The Magic Online Championship features the sixteen players who qualified through success in last year's Magic Online Championship Series (MOCS) events, either by making it to the finals of one of last year's quarterly MOCS Playoff events or by amassing enough Leaderboard Points through last year's MOCS tournaments to qualify.
Those players will be traveling to Wizards HQ to compete in a three-day tournament March 3–5 on Magic Online for their share of a $116,000 prize pool. Simply competing in the event will earn them $4,000, but the winner will receive $25,000, an invitation to compete in the 2017 Magic: The Gathering World Championship, an invitation to compete in next year's Magic Online Championship, and Platinum status in the Pro Tour Players Club.
The Magic Online Championship features fourteen rounds of Swiss across the first two days of competition. Both days will start with three rounds of Aether Revolt-Kaladesh Booster Draft and will be followed by four rounds of Standard Constructed.
At the end of fourteen rounds of Swiss, the field will cut down to the Top 4 players, who will compete using their Standard Constructed decks in a best-two-out-of-three matches playoff.
Here are this year's competitors.
Niels Noorlander's life-changing win last year propelled him into the top tables of competitive Magic, where he has been dedicating himself to playing the game as his full-time job. Noorlander will return this March to defend his title.
The latest World Champion has been on fire since the start of the season, and now Brian Braun-Duin will have a chance to add another prestigious title to his resume by competing in the Magic Online Championship as the reigning World Champ.
Simon Korzunov rallied many ancestors in his path to victory in the first MOCS Playoff event of the year. This Washingtonian won't have far to go to compete, and the regular Magic Online competitor will get his chance in March to meet in person many competitors he's come across numerous times online.
Simon Nielsen, team member of the 2014 World Magic Cup–winning team, has seen some success on the Pro Tour in the 2015–16 season, earning Gold status and carrying on into the next year with a guarantee that he can compete at all Pro Tours in 2016–17. His Eldrazi Ramp deck ultimately succumbed to Korzunov in the finals, but it was nonetheless good enough to get Nielsen his invitation to compete in this year's Championship event.
Magic veteran Piotr Glogowski ensured his place at the Magic Online Championship in the second MOCS playoff, beating top-ranked Owen Turtenwald in three games of the finals. Glogowski has a Grand Prix Top 8 to his name, and he's looking forward to the chance to step his resume up with a big finish next month.
Regarded as one of the best players in the world, Owen Turtenwald locked up an invitation to the Magic Online Championship early in the second MOCS Playoff, making it all the way to the finals.
Pro Tour veteran Jacob Wilson, aside from possessing one of the more, uh . . . interesting names on Magic Online, reminded everyone that he's really good at this game with a win in the third quarterly MOCS Playoff. He guaranteed his spot among the sixteen competitors coming to Washington in March.
Known primarily for his digital play, Ryosuke Urase battled his way to the finals of the third MOCS Playoff event to secure his invitation to the Magic Online Championship.
Lukas Blohon had a very exciting year. Not only did he win Pro Tour Eldritch Moon in his best season in paper Magic, but he also secured an invitation to the Magic Online Championship not too long after that, continuing his excellent year into 2017.
Regular Magic Online competitors likely recognize Lucas Duchow, a veteran of the game who has competed at the Magic Online Championship before. His finals appearance in the fourth and final MOCS Playoff will see him return to the stage in his pursuit of the title.
Anssi Alkio—"Anssi A"
A series of deep runs in the MOCS events last year secured one of the leaderboard spots for Pro Tour Born of the Gods semifinalist Anssi Alkio. This will be the second Magic Online Championship that Alkio will be competing in, returning to the stage after a three-year absence.
Ben Weitz had a breakout season in 2015–16 as one of the many East West Bowl team members who saw consistent success on the Pro Tour. That consistency carried through to Magic Online, where he locked up a leaderboard spot for the Magic Online Championship.
The 2015–16 Draft Master showcased his consistency in Limited especially well on Magic Online, where his steady finishes earned him one of the Magic Online Championship leaderboard invitations.
Although now a known figure on the Pro Tour, Thiago Saporito's legacy truly began on Magic Online, and he demonstrated why through his solid finishes over the year to lock up one of the Leaderboard slots in this year's Championship event.
Lee Shi Tian—"leearson"
While five-time Pro Tour Top 8 competitor Lee Shi Tian wasn't able to close in any of the MOCS Playoff events he went deep in, that solid string of finishes was enough to earn the Pro Tour veteran a place in this year's Magic Online Championship.
Former Player of the Year Josh Utter-Leyton was the final person to secure a leaderboard-based invitation to the Magic Online Championship.
We're doing things a bit differently this year for coverage of the Magic Online Championship and have turned over the keys to Randy Buehler and Athena Froehlich of Super League fame to bring their coverage model to Magic Online's big tournament.
Randy and Athena, along with the rotating cast of commentators, have become a Tuesday staple on Magic's Twitch channel and have played a key role in Magic Online coverage through their seasonal broadcasts. We're excited to work with them to showcase Magic Online's biggest event of the year.
With the Super League model in place, a wider range of commentators will be able to participate in providing coverage of this exciting show, as they call in and commentate remotely while Randy and Athena run the show from Wizards HQ. Expect to see some familiar faces from Tuesday's Super League events, along with a couple special appearances from the Magic community, such as:
- David Williams
- Marshall Sutcliffe
- Patrick Chapin
- Patrick Sullivan
- Reid Duke
- Chris Pikula
Editor's Note: Chris Pikula was added to the commentary roster after this article was published, and has been added to the list above to reflect that announcement.
Joining the crew on-site will be Maria Bartholdi as the floor reporter and interviewer. She'll talk to Magic Online Championship competitors between rounds and report on how their tournament is going.
You'll be able to catch all three days of the Magic Online Championship on twitch.tv/magic, March 3–5, so be sure to tune in!
The Magic Online Championship is sure to be a great event, and I look forward to seeing all the competitors here at Wizards HQ, as well as seeing you in our Twitch channel in the coming weeks!