Big Changes To The Arena Premier Play System

  • Blake Rasmussen was joined by Kyle Knudson and William “Huey” Jensen on Weekly MTG this week to discuss changes to the Arena Premier Play system, as well as a smaller change to the Regional Championship (RC) system. Additionally, there was an article posted to Daily MTG going over these changes. I’ll be incorporating information from both sources here.
  • The total number of Pro Tour (PT) invites from RCs is increasing across the board. This will increase the size of PTs to between 350 and 375 players on average.
  • Note that there is an error on the chart below. The EMEA invite number should be 36, not 32.
  • All the changes to the Arena Premier Play system will go into effect starting in May, when players can start earning invites to AC7 later this year.
  • There will now be a 5th Arena Championship Qualifier (ACQ) Play-In weekend every 4 month cycle. This will be a Sealed Best-of-One (Bo1) Play-In that will feed into a constructed ACQ.
  • All of the 2024 Arena Opens will be Limited events (Bo1 Sealed on Day 1 & a two-part Bo3 Draft on Day 2).
    • Earning any monetary reward during Day 2 of an Arena Open will gain you entry into the following ACQ.
  • Kyle said that a lot of the feedback they got on the current system is that it was too restrictive, and thus too difficult a path for Premier Play. These changes are aimed at clarifying the system as well to make it easier to successfully engage with the system.
  • In the current system, the AC is capped at 32 players, with a $200k prize pool and 2 World Championship (WC) invites for the finalists.
    • Under the new system, there is no longer a cap to the number of players in any given AC, the prize pool will be increased to $250k, and the top 16 players will qualify for the PT.
    • Kyle expects to see between 100 and 120 players in AC7.
    • The number of WC invites will not change.
    • It will no longer be possible to earn a PT invite on Day 2 of the ACQ. However, as you only earned that invite with 7 wins, not everyone who previously played in an AC earned that invite.
  • In the current system, you needed 7 wins in an ACQ to guarantee an invitation to the AC and the PT, but could still get an invite to the AC with 6 wins based on your leaderboard standings.
    • Under the new system, you only need 6 wins on Day 2 of the ACQ to get an invitation to the AC and PT invitations will be awarded at the AC.
    • Anything less than 7 wins put you on the leaderboard, but you would have to wait to see if you earned an invite. Now, if you get 1-3 wins you’ll earn an invitation to Day 1 of the following ACQ, and if you get 4-5 wins you’ll earn an invitation to Day 2 of the following ACQ.
  • The only change to Day 1 of the ACQ is that instead of needing to go 7-1 or better, you will qualify for Day 2 by going 7-2 or better.
  • The structure of the AC will be changing as well starting with AC7, but the specific details are not yet available.
  • Making Top 250 Mythic in either Constructed or Limited will still earn you an invitation to the ACQ, and finishing 251-1200 will sill earn Play-In points to enter the ACQ Play-In events. Again, there will be additional Play-In Events under the new system.
  • Here is the current ACQ Play-In schedule.
  • The ACQs for AC7 will take place on the following schedule:
    • May 11-12: Outlaws of Thunder Junction Limited
    • June 15-16: Explorer
    • July 13-14: Historic
    • August 10-11: Bloomburrow Limited

Weekly MTG Q&A Recap

  • Note: This is not a transcript, and I’m paraphrasing both the questions and answers for readability. I will keep the context and contents as close to what was originally said or written as possible.
  • How did you decide on the new number of invites for the RCs, and why is the US getting so many?
    • Billy: We made a weighted spreadsheet of total Magic competitive play in a region, and went as close as possible to make the invites reflect that as possible. Frankly if we did it evenly, the US would have gotten slightly more.
  • What’s the future of Arena Opens, and can we get Constructed Opens in the future?
    • Kyle: Arena Opens will continue to happen, as we’re happy with the participation in those events. We don’t have any big changes for that, and while I toss the idea out for Constructed Opens from time to time we have no current plans to run one.
  • Do the changes to the PT invites from the RCs start with Dallas or with D.C.?
    • Billy: All of the RC that feed into Amsterdam will be part of these changes. So for the US that means Dallas.
  • Will Timeless ever get an ACQ?
    • Kyle: Timeless will get an ACQ as soon as that format calms down a little bit. It’s crazy, we’re watching different decks every week, and to us it’s just a little to volatile as people are still exploring what the best decks are for us to understand what that format will be before we put it through a competitive lens. There is a Metagame Challenge coming up that will be our first quasi-competitive look at what the format will be.
  • Just to be clear, it’s no longer possible to queue for the PT based on Qualifier Weekend Day 2 results?
    • Kyle: In March and April players who get 7 wins will still go to the PT, but starting in May the Day 2 PT qualifiers will no longer be awarded to players who get to 7 wins. Those invites have been moved to the AC itself.
  • With the increase in Premier Play support, would it be possible to get Ranked Bo3 Draft?
    • Kyle: Ranked Bo3 Drafts is something we actually hear a lot. There’s a lot of internal discussions about what should contribute to Ranked or not. We hear you, and I can’t make any promises, but I will hopefully take that feedback and we’ll see what we can do. Bo3 Draft is tough because it’s not as adopted as the other draft formats, and Premier draft is played much more than Bo3 draft. We want to make sure if we’re putting additional incentives there people are going to get a good experience and that we aren’t urging people to do something they might not enjoy as much. It’s a complicated thing that we are certainly talking about internally, for sure.
  • Are there any changes expected for the separation of the Arena Constructed ladder? As in, are there any plans to give each format its own ladder?
    • Kyle: None that I’m aware of. Technically speaking it’s not as simple as turning a key and having it suddenly separating the ranked systems. But we do know there’s an appetite for that and we’ll spend some time investigating how difficult it would be to create that. I do think having them all combined does do them a disservice, and we just need to figure out how much work it would take to make that happen.
  • Is there any reason we can’t have a points system for RCQs instead of having to spike an event?
    • Billy: There’s certainly not one reason. There’s a lot of regional systems were we have regional partners managing them. They could all come out with their own points system to qualify more people for the RC, but from my experience the RCQs are pretty different in size and cadence in some places to other. I imagine if you’re in NYC you could play one every weekend, and the fractional rewards become extremely complicated.
  • As there’s been a large increase in play in the Middle-East, could we ever expect a separation of the Middle-East and Africa from the European RCQs?
    • Billy: There’s no plans for it right now, but if it ever made sense we would continue to evaluate it.
  • Will we ever use our DCI numbers for competitive play again?
    • Billy: Nope.
  • Is there any talk about extending the start time of an ACQ?
    • Kyle: That is something I’m going to keep an eye on now that we have more players, and the timing of how players are actually engaged. This affects both the entry and ending of an event, because we have a rule for the last player standing. Whenever it gets triggered we see the one player who’s been sitting in a queue for an hour and a half hoping they’ll find someone to play against. I’m going to be paying close attention to how players are playing in these events, and the current time frame can be difficult for players in other timezones. So it’s something I’m aware of and will be paying attention to, but I don’t have any updates at this time.
  • Is there any news on possibly getting a Spectator Mode on Arena?
    • Kyle: I will say I *really* want there to be a Spectator Mode, as the person who coordinates coverage for the events. It’s not something that’s actively being worked on and isn’t necessarily coming, but you’re not the only one that wants this. I’m carrying that flag and trying to make it happen every step of the way.
  • Is there any consideration for splitting the US RCs, considering they’re now exceeding 1300 participants?
    • Billy: Yes, we’ve talked about it and thought about when that goes from more of a discussion to an imperative. Yes, we are aware of it and we are discussing it.
  • Would it be possible to have a wider variety of formats for ACQs, now that we’re getting more of them? Draft specifically.
    • Kyle: One of the changes we made to the Arena Opens was for Draft to be the format on Day 2 and the feedback on that has been great. I definitely want to look into if it makes sense or if we can replicate that. It turns out that having 6 wins needed to qualify for an AC is two booster drafts. Weird how that works out, isn’t it? I don’t have anything to confirm today, but the changes to the system does make it a little easier to maybe give something like that a shot.
  • Is there any consideration to adding a league system and challenges to Arena, similar to MTGO?
    • Kyle: It’s something I personally want and we talk about a lot. Maybe not 1:1 what MTGO does for their leagues, but certainly how can we better surface player success on Arena. People see their top decklists getting published on those leagues and it’s something for players to aspire to. That’s the thing we want to chase with whatever version of this we implement on Arena. We want to give players a clear path on how to be highlighted and track their progress over time.