2022 NRG Series Championship Structure

The top-performing players from the 2022 NRG Series will convene at Nerd Rage Gaming in Buffalo Grove, IL on January 14-15, 2023 to compete for $20,000 and the biggest trophy of the year. Players will be bringing their A-game in both Pioneer and Modern with a unique tournament structure aimed to reward elite performances but give an opportunity to bounce back from a rough start. Let’s dive in:

Prize Pool

Place Cash Prize Invite
1st $5,000 2023 #NRGChamp
2nd $2,500
3rd/4th $1,500
5th/6th $1,200
7th/8th $1,000
9th/10th $800
11th/12th $600
13th-16th $300 + $100 per Stage One match win

Qualified Players



Stage One:
To kick off our weekend, our 16 players will be split into pods of eight players each for seven rounds of round-robin play, so that each player will play against every member of their pod. As is tradition with the NRG Series, the 2022 MVP (the overall points leader on the 2022 NRG Series Leaderboard) will get the opportunity to swap any two players between pods. This could mean moving into the other pod in exchange for a player of their choice or switching another player out of their own pod. We’ve had some interesting swaps occur over the past few years, and an especially strong field this year will mean an even more interesting decision to be made by our MVP.

Stage One will consist of seven rounds and will be split between our two tournament formats (3 rounds of Modern and 4 rounds of Pioneer). Decklists will be open for the entire tournament to allow for in-depth coverage of deck selection and sideboarding options. Each player will play each other player in their pod in random order — the record of each player is not considered to determine pairing order. There will be a brief lunch break in between the Modern and Pioneer rounds.

Players will not be allowed to draw during Stage One to guarantee clean pairings and eliminate corner-case scenarios. 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. For those on the brink of elimination, prize support in Stage One will be determined by match points (not standing), so every match matters towards some additional cash. And for those who advance to the later stages, being the higher seed will come with some perks as well, so there’s always something to play for regardless of record.

Upon the conclusion of the seven rounds of Stage One, we will say goodbye to the bottom two players in each pod and they will be eliminated from the tournament in 13th-16th Place. On the flip side, the top two finishers in both pods will automatically advance to Stage Three, skipping Stage Two. Since we are playing round-robin, some modifications to traditional Magic tiebreakers will be used. Namely, these tiebreakers will be:

  1. Total match points
  2. Head-to-head result vs. other player(s) involved in the tie
  3. Fewest number of games lost
  4. NRG Series leaderboard ranking

In the case of a three (or more) way tie, head-to-head will only be applied if a player has won against all the other players within the tie. If needed the head-to-head and fewest game losses tiebreakers may be applied iteratively to determine placement within a multi-way tie.

Stage Two
Stage Two will consist of the eight players that finished in 3rd-6th in each of the pods. The top two finishers in each pod do not play in this stage and automatically advance to Stage Three. Stage Two is a slightly-modified Modern double elimination format, seeded based on Stage One results. The top seed will choose to play/draw throughout the stage. In the case where two players with the same seed play, a random method will be used to determine play/draw choice.

In the first round, each 3rd seed will play against the 6th seed from the other pod, and the 4th seed will play the opposite 5th seed. The victors of each match will advance to the winners’ bracket, and the losers to the losers’ bracket. The second round will continue as a traditional double-elimination bracket, with two matches each in the losers’ bracket and the winners’ bracket. An additional loss from our players in the losers’ bracket will eliminate them from the tournament in 11th-12th place. A second win from our players in the winners’ bracket will advance those players to Stage Three automatically. The third and final round of Stage Three will pit the winners of the losers’ bracket matches against the losers of the winners’ bracket for one more chance at Stage Three. The losers will be eliminated in 9th-10th place and the winners will advance.

Stage Two TLDR (because I know it’s a lot): Stage Two players will play 3 rounds. 2 wins and you’re into Stage Three. 2 losses and you’re out.

Stage Three
We return on Sunday morning with our final eight players — our 1st and 2nd seeds from Stage One plus the four players that advanced out of Stage Two. The players will be reseeded based on their Stage Two results, with the players who took no losses assigned as 3rd seeds and the players who took 1 loss as 4th seeds.

Stage Three will be structured the same way as Stage Two. Three rounds (of Pioneer this time) in a double-elimination bracket. If you win two matches before you lose two matches, you advance to Stage Four; otherwise, you will be eliminated. Like before, your seed will determine play/draw during this stage.

Stage Four
Stage Four will put our players to the test, as they’ll need to show mastery in both Pioneer and Modern to advance. Each Stage Four semifinal is a best 2-of-3 matches format, so they will need to win two matches to claim victory and advance to the final. The four players will be reseeded as 1st seeds (if they escaped Stage Three with no losses) or 2nd seeds (if they took a loss in Stage Three), and each side of the bracket will pit a 1st seed vs. a 2nd seed. Here’s the match schedule for Stage Four:

  • Match 1: 1st seed picks either format and gets their choice of play/draw in Game 1.
  • Match 2: 2nd seed picks either format and gets their choice of play/draw in Game 1.
  • Match 3 (if necessary): This will be the opposite format of Match 2, but 1st seed gets choice of play/draw in Game 1.

The final match will be in the identical structure as the semifinals. If the two players have the same Stage Four seeds, we will use the original tiebreaker structure to determine who is assigned the higher seed. Once the winner claims victory in two matches, they’ll be crowned the 2022 NRG Series Champion, take home $5,000, and will have their chance to defend the title in the 2023 NRG Championship.

Structure Overview

We’re happy to be bringing you two full days of live video and social media coverage from #NRGCHAMP hosted at Nerd Rage Gaming. Our video coverage on twitch.tv/NRGSeries will bring you all the action from Stage One and Two on Saturday starting at 10:00 AM (CT). We’ll be back starting Sunday at 10:00 AM, where we’ll crown our Champion. Stay tuned to social media for additional updates from the floor, so follow along with us there with #NRGCHAMP!

Wrapping Up
The 2022 NRG Series Championship will wrap up our sixth complete season of the NRG Series, with another unique structure optimized based on competitors’ feedback from previous years. It takes a ton of time and effort to put a structure like this together, and we hope that this year’s structure strikes a balance between rewarding top-performing players and not eliminating anyone without a fair shot at redeeming themselves. We look forward to hearing your thoughts or questions on the Championship structure on Facebook and Twitter (for as long as that lasts). And finally, we hope you’ll tune in on January 14-15th as the 2022 NRG Series comes to its thrilling conclusion. Until then!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the NRG Series. When he’s not answering your judge calls or working behind the scenes at your local event, he splits his time between Chicago, San Francisco, and Twitter.

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Max Kahn