Wizards promise to bring back leagues this year. This makes me very excited.

Wizards promised to bring back leagues in 2011. That did not happen.

I choose to still remain excited.

Before I talk about why I used to love the MTGO Leagues, I must mention our own league.

The Magicgatheringstrat league

As you may know, VaultBoyHunter has launched a league here on MagicGatheringStrat.com. Thanks, Sam! That is quite amazing.

I was a bit skeptical about the format – I thought it would turn away people – but it turns out that Modern Silverblack (only commons and uncommons legal in Modern) is a great format. 50 players signed up for the League!

One reason to launch this league was that we simply could not wait for the official leagues.

The official MTGO Leagues coming this year

(That is assuming that Wizards did not lie to us again, but I remain hopeful).

We are getting Leagues in 2014 and we are not getting only the Limited leagues (the only leagues there ever were before) but we are also getting Constructed leagues. Exactly how many players these Leagues will take, what their format will be, how long they will last etc remain unknown at this point.

I think Constructed Leagues will revive Pauper, but I have said that already many times. That is assuming we get Pauper as a format for the Leagues.

Did I tell you that I am excited Leagues are coming back? I understated it. I AM REALLY EXCITED LEAGUES ARE COMING BACK!

Why am I so excited?


My League experiences on Magic Online

The original leagues were all limited. There were no constructed leagues.

First, during the Magic Online Beta (2002 – a very happy time – you got 4 new boosters every day and could play for free and trade for the cards you needed) I played several leagues. The beta leagues had 1024 participants. That and the fact that people did not really care when nothing was on the line made them quite suboptimal. I realize now why they could not do 1024 people leagues (as they wanted them to fill even for less popular formats) but I was truly disappointed when the v1 client launched and the leagues were capped at 256 people.

The original leagues (not counting the release leagues that appeared later) ran for four weeks. It started with a starter pack (roughly equivalent to three boosters) and then two extra boosters. If you were playing a full block, the starter was of the fall set (such as Odyssey) and the two boosters were from the winter and spring set (such as Torment and Judgment). Roughly this was equivalent to a Sealed Deck tournament. The biggest difference was that you had an unlimited time to build your deck, which was quite fantastic. I made extensive documents for every league. I wish I could publish them here (I still have them – all 34 of them) but they are in Swedish sadly. At the time, I thought I never would be a magic writer again.

OK, week one, deck built. Then you played five matches. That was your score for the week. Avoiding the good decks in the leagues as your counting opponents was an art form – it was very much part of winning. Scouting was also very important (as you could observe played matches). Whenever I played someone I usually knew what their bombs and removal spells were. It paid off. I had some really good results in Leagues.

After your regular matches – to help the people who had not got in their matches yet – you could play for tiebreakers. This could get quite horrible. If you had a 5-0 record, you knew your tiebreakers would be extremely important if you wanted to make top 8. So you had to play a lot. In my best league – 2nd place out of 256 – I think I played 150 tiebreaker matches. In the end, I took a week off from work to play tiebreaker matches. That was a major flaw in the structure.

When week two started, you could buy an extra booster (which you always did), then rebuild the deck. And then play five more matches plus however many tiebreaker matches you could stomach.

After four weeks the league was done. I reached 18-2 and 17-3 several times, which proved to me that all my preparation paid off. If I had a 15-5 score, I was a bit disappointed, but I usually got some sort of price.

In addition to the current expert level block, there were Core Set leagues and there were also Mirage leagues during the period when they released old sets on Magic Online.

So why did I not play more leagues when I could? Well, they were horribly expensive. Despite having two 3rd places and one 2nd place, my 34-league run cost me 517 dollars. But if I split that on the number of matches (including tiebreakers) that I played, well, I sure got a lot of entertainment for my money.

In the end, I think it was corruption that killed the leagues. Cheating was rampant (starting with multiple accounts). I am not sure why people did that. It seemed very hard to make a profit even if you cheated as the price structure wasn’t very generous. I know that has been a major concern regarding the re-release of leagues. I am sure Wizards now have a plan to handle collusion and cheating.

I forgot one thing that I can’t stress enough – I played that many leagues and paid those dollar because Leagues were awesome. They were quite casual and a fantastic way to play limited magic. I have missed them since 2005.

See you in our league and the official leagues, whichever year they actually reappear.

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