Player Spotlight Cards: The return of MTG Champions on cards


Magic: The Gathering champions have returned to appearing on physical MTG cards.

From 1997 until 2007, there was a premier Magic: The Gathering tournament known as the Magic Invitational. Winners got a ton of cool things, but by far the coolest was the winner getting to appear on their very own card. So cool, in fact, that we had an entire article about them.

But long story short, these winners got their own card and helped play with it a bit, making a card that was easily a personal statement as well as cohesive within the game. Granted, player input could make it tricky, but they made it work for a solid decade or so.

But, as the Invitational fizzled out in 2007 due to, in part, just how expensive it was getting, so did those personal cards.

Eleven years later, Wizards of the Coast suddenly realized that they already had a World Championship from which to draw major winners. Suddenly. players got another chance to be on a card for the first time since the Bush Administration.

Now referred to as "Player Spotlight" cards, MTG world champions began getting their own personas on cards. Unlike with the Magic Invitational winners, however, they aren't involved in the design process this time around. They can, though, consult with R&D in consult on which card is selected to represent them.

As of 2021, there have been two such cards with a third still planned: 2018 winner Jose Dominguez as Fervent Champion, 2019 winner Paulo Vitor Damo da Rosa as Elite Spellbinder, as well as the winner of the 2021 championship also getting a card.  As 2020 had COVID cancel everything out, no Player Spotlight card from that year, though 2022 is supposed to get one, so there may be a fourth on the horizon.

By all accounts, though, they have more-or-less picked off right where the Magic Invitational winner cards left off. And players seem to like it coming back too, as Mark Rosewater has pretty much signed off on the new tradition to keep going.

It's not very often that Magic picks back up forgotten promotions and discontinued tournament elements. But getting players back into cards was just too good of a an idea to leave in Magic's past. Plus, it's one hell of an incentive to be win the whole damn tournament - not every trophy allows you to put your face on it.

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.