2020-21 NRG Series Championship Structure

We’re counting down the days until January 7-8, 2022 when 16 of the best Magic players on the NRG Series will compete for their share of $10,000 and the title of NRG Series Champion! These players will be competing in Innistrad: Crimson Vow draft, Modern, and Legacy over two days of can’t-miss action. Let’s take a look at the tournament structure:

Event Structure

Prize Pool

Place Cash Prize Invites
1st $2,500 2022 #NRGChamp + Set Championship
2nd $1,200
3rd-4th $800
5th-8th $500
9th-16th $150 + $75 per Day 1 match win

Qualified Players

Day One

We’ll start Day One of the Championship with our draft rounds of Innistrad: Crimson Vow. On the day before the Championship, we’ll randomly assign the 16 players into one of two 8-player pods to draft. Then, the MVP (the player who’s earned the most points on the 2020-21 NRG Series Leaderboard—that’s Will Krueger) gets to swap any two players between the pods. This could mean moving himself into the other pod in exchange for a player of his choice or switching someone else out of his own pod. This exchange will happen before draft seating has been announced. After the MVP has made their choice, we’ll get ready for Stage One play on Friday morning.

The Draft rounds will be fairly straightforward to any competitive REL draft environment with in-pod pairings. Decklists will be hidden during draft rounds. Following the conclusion of the 3 draft rounds, we will have two players with a pristine 3-0 record, six competitors in the hunt at 2-1, six with work to do at 1-2, and two players at 0-3 who will need to run the table with their constructed decks and cross their fingers.

To guarantee clean pairings and to eliminate corner-case scenarios, players will not be allowed to draw during Day 1. Round timers will be extended to 55 minutes to allow matches to come to their natural conclusion. Should time expire, players will have a normal 5-turn extension before entering sudden death. If the match score is tied after the fifth turn of extension, the player with the highest life total wins the game. If players are tied for the highest life total, the next change in life total determines the result of the match. These procedures are detailed in the Magic Tournament Rules, section 2.5. Additionally, draws will be worth 0 match points (rather than the standard 1 match point), so intentional drawing will have no benefit. Plus, players who miss the Top 8 still receive $75 for each match win during Day 1, so there’s always something to play for regardless of record. And for those who make Top 8, being the higher seed will come with some sweet perks as well (detailed below).

After a brief lunch break following the draft rounds, we’ll be back in action for constructed. Rounds 4-5 will feature Legacy constructed and Rounds 6-7 will feature Modern constructed. Decklists will be open during the constructed rounds. Pairings will be done Swiss-style for the constructed rounds, based on the overall record of the event (which means our two draft pod winners will be facing off in Legacy during Round 4). Since we are switching to a new phase of the tournament, players may be paired against players they have already played in the Draft rounds. However, we will prevent a player from being paired against the same opponent in both Legacy and Modern—the constructed formats are together treated as a single phase. After our 3 rounds of Draft and 4 rounds of Constructed action, we’ll cut to the Top 8 with tiebreakers as follows:

  1. Total match points
  2. Opponent Match Win %
  3. Game Win %
  4. Opponent Game Win %
  5. NRG Series leaderboard ranking

At this point, players who did not finish in the Top 8 receive $150 plus $75 for each match win they earned during Day 1. Players who are in the Top 8 will come back and play for the big money, the invites, and the trophy on Saturday.

Day 2 – Top 8 Playoff

The Top 8 will use a new format specifically designed to showcase both constructed formats for this event—Modern and Legacy. These rounds will be paired in a typical bracket style, with the #1 overall seed against #8, #2 against #7, and so on.

Each match in the Top 8 will be best-of-5 games. The higher seed (#1-#4) will choose which format (Modern or Legacy) they would like to play for Game 1 and whether to play or draw. For each of the subsequent games, the player who is behind in the match score will get to choose the format. If the match score is tied, the players will use the following method to determine format choice: At a 1-1 tie, the lower seed chooses format. At a 2-2 tie, the higher seed chooses format. The choice of play/draw will follow the typical format we’re all used to, with the loser of the previous game getting the choice for the next game. (The choice of format will always be decided before choosing play/draw). Sideboarding will be permitted for each game after the first for each format.

Let’s walk through an example:

Quarterfinals #1 vs. #8. In Game 1, the #1 seed has a good Modern matchup, so chooses Modern and chooses to play. The #1 seed wins. In Game 2, the #8 seed has the choice of format because they are behind in the match score 1-0 and they have the choice of play/draw as the loser of the previous game. They think their sideboard can help them shore up their Modern matchup, so #8 chooses to be on the play in Modern for Game 2 with sideboards. However, the #1 seed wins again. Now down 2-0, the #8 seed chooses to switch to Legacy for Game 3. Since they lost Game 2, the #8 seed chooses to be on the play. However, since it is the first Legacy game of the match, neither player is allowed to use their sideboards. Legacy goes well for the #8 seed and they bounce back, now trailing overall in the match 2-1. Since #8 is still trailing, they have choice of format for Game 4 (either format now with sideboards). However, the #1 seed will choose to play or draw in Game 4 since they lost the previous game. The #8 seed wins again, making the match score 2-2. For Game 5, the loser of Game 4 (#1) gets the choice of play/draw and since the match score is tied at 2-2, also their choice of format.

We created this structure to incentivize players to aim for the higher seed by allowing them the first choice of format and play/draw in Game 1, but not too extreme a benefit that the higher seed should be able to easily sweep if they have a one-sided matchup in either format. We’re looking forward to seeing how it plays out at this year’s Championship and are interested in hearing your feedback.

Once we’ve navigated through the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals, we’ll crown a Champion! The 2020-21 NRG Series Champion will take home $2,500, an invitation to the Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty Set Championship thanks to Magic Esports, and the chance to defend their title in the 2022 NRG Series Championship.


We’re happy to be bringing you two full days of live video and social media coverage from #NRGCHAMP hosted at the Nerd Rage Gaming storefront. Our video coverage on twitch.tv/NRGSeries will bring you all the action from our Draft, Legacy, and Modern rounds on Friday starting at 10:30 AM (CT) before a cut to Top 8. Then, starting on Saturday at 10:30 AM, we’ll cover every single turn of every single match of the elimination rounds until we crown our Champion. Once the Championship wraps up, we’ll also bring you the action from the Modern $10k Trial and Legacy $5k Trial at our first Trial Weekend of 2022 in Mundelein, IL. Stay tuned for additional updates from the floor via Twitter, so be sure to follow along with us there!

We’re eagerly awaiting the Championship and are thrilled to see who will become the 2020-21 NRG Series Champion! Best of luck to all of our players; we’ll catch you soon!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the NRG Series and the Judge Manager for all Nerd Rage Gaming events. When he’s not answering your judge calls or working behind the scenes at your local event, he splits his time between Chicago, Seattle, and Twitter.

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Max Kahn