The 2018 NRG Championship Series

The NRG Championship Series has been an indisputable success since it began in 2016.

More than 700 unique players have played in our Series events as it has revitalized competitive Magic in the Midwest. Between CTs and CTQs, players have earned thousands of dollars in cash prizes and had numerous opportunities to qualify for the first two championships, including this year’s 16-player, $5,000 championship.

But we’re not content to rest on what we’ve done. We have big plans for the future of the Series and competitive Magic in our region, and today we have some exciting announcements about the 2018 NRG Championship Series.

Changes to the 2018 Championship Series

  • Championship Trial prize pools double from $1,000 to $2,000
  • CT Challenge events added to Championship Trials
  • Two $5,000 Team Constructed events, with the first-place teams qualifying for the 2018 Championship
  • Championship goes from 16-player, $5,000 event to 24-player, two-day, $10,000 event
  • Revamped CT and CTQ point structure
  • Seasons added to at-large points race; Season 1 and Season 2 points leaders qualify for Championship
  • Schedule announced for the first half of 2018

What will a 2018 Championship Trial look like?

Championship Trials (CTs) have always been the flagship events of the NRG Championship Series. As has been the case since the beginning, the winner of each 2018 Championship Trial will win an invitation to the Championship in December (more details on that below). In addition to the invite, each CT in 2018 will feature a $2,000 cash prize distributed among the Top 16 players and Championship Points distributed to all competitors.

Standing Cash Prize Championship Points
1st $500 20
2nd $300 18
3rd-4th $200 15
5th-8th $100 12
9th-16th $50 8
16th-32nd 4
33rd-64th 2
65th+ 1

The Championship Series continues to expand outside of the Chicago area and into the rest of the Midwest. In 2017, we partnered with stores in four surrounding states (Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana) to run CTQ events, and we will bring flagship CT events to those regions in the coming year. This means that along with the eight CTs that will take place in Chicagoland, Nerd Rage Gaming will be traveling to Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri, and Indiana to run CTs during the 2018 Season.

Two Championship Trials in 2018 will use a different event structure and format than the rest. These events will be Team Constructed (Standard, Modern, and Legacy), with a $5,000 prize pool and modified Championship Points distribution. Team CTs will award each member of the winning team an invite to the 2018 NRG Championship. Both the cash prize distribution and the points structure will be announced at a later date.

NRG Live will also go through some changes heading into the new year. There will be a dedicated feature match area at each event, and we hope to incorporate on-the-floor player interviews, deck techs, and more. We’ve partnered with Twitch streamers Jeff Hoogland and Mat Bimonte to commentate live from each CT in 2018 on our Twitch channel. We know that you don’t want to wait until January to see them in action, and we couldn’t either! Your first chance to catch them in the NRGLive booth will be at the November 2017 CT in just a few weeks. They will also be broadcasting this year’s Championship in December.

If the main event doesn’t go too well for you at a 2018 CT, there will still be plenty of things for you to do. Along with on-demand booster draft and win-a-box events, each event will feature a “CT Challenge” event that will start after the conclusion of Round 4 of the main event. Each CT Challenge event will be the same format as the main event. CT Challenges will be capped at four rounds, and will award Championship Points and store credit to top finishers based on record. The full prize structure for CT Challenge events will be announced soon.

How do I qualify for the 2018 Championship?

With an increase in the amount of CTs next year, we’ve decided to expand the Championship Event from 16 players in 2016 and 2017 to 24 players in 2018. While the number of players is increasing, we’ve also doubled the prize pool for the second year in a row, so the 24 invited players will be battling in a two-day Championship Weekend for their share of $10,000! Here’s how you can guarantee your seat in the 2018 Championship Weekend:

  • Be the 2017 Series Champion (1)
  • Win an individual CT in 2018 (10)
  • Be a member of the winning team for either of the Team CTs in 2018 (6)
  • Be the Season 1 points leader (only counts points from December 3, 2017 to June 9, 2018)
  • Be the Season 2 points leader (only counts points from June 10, 2018 through the November 2018 Championship Trial)
  • Finish in the Top 5 at-large Championship Points (December 3, 2017 through the November 2018 Championship Trial) among players not already qualified (5)

We are adding seasons to the at-large points race. Season 1 will run from Dec. 3, 2017 to June 9, 2018. Season 2 will run from June 10, 2018 through the November CT. Players will accumulate points at CTs, CTQs and CT Challenges; the overall season point leader for each season will qualify for the Championship.

We’re still finalizing the structure of the two-day Championship Weekend, and we’ll be excited to share those details with you once they’re set in stone. Stay tuned!

What will 2018 CTQs look like?

In 2017, we were fortunate enough to parter with nine different stores to run 19 CTQ events across five different states. We learned a lot from helping to facilitate these events, and we’d like to share how CTQs will work in 2018.

A major problem we identified was that a disproportionate amount of Championship Points were distributed at CTQs in 2017. When we created the CTQ program earlier this year, we expected between six and eight CTQs in 2017. After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response to the program, more events were ran than initially expected, so more points were awarded than initially accounted for. In order to rectify that, we’ve increased the CT points distribution (seen above), and modified the CTQ points distribution so it will no longer scale based on attendance at the event. Winners of CTQs will still receive free entry to a CT of their choice (within the next 6 months) and the cash prize distribution will remain the same. Here is the 2018 CTQ points distribution:

Standing Championship Points
1st 5
2nd 4
3rd-4th 3
5th-8th 2
9th+ 1

In 2018, CTQ organizers have the option to pay out either $500 or $1,000 cash to the Top 8 players.

We are also opening up CTQ scheduling windows for Season 1 (December 9, 2017 to June 3, 2018). All CTQs in this time period award Championship Points for the Season One 2018 leaderboard, even if the event occurs in 2017. If you are a store owner interested in running a CTQ during this scheduling window, please contact for more information.

When can I play?

While we’re working on getting locations finalized for some of our out-of-state events, we’d like to announce the dates, locations, and formats for Season 1 of the NRG Championship Series. CT events will be moving from Nerd Rage Gaming’s Buffalo Grove storefront to off-site locations to accommodate larger turnouts.

Date Location Format
January 27, 2018 Palatine, Illinois Standard
February 10, 2018 Palatine, Illinois Legacy
March 10, 2018 City TBD, Wisconsin Modern
April 14, 2018 Palatine, Illinois Legacy
May 12, 2018 City TBD, Iowa Standard
June 9, 2018 Palatine, Illinois $5k Team Constructed

Who can answer my questions?

Wrapping up

After receiving feedback from players, judges and store owners, we’re confident that these changes will provide for the best player experience possible in 2018. Nerd Rage Gaming values your feedback, so if you have any further questions or concerns about the 2018 NRG Championship Series, feel free to ask in the comments below or send me an email at Until next time!

Max Kahn is the Event Manager for the Nerd Rage Gaming Championship Series and the Judge Manager for all Nerd Rage Gaming events. Contact him at

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Max Kahn