The Magic Continental Championships: Yet Another Magic Experiment Around the Turn of the Millennium


Magic: The Gathering events tend to be worldwide these days, with bigger events happening pretty much on every continent.

Magic: The Gathering events tend to be worldwide these days, with bigger events happening pretty much on every continent.

Pro Tours, Grand Prix, etc. -- they are (or, at least recently were) everywhere. Back in the 1990s, though, it was a different case as Wizards of the Coast wanted Magic to have more of a footprint going forward in Europe, Latin America, and Asia. To that end, some special tournaments were set up.

In 1997, the Continental Championship began. Asia (including Asia-Pacific and Australia) was the prime candidate with the first tournament being held in Hong Kong that year. After a huge success there, Europe was added to the slate in 1998, as was Latin America in the year 2000.

As far as tournaments go, these were pretty standard. Players could qualify by coming in the top eight in their respective national championships, by having a lot of pro points, or a high DCI ranking (back when, you know, DCI was still a thing).

They generally played standard matches with a booster draft. No pro points were given to winners, but the top eight got money and got a better chance at World championship slot. They weren't the largest tourneys out there, but in terms of bringing Magic to areas with growing interest outside of North America, it was doing the job.

It also helped during this time that Magic had more and more cards in other languages, expanding the reach even further.

As Magic grew throughout the late 1990s into the 2000s, the collectible card game began to get more stable in those areas. Pro Tour and Grand Prix events became a regular occurrence in those areas, plus many other events kind of built it up.

The Latin American Championship was first to go in 2001. Only two events in the region were held, since it didn't exactly leave an impact.

The next one, the Asian Pacific Championship, went later in the year. However, this one had a bit more of an impact because the last Championship winner, Jin Okamoto, got the nickname "The Last Emperor" because he was the last one to win.

The European Continental Championship made it to 2003, with the popularity in Europe and a downturn in the economy cancelling that one out.

These championships were last held nearly twenty years ago now, but in terms of boosting Magic around the world, the effect can be seen.

Magic: The Gathering is now firmly in all those markets, with many top players in Magic today coming from there.

Financially it paid off for WotC, and for players in those countries, it gave them the boost they needed to start doing pretty well.

Evan Symon

Evan Symon is a graduate of The University of Akron and has been a working journalist ever since with works published by Cracked, GeekNifty, the Pasadena Independent, California Globe, and, of course, Magic Untapped.