DCI (Wizards of the Coast)

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The DCI (formerly, Duelists' Convocation International) is the official sanctioning body for competitive play in Magic: The Gathering and various other games produced by Wizards of the Coast and its subsidiaries, such as Avalon Hill. The DCI provides game rules, tournament operating procedures, and other materials to private tournament organizers and players. It also operates a judge certification program to provide consistent rules enforcement and promote fair play.

In order to play in sanctioned events, players must register for membership and receive a DCI number (PIN). The DCI maintains a global player ratings database (formerly based on a variation of the Elo rating system) and members have access to their entire tournament history online. If a member commits frequent or flagrant rules infractions, his or her membership can be suspended for variable amounts of time depending on the severity, from one month to lifetime.[1]

The DCI sanctions tournaments for a variety of games. As of 2009, the DCI has sanctioned more than two million Magic tournaments.[2] Unlike those of many other game producers, a significant proportion of DCI events are organized and run by independent businesspeople and hobbyists, as opposed to retailers.

Magic: The Gathering[edit]

The DCI maintains rules and assigns players ratings for three basic categories in Magic: Constructed, Eternal, and Limited. A fourth rating category, Composite, is the average of a player's Constructed and Limited ratings. Each category supports a number of related tournament formats. A player's tournament performance in one of the categories does not affect their rating or ranking in the others, except Composite. The DCI has recently introduced a new rating category, called Total rating. This rating will replace most of the existing individual ratings at the beginning of 2010. Although no rating category will cease to exist, Total will replace the other categories for rating-based invitations and byes.[3]

Separate groups of rankings are maintained for team and multiplayer variants. Sanctioned team and multiplayer uses teams composed of two or three players. There are several team and multiplayer variants, each given its own ratings category. Rules are also provided for other multiplayer variants, but only the formats mentioned above are ranked.

Tournament Formats[edit]


In Constructed tournaments, decks must consist of no fewer than 60 cards, and no more than four of any one card. The basic lands, however, may be used in any quantity. A banned list of specific cards is maintained for each format.

Additionally, a sideboard consisting of no more than 15 cards is permitted, from which a player may modify his or her deck during a match to better deal with their opponent's strategy. Following the first game of a best-two-of-three match, each player is permitted to change the configuration of cards between his or her deck and sideboard, as long as the changed deck and sideboard are still legal. The original deck configuration is restored at the conclusion of the match. (Prior to Dragon's Maze's rule, a sideboard should consist of exactly of 15 cards and if card replacement between deck or sideboard occurred, the number of cards replaced from Deck and from the Sideboard must be equal. This was modified to current configuration in Magic 2014.)

  • Modern uses cards starting from Mirrodin and 8th Edition. All newer cards that have since been part of a regular expansion set or Core set are legal.
  • Standard (formerly Type II) uses cards from the most recent three blocks. Which rotation occurred at the release first expansion of each block. As of 1 October 2015, the standard format uses the three expansions from Khans of Tarkir block, Magic Origins, in addition to Battle for Zendikar.
  • Block Constructed permits only cards from a single "block" of sets. Most Block Constructed tournaments use the most recent block, but organizers may sanction tournaments using any block.
  • Extended was retired as a format on 7 August 2013. It used cards from the most recent four blocks and the most recent two core sets.

New sets are released approximately every three months. A set is legal for constructed play on its official Wizards of the Coast release date.


Eternal formats follow the basic Constructed format rules for deck construction, but expands the available cards to include virtually all published Magic sets. The ratings are kept separate from other Constructed formats because of the barrier to the participation of new players. While ratings and rankings are maintained for this category, only Limited and Constructed format rankings are used for invitations to major tournaments, like Pro Tours or World Championships.

  • Vintage (formerly Type 1) allows every published Magic set with the exception of the gold, silver or other non black/white-bordered cards (e.g. cards in Unglued and Unhinged, or promotional sets like the World Championship decks). All cards from the remaining sets are allowed except "Conspiracy" cards(a card type featured in Conspiracy), cards involving ante, any card that is "flipped" on the table (often called dexterity cards), and Shahrazad, which involves playing a "subgame", as the DCI considers such cards inappropriate for tournament competition. The Vintage format is the only format to have a restricted list in addition to a banned list. Each card on the restricted list is limited to one per deck. This is the only format that allows the "Power Nine".
  • Legacy (formerly Type 1.5) uses the same sets as Vintage, but has no restricted list and a separate banned list.[4]

Vintage and Legacy were very closely related until September 1, 2004, when R&D decided that splitting the formats was a good idea. Certain cards formerly banned in Legacy were unbanned and the format was allowed to develop on its own. Legacy once had a reputation for being the "poor man's Vintage" but today has developed into a format very distinct from Vintage.


Limited tournaments are based on a pool of cards which the player receives at the time of the event. Any number of basic lands may also be added to the deck. The decks in limited tournaments are a minimum of 40 cards; all the unused cards function as the sideboard. There is no 4-of-a-kind limit per card as there is in Constructed decks.

There are two common types of limited tournaments.

  • Sealed deck: Players each receive six booster packs of 15 cards. For team events, the team received 12 booster packs instead.
  • Booster draft: Players each receive three booster packs of 15 cards. After being seated around a table, each player simultaneously opens one booster pack, selects a single card, and then passes the rest to the next player over. After all players have drafted all available cards, they each open their second pack, and drafting continues. Players examine privately the cards they receive; direct communication between drafters is not allowed. A booster draft normally comprises eight players, but sometimes fewer will suffice. Once players have built their decks, they compete against the other players in the draft.

In addition, one limited format which is no longer commonly in use and has been deprecated.

  • Rochester draft: Players each receive three booster packs of 15 cards. One player's first pack is opened, the cards are placed upon a table for all to see, and the players take turns selecting one card at a time until the pack is exhausted. The next player's pack is then opened, and drafting continues. A Rochester draft normally comprises eight players, but team Rochester uses two teams of three players each, who may communicate non-verbally during the draft.

Major tournaments[edit]

Pro Tour[edit]

Magic protour logo.jpg

Multiple Pro Tours are run every year around the world. A Pro Tour season begins in January (starting with the 2006 season), with an event held roughly every two months culminating at the World Championship. In the months preceding each Pro Tour, local qualifiers (PTQs) are held around the world, where invitations are earned. Players accumulate Pro Points by attending Pro Tour events and can receive many more by placing highly. Pro Tours are invitation-only events, and only players with either a PTQ invitation, or high number of Pro Points can attend.

Winning a Pro Tour is most competitive Magic players' ultimate goal. Currently, each Pro Tour carries a total purse of $250,000 [US], with the winner receiving $40,000 [US] (the exact payout varies by player's final standing). Other benefits to top finishers include invitations to future Pro Tours, with the highest-ranking players over the course of several Pro Tour events receiving additional prize money for travel and participation.

World Championship[edit]

Magic worlds logo.jpg

The most prestigious tournament (and Pro Tour) of all is the World Championship, where the best of the best play against each other until the world champion is crowned. World Championships are played over five days, and include both individual and team formats. A required invitation is obtained either by placing very highly in a (formerly National Championship), or having a high enough DCI Total ranking. Since 2012, the World Championships have been held in August, most recently (2015) in Seattle.

Grand Prix[edit]

Magic grandprix logo.jpg

Grand Prix tournaments are open to everyone, both amateurs and professionals. The prize pool is not as large as for a Pro Tour and winning a Grand Prix is not as prestigious, but they still attract international competition, as Pro Points as well as cash prizes are awarded to high finishing players. Additionally, a first place finish at a Grand Prix qualifies a player to attend a future Pro Tour. These events last two days (Saturday and Sunday); generally, but not always, small events and tournaments to award byes for the main event happen on the preceding Friday. The main event begins Saturday, with all players losing two or fewer matches progressing to compete on the second day. Sunday culminates in the top 8 players competing for successively larger amounts of cash. The Grand Prix tournaments are held around the world. Each tournament is preceded by Grand Prix Trials held in the country of the Grand Prix as well as other nearby countries, which grant the top players at the event a three-round bye.

Uniquely among major Magic events, Grand Prix tournaments allow certain players the right to skip the first one, two, or three rounds and obtain full points as though they had won those rounds. This is described as "awarded byes". A player having a high DCI rating, any level in the Pro Players Club, or a top performer in a Grand Prix Trial may be awarded a one-round, two-round, or three-round bye.


The Magic Invitational (formerly the Duelist Invitational) is a non-sanctioned tournament held for the 16 highest performers of the year. The winner of the World Championship, the Pro Tour player of the year, and several fan-voted players are among the contestants in a who's-who of professional Magic. The prize of this tournament is not money but rather the opportunity to design a new card for an upcoming expansion. When the card is printed, its artwork traditionally depicts the victor as well.

The event was originally held in locations like Sydney and Cape Town. For several years the Invitational was held using Magic Online. Any player who has downloaded the Magic Online software can replay the completed matches. In 2007 the Invitational returned to being a regular face-to-face Magic tournament, before being dropped from schedule altogether in 2008.

The Magic Invitational winners to date, the cards they took part in designing, and the set they appeared in, are as follows:

Year Player Card Set
1996 Olle Råde[5] Sylvan Safekeeper Judgment
1997 Darwin Kastle[5] Avalanche Riders Urza's Legacy
1998 Mike Long[5] Rootwater Thief Nemesis
1999 Chris Pikula[5] Meddling Mage Planeshift
2000 Jon Finkel[5] Shadowmage Infiltrator Odyssey
2001 Kai Budde[5] Voidmage Prodigy Onslaught
2002 Jens Thorén[5] Solemn Simulacrum Mirrodin
2004 Bob Maher, Jr. Dark Confidant Ravnica: City of Guilds
2005 Terry Soh Rakdos Augermage Dissension
2006 Antoine Ruel[6] Ranger of Eos Shards of Alara
2007 Tiago Chan Snapcaster Mage Innistrad

Other tournaments[edit]

Prerelease tournaments are held in hundreds of locations around the world five to six days before each new expansion, or set, is available for sale in stores. The prerelease provides a casual play atmosphere and a preview of new cards and sets.

Friday Night Magic (FNM) and Arena Leagues (currently defunct) are offered in many stores and clubs, allowing players to compete for special foil DCI cards and other prizes (rarely involving a cash top prize). These tournaments are mostly for amateurs and first-time players seeking a start in professional play.

Many other stores, school clubs, and community groups hold DCI-sanctioned events on a regular basis. Events are also held at almost all gaming conventions, such as Origins and Gen Con. In addition, some companies hold tournament series for Magic: The Gathering at locations across the US outside of DCI regulation.

Judge Program[edit]

The DCI is also the home of the Judge Program. DCI Judges have to develop certain abilities and get some amount of experience before being chosen to perform tasks as judge testing and head-judging professional events. To have a measure of capability of the judges the DCI introduced five judge levels:[7]

  • Level 1 (Local Judge) — Run minor tournaments and aid in major tournaments.
  • Level 2 (Area Judge) — Run major tournaments and aid in Grand Prix tournaments, testing new Local Judges.
  • Level 3 (Regional Judge) — Lead teams at Grand Prix and Pro Tour tournaments, testing new Area Judges.
  • Level 4 (International Judge) — Head Judge Grand Prix tournaments and lead regional judge community.
  • Level 5 (Professional Judge) — Head Judge Pro Tour and World Championship tournaments, contribute to development of the judge program.

There are also two associated statuses, which are not actual judge levels. At one end of the spectrum are the rules advisors. The status can be achieved through an online test and shows that the person is familiar with the rules of the game. On the other end are Emeritus Judges who are considered to have improved the program through their determined effort over a long time. Currently there are just five Emeritus Judges. The entire program consists of more than 6,000 active judges worldwide.


Until September 2011 the DCI maintained a ranking based on the Elo rating system.[8] Players were awarded invitations to Pro Tours and National Championships and byes for Grand Prix tournaments based on their rating.[9] In September 2011 Wizards of the Coast announced that they would introduce a new rating system with the changes going into effect immediately. Elo-based ratings will continue to be maintained, but have no significance any more. The new rating system awards Planeswalker Points for every sanctioned Magic tournament a player participates in, according to the following formula:[10]

Planeswalker Points = (PP + MP) * EM

Participation points (PP) have a value of 1 to 9 increasing with the size of a tournament. Match points (MP) are equal to the regular match points a player earns in the tournament. The event multiplier (EM) is a value of 1 to 12 with the value increasing with the prominence of the event; p.e. 12 for Pro Tours. Planeswalker Points are generally awarded for each tournament a player participates in, but depending on the type of tournament the points for a tournament may or may not be included in any of four (now three) ranking categories:[10]

  • Competitive consists of all points a player has been awarded in tournament other than Pro Tour, World Magic Cup, World Championships and Casual Non-Rated tournaments. Prior to August 2014, it was further divided into two sub-category, "Seasonal" and "Yearly". "Seasonal" points resets after a specific period of three to four months (a season), used to determine the number of Byes for Grand Prix in the current and subsequent season. "Yearly", which resets in yearly basis, used as one of the prerequisites of subsequent World Magic Cup Qualifiers. The "Seasonal" point was retired in August, 2014 and the Competitive point will be counted on yearly basis only.
  • Professional consists of all points a player has been awarded at Pro Tours and Grand Prix tournaments. Professional points are reset once a year and used to determine invitations to the World Championship and the person leading their respective National Team, as well as level in Pro Players Club.
  • Lifetime consists of all points a player has ever been awarded, regardless of the tournament types. Based on these points a Planeswalker Level is determined which comes with a title attached, to serve primarily in a prestigious manner. Lifetime rankings are never reset and showcase a general level of accomplishment of a player.
  • FNM consists of all points a player has been awarded at FNM tournaments. These points are reset once a year. Final standings of this category are used to determine invitations to the FNM Championship. Further information about this championship is not available as of September 2011, and was subsequently retired.


Hecatomb was previously supported by the DCI over its short lifetime. In August 2006, it was announced that the game would no longer be produced by Wizards of the Coast, and the DCI has ceased to support it.


  1. ^ DCI Suspended Membership List
  2. ^ David-Marshall, Brian (25 September 2009). "Exploring Zendikar". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 2009-09-25. 
  3. ^ Labaree, Scott (4 November 2008). "Ask Wizards - November 4". Retrieved 2008-12-08. 
  4. ^ "Legacy Format Deck Construction". The DCI. 2005-09-01. Retrieved 2011-05-30. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Rosewater, Mark (10 May 2004). "All-star studded". Wizards of the Coast. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "Ruel Invokes Invitationalists for Victory". Wizards of the Coast. 12 May 2006. Retrieved 29 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Judge Level Requirements". The DCI. 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-11. 
  8. ^ "Magic: The Gathering Tournament Rules" (PDF). Wizards of the Coast. July 1, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Magic: The Gathering Premier Event Invitation Policy" (PDF). Wizards of the Coast. May 9, 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Planeswalker Points". Wizards of the Coast. 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. 

External links[edit]