In the world of MTG, there are tons of places for players of all skill levels to enjoy content beyond simply playing the game themselves. Tons of content creators are providing the community with streams, articles, and more on a daily basis. There are lots of different ways to consume content, as well as lots of content creators to choose from. Well, it appears that one of the more popular streams from MTG’s past is returning, and it has players very excited.
These tournament-style streams with all-star studded casts are none other than Super Leagues. Super Leagues provide an entertaining environment for MTG enthusiasts to watch some of their favorite high-profile players battle it out. While these streams were designed to feature top-level players in a somewhat competitive environment, the way the events were typically structured made them enjoyable to casual and competitive players alike. To understand what made Super Leagues so interesting, let’s take a look at how they came to be.
Where It All Began
The first iteration of Super Leagues were specifically designed to showcase the Vintage format. Known as the Vintage Super League, or VSL for short, this unique League’s structure had a small number of players competing each week. The Vintage Super League was created in large part by Randy Buehler, a former employee at Wizards of the Coast and a former member of the Pro Tour and Grand Prix coverage team. The goal of the Vintage Super League was to bring interesting and amusing gameplay to spectators of the streams that occurred each week.
Typically, traditional MTG tournaments involve players playing simultaneously. While it can definitely be fun to watch a streamer participate in a big online event, most of the commentary on interesting decision points within each match is done by the streamer themselves. At a large high-stakes event like a Pro Tour, there is typically a specific coverage team meant to keep anyone watching coverage in the loop of what’s going on in a specific match.
What set the Vintage Super League apart was that every single match was covered live with play-by-play by other competitors in the league itself. This added a cool element to the streams, as different competitors could voice opinions and react live to the ongoing match. Each week usually featured five matches, and the ten players in the league would play every other competitor once in round-robin style. For three weeks, each player had to play the same deck, adding another unique element to deckbuilding, given that players knew during which weeks they played which competitors. The Vintage Super League ran from 2014 and aired until 2019, and its popularity spawned other Super League variants during those years as well.
Other Super Leagues
In addition to the Vintage Super League, Randy Buehler hosted Super Leagues in other formats as well. In 2015, the Standard Super League was born. There were multiple seasons of the Standard Super League that year, and in September 2015, the Modern Super League debuted. At the end of the year, the Super League Championship showcased top performers from the last seasons of the Vintage, Standard, and Modern Super Leagues, and was won by Magic Hall of Famer Paul Rietzl.
From there, the Community Super League was established, meant to show off popular podcasters and commentators playing off-the-wall decks for a different kind of viewer experience. We also saw a Team Draft Super League emerge, with well-established pros such as Luis Scott-Vargas and Jon Finkel ready to duke it out.
Unfortunately, while these events were popular, especially at the start, they were quite difficult to maintain. They required people to continue to organize, promote, produce, and run the streams continuously. While Randy Buehler and Athena Froehlich did a great job for a few years, super leagues as a whole fell by the wayside. That is, until now. A new Modern Super League series is set to begin very soon, and players are as excited as ever.
A Triumphant Return
Super Leagues are officially back, with week one premiering this coming week at 1PM PDT on August 30. You can tune in either on the official Magic Online Twitch channel or on Anuraag Das’ Twitch channel. While the days of commentary and production by Randy Buehler and Athena Froehlich are long gone, the new era of production by Anuraag, Will, and Bradley is among us.
This is a great chance to bring a nostalgic and successful streaming event back to MTG. Unfortunately, though, little additional information about how the Modern Super League is structured and who the competitors are is available. Regardless, many players are looking forward to tuning in and finding out more.
The return of Super Leagues should provide an excellent viewer experience for new and old MTG players all the same. These events take a lot of time to put together and even more effort to run effectively, so seeing them come back is a welcome surprise. For anyone who enjoys watching top-tier players and content creators face off against each other in a special environment, definitely consider checking the upcoming Modern Super League out. This could be the spark needed to bring back these amazing events back for the foreseeable future.