Wizards Announces the End of Pro Leagues and the Return of CommandFest

Matt Morgan • May 14, 2021

A bit of a slow week in the world of Magic: the Gathering. After last week's loaded announcement for summer plans in 2021, that may have been expected. There was one announcement that has been met with some ire, but Commander players have some positive takeaways. A majority of the article doesn't affect Commander players but there are a few points worth mentioning. Let's get into the brief announcement and follow-up tweets from the Magic esports account after. In short, Wizards is ending the Magic Pro League and Rivals League and will invest instead into regional events and things like CommandFest.

"Getting back to the Gathering"

The article gives some vague details regarding in person play but gives a few hints. Plans seem like they will not be going into effect until 2022 at the earliest while large in-person gatherings still are kept to a minimum. The shift in priority regarding larger events is taking a major shift though from the main event. MagicFests in the past had featured a 60-card format played at high levels with side events for more casual formats like Commander. Moving forward the reverse may be true as Commander becomes featured by event organizers.

  • Accessibility is important, and that means broader access to play. We're looking at everything, from local events and the success of CommandFests to creating even more levels of play that are open to a broader swath of players. A larger audience means more types of events.

It is promising to see that while professional level play is taking a major hit that CommandFests were called out as a success. Only a handful of CommandFests were able to happen previously but the player reaction has been wildly positive and organizers have taken note.

A More Casual Direction

With Organized Play shifting away from exclusively competitive Magic it can only be assumed that Commander will fill that space. Magic's Esports account confirmed that competitive formats will still be around and featured but the emphasis will not be to feature the top level of professional players anymore. Player profiles had been a major point of emphasis during Magic's rise in popularity over the past 5-10 years.

With in-store play slowly opening back up it seems natural for small local events to get early support. 2019 saw prize support in the form of special boosters specifically as incentives for in-store play. The program for game store special support grew until 2020's circumstances closed off playing in game shops, so the reinforcement of game store support will be appreciate while players transition back into playing in person again.

So what can we expect as we look to 2022 and the return of major events? With casual play destined to become the new main attraction at larger scale events, what are you the players most excited for? CommandFests featured discussion panels, cosplay meet and greets and many other socially focused activities. Will we see featured pods of content creators or bounty hunts of old, where players can get rewards for interacting with others and unlocking achievements in games? Let us know in the comments what you hope to see at large events in the future!

Matt is a member of the EDHRECast, representing the 60-card formats and the Timmy's alike. He appreciates bad wordplay as much as a good alpha strike. A diverse nerd, you might also see him maining Lux support in League of Legends as well or on the deadlift platform at the gym.