Last updated on July 19, 2021
Come one come all! The COVID-19 pandemic may have shaken the world and canceled events, but that doesn’t mean we have to wait to get back to playing MTG in a competitive setting. Wizards of the Coast has recently taken to sanctioning a new type of online competitive event: the MTG Arena Open. With Grand Prix events being cancelled due to the pandemic, Arena Open does a good job in filling the void left behind.
The MTG Arena Open is a two-day event in which players of all skill levels are welcome to compete against each other for phenomenal prizes and an invitation to the next Qualifier Weekend for the current set-related split.
Day 1 of the event sees you fighting to acquire either seven wins before three losses for BO1 or four wins before one loss for BO3, while Day 2 means getting to seven wins before two losses. Getting the max wins on Day 1 will reward you with an entry to Day 2.
If making it to Day 2 sounds formidable, take solace in knowing that your entries aren’t limited on Day 1. So long as you can pay the entry fee of 20,000 gold or 4,000 gems (equivalent to $25 USD) each time, you can participate as many times as you want.
Let’s dive into everything you need to know surrounding the event including entry requirements, rules, spicy prizes, and how WotC is integrating the event into their Esports scene.
Entry Requirements and Event Structure
There’s a little more than the entry fee when it comes to participating in an Arena Open, so let’s go over the other stipulations for eligibility real quick:
- You must be 18 years of age or older to participate.
- You’ll need an active Wizards account to participate, as well as an active i-Payout account to receive the monetary prizes.
- You’re responsible for adhering to local laws regarding participation and prize eligibility. WotC has an extensive terms and conditions article with this information ready for with the complete details.
Wizards plans to have varying formats for each Open that they host. The first Open used Standard Constructed, and the Open on August 1st used Historic Constructed. Before we take a look at how the event structure differs for Day 1 versus Day 2, here’s a quick peek at all the Arena Open events we’ve had along with their formats:
Registration for Day 1 begins bright and early the day of the event and closes just a few hours before it officially ends. There have been a few different times among the various Arena Open events, so there’s no “one size fits all” for when you can start playing and when you’ll get cut off.
You do get a few hours to complete your matches once registration ends, though. This means that you’ve got a pretty big window to sign up. Even if you register at the last second, you’ll have a chance to play your games.
The games that you play on Day 1 will be best-of-one or best-of-three matches (your choice) of the designated format. You can also switch between the two and play both, and you can enter as many times as you can afford to. Make sure to stay up-to-date on the rules for the Open you’re looking to participate in to avoid any issues.
Deck submission for Day 1 of the upcoming Open has the following guidelines:
- You’ll submit one deck for the designated format with an optional sideboard. Even if you opt for BO1, you may have cards that fish other cards out of your sideboard such as Fae of Wishes or Vivien, Arkbow Ranger.
- You can’t change your deck between matches, but you can swap decks between event entries.
- Your Day 1 deck will have no say on what you choose for Day 2, meaning that you can use a completely different deck on Day 2 than you had used during Day 1.
If you reach the fated win on Day 1, you’ve got yourself a ticket to Day 2. Keep in mind that these don’t stack. Don’t bother wasting your hard-earned gold or gems trying to get multiple entries, you only get once chance to win on Day 2.
Day 2 varies only slightly from Day 1. While you can enter infinitely into Day 1, you can only enter into Day 2 once. No redos this time, I’m afraid. Your max losses are also capped at two this time, but you’re fighting for seven wins to get the top prize.
Same as with Day 1, the start and end times for Day 2 vary with each Arena Open. Make sure you’re keeping an eye on the current rules and details so that you don’t miss your window of opportunity to play. It’s also important to note that, unlike Day 1, you only have a 2-hour entry window on Day 2 to get registered. Once you’re registered, though, you’ll have plenty of time to actually complete your matches.
You’ll still be playing in the designated format from Day 1, but this time your matches will be conducted exclusively in a best-of-three style.
While a sideboard is still optional for your deck submission, we highly recommend having one this time around. Beyond that, deck requirements are the same as Day 1 except that the deck you submit is used for all of your matches during Day 2.
MTG Arena Open Prizes
So you’ve eaten your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now it’s time for dessert, and by dessert we mean prizes! The prizes for the Arena Open have gotten a little complicated with WotC’s most recent announcement, since there are now two roads for you to take on Day 1.
BO1 gives you the same reward structure as with previous Opens. If you opt for BO3, you’ll be looking to get four wins without a single loss to continue to Day 2, and the rewards are a bit different, as you’d expect. Take a look:
You also get some cosmetics as an entry reward for Day 1. Don’t forget to keep an eye on the announcement for each Arena Open to check out the details for the event to see if you’re interesting in what’s being offered.
While a staggering $2,000 USD is waiting for you if you reach seven wins on Day 2, WotC has added a new incentive to the prize pool. You’ll also earn eligibility to participate in the subsequent set-related Qualifier Weekend if you can hit that coveted 7-win streak!
This addition comes as part of the plan that Wizards has to expand their eSports scene and make it more accessible. This change came into effect for the 2020-2021 eSports season as of the Arena Open on August 1st.
An All-Access Competitive Event
When it came to the competitive scene for MTG Arena, events used to be exclusively invite-only. You would have to climb all the way to the top 1,200 of Mythic rank to receive an invitation to a Qualifier, and that was no simple feat.
The Arena Open is different. Just as its name implies, it’s open to you with no need for an invite or qualification to participate. You simply pay the entry fee, play your games, and you’ve got a chance to go big and make it to a Qualifier Weekend with a little bit of luck and skill.
Keep in mind, though, that while WotC plans to continue hosting Arena Opens, they won’t be held every month in the same way that qualifying seasons are played. Reaching that top 1,200 spot may still be your most consistent chance at obtaining an invitation.
The Collective Opinion
Kira, Great Glass-Spinner | Illustration by Kev Walker
The first Arena Open debuted at the end of May 2020. As all things are within the community, its maiden voyage was received with mixed emotions. The format for the original event was Standard Constructed, and it wasn’t in the greatest spot at the time.
The Standard metagame was plagued by decks sporting Agent of Treachery and Fires of Invention at the time. A ban was literally a couple of days around the corner, but the event continued anyways. Not many players were thrilled about paying their hard-earned gold and gems just to lose to these oppressive haymakers.
Thankfully, the logistical side of the event was received quite well on both community and corporate sides. The event schedule gave players ample time to play their matches and ensured that each player wouldn’t be waiting too long to find an opponent.
The Value of Your Record
You’re probably thinking now about how much you need to win before you start making profit compared to your entry fee. Check out this tweet by Frank Karsten, former professional Magic player and an MTG hall of famer, regarding the estimated profit of the Arena Open.
Karsten has mathematically assembled the expected value based on your win to loss ratio.
Since the prizes haven’t changed from the first Arena Open, this information holds true. If you succeed in Day 1 but don’t get any wins on Day 2 before you’ve reached two losses, you’ll have effectively lost no value as long as your win rate is 52%. Anything above that is profit on your MTG Arena account.
This graph is based on a single entry into both Day 1 and Day 2, though. Multiple entries into Day 1 will result in a lower profit curve.
Arena Opens: The Future
With the success of the first Arena Open and those after, it’s hard not to be excited about what comes next! When it comes to future formats, WotC has already announced their plan to hold Opens with different formats, including potential draft events. With Amonkhet Remastered and Pioneer Masters on the roadmap for the future, this probably isn’t the last time we’ll see the Historic Constructed format.
And Now You Know
Grim Lavamancer (Torment) | Illustration by Jim Nelson
Now you’re fully equipped with all of the knowledge you’ll need to take on the Arena Open! If you think you’ve got what it takes to reach for the top, then I fully encourage you to take a crack at an upcoming Open. I mean, hey, it’s a chance to get first-hand interaction with the competitive scene in MTG Arena if nothing else.
Do you have any questions about the Arena Open that didn’t get answered, or maybe a differing opinion about the event? Discussion and inquiries are always welcome in the comments, so feel free to drop in and chat!