16 Magic: The Gathering competitors will compete at the World Championship XXVI for their share of the $1 million prize pool next month, with the champion winning the $300,00 grand prize. This will be the first Magic World Championship that will use Magic: The Gathering Arena instead of the traditional tabletop cards, and it was previously announced that the format is Standard, but Wizards of the Coast recently announced that Standard is not the only format that will be featured in the biggest tournament of the season.
The official Magic Esports Twitter account confirmed that there will be booster draft and Standard at this year's World Championships.
Now this is surprising news since Magic Arena doesn't currently feature the traditional booster draft that could host eight players. The free-to-play game currently uses bots for the drafting portion, but Wizards recently announced that the MTG Arena developers are planning to add that feature this year. So the question is how are the players going to play booster draft at the World Championships?
As Redditor Roswulf pointed out, there are only ways they can play this format at the World Championships:
1) The debut of pod drafting in Arena and (assuming no technical disasters) a really brilliant promotional move.
2) A hybrid bit of clunk where they draft with paper and then play with Arena....which would be disappointing but ultimately a fine way to handle things competitively.
3) Bot drafting that will attract merciless criticism from all corners (and I say this as a casual player who LIKES bot drafting)
Hopefully, we'll see the debut of pod drafting in Arena, but since Wizards recently just announced that the developers are still working on that feature, the most likely option is probably #2 above. No one wants to see the top pros draft with Arena bots. That would be ridiculous.
Get a chance to win free rewards on Magic Arena by cheering on one of the sixteen competitors. See the details here.
The Magic World Championship XXVI will take place in Honolulu, Hawaii on February 14-16, and will stream live on Twitch.tv/magic.