Just a few short weeks ago, tucked away in a weekly Magic Online announcement page, the Mythic Championship Qualifier (or MCQ) schedule was undergoing some changes. One of these changes lists the very first ever Pauper MCQ being held on the platform on Saturday August 24th at noon EST/9AM PST.
I'll be honest with you - I almost didn't even catch that this event was happening. I just happened to stumble onto the announcement page on Reddit and saw someone in the comments point out the MCQ to me. After that I started spreading the word and not longer after that, an announcement of a Pauper Championship being held at MagicFest Vegas, much like last year's, dropped on us. While I think that one is very sweet, and something you should check out if you're going to Vegas and like the Pauper format, I think the MCQ is far more important for the format going forward.
The first thing we need to look at here is the lead up and trajectory of the format. Where were we before and how did we get here.
It was roughly 20 months ago now - hard to believe it's been that long honestly - since the Professor's initial tweet asking ChannelFireball for a Pauper Grand Prix. While we didn't get a Grand Prix, we did get a lot of sweet events throughout last year's Grand Prix events and into this year's MagicFests. The SCG Tour also hosted their fair share of Pauper side events, including a big Classic during last year's summer SCG Con.
Things seemed to be slowing down a little but then we got a bombshell dropped on us: a MCQ held at MagicFest Los Angeles. The turnout was quite strong and eventually a winner was crowned but we didn't hear anything else about other events going forward. Cut to the end of June and the format becomes officialized. And now, roughly a month after, we get word that there will be a proper MCQ on Magic Online for Pauper for the first time ever!
Now we must look at the why. Why is this such a big deal and what might it mean going forward?
The first and most clear thing is that we're even getting one of these. There were people, myself included, worried and somewhat skeptical that we would get another MCQ after LA. A lot of factors were at play and we weren't totally sure that the format had been making the level of showings needed to get there. We have the Magic Online Format Championship coming up at the end of the year, which does have a Mythic Championship invitation on the line, but that was more of a universal thing that all non-Standard formats were involved in.
To say we're getting an actual MCQ means there's real recognition of the format, especially when it started right on Magic Online years ago simply as a player-driven one. While we only have one to go off of, we can infer so far that this arguably puts us on par with how Wizards of the Coast recognizes a format like Legacy. The format doesn't get as many big events as Modern or Standard, but it still gets a bone thrown its way. I'm content with that myself, especially when I believe Vintage has yet to have an MCQ, although I could very much be wrong there.
What I hope for is how this bodes for the future of the format with competitive play. We're seeing the shifts to allow competitive play online first because it's the best place to test the waters. We already have the Leagues and Challenges, so let's see how things go over at a higher level of play. If the turnout impresses the right people, we could even see bigger paper Pauper events in the near future. There was even talk of a possible Pauper Grand Prix for MagicFest Portland this year when the original Quarter 4 format schedule was announced, but ChannelFireball has since announced it as a Standard event.
Still, good attendance at online events, especially if they compare well enough to Legacy ones that they seem to be similar to, could very well lead to bigger paper events. We could see more SCG Classics, paper MCQs, and even perhaps an actual Grand Prix! First, though, we need to make sure this online MCQ does fantastically! Maybe then we can see some truly spectacular events next year. More and more stores are already picking up the format and event attendance is higher than ever in many places from what I've heard. All of this bodes well and with any luck, we'll see that continuing well into 2020.
And let me just be the first to say: I absolutely cannot wait.