Magic: The Gathering hosted its first ever Mythic Invitational tournament over the past weekend at PAX East, and the long-time trading card game brand had a successful weekend, eclipsing its own highest concurrent viewership total on Twitch with an impressive count that extended over 100,000 people. Previously, Magic: The Gathering was typically known for between 30,000-50,000 viewers on major tournament weekends.
The viewership spike has a lot to do with Magic Arena quickly becoming one of the most popular online card games in the world. Wizards of the Coast, the company behind Magic, has dumped a lot of resources into the new take on an old favorite, sponsoring several major streamers to give it a shot. The difference? Whereas EA's sponsorship of Ninja's Apex Legends stream was a one-time deal that didn't result in him adopting it as his main game, many of the content creators Wizards has sponsored have stuck around. Many of them participated in the Mythic Invitational as well, further fueling the desire of fans to spectate the event.
Magic Arena climbed to the 100k viewership mark during the Mythic Invitational on the tournament's final day according to Reddit, which saw three Magic pros and one content creator battle for a grand prize of $250,000. While it was no surprise to see players like Ondrej Strasky, Piotr Glowgowski, and eventual winner Andrea Mengucci thrive in the setting, the standout story of the weekend was Janne "Savjz" Mikkonen's ascent to the top of the Magic tournament world. The popular Hearthstone streamer has been giving Magic Arena a much bigger share of his time in recent months, and the dedication paid off, much to the delight of his many subscribers who helped bolster the Mythic Invitational's viewership numbers even further.
While Savjz would ultimately finish third, his run—and the success of several other content creators, who were an equal presence in the Top 16 finishers with established pros—helped make the Mythic Invitational feel particularly special. While the prize money was a life-changing amount, and the kind that card games really haven't offered with any semblance of frequency before, the narrative that buoyed the Mythic Invitational through Magic's occasional non-games was the star of the show. 100,000 viewers put Magic: The Gathering ahead of battle royale titles on the weekend, and it indicates that Wizards of the Coast's desire to establish Magic as a viable esport is working.
Magic hit over 100,000 viewers on Twitch today for the first time ever, much of this due to Arena and finally being able to watch Magic and understand what's going on. It's about time for a legendary game like Magic and great for MTG esports. #MythicInvitational pic.twitter.com/6ZzXJlnR0U— Rod Breslau (@Slasher) March 30, 2019
Naturally, there are a few caveats to this story—the most important of which is the fact that the Mythic Invitational was being broadcast on some websites almost in the background, meaning that 100,000 people might not have been actively viewing it. Still, that can likely be balanced out by the fact that many single viewers represent several people at once, watching in the same household. Regardless of the explicit accuracy of the number, which is a greater Twitch problem rather than just a Magic: The Gathering one, the Mythic Invitational was exactly the success Wizards of the Coast had hoped for. With such a dramatic increase in viewership, it's fair to wonder if Magic: The Gathering's paper game might be in for another boom period to follow, as the new War of the Spark expansion looks to make a mark on Standard with the introduction of over thirty new planeswalkers.