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WotC brings back MTG Standard Showdown to boost flagging format

Continuing its plans to revive the MTG Standard format, WotC has announced a new focus on Standard in organised play at all levels, from stores to Pro Tours.

MTG Standard Showdown - Sheoldred the Apocalypse, a centipede-centaur woman against a glowering setting sun

Wizards of the Coast will reintroduce Standard Showdown in February 2023, as part of its ongoing efforts to boost the popularity of the MTG Standard format. WotC Director of Play Programmes William Jensen announced the return of the prize-supported play programme for local game stores, plus other measures, live on Stream from MagicFest: Las Vegas on Sunday.

Participating Wizards Play Network stores will start to host Standard Showdowns alongside the Murders at Karlov Manor release in February 2024. These will be weekly events, with special promo MTG cards and other Magic the Gathering prizes for participants and winners.

Standard Showdown was first launched in November 2016, coinciding with the launch of MTG set Kaladesh, but was wrapped up in July 2019.

William Jensen, a grey-haired caucasian man with a short beard wearing a dark blue grey polo shirt, announceds the return of MTG Standard Showdown

Jensen also announced that the MTG Standard format would become a key part of qualifying for Pro Tour events. Starting with The Lost Caverns of Ixalan release, Store Championships will switch to Standard constructed. Likewise, in January to March the third round of regional qualifiers for the 2023-24 Regional Championships will be Standard.

In 2024, Pro Tour Outlaws at Thunder Junction will feature Standard as the Constructed format.

In 2024, MagicCon: Chicago will play host to a $75,000 Standard Open event, “similar to the Limited Opens held at MagicCon: Barcelona and MagicCon: Las Vegas”. Opens are three day events that anyone can join, without previously qualifying in a regional event. Anyone who finishes with a high enough score earns a Pro Tour invitation.

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The new Opens are comparable to the Magic Grand Prix events which WotC ran until March 2020 when they were suspended due to COVID-19. The 1,200 person Barcelona Limited Open cost $135 to enter, plus the cost of attending the convention on Friday and Saturday.

In February this year, Jensen acknowledged that Standard wasn’t in the best place. WotC’s first intervention was to extend the time for which sets would remain legal in Standard from two to three years. The intention was to give players longer to use their cards before they rotated out, and to give the design team more time to support and iterate on mechanics and themes.

MTG Standard showdown - Jean Emmanual Depraz decklist, a list of 75 cards

Standard constructed was also the format of choice for the MTG World Championship which took place this weekend, with French Jean-Emmanuel Depraz taking first place. At current prices, his deck costs $535.

Speaking of expensive cards in Standard, check out this killer Mythic reprint revealed to be part of Lost Caverns of Ixalan! If you’re not sure when any of the sets mentioned in this article are coming out, we have a handy guide to the MTG 2023 release schedule.