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Pro Tour Thunder Junction Viewers Guide

April 15, 2024
Rich Hagon and Adam Styborski


Officially word number twelve on my all-time "not likely to fit into a Pro Tour preview article" list. Hold still "periwinkle," "vellicate," and both "English" and "winner"—your time will come. Meanwhile, oh, yes, there're varmints out here on Thunder Junction, and they have nothing to do with VAR (soccer) nor, in fact, mints (small breath-freshening consumables). So, saddle up partner, because yeehaw, the Pro Tour is here!

Boy that felt good to get that out of my system. This Pro Tour Thunder Junction preview can proceed with no further references to Magic's very own Western plane.

What Is the Pro Tour and Who Is Playing?

The Pro Tour is the culmination of many paths—all competitive—to one of Magic's most prestigious tournaments, with $500,000 in prize money (plus a trophy) up for grabs with invitations and points to qualify for the annual Magic World Championship.

Over 200 competitors—from Regional Championship events, 2023 season performances, top finishers at previous Pro Tours, MTG Arena, Magic Online Premier Play, and more—have invitations to play in Pro Tour Thunder Junction. The invitation list is available online (and subject to change).

What's Really at Stake?

With the opening-season salvo of MagicCon: Chicago's Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor in the rearview mirror and both MagicCon: Amsterdam (Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3) and Magic World Championship 30 at MagicCon: Las Vegas ahead, it's time for our Pro Tour regulars and newcomers to do their thing on the doorstep of Wizards of the Coast. Players have visited Seattle, the stunning Pacific Northwest standout, to compete in Magic since the 1995 World Championship—nearly 30 years later, it remains an iconic location as "the home" of the game.

The formats and tournament structures have changed over the years, but the current model delivers drama, surprises, and a rigorously fair examination of skill. It begins with Draft, starring the lead actor in all this with the newest release: Outlaws of Thunder Junction. Players grouped randomly into tables (or pods) of eight will draft three Play Boosters before facing opponents exclusively from their own pods over three rounds. Lose the first two rounds, and you'll find yourself playing the other unfortunate soul with a 0-2 record. Beat your first two opponents, and you'll get to "play for the pod" against the other undefeated player.

That pattern of playing against opponents with the same match record as you holds true throughout the tournament. With just over 210 players expected at the starting line in Seattle, Friday morning's Draft action will see approximately twenty-eight 3-0 records.

Attention then turns to our Constructed format for the weekend: Standard. It's no secret that Wizards of the Coast puts a lot of time and effort into making Standard a destination format that has broad appeal and awesome in-store events.

The Pro Tour is an important stop on that journey because Standard is the format for five full rounds of action on Friday (Rounds 4–8), five more on Saturday (Rounds 12–16), and the whole of the Top 8 playoff Sunday. Want to win the whole thing? Better know Standard inside and out.

Between those two blocks of Standard action comes draft number two on Saturday morning. To take part in that, players need at least a 4-4 record on Friday. With everyone in the first pod likely to have either 0 or 1 loss coming into Saturday, that puts all of them in great shape to make a run for the Top 8, which is just what it sounds like: only the Top 8 at the end of Round 16 on Saturday get to come back for Day Three action.

Twelve match wins (36 match points) is the magic Magic number in Pro Tour play; reach that threshold before the final round, and you're guaranteed a Top 8 spot. Eleven wins will be enough for some players to get over the line, but it's twelve that has the cast-iron guarantee attached to it.

For the Top 8, you still play the exact same deck that you played on Friday and Saturday, but now it's a single-elimination bracket. Matches are best three out of five, and sideboarding begins after game two. By Sunday evening, we'll have another Pro Tour Champion to add to the record books.

I'm always excited to see who emerges, and the game always gives us great stories. But this, the second Pro Tour of the season, has a bunch of incredible storylines that I can't wait to see play out:

  • Outlaws of Thunder Junction—I love that Magic constantly reinvents itself. Do I wish we'd had 30 years of train heists and sunset posse showdowns? I do not. But the resonant set is going to see fantastic Friday and Saturday mornings. (I wonder if anywhere in Seattle sells Stetsons?)
  • Team Handshake—Last season there was Team Handshake, and there was "everybody else." Team Handshake was broadly untouchable. Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor told us a different story.
  • Team CFB (ChannelFireball Ultimate Guard)—Because I promised, I can't say "there's a new sheriff in town." Maybe I can get away with "there's an old sheriff in town"? That's probably closer to the truth, anyway. CFB came roaring back to prominence in Chicago, and there's no reason to suppose that was a freak result. Expect much more from the Big Two teams.
  • Seth Manfield—Leading the CFB charge was Chicago Champion Seth Manfield. A former World Champion, his victory was all the sweeter as he acknowledged that he wasn't sure if the winner's circle had passed him by. Being a great player, being part of a great team, and putting the work in sure can pay off.
  • Dominating Standard—But the way CFB did that in Chicago was to have the breakout deck in Pioneer. Can they find the winning combination in Standard? And can they do so while Team Handshake and the rest do not find the answer? That's a tough gig.
  • Simon Nielsen—And this is the big one. In a game built on records, Simon delivers consistency that might never be matched. Nielsen has reached Top 8 in the last four major events. Four Top 8s is a good yardstick for a Hall of Fame career. Nielsen's accrued that in twelve months. Can he possibly extend this ludicrous run to a fifth Sunday appearance?

Let's make sure you find out.

How Can I Follow the Event?

Pro Tour Thunder Junction will be streamed all three days of the event, April 26–28, at Catch players, fans, and social coverage across the weekend at @PlayMTG with the hashtag #PTThunder.

On Friday and Saturday—April 26 and 27—broadcast begins at 2 p.m. ET (8 p.m. CET // 3 a.m. JST 4/27–28) with three rounds of Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft followed by five rounds of Standard Constructed.

On Sunday, April 28 for the Top 8 playoff, broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CEST // 2 a.m. JST 4/29) with all four quarterfinal matches, followed by semifinals matches then the finals of Pro Tour Thunder Junction.

While competitors begin their Friday and Saturday at 9 a.m. PT on-site, broadcast begins later in the day at 11 a.m. PT (2 p.m. ET) with a featured drafter to follow into their Round 1 gameplay. As we continue the Pro Tour broadcast we'll catch up to the tournament, showing a full feature match from every round and reducing downtime until we're pacing live gameplay on a short delay.

The Sunday Top 8 playoff broadcast begins at 10 a.m. PT (1 p.m. ET) showing a full quarterfinal match and then as many games from other quarterfinal matches as possible, moving on to a full semifinal match (and as much of the remaining semifinals match) then the complete finals.

When Will Pro Tour Thunder Junction Decklists Be Published?

Standard Constructed decklists for the tournament will be published on the Pro Tour Thunder Junction event page on Friday, April 26 at the beginning of Round 4 gameplay, approximately at 5 p.m. ET (2 p.m. PT).

All Outlaws of Thunder Junction Draft decklists will not be published.

You can watch coverage for Pro Tour Thunder Junction each day here at and at

Who Are the Casters?

Can I Co-Stream the Event?

Following Twitch's Content Sharing Guidelines, you can co-stream the Pro Tour Murders at Karlov Manor broadcast from using OBS or XSplit. This allows anyone on Twitch to cover the event in their voice and with their community. To be clear, co-streamed content is not endorsed by Wizards, and we expect anyone who participates in co-streaming to follow Wizards' Fan Content Policy.

What Do Players Win?

Competitors that finish with 30 or more match points at Pro Tour Thunder Junction earn invitation to Pro Tour Modern Horizons 3 taking place MagicCon: Amsterdam in June 2024.

All players compete for their share of $500,000 in prizes, with the Pro Tour Champion winning $50,000. All competitors will receive at least $1,000 regardless of the final placing.

Place Prize
1 $50,000
2 $30,000
3-4 $15,000
5-8 $10,000
9-12 $7,500
13-16 $5,000
17-24 $4,000
25-40 $3,000
41-68 $2,000
69-96 $1,500
97-132 $1,250
133-209 $1,000
210+ $1,000
Total $500,000*

*Assumes 209 Players

How Can I Play in a Pro Tour?

Beginning with Regional Championship Qualifiers at your local game store, you can start on your path to the Pro Tour today. Earn your invitation to your Regional Championship at a qualifier event, then battle through the best from across your region in a Regional Championship to clinch your Pro Tour invitation!

Regional Championship Qualifier participants in qualifiers taking place now through July 21, 2024 can earn their invitation to Regional Championships feeding the first Pro Tour of the 2025 season and receive a promotional Springleaf Drum card.

Top finishers in qualifiers can also earn a Goblin Guide promo card, with those earning invitations to the Regional Championship snagging it as a traditional foil version.

Your local WPN game store has the opportunity run these events, and they may be hosting one near you: check with your local store for more details on the what, the when, and the where.

To learn more about Regional Championship events for your location please visit your location's tournament organizer:

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