Editor's Note: After this article was published, we announced a massive increase in our pinvestment in competitive gaming to $10 million next year. With that came some schedule changes. Read about those changes here. The article below no longer accurately reflects the competitive gaming landscape from 2019, but we are leaving it as is. Just with this note at the top telling you to basically ignore everything in this article.
The 2019 pro season is going to be a year of new beginnings and experimentation.
Oh, and six Pro Tours with a total prize pool of $1.5 million.
We started off 2018 with the goal to really examine our Competitive Play offerings. We're trying some new things and revisiting many old assumptions. Some changes will be incremental, some monumental, and many are aimed at taking competitive Magic to the next level. Think of 2019 as our transition year.
As part of that year of transition, we've already started working closely with our Pro Player Consultants and are making progress toward a fully mapped out 2019 plan that will include an updated qualification system, changes to Nationals and the World Magic Cup, further details on the pro season, plus laying out the details for the Pro Club as it will look for the 2018–19 season.
And at the core of all those changes is a return to even more Pro Tours in 2019 with an increased total prize pool.
Six Pro Tours in 2019
Pro Tours are special events featuring the top players in the world innovating, testing, tuning, and crafting their best game plans, all vying for prizes, Pro Points, and a trophy. We love Pro Tours, and pros and viewers alike have been asking for more of these events for a long time. This year, we're making it happen.
There will be six Pro Tours in 2019. Each event will have a $250,000 prize pool, increasing the year's total prize pool to $1.5 million (from $1 million of years past). Here's the breakdown of the year.
- Cleveland, Ohio, United States, February 22–24, 2019
- London, United Kingdom, April 26–28, 2019
- Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, United States, June 28–30, 2019
- Barcelona, Spain, July 26–28, 2019
- Richmond, Virginia, United States, November 8–10, 2019
- Sydney, Australia, December 6–8, 2019
Editor's Note: We originally announced the 6th Pro Tour of the year as Brisbane, Australia. It was updated on 11/8 to Sydney, Australia.
Additionally, after Pro Tour London, the relative size of individual Pro Tours will go down from upwards of 400–500 players per tournament today to closer to 200–300 players. The total number of invites over the course of the year will remain the same, just spread out over more events. While this means fewer slots per Pro Tour, it also means fewer players finishing outside the prize pool. And it also means revamping our qualification system.
The first two Pro Tours of the year in Cleveland and London will continue to use the current systems of qualification. We're putting the finishing touches on the new qualification system (with input from our Pro Player Consultants) and will roll that out in the coming weeks.
As part of this shift, we'll be separating Pro Tours from set releases. You saw us experiment with that a bit in 2018, and the move to six Pro Tours in 2019 will make that break official. We'll be referring to Pro Tours in 2019 as "Pro Tour [Location]," so the first Pro Tour of 2019 will be called Pro Tour Cleveland.
Note that we're not yet announcing the formats for the 2019 Pro Tours. We're exploring a more flexible method and timing of choosing formats to give viewers and players the best possible experience. More on that in the coming months.
More to Come
We know we're rolling out the 2019 plans piece by piece, but that's a portent of great things to come. Change takes far more work behind the scenes than keeping the status quo—and we have no intention of keeping the status quo.
We believe the future is bright, and we're going to continue trying new things, experimenting, and keeping what works and discarding what doesn't. We'll be leaning heavily on the feedback of our community as well as our Pro Player Consultants. There are still more pieces of the puzzle remaining, and we'll be unveiling them soon. So, stay tuned—the best is yet to come.