The DCI (formerly, Duelists' Convocation International) is the official sanctioning body for competitive play in Magic: The Gathering and various other games produced by Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill. Created in January 1994, the DCI provides game rules, tournament operating procedures, and other materials to private tournament organizers and players. It also operates a judge certification program to provide consistent rules enforcement and promote fair play.
- 1 DCI numbers
- 2 Tournament formats
- 3 Changes
- 4 References
- 5 External links
Up until 2020, players had to register for a free membership and receive a DCI number (PIN) in order to play in sanctioned events. The DCI maintained a global player ratings database using the Elo rating system and members had access to their entire tournament history online. The Elo was once used to qualify for professional play, but it eventually was abandoned as players refused to play and risk their rating once achieved. The Elo was otherwise private, though a fan-tracked system was implemented for interested viewers. If a member committed frequent or flagrant rules infractions, their membership could be suspended for variable amounts of time depending on the severity, from one month to a lifetime.
On May 27, 2020, DCI numbers and Planeswalker Points were sunsetted and access to the Planeswalker Points website was removed. Future in-store play and esports events, as well as other play opportunities, would require players to have a valid Wizards Account which worked with the Magic: The Gathering Companion app and a new event tool for local game stores.
The DCI sanctions tournaments for a variety of games. Unlike those of many other game producers, a significant proportion of DCI events are organized and run by independent businesspeople and hobbyists, as opposed to by retailers.
Magic: The Gathering
In Constructed tournaments, decks must consist of no fewer than 60 cards, and no more than four of any one card. The basic lands and (in formats where they are legal) the cards with relentless, however, may be used in different quantities. A Banned List of specific cards is maintained for each format.
Additionally, a sideboard of at most 15 cards is permitted, from which a player may tweak their deck during a match to better deal with their opponent's strategy. Following the first game of a best-two-of-three match, each player is permitted to replace any number of cards in their deck with an equal number of cards from their sideboard. The original deck configuration is restored at the conclusion of the match.
- Standard uses cards from the most recent 4-8 sets.
- Modern uses cards from the core set 8th Edition (released in 2003) and all sets that were since then part of Standard at one point in time plus Modern Horizons.
- Pioneer uses cards from Return to Ravnica (released in 2012) and all sets that were since then part of Standard at one point in time.
- Vintage is the only format to have a Restricted List. Each card on this list is limited to one per deck instead of the customary four. This is the only format that allows the "Power Nine".
- Legacy uses the same sets as Vintage, but only has a Banned List and not a Restricted List.
Vintage and Legacy were very closely related until September 1, 2004, when R&D decided that splitting the formats was a good idea. Certain cards formerly banned in Legacy were unbanned and the format was allowed to develop on its own. Legacy once had a reputation for being the "poor man's Vintage" but today has developed into a format very distinct from Vintage.
Limited tournaments are based on a pool of cards which the player receives at the time of the event. Any number of basic lands may also be added to the deck. The decks in limited tournaments need only be 40 cards minimum; all of the unused cards function as the sideboard.
There are three common types of limited tournaments.
- Sealed deck: Players each receive six booster packs of 15 cards.
- Booster draft: Players each receive three booster packs of 15 cards. After being seated around a table, each player simultaneously opens one booster pack, selects a single card, and then passes the remaining cards to the next player over. After all players have drafted fifteen cards, they each open their second pack, and drafting continues. Players examine privately the cards they receive; direct communication between drafters is not allowed. A booster draft normally comprises eight players, but sometimes fewer will suffice. Once players have built their decks, they compete against the other players in the draft.
- Rochester draft: Players each receive three booster packs of 15 cards. One player's first pack is opened, the cards are placed upon a table for all to see, and the players take turns selecting one card at a time until the pack is exhausted. The next player's pack is then opened, and drafting continues. A Rochester draft normally comprises eight players, but team Rochester uses two teams of three players each, who may communicate non-verbally during the draft.
Retired formats are formats which are no longer sanctioned by the DCI.
- Extended uses cards from the last eight blocks and the last three Core Sets.
- Block Constructed permits only cards from a single "block" of up to three sets. Most tournaments use only the most recent block, but each block is potentially available, if announced ahead of time.
- 1.4 Participation Eligibility
Anyone is eligible to participate as a player in a DCI-sanctioned tournament except for:
* Individuals currently suspended by the DCI.
* Other individuals specifically prohibited from participation by DCI or Wizards of the Coast policy (such determination is at Wizards of the Coast’s sole discretion);
* Individuals thirteen (13) years of age and younger who do not have their parent/guardians’ permission;
* Anyone prohibited by federal, state, or local laws, the rules of the Tournament Organizer, or by a venue’s management.
* Tournament Organizers may choose to age restrict any Regular REL events that they organize. They must clearly indicate this in their marketing for the event on the Store and Event Locator description as well as any other place they display the event information. (i.e. Tournament Organizers may advertise an age 16 and under Friday Night Magic).
Multiple Pro Tours are run every year around the world. A Pro Tour season begins in August (starting with the 2012 season), with an event held roughly every three months, In the months proceeding each Pro Tour, local qualifiers (Pro Tour Qualifiers) are held around the world, where invitations are earned. Players accumulate Pro Points by attending Pro Tour events and can receive many more by placing highly. Pro Tours are invitation-only events, and only players with either a invitation (For most cases, finishing high in Grand Prix or Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers), high number of Pro Points can attend.
Winning a Pro Tour is every competitive Magic player's dream. Currently, each Pro Tour carries a total purse of $240,245 [US], with the winner receiving $40,000 [US] (the exact payout varies by player's match record). Other benefits to top finishers include invitations to future Pro Tours, with the highest-ranking players over the course of several Pro Tour stops receiving additional prize money for participation.
The most prestigious tournament of all is the Magic: The Gathering World Championship, where the best of the best in previous season play against each other until the world champion is crowned. World Championships are played over four to five days, and an invitation is required to be eligible for play. By winning pro tour, placing very highly in Pro Point ranking, or finishing overall first in either Standard or Limited portion in previous Pro Tour season.
The World Championships are now held at the end of the year usually in August or September (before the first Pro Tour of the season but after some of the season's openerGrand Prixes), most recently (2016) in Washington D.C.
- See also World Championship Decks.
Grand Prix tournaments are open to everyone, both amateurs and professionals. The payout isn't as big as for a Pro Tour and winning a Grand Prix is not as prestigious, but they still attract international competition, as Pro Points and Pro Tour invitations are awarded to high finishing players. Grand Prix tournaments are also held both in the United States and in other countries. Some recent Grand Prix events have been in: New Orleans, Los Angeles, Brussels, Beijing, Taipei, Eindhoven, and other diverse cities. Many players enjoy travelling to Grand Prix tournaments simply to travel and to see the sights around the world.
The Magic Invitational (formerly the Duelist Invitational) was a non-sanctioned tournament held for the 16 highest performers of the year. The winner of the World Championship, the Pro Tour player of the year, and several fan-voted players are among the contestants in a who's-who of professional Magic. The prize of this tournament is not money but rather the opportunity to design a new card for an upcoming expansion. When the card is printed, its artwork traditionally depicts the victor as well. It was retired after 2007 running.
The event was originally held in locations like Sydney, Australia, and Cape Town, South Africa, but in recent years, the Invitational has been held using Magic Online. Any player who has downloaded the Magic Online software can replay the completed matches.
The Magic Invitational winners to date, the cards they took part in designing, and the set they appeared in, are as follows:
- 1996: Olle Råde, Sylvan Safekeeper (Judgment)
- 1997: Darwin Kastle, Avalanche Riders (Urza's Legacy)
- 1998: Mike Long, Rootwater Thief (Nemesis)
- 1999: Chris Pikula, Meddling Mage (Planeshift)
- 2000: Jon Finkel, Shadowmage Infiltrator (Odyssey)
- 2001: Kai Budde, Voidmage Prodigy (Onslaught)
- 2002: Jens Thorén, Solemn Simulacrum (Mirrodin)
- 2004: Bob Maher, Dark Confidant (Ravnica: City of Guilds)
- 2005: Terry Soh, Rakdos Augermage (Dissension)
- 2006: Antoine Ruel, Ranger of Eos (Shards of Alara)
- 2007: Tiago Chan, Snapcaster Mage (Innistrad)
Prerelease tournaments are held in hundreds of locations around the world twelve to thirteen days before each new expansion, or set, is available for sale in stores. The prerelease provides a casual play atmosphere and provides an enjoyable atmosphere to get a preview of new cards. At Prelease tournaments, a special prerelease card is given away.
Friday Night Magic (FNM) and Arena League (currently defunct) are offered in many local game stores and clubs, allowing players to compete for special foil DCI cards and other prizes. These tournaments are mostly for amateurs and are a good place to start your Magic-playing career, but are only available at stores and clubs with Wizards of the Coast Premiere status.
Many other stores, school clubs, and community groups hold DCI-santioned events on a regular basis. Events are also held at almost all gaming conventions, such as Origins International Game Expo and Gen Con.
Legend membership program
The DCI originally offered two different membership levels: The free Mana membership and the USD$30 Legend membership. While the Mana membership was sufficient to participate in DCI sanctioned tournaments, the Legend membership provided some additional items, including membership promos and a Magic poker deck. In 2001 the Legend Membership Program was replaced by the Magic Player Rewards program.
As of September 2011, a new system called Planeswalker Points was used instead of Pro Points. Planeswalker Points is designed to let all players, from casual to competitive to pro, track and show off how much they play and win in Magic events. Starting in 2012, the number of large-scale tournaments were significantly increased.
Ending professional play
In May 2021, Magic Esports announced a return to in-person play post-COVID-19 for the 2022–23 Players Tour Season. Although the digital play was considered to be a lasting part of of the tournament scene, it is deemed to be only part of the equation going forward. As a result, the 2021–22 Players Tour Season was announced to be the last season featuring the MPL and the Rivals League. Pro Players were told that they should no longer consider success in tournament Magic to be a valid career option. Some form of managing invites for large, Pro-Tour equivalent tournaments will be implemented, and the salaries towards the Leagues would be directed into the prize pool, but no system appears to have been developed at this time.
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- Wizards of the Coast (April 27, 2020). "Sunsetting Planeswalker Points". Magic.gg.
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- Mike Turian (September 06, 2011). "Introducing Planeswalker Points.". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Wizards of the Coast (April 14, 2011). "Changes to 2012 Tournament and Event Structure". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Aaron Forsythe (November 02, 2011). "Deep Dive into Magic's Organized Play Changes". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
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- Wizards of the Coast (May 13, 2021). "Esports: Transitions And Getting Back To The Gathering". Magic.gg.
- Mike Sigrist (May 13, 2021). "We were told and given permission to say that we should no longer consider Magic professionally moving forward.". Twitter.
- The new ORGANIZED PLAY announcement and how it affects competitive players (Video). Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa. YouTube (May 14, 2021).