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The 2020-2021 Magic Pro League Season Overview

July 14, 2020
Wizards of the Coast

Today we're excited to share two announcements, the first with our plans for the 2020-2021 season of events and the second—here—outlining the Magic Pro League and Magic Rivals League structure and your pathway to join them.

The global pandemic has forced changes to Magic Esports, and we are keenly aware that it has unfortunately also reduced paths to compete at the highest levels of Magic. Our goal today is to provide clarity on how the league will work now, knowing adjustments will be made in the future to bridge the gap for upcoming players.

How the 2020-2021 Magic Pro League Works

Continuing with the 2020-2021 season, the Magic Pro League (MPL) will be 24 players while Magic Rivals League (Rivals League) will be 48 players.

Here's the high-level view of how league play will work:

  • MPL and Rivals League players will play against other players within their leagues in recurring tournaments—League Weekends—where each match win awards one point toward their league standings.
  • Final league standings at the end of the season, after seven total League Weekends, will place players into postseason tournaments—the MPL Gauntlet and Rivals Gauntlet—to determine the new invitees to the following season's MPL and Rivals League.
  • The four highest-finishing Challengers—non-league players—of each split's Championship will qualify for the postseason Rivals Gauntlet for the opportunity to join the MPL or Rivals League.

All competitors—MPL, Rivals League, and Challengers—who continue to succeed in their events across the entire 2020-2021 season will receive the best opportunities for league promotion and invitation to the next World Championship.

2020-2021 League Weekends

Beginning in October during Zendikar Rising Split, League Weekends are planned to take place roughly monthly and share that month's Qualifier Weekend's format. Each League Weekend follows the same structure:

  • The 24 MPL players compete in two six-round Swiss tournaments, one on each day.
  • The 48 Rivals League players compete in two six-round Swiss tournaments, one on each day.
  • Each day are separate tournaments, and standings do not carry over.
  • Each match win is worth one point toward that player's league standings.

There are three splits during the 2020-2021 season:

  • Zendikar Rising Split features two League Weekends—one each planned for October and November.
  • "Equestrian" Split will feature three League Weekends.
  • "Fencing" Split will feature two League Weekends.

In total for all League Weekends, MPL and Rivals League players will compete in 84 matches—a maximum total of 84 points—across seven weekends. No other tournaments, including each split's Championship, award points for league standings. We'll share more information about prizes for League Weekends in the future.

Joining the League: 2020-2021 Magic Esports Postseason

The conclusion of the 2020-2021 season kicks off postseason tournaments: the MPL Gauntlet and Rivals Gauntlet. Who stays in the MPL and Rivals League, and which Challengers join both, are a result of end-of-season league standings and postseason tournaments.

For the MPL, season standings determine the next steps for that player:

  • The Top 4 MPL players are invited to the 2021-2022 MPL and qualify for Magic World Championship XXVII.
  • MPL players 5th through 12th will compete for MPL invitation (and face Rivals League relegation) in the MPL Gauntlet.
  • MPL players 13th through 24th will be relegated to the Rivals League.

Similarly, Rival League standings determines those players' next steps:

  • The Top 4 Rivals League players are invited to the 2021-2022 MPL and qualify for the World Championship.
  • Rivals players 5th through 20th will compete for MPL invitation (and do not face relegation to Challenger) in the MPL Gauntlet.
  • Rivals players 21st through 32nd will battle fellow Rivals and Challengers for the last MPL invites (and do not face relegation to Challenger) in the Rivals Gauntlet.
  • Rivals players 33rd through 36th with retain Rivals League invitation for the 2021-2022 Rivals League.
  • Rivals players 37th through 48th will be relegated to Challengers for the following season.

For Challengers, the four highest-finishing Challenger players from each split's Championship will compete for potential invitation to the MPL or guaranteed invitation to the Rivals League through the Rivals Gauntlet.

The MPL Gauntlet



The MPL Gauntlet is where rising Rivals League players compete head-to-head against current MPL Players for invitation to the MPL for the following season. All players are either awarded invitation to the MPL or Rivals League through their finish in the event.

The 24 competitors of the MPL Gauntlet are:

  • 5th through 12th in MPL standings from the end of the season.
  • 5th through 20th in Rivals League standings from the end of the season.

We'll share more details about the structure of the MPL Gauntlet in the future, but the stakes are clear:

  • The winner of the MPL Gauntlet will qualify for the World Championship.
  • Top 4 receive invitation to the MPL for the following season.
  • The four highest-finishing Rivals League players will receive invitation to the MPL for the following season.
  • All other players will be invited to the Rivals League for the following season.

The Rivals Gauntlet



The Rivals Gauntlet is where Challengers face off against Rivals League players and the balance of the MPL and Rivals League slots for the following season are determined.

The 24 competitors of the Rivals Gauntlet are:

  • 21st through 32nd in Rivals League standings from the end of the season.
  • The four highest-finishing Challengers—12 players in total—from each split's Championship.

Like the MPL Gauntlet, we'll share more about the structure of the Rivals Gauntlet in the future but have clear stakes for the tournament:

  • Top 2—the winner and finalist—qualify for the World Championship.
  • Top 4 receive invitation to the MPL for the following season.
  • The four highest-finishing Challengers not already invited to the MPL or World Championship will receive invitation to the MPL for the following season and are qualified for the World Championship.
  • All other players will be invited to the Rivals League for the following season.

Magic World Championship XXVII

Our vision for the next Magic World Championship features the best 16 players within and new to the MPL from the postseason:

  • The 2019 Magic: The Gathering World Champion
  • The Top 4 MPL players from season standings
  • The Top 4 Rivals League players from season standings
  • The winner from the MPL Gauntlet
  • The Top 2 from the Rivals Gauntlet
  • The four highest-finishing Challengers from the Rivals Gauntlet

Reaching the Magic World Championship is an incredible journey for every competitive player. We believe in celebrating their achievement with the greatest Magic event of the year. Our vision to do so continues to be through an exclusive event held in-person, focused on the amazing players who earned their right to be there.

Magic World Championship XXVII is tentatively planned for the summer of 2021 as an on-location event that represents the pinnacle of Magic Esports. But given the continued uncertainty around in-person events, these plans may need to adjust as the season ends and we will evaluate the feasibility of in-person events.

2021-2022 Season Start

The 2021-2022 season begins with the same size leagues as the beginning of 2020-2021 with 24 players in the MPL and 48 players in the Rivals League.



The 2021-2022 Magic Pro League:

  • Top 4 MPL players from final standings for the 2020-2021 season.
  • Top 4 Rivals League players from final standings for the 2020-2021 season.
  • Top 4 from the MPL Gauntlet.
  • The four top-finishing Rivals League players outside the Top 4 from the MPL Gauntlet.
  • Top 4 from the Rivals Gauntlet.
  • The four top-finishing Challengers outside the Top 4 from the Rivals Gauntlet.


The 2021-2022 Magic Rivals League:

  • MPL players ranked 13th through 24th—the bottom 12—from final standings for the 2020-2021 season.
  • Rivals League players ranked 33rd through 36th—4 players below the Rivals Gauntlet cutoff and above Challenger relegation cutoff—from final standings for the 2020-2021 season.
  • The remaining 16 players at the end of the MPL Gauntlet.
  • The remaining 16 players at the end of the Rivals Gauntlet.

The Path Forward

We considered a wide range of feedback about the structure of and pathways to the MPL and Rivals League, and addressed several of them directly:

  • Challengers can play head-to-head with MPL and Rivals League members without a points race against them for end of season qualifications.
  • Separating consistent performance across the season—important for the league—from performance through rising levels of events—important for Challengers.
  • Instead of round-robin prerecorded gameplay, we'll focus on live competition in traditional Swiss tournaments for the MPL and Rivals League.

It's no secret that 2020 has been Magic Esports's most challenging year. Our 2020-2021 plans are what we intend now, and there continues to be the real chance that we will need to shift and evolve again.

Thank you for your continued feedback and excitement as we move into a new vision and a new year of Magic Esports.

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