National Championships (commonly called Nationals) was a series of yearly Magic: The Gathering tournaments held in various countries throughout the world. Prior to 2011, the top finishing players at a country's Nationals got to represent their country at that year's World Championship. It was discontinued in 2012 due to Premier Event's structural change, at which point the Team World Championship was replaced by the World Magic Cup. However, National Championships returned in 2017, replacing the World Magic Cup Qualifiers as the tournament deciding the national teams at the following World Magic Cup. Nationals were again discontinued in 2019.
In 2011, 69 countries held National Championships.
Qualifying for Nationals
Until 2011, there were four primary methods of qualifying for the National Championships:
- Winning a National Championships qualifier
- Having a sufficiently high DCI rating (in the case of the United States, for example, the top 100 rated players were invited to Nationals)
- Being a member of the Pro Players Club, Level 2 or higher (10 Pro Points granted Level 2 status)
- Having finished in the top four of the previous year's National Championship
Some National Championships were open events that anyone from that country could enter. These were typically countries with a smaller population of Magic players.
Players with dual citizenship and players living abroad were often in a position to choose which National Championship to participate in. However, players were only allowed to compete in one National Championship per season. If a player competes in a Nationals Qualifier tournament (such as Regional Championships, City Championships, open tournaments, or other tournaments of this nature offering invitations to a National Championship) in one country, they could not compete in Nationals Qualifier tournaments or National Championships in another country until the following season.
Qualification for Nationals varies depending on the country. In addition to finishing high enough in a Nationals Qualifier tournament, players could also qualify based on DCI Rating or Pro Players Club level.
2017 and after
- Having a sufficiently high number of Planeswalker Points in previous PwP season (in the case of the United States, for example, players with 500 or more yearly PWPs in the previous season are invited)
- Being a member of the Pro Players Club, any level (10 Pro Points granted the minimal Bronze level). On 2017 it was determined on the same cutoff date of PwP. However, since 2018, it was determined by the level on the date of the event.
- Being a member of the Hall of Fame
- Winning a last chance qualifier held the day before the event, if any.
Unlike World Magic Cup Qualifiers, Players who were already invited to the World Magic Cup (the player in that country who received the most Pro Points in the previous Pro Season) could also participate in Nationals.
For the 2017 Nationals, the same Planeswalker Point thresholds as the World Magic Cup Qualifiers were used. The formats for 2017 Nationals were a combination of Standard and Booster Draft (Hour of Devastation and Amonkhet for events taking place in September, Ixalan for events taking place in October).
Starting in 2017, byes were also introduced to Nationals. Having a sufficiently high number of Planeswalker Points could earn players one bye; the points necessary to get a bye is either 1500, 2400, 3000, or 4000, depending on the PWP qualification level for the event. Additionally, Gold members of the Pro Players Club as well as Hall of Famers receive one bye, and Platinum members of the Pro Players Club receive two.
For National Championships held until they were discontinued following the 2011 season, the top four finishers were invited to that year's World Championships. Typically, the top three finishers made up their country's National Team, while the player finishing fourth was the reserve. In countries with open Nationals, however, only the winner qualified for the World Championships, and the country could not send a National Team.
In some countries, there were also cash prizes to top finishers; in others, product was awarded as prize. Starting in 2008, Pro Points were also awarded to the top 16 finishers, with 10 points to the winner. An exception to this was open Nationals; these events did not award Pro Points.
Starting in 2017, the top two finishers at Nationals and the National Leader of Pro Points in the previous Pro Season made up their country's National Team at the World Magic Cup. Should the Captain (the player from that country with the most Pro Points in the given Pro Tour season) finish in the top two, the top three finishers were the National Team instead. Pro Points were to be awarded to the top 4 finishers (three each to the top two finishers; one each to the third- and fourth-placed players).
- Helene Bergeot (February 9, 2017). "The Return of Nationals and Changes to Grand Prix". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Elaine Chase (December 6, 2018). "The Next Chapter for Magic: Esports". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- 2011 National Championships. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2016-05-11.
- Helene Bergeot (April 18, 2017). "Ixalan, Worlds, Pro Tour, Nationals, and RPTQs". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Mike Rosenberg (January 25, 2018). "2018 Nationals and World Macic Cup Dates and Formats". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.