The Magic: The Gathering World Championship (commonly referred to as Worlds) is a yearly tournament to crown the best Magic player in the world. It has been held annually since 1994, and is considered the most prestigeous Magic tournament.
The first Magic World Championship was held at the Gen Con in Milwaukee, USA on 19–21 August 1994. Unlike later World Championship events, anyone could register for the event, which was a 512-player single elimination tournament held across three days. Among the competitors was later head designer for Magic, Mark Rosewater. After two days of single elimination, the final four consisted of three Europeans – the top European players were considered to be ahead of the top American players at this time – and one American, Zak Dolan. Dolan defeated Belgium's Dominic Symens 2–0 in one semifinal; the other was between two French players, Bertrand Lestrée and Cyrille DeFoucand, with Lestrée winning 2–0. Lestrée had been the pre-tournament favorite, but was defeated 2–1 in the final, making Zak Dolan the first Magic World Champion.
Since 1995, Worlds has been an invitation-only tournament. From 1996 to 2011, it was the event that concluded the current Pro Tour season, with invitations being awarded to high-level Pro players, players with a sufficiently high DCI rating, as well as the top finishers in each country's National Championship. The event featured an individual competition, with the winner being crowned the Magic: The Gathering World Champion, as well as a national team competition, where the winning team became the Team World Champion.
After the 2011 season, the World Championships was split in two. The individual competition was replaced by the Players Championship, a highly exclusive event featuring just 16 top pro players. In 2013, this event was renamed to the 'World Championship' once again, and since 2014, 24 players have been invited to compete. The team competition was replaced by the World Magic Cup, a national team competition that ran from 2014-2018, and featured teams from 72 to 74 countries.
The World Championship is currently a three-day event taking place at different times and locations every year. The 2015 World Championship was held in August, at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle. In 2013 and 2014, the World Championship was held concurrently with the World Magic Cup, and it was initially announced that the 2015's World Championship and World Magic Cup would also share the same venue, but be held on separate weeks. However, it was later announced that these would be held at different locations and at different times.
Since 2014, the World Championship has been a 24-player event featuring 14 rounds of Swiss play (seven each on the first two days) before a cut to the top four players, where they on the last day of competition play best-of-five semifinals and final matches. The World Championship currently features Standard and Booster draft, though prior to the 2017 World Championship, it featured Modern as well. In the 2019 World Championship, all play was done through MTG Arena - draft pools were uploaded onto profiles and played.
With the introduction of Magic: The Gathering Arena as a professional level medium in 2019, the system was revamped to a much more streamlined system; there would only be 16 players, much like the 2012 and 2013 Championships, and had the eight title winners over the previous season and eight at-large players, four from the Magic Pro League and four from outside it. The 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic resulted in another restructuring, now incorporating the Rivals League and using the Gauntlets as the qualifying tournaments.
The partial 2020 Players Tour Season did not hold a World Championship. That said, a small-field, split-format tournament was held under the name of the 2020 Season Grand Finals in the closing months of the 2020 season.
|Magic: The Gathering World Champions|
|1994||Zak Dolan||Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA|
|1995||Alexander Blumke||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|1996||Tom Chanpheng||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|1997||Jakub Slemr||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|1998||Brian Selden||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|1999||Kai Budde||Yokohama, Japan|
|2000||Jon Finkel||Brussels, Belgium|
|2001||Tom van de Logt||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|2002||Carlos Romão||Sydney, Australia|
|2003||Daniel Zink||Berlin, Germany|
|2004||Julien Nuijten||San Francisco, California, USA|
|2005||Katsuhiro Mori||Yokohama, Japan|
|2006||Makihito Mihara||Paris, France|
|2007||Uri Peleg||New York City, New York, USA|
|2008||Antti Malin||Memphis, Tennessee, USA|
|2009||André Coimbra||Rome, Italy|
|2010||Guillaume Matignon||Chiba, Japan|
|2011||Jun'ya Iyanaga||San Francisco, California, USA|
|2012||Yuuya Watanabe†||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|2013||Shahar Shenhar||Amsterdam, Netherlands|
|2014||Shahar Shenhar||Nice, France|
|2015||Seth Manfield||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|2016||Brian Braun-Duin||Seattle, Washington, USA|
|2017||William Jensen||Boston, Massachusetts, USA|
|2018||Javier Dominguez||Las Vegas, Nevada, USA|
|2019||Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa||Honolulu, Hawai'i, USA|
|2021||Yuta Takahashi||Online (MTG Arena)|
Team World Champions
The team world championship was held from 1995 until 2011, when it was replaced by the World Magic Cup.
|1995||United States||Mark Justice, Henry Stern, Peter Leiher, Mike Long|
|1996||United States||Dennis Bentley, George Baxter, Mike Long, Matt Place|
|1997||Canada||Gary Krakower, Michael Donais, Ed Ito, Gabriel Tsang|
|1998||United States||Matt Linde, Mike Long, Bryce Currence, Jon Finkel|
|1999||United States||Kyle Rose, John Hunka, Zvi Mowshowitz, Charles Kornblith|
|2000||United States||Jon Finkel, Chris Benafel, Frank Hernandez, Aaron Forsythe|
|2001||United States||Trevor Blackwell, Brian Hegstad, Eugene Harvey,|
|2002||Germany||Mark Ziegner, Kai Budde, Felix Schneiders|
|2003||United States||Justin Gary, Gabe Walls, Joshua Wagner|
|2004||Germany||Sebastian Zink, Torben Twiefel, Roland Bode|
|2005||Japan||Ichiro Shimura, Takuma Morofuji, Masashi Oiso|
|2006||Netherlands||Julien Nuijten, Kamiel Cornelissen, Robert van Medevoort|
|2007||Switzerland||Nico Bohny, Manuel Bucher, Raphael Genari, Christoph Huber|
|2008||United States||Michael Jacob, Paul Cheon, Sam Black|
|2009||China||Wu Tong, Bo Li, Zhiyang Zhang|
|2010||Slovakia||Ivan Floch, Robert Jurkovic, Patrik Surab|
|2011||Japan||Ryuuichirou Ishida, Tomoya Fujimoto, Makihito Mihara|
As of the 2018 World Championship the World Champion is eligible to be featured on a player spotlight card. While they won't design it, they will consult with R&D on its selection and will appear pictured in the art.
- Mark Rosewater (2004-08-23). "AN M:TGER AT GEN CON". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-09-24.
- Zak Dolan (2004-08-26). "ZAK DOLAN'S WORLDS DIARY". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 2015-09-24.
- Revamped Premier Play Coming in 2012. Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 09-10-2015.
- Helene Bergeot. "Completing the Premier Play Picture for 2013". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 09-10-2015.
- Helene Bergeot. "2015 WORLD MAGIC CUP AND WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATES". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved on 09-10-2015.
- Wizards of the Coast (February 20, 2019). "How to Become The Next Magic Champion: Qualifying for Mythic Championships and Worlds". magicthegathering.com. Wizards of the Coast.
- Elaine Chase (August 14, 2019). "The Future of Magic Esports". Magic Esports.
- Wizards of the Coast (March 31, 2022). "Return of the Pro Tour, Your Path to Playing Magic at the Highest Level". Magic.gg.
- Wizards of the Coast (January 28, 2020). "A Crucible of Worlds Awaits the World Championship XXVI". Magic.gg.