Wizards of the Coast has announced a new program to help stores advance their Wizards Play Network status, and changes to its League program.

"Gateway to Core" is a new program that helps stores at the Gateway WPN level move up to the Core level.  The three levels of stores in the WPN program, along with the events associated with each level (as provided by a Wizards of the Coast spokesperson) are:
  • Gateway stores have access to regular Magic tournaments, Magic Leagues, D&D Encounters and Kaijudo Duel Day, and Kaijudo Set Premieres.
  • Core stores have access to all of the above, plus Friday Night Magic, Magic Prereleases, Magic Game Days, Magic Buy-a-Box promotions, D&D Game Days, the Wizards sales account application, and From the Vault sales promotions.
  • Advanced stores have access to all of the above, plus one additional event for Core-level programs (i.e.: Advanced store can schedule two FNMs each week), and Magic Grand Prix Trials.  Advanced stores may also have access to WPN Premium Tournaments and Magic Pro Tour Qualifiers; additional requirements apply to these events, and are not approved for all stores.
The "Gateway to Core" program helps prepare the Gateway store to begin offering Friday Night Magic, with materials and info about the benefits of running events and best practices, and an introduction to Wizards Event Reporter.  Like the League program, there will be no day-specific requirement for hosting events.  Magic token cards will be provided for the store’s players as a participation reward. 

WotC is also changing its League program, which it says "needs to be re-imagined."  League play has an informal structure:  it can happen at any time, in any format, and run for any length of time.  Leagues will continue to be officially sanctioned events through Wizards Event Reporter, with events listed in the Store and Event Locator.  The change is that there will no longer be physical League kits for stores.  Beginning with the next Magic release, Theros, League kits will be digital. 

We asked about the elimination of participation premiums for League play, and a WotC spokesperson explained the change this way.  "The previous version of the physical league kit included a supply of non-foil token cards to give to players as they saw fit for participation," the spokesperson said.  "It was decided that these promos and other kit items did not meet our goal of supporting the widely diverse ways stores run their Leagues.  Given the success that many stores have achieved with designing and supporting their own versions of League play, we believe a digital kit better supports those efforts.  Digital assets allow stores to market their League events the way that they want so that they may better speak to their player communities and provide the best in-store play experiences possible."