At the recently concluded Magic: the Gathering Mythic Championship III (MC) held in Las Vegas, Nevada, unheralded Argentinian player Mattias Leveratto upset established pro Brad Nelson in an exciting final to lift the trophy and win $100,000.
Leveratto did this in front of almost 130,000 viewers on Twitch, setting a new record for Magic. These numbers, alongside the feedback of many commentators and fans of the game, represent an encouraging sign for the traditionally tabletop-based card game trying to become the next great ESport.
Leveratto’s victory is especially spectacular considering that he had just come out of retirement from top level play recently. According to the Magic ESports Twitter account, Mattias was one of Argentina’s top pros almost a decade ago. He left the game after a bad run of results and with the high cost of travel from South America taking its toll.
Fortunately, the release of Magic’s digital platform Arena allowed him to play competitively from the comfort of his own home. Leveratto mastered the powerful Simic Nexus deck, taking it to the top of the game’s ladder. He also used it to qualify for the Mythic Championship after finishing at the top of the online qualifier.
Despite coming into the final match unfavored against the popular Esper Hero deck archetype, Leveratto’s loyalty to the card Nexus of Fate paid off. The defeated finalist, Brad Nelson, is widely considered one of the best players today.
Mythic Championship III Format and Competitors
68 players assembled on June 21st at the Mandalay Bay casino to compete in the third Mythic Championship of 2019. They used decks following the Standard format, which includes cards from the past 2 years.
32 participants were members of the Magic Pro League (MPL), representing the elite level of competitive Magic: the Gathering. 16 players made it to the MC through discretionary invites handed out by Wizards of the Coast (WotC).
Most of the invites went to popular streamers, a move that raised some eyebrows on social media. Finally, 20 participants comprised players who qualified for the MC online or through paper tournaments.
The MC played out over 3 days, with the top 12 finishers on Friday coming back for Day 2. 4 MPL players with byes into Day 2 by excelling in weekly league play joined them for the double elimination top 16.
The competitors were further whittled down to 4, who competed on Sunday for a $210,000 prize pool. Leveratto and Nelson were joined in the semifinals by Israeli MPL member Shahar Shenhar, who always excels at elite level events, and Kai Budde, nicknamed the German Juggernaut and generally agreed upon as the best Magic player of all time.
The Future of Competitive Magic
The Mythic Invitational held in March preceded this tournament as the first major Magic event to be held on Arena. But this was the first of the game’s Mythic Championships, until this year known as Pro Tours, to be staged entirely online.
Previously, Pro Tours took place on tabletops. To broadcast the tournaments on Twitch, WotC used overhead cameras and card overlays. Certainly, this method helped preserve the traditional feel of the game. But games are easier and more exciting to watch than ever before because of Arena.
Individual cards are much easier for spectators to identify and keep track of. More importantly, all game actions and mechanics happen instantly, thanks to the game engine. Even the most skillful competitors could get into miscommunications about card abilities, with trained Magic judges sorting out issues. Arena eliminates most opportunities for misunderstandings between players from different countries. Similarly, it makes cheating impossible.
As a result of slick production value and the storyline of a retired player beating the odds to lift the trophy, Mythic Championship III was a success on Twitch.M With more and more big tournaments taking place online, WotC must continue improving on the viewing experience. In time, one of the next Mythic Championships could compete with MOBA tournaments for viewership!
For more information on Magic and its competitive scene, check out this article on GamesBetOnline.