2020 has been a difficult year for almost every professional industry. One near and dear to my heart is “Magic: the Gathering” (MTG), the worlds largest trading card game. I’ve produced a MTG podcast for the past four years and have become very entrenched in the competitive scene, regularly travelling for in person paper events. A massive part of competitive MTG is the Grand Prix circuit (now rebranded as MagicFest), which are large paper tournaments hosted in various cities around the world every year that serve as a stepping stone into the Pro circuit of competition.
In addition to the MagicFest events, many other tournament organizers around the world host paper tournament series. These all came to a sudden stop in 2020 in the face of COVID-19. All paper MTG play was suspended worldwide and all events were promptly cancelled. This left the competitive scene in shambles (more so than usual) and a glaring void for players looking for a competitive outlet. So what now? Paper MTG has always been the used for high level competition despite the digital MTG offerings, but recently the creators of MTG (Wizards of the Coast) had invested tens of millions of dollars into their new digital version of the game (MTG Arena) to make a push into the esports world. Yet no framework existed to be able to host large-scale events online. Luckily for the community, someone had already realized this and had began working on an answer before COVID-19 hit.
Enter MTG Melee.
MTG Melee was created with one goal in mind: making MTG Arena tournaments accessible to organizers and fans worldwide. The passion for MTG within its community runs deep, consider this excerpt from MTG Melee about why they created this platform: “We love this game. We’ve all worked closely with it for over a decade, and want to see Magic have all the tools it needs for players to enjoy it. Right now Magic Arena does not support tournaments, and we want to fix that. Our goal is that with MTG Melee everyone around the world can experience the joy of playing well run events from the comfort of their own homes.” And MTG Melee did just that. The site brought in 20,000 users in its first six months and partnered with major organizers including Red Bull Untapped, Star City Games, and even Wizards of the Coast to host their new flagship digital events (Flattsware, 2020). Personally I’ve organized eight events over the past six months on the platform and have had players from across the world compete, the largest of which saw 113 players show up to play. To put this in perspective, the largest event I had ever ran online before MTG Melee had 25 players. The platform has allowed me to get my events in front of much more players than I could reach before.
MTG Melee makes finding, organizing, and playing in events incredibly easy. The platform utilizes what they call a “player controller” for competitors; a webpage that delivers each players pairing information to them each round, as well as announcements, standings, and other important tournament information. This feature means players don’t have to go searching for information on various webpages each round of competition, instead they stay on their player controller and all of their info gets sent directly to them. As a player this makes the whole tournament experience fantastic. Running events from the tournament organizer side of things is also incredibly intuitive.
MTG Melee has changed the face of online competition for MTG and I’m excited to see what the future holds for the platform.
Flattsware. (2020). About Us. Retrieved October 13, 2020, from https://mtgmelee.com/Home/About