this account will be provided to players with account information.

Players will receive access to their playtest accounts on or about July 14, 2021

Tournament Policies

Wizards will use Digital MTR and IPG documents to govern the Challenger Gauntlet:

Additional player requirements, including streaming and other policy changes that supersede the Digital MTR, will be communicated to players prior to the start of the tournament. Consult this page for all policy documents that pertain to Premier Play on Magic: The Gathering Arena.

Magic: The Gathering Arena Known Issues and Disconnects

Players should review the known issues in Magic: The Gathering Arena prior to participation in sanctioned digital events. Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for impact on game and match results as a result of players experiencing known issues.

Wizards of the Coast is not responsible for the results of any disconnection or network problems experienced by players.

Hardware Disclaimers and Feature Matches

Players competing in the Challenger Gauntlet are assumed to be competing with hardware that meets the recommended specifications for running Magic: The Gathering Arena (found in the Magic: The Gathering Arena FAQ). Players who are found to be using hardware that is under the recommended hardware specifications are solely responsible for any and all issues they experience, will be subject to any and all tardiness or disconnect penalties that may delay their matches from starting or progressing, and may be removed from the tournament if their hardware of choice delays the tournament or presents issues with progressing the tournament at a reasonable pace.

The above includes any issues a player may experience as a result of under-specification graphics cards, processor clock speeds, using an unsupported operating system, or using a computer with less RAM than as recommended. Additionally, players assume any and all responsibilities that their Internet connection is stable, reliable, and fast enough to support playing in the tournament, and assumes responsibility for issues experienced as a result of their connection or Internet Service Provider (ISP).

This hardware disclaimer includes if a person's hardware is incapable of supporting broadcast feature match selection. Additionally, players participating in this tournament must agree to be willing to support a feature match to the best of their abilities, including hardware and software settings and requests to comply with production team members if obstructive or distractive elements appear in the player's background of a web camera. Failure to cooperate with production and player management team members may result in tournament penalties.

Competitors are expected to use a desktop or laptop computer for all rounds of competition. Players should not use a mobile device, tablet, or other platform in early access.

Outside Assistance

During matches, players may not seek play advice from spectators and spectators may not give play advice to players. Reports of players receiving outside assistance will be investigated and penalties will be assigned, up to and including disqualification. Players who receive unsolicited outside assistance from another player or spectator are expected to report the incident to tournament officials and submit any supporting evidence of attempt to provide outside assistance.


Wizards of the Coast reserves the right, at its sole discretion, to suspend, modify, and change this document or the program it supports at any time and for any reason without notice.

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