In just one week, the 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship will begin, featuring four days of the very best of the best battling across three formats for their share of a $250,000 prize pool—with a cool $70,000, a brand-new trophy, and the title of World Champion going to the winner.
We've got the scoop for you on what this tournament is, and what you should expect, today.
This Year's World Championship Roster
Let's start things off with a look at the field of 24 players, starting with our champions (Pro Tour winners, the reigning World Champion, and the Magic Online Champion).
Seth Manfield: The reigning World Champion, Seth Manfield, returns for a chance to go back-to-back in 2016. Manfield was able to earn the United States their first World Championship trophy since 2000. Will he do it again? (Seth also earned a geo-region slot for North America because of his stupendous performance in the 2015–16 season, which by nature of the World Championship rules was then awarded to a top Pro Point earner who had not already earned a seat to the event.)
Kazuyuki Takimura: Pro Tour Battle for Zendikar Champion Kazuyuki Takimura earned the respect of his Japanese peers and many of the game's top players with his win at the first Pro Tour of the 2015–16 season.
Jiachen Tao: In his third Pro Tour, Jiachen Tao led the charge of Team East West Bowl—the super-team combo of veterans from the east and west coast of the USA that emerged and next-leveled tenured teams of the Pro Tour—by winning Pro Tour Oath of the Gatewatch.
Steve Rubin: A newcomer to the World Championship in 2015, Steve Rubin kindly reminded everyone why he was there with a phenomenal first appearance on the Pro Tour Sunday stage at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad, where he won match after match and never looked back to become a Pro Tour Champion.
Niels Noorlander: Niels Noorlander found life-changing success at this year's Magic Online Championship, winning the title, the $25,000 first-place prize, and Platinum status through the next season. It also earned him a seat in this year's World Championship.
Lukas Blohon: And finally, Czech pro Lukas Blohon made his second Pro Tour Top 8 a memorable one by becoming the Pro Tour Eldritch Moon Champion. (Lukas Blohon also earned a geo-region seat, which by nature of the World Championship rules was then awarded to a top Pro Point earner who had not already earned a seat to the event.)
Next up are the Masters (those who were awarded titles for a solid performance):
Owen Turtenwald: Pro Tour Hall of Fame–elect and regarded as one of the world's best players, Turtenwald secured his invitation to the World Championship by becoming the 2015–16 Mid-Season Master. However, his dominance did not stop there, and he also earned the 2015–16 Player of the Year title and a North American geo-region seat (the latter two slots passed down to top Pro Point earners who were not already qualified for this event).
Luis Scott-Vargas: Scott-Vargas became "LS3" this year, as the Pro Tour Hall of Famer made the Top 8 of not one, not two, but three Pro Tours in a row, the first time that has happened in about eighteen years. His performance this season earned him the title of Outstanding Hall of Famer, which guaranteed his entry into the 2016 World Championship (he also got a North America top Pro Point earner invite, which passed down to the next top Pro Point earner not already invited to compete).
Márcio Carvalho: Portuguese pro Márcio Carvalho locked up his World Championship invitation with a nearly flawless 2015–16 season at the Pro Tour Draft tables that topped even the likes of Jon Finkel in the last four Pro Tours.
Oliver Tiu: The 2015–16 season's Rookie of the Year, Oliver Tiu, was also the best Constructed player across all Pro Tours this season, earning more Constructed match points in Pro Tour Swiss rounds than any other player to secure his seat at the World Championship.
Brian Braun-Duin: No country was too far in the 2015–16 season for Brian Braun-Duin, who traveled around the world and maintained strong consistency across enough Grand Prix to secure the title of Grand Prix Master and the World Championship invitation that went along with it.
Then there are the top Pro Point earners of each geo-region:
North America (Reid Duke): While Owen Turtenwald, Seth Manfield, and Luis Scott-Vargas created some new seats for otherwise uninvited top Pro Point earners as North America's best, Reid Duke's performance in the 2015–16 season was enough to send him to the World Championship as the fourth of North America's top pros of the season.
Europe (Martin Müller and Joel Larsson): Denmark's Martin Müller and Sweden's Joel Larsson both had fantastic seasons, earning enough Pro Points to represent Europe's top players at the World Championship this year. (As mentioned above, Lukas Blohon double-dips into this category, creating a seat that goes to an uninvited top Pro Point earner.)
Asia-Pacific (Shota Yasooka, Yuuya Watanabe, and Ryoichi Tamada): It's all Japan in this year's Asia-Pacific representation at the World Championship, as Shota Yasooka, Yuuya Watanabe, and Ryoichi Tamada secured enough good finishes to be Asia's top three Pro Point earners in this year's World Championship.
Latin America (Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Thiago Saporito): Brazil will represent Latin America in the 2016 World Championship, as Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa and Thiago Saporito both finished the season as the region's top Pro Points earners.
And finally, the following top Pro Point earners who were not already invited to the World Championship earned their invitations for their solid seasonal performances:
Samuel Pardee: Bay Area pro Samuel Pardee had no expectations of playing in this year's World Championship, but Pro Tour Eldritch Moon turned that around with his first Pro Tour Top 8. Now he will be competing in his first World Championship.
Ondřej Stráský: Czech pro Ondřej Stráský had a stellar season despite not adding another Pro Tour Top 8 to his very young career. He amassed enough Pro Points to join the other European pros at Worlds this year.
Andrea Mengucci: Andrea Mengucci had his best season yet, earning Platinum status in the Pro Tour Players Club, his second Pro Tour Top 8, and a World Magic Cup trophy alongside Team Italy.
Brad Nelson: Former Player of the Year Brad Nelson will return to the World Championship, thanks in part to his third lifetime Pro Tour Top 8 at Pro Tour Shadows over Innistrad.
Mike Sigrist: And finally, last year's Player of the Year Mike Sigrist will return to the World Championship as the last uninvited top Pro Point earner.
You can learn a little bit more about what winning the World Championship would mean to these players by checking out the 2016 Magic World Championship playlist on YouTube, which features short interviews with each of this year's competitors:
Watch the World Championship!
Of course, knowing about the 2016 World Championship is one thing. Knowing when to watch, and what to look forward to is important too, so below you'll find the World Championship stream times.
The 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship is all part of Magic at PAX West, as we celebrate the debut of our newest Magic set, Kaladesh. With the Kaladesh debut and the World Championship, it's going to be five days of live coverage on twitch.tv/magic that you won't want to miss, and it starts on Thursday, September 1, with Day One of the World Championship.
The schedule for the 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship is as follows:
- Day One: Thursday, September 1, starting at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET/4 p.m. UTC (three rounds of Eldritch Moon-Shadows over Innistrad Booster Draft, four rounds of Standard)
- Day Two: Friday, September 2, starting at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET/9 p.m. UTC (three rounds of Eldritch Moon-Shadows over Innistrad Booster Draft)
- Day Three: Saturday, September 3, starting at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET/5 p.m. UTC (four rounds of Modern)
- Day Four (Top 4 Playoffs): Sunday, September 4, starting at 10:45 a.m. PT/1:45 p.m. ET/5:45 p.m. UTC (Standard)
The 2016 Magic: The Gathering World Championship is our biggest tournament of the year, which means we've got a big coverage team to bring you all the action. This includes special guest Matej Zatlkaj, the Slovakian pro and longstanding member of the European coverage team, who will be joining us in the commentator booth all weekend long!
The coverage team is:
- Play-by-Play Commentators: Marshall Sutcliffe, Tim Willoughby, and Gaby Spartz
- Color Commentators: Matej Zatlkaj and Ian Duke (with a possible Sunday cameo by World Championship competitor Luis Scott-Vargas)
- News Desk: Rich Hagon and Brian David-Marshall
- Feature Match Floor Reporters: Rashad Miller, Tim Willoughby, and Gaby Spartz
- Feature Match Spotter: Neil Rigby
- Writer-Reporters: Corbin Hosler, Frank Karsten, and Chapman Sim
- Content Managers/Editors: Blake Rasmussen, Mike Rosenberg, and Chris Gleeson
- Social Media: Meghan Wolff, Nate Price, and Trick Jarrett
- Executive Producer: Greg Collins
Mark your calendars—we'll see you in our Twitch channel next week!