The Great Designer Search 2 would be different from the original in some important ways. This time, the focus would be less on individual card designs and more on set design as a whole and the ability to lead a team of designers. Each would-be contestant was asked to submit a "world design," a proposal for a single large Magic set with a rough guide to the set's flavor and mechanics. That world design would be the basis for all of the Design Challenges for the eight contestants—a big departure from the relatively unconnected challenges of the original GDS.
Another change from the original GDS was audience participation. Potential contestants were asked to work on their world designs using the Magic Wiki, where their work would be open to public discussion and critique. Over the course of the "show" portion, each of the eight contestants were ask to work on the Wiki, directing and incorporating the work of designers who weren't on the show but still wanted to participate. For each design challenge, they were asked to supply a certain number of their own submissions and a certain number of other designers' submissions from the Wiki.
The initial ten-question essay test garnered 1,120 submissions, and 790 of those submissionists took the fifty-question multiple-choice test. Of those 790, 101 made the cut to the third round. These 101 were asked to submit the world designs they'd been building on the Wiki, and R&D whittled them down to just eight final contestants: Ethan Fleischer, Jonathon Loucks, Shawn Main, Devon Rule, Jay Treat, Scott Van Essen, Daniel Williams, and Jonathan Woodward.
The eight contestants would compete in a series of Design Challenges, with one cut after each challenge, until three finalists remained. Those three would be flown out to Wizards HQ in Renton, WA for a series of interviews and an in-person design test, with the winner receiving a six-month paid internship in Magic R&D.
Below are links to the major milestones of the GDS2. Check out the live coverage of the three finalists' trip to Renton during the day on Monday, March 7!