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MTG Arena Open 2 advertisement

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, the 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 seven wins before three losses, while Day 2 means getting to seven wins before two losses. Obtaining seven 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 are not 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 in to 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 upcoming 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 upcoming Open on August 1st will use Historic Constructed.

Now let’s take a look at how the event structure differs for Day 1 versus Day 2.

MTG Arena Open Day 1 (May 29 Announcement)

Day 1

Registration for Day 1 begins at 8 a.m. PT and end at 4 a.m. PT the next day. Keep in mind that Day 1 itself ends three hours later at 7 a.m. PT. This means that you’ve got a pretty big window to sign up, and even if you sign up at the last second, you’ll have a good chance to play your games.

The games that you play on Day 1 will be best-of-one matches of the designated format. For the upcoming event on August 1st, that would be Historic Constructed.

Deck submission for Day 1 of the upcoming Open has the following guidelines:

  • You’ll submit one 60-card Historic Constructed deck with an optional sideboard. Keep in mind that while Day 1 is 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 change your deck out for a different one 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.

Something else to remember is that you’ll be gunning for seven wins before receiving three losses, so have your best decks ready! If you reach the fated seventh win on Day 1, you’ve got yourself a ticket to Day 2.

MTG Arena Open Day 2 (May 29th Announcement)

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, not three, but you’re still fighting for seven wins to get the top prize.

Day 2 opens registration at 8 a.m. PT, which is only an hour after Day 1 fully closes. Registration ends two hours later at 10 a.m. PT, while the whole event comes to a close at 6 p.m. PT.

The window for signing up here is notably shorter, but you’ve got ample time to play your matches. You’ll still be playing in the designated format from Day 1, but this time your matches will be conducted in a best-of-three style.

While a sideboard is still optional for your deck submission, we highly recommend having one this time around since BO3 actually utilizes it. 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.

Isamaru, Hound of Konda MTG card art by Christopher Moeller

Isamaru, Hound of Konda | Illustration by Christopher Moeller

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 so far been consistent, with the only change being that a new event qualification has been added. Take a look:

In addition, participation in the Historic Open will award you with the following card styles for your collection: Isamaru, Hound of Konda, Kira, Great Glass-Spinner, Languish, Grim Lavamancer, and Thragtusk.

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. Reaching five or more match wins on Day 2 of the Arena Open will grant you eligibility to participate in the subsequent set-related Qualifier Weekend!

This addition comes as part of the plan that Wizards has to expand their Esports scene and make it more accessible. This change will be in effect for the 2020-2021 Esports season as of the Arena Open on August 1st.

An All-Access Competitive Event

When it comes to the competitive scene for MTG Arena, events up until now have been exclusively invite-only. You would originally have to climb all the way to the top 1,200 of Mythic rank to receive an invitation to a Qualifier, and that’s 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 to qualify in any other way. You simply pay the entry fee and play your games and, with a little bit of luck and well-trained skill, you’ve got a chance to go big and make it to a Qualifier Weekend.

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.

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner MTG card art by Kev Walker

Kira, Great Glass-Spinner | Illustration by Kev Walker

The Collective Opinion

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.

Thragtusk MTG card art by Nils Hamm

Thragtusk | Illustration by Nils Hamm

Arena Opens: The Future

With the success of the first Arena Open and soon the second, 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.

I’d honestly enjoy seeing a Pauper, Brawl, or Singleton format event pop up down the line, but I feel like those aren’t too likely.

And Now You Know

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.

Grim Lavamancer MTG card art by Jim Nelson

Grim Lavamancer (Torment) | Illustration by Jim Nelson

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!

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