How To Qualify For MTG Nationals In 5 Months Or Less, by Graeme McIntyre

How To Qualify For MTG Nationals In 5 Months Or Less, by Graeme McIntyre

Grinding Planeswalker Points For Nationals

Following on from my article regarding Nationals, there have been a number of people asking about qualification for this event, and the easiest, fastest way to accumulate the planeswalker points required. This article is targeted at a pretty wide audience, which might result in some of the content being fairly elementary to some readers. It’s not my intention to teach you how to suck eggs, but it is my intention to make accessing this event as easy as possible for new players, old players coming back into a game which has changed a great deal in recent years, as well as the regular tournament going population.

I’ll start by going over how the system works before I go onto looking at different events and their relative (realistic) value as a means of qualification for Nationals.

How it works

The information can be found here.

“Casual Events” give you 1 point, total, no more no less. These are not a major concern for our purposes.

“Competitive Events” give you 3 points per win, 1 point per draw. These encompass all sanctioned magic events.

The prestige and difficulty of the event corresponds with their “planeswalker point multiplier”.

“1x: Sanctioned Magic tournaments, Prerelease events, Friday Night Magic

2x: WPN Premium Qualifiers, Game Day events

3x: Grand Prix Trials, Public Events at Grand Prix

4x: Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers, WPN Premium Tournaments

5x: World Magic Cup Qualifiers

8x: Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix

12x: (Lifetime Points Only): Pro Tour, World Magic Cup, Magic World Championship”
(quoted from the wizards website on March 10th 2017)

The multiplier is the amount that your points are multiplied by. So for example, if you played a Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier in which you won three games (3×3=9) and drew another two (1×2=2) you would get the sum of your wins and draws (9+2=11) multiplied by four (11×4=44). Then the following week you played Friday Night Magic and won all five rounds (3×5=15) you would get (15×1=15) points.

You also get bonus points based on the size of the event, which are also multiplied. So in the examples above I’ve assumed a five round event, meaning that the PPTQ would net (44+<2×4=8>=52) and the FNM would net (15+<2×4=8>=23) for a total of (52+23=75) points.

It’s worth noting that different countries have different points totals required for qualification. These can be found here on pages 30 and 31 (thanks to UK Judge Edd Miles for helpfully providing this information – I find the wizards site dreadfully difficult to navigate, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. A pity, considering it is the first point of contact for new players entering the game)

Country: Points Required for Invitation, Points Required for One-Round Bye:

England: 300, 3000
Ireland: 100, 1500
Northern Ireland: 100, 1500
Scotland: 100, 1500
Wales: 100, 1500

Argentina: 300, 3000
Australia: 300, 3000
Austria: 300, 3000
Belarus: 100, 1500
Belgium: 300, 3000
Bolivia: 100, 1500
Brazil: 300, 3000
Bulgaria: 100, 1500
Canada: 500, 4000
Chile: 200, 2400
China: 300, 3000
Chinese Taipei: 200, 2400
Colombia: 100, 1500
Costa Rica: 100, 1500
Croatia: 100, 1500
Cyprus: 100, 1500
Czech Republic: 300, 3000
Denmark: 200, 2400
Dominican Republic: 100, 1500
Ecuador: 100, 1500
El Salvador: 100, 1500
Estonia: 100, 1500
Finland: 200, 2400
France: 500, 4000
Germany: 500, 4000
Greece: 300, 3000
Guatemala: 100, 1500
Hong Kong: 200, 2400
Hungary: 200, 2400
Iceland: 100, 1500
Indonesia: 100, 1500
Israel: 100, 1500
Italy: 500, 4000
Japan: 500, 4000
Latvia: 100, 1500
Lithuania: 100, 1500
Luxembourg: 100, 1500
Macedonia: 100, 1500
Malaysia: 200, 2400
Malta: 100, 1500
Mexico: 300, 3000
Netherlands: 300, 3000
New Zealand: 200, 2400
Norway: 200, 2400
Panama: 100, 1500
Paraguay: 100, 1500
Peru: 100, 1500
Philippines: 300, 3000
Poland: 300, 3000
Portugal: 300, 3000
Puerto Rico: 100, 1500
Romania: 100, 1500
Russian Federation: 300, 3000
Serbia: 100, 1500
Singapore: 200, 2400
Slovak Republic: 200, 2400
Slovenia: 100, 1500
South Africa: 200, 2400
South Korea: 200, 2400
Spain: 500, 4000
Sweden: 300, 3000
Switzerland: 200, 2400
Thailand: 200, 2400
Turkey: 100, 1500
Ukraine: 200, 2400
United States: 500, 4000
Uruguay: 100, 1500
Venezuela: 100, 1500

Who you are

There isn’t one “best” way to accumulate points that suits everyone. Speaking about it purely numerically would a a short article – clearly, the Grand Prix events have the best multiplier so go out and win one! It’s also pretty easy if you already have 90% of the points required for you to play in your nation’s event. if you have every weekend free for months it’s pretty simple too, while it’s more difficult if you only have 1 every 2 months.

For practical reasons I am going to make some assumptions, but it shouldn’t be too problematic to adapt these for your own situation. If you’re unsure, then let me know either on Facebook or on the comments section at the end of the article, and I’ll make some suggestions.

I’m assuming that you’re an “average Magic player” in terms of skill (for the purposes of this article that means you win half the time). I’m going to assume that you have no points at all, because this allows for an objective target in a numerical sense. I’m also going to assume that you can play twice a month on the weekends – because otherwise you’re pretty much 100% going to need to get the points from a Grand Prix – and that you can realistically get to an airport.

What to do

  • Sanctioned Magic tournaments, Prerelease events, Friday Night Magic (x1)

These are just not going to get it done if you need loads of points. Assuming an average of 32 people, you’re going to get two wins and a draw every other week for a total of 18 points a month. If you’re tight on time and want to be qualified then these are going to need to go, and should be replaced by something with a higher multiplier.

  • WPN Premium Qualifiers, Game Day events (x2)

For these let’s assume 6 rounds with a cut to top 8. Assuming you lose in the quarters having gone 4-1-1 in the Swiss, these are still only worth 36 points.

  • Public Events at Grand Prix (x3)

These are more of a bonus attachment to the GP. Given our assumption of a 50% win rate you’re unlikely to make day 2, meaning that you’ll be able to play these. Assuming you play all day you might manage something like 15 rounds of Magic over three events. Assuming 32 person events, that’s 88 points for a single day of playing, or nearly four FNMs. If you can get there the day before early enough you might get a couple of events in then, too, and then you’re looking at around 120 points just from side events.

  • Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers, WPN Premium Tournaments (x4)

These are solid in terms of points. There seems to be one nearly every weekend, often on both days, within around an hour and a half drive of me. Assuming a five round event, and losing in the semi-finals, these events will produce 63 points for a day’s play.

  • Regional Pro Tour Qualifiers, Grand Prix (x8)

Because we’re assuming you have no points at the moment, you won’t be qualified for the Regional Pro Tour Qualifier, so we will ignore that event for our purposes. A GP will generally mean 9 rounds, so 4 wins and a draw in our model, or (3x4x8=96+8=104+<8×8=64> = 168).

Even with a 50% win ratio, GPs are worth around 5 times what a PPTQ is in terms of planeswalker points. They’re almost certainly the most efficient event to attend if it is possible to do so.

You can find upcoming MTG events in your area here: UK Magic Calendar, and ask questions and discuss topics such as this on our MTG Facebook community group here: mtgUK & Ireland Community & Trading Discussions

Some problems with this article which ought to be taken into consideration

The problem with this article is that the generalisations make it somewhat applicable to many people but not strongly applicable to anyone. I’ve concluded that Grand Prix events are a very good way of accumulating points not simply because of the multiplier, but also because of the massive volume of games they offer access to, regardless of skill. This isn’t very helpful for someone who can’t take much time away from their work or family in a single sitting, though. For these people, PPTQs will be more suitable because they allow someone to pick which ones they attend. In doing so, they can reduce the amount of time spent away by selecting nearby events. This is a valid strategy, although it will be less effective than Grand Prix in terms of hours.

Beyond this, skill is a factor. Many people will be either more or less likely to win games than I have suggested, and correspondingly their expected outcomes from events will change. This is simply a matter of the system benefiting people who win more, meaning that the worse you are at the game, the more you are required to play it. There are many articles on how a person might improve their game, and I have written a number of them on this site.

Perhaps the most obvious issue is that many people won’t be starting at zero points. While this may affect how someone attempts to qualify, it’s fair to say that if you have a significant number of points you are unlikely to need an article telling you how to accumulate more. Ultimately, if you’ve already been playing quite a bit this year there is a good chance that you have already made significant progress towards qualification.


While there are some limitations in how universally this article can be written due to individual differences, I hope my explanation was effective for those of you completely unfamiliar with the system. For those of you who understand the system, I hope that my calculations were helpful in helping you work out the best course of action. I should say, in case it isn’t obvious, that dropping from events isn’t conducive to accumulating planeswalker points. So, don’t do that if you’re short! My friend Alastair Rees ended up short of a bye at GP Utrecht last month by 28 points, and naturally he lost the first round. Frustrating stuff!

That’s it for this week. Hopefully I’ll have something to say about statistics for next week!

You can find upcoming MTG events in your area here: UK Magic Calendar, and ask questions and discuss topics such as this on our MTG Facebook community group here: mtgUK & Ireland Community & Trading Discussions

All the best,

Graeme McIntyre

*UPDATE* as Tom Rochester pointed out, I made a mistake in the inital version of this article in mistakenly thinking the participation points were applied *after* the multiplier, when they are in fact also multiplied. Naturally, this makes the events with the bigger multipliers even more appealing. Thanks for the heads up, Tom!

How To Qualify For MTG Nationals In 5 Months Or Less, by Graeme McIntyre
Following on from my article regarding Nationals, there have been a number of people asking about qualification for this event, and the easiest, fastest way to accumulate the planeswalker points required. Here are my suggestions...

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Graeme McIntyre
I've been playing magic since the end of Rath Block, and I've been a tournament regular since Invasion Block. I started studying for a PhD in Sociology at University of Leicester in 2017. I was born In Scotland, but moved to Nottingham three years ago, seeking new oppertunities both academic and magical. I play regularly with David Inglis, Alastair Rees and Neil Rigby. I've been on 5 Pro Tours the 2016 English World Cup Team, and Scottish 2003 European Championship Team, but what I really bring to the table is experience. I've played 136 Pro Tour Qualifiers, 18 Grand Prixs, 11 National Championships, 13 World Magic Cup Qualifers, 51 Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifiers and more little tournaments than I can remember. More than anything else, my articles are intended to convey the lessons of this lived experience. Likes - robust decks, be they control, midrange, beatdown or combo. Cryptic Commands, Kird Apes and Abzan Charms. Dislikes - decks that draw hot and cold. Urza's Tower, Life From the Loam and Taigam's Scheming.