During the COVID-19 pandemic, WotC kept its competitive Magic play scene afloat by expanding its Magic esports events on the MTG Arena platform. WotC recently announced the return of in-store play to the U.S. (see "U.S. In-Store Play Suspension for 'Magic: The Gathering' Will End Soon "), and they are starting to take a look at what in-person Magic events will look like for the 2022-2023 season. The plan for the future includes reimagining their current play programs and reviving the dormant in-person competitive scene.
WotC reiterated how important in-person play is for Magic, and is going to help organizers hold in-person local tournaments, large regional tournaments, and high-level events. Digital tournaments will still be a part of the competitive scene, but WotC is looking to hold a mix of digital and in-person events in the future. They also recognized some of the challenges of returning to in-person events, such as travel issues, close contact indoors, and dozens of players sharing the same air space in indoor spaces. WotC intends to approach these issues with a degree of flexibility until play and travel become safer.
In a surprise announcement, WotC declared that the Magic Pro and Rivals Leagues will be gone after the 2021-2022 season. The current players in these leagues will be competing for a spot in the World Championship instead of another season in the leagues. This represents a partial unwind of the current digital competitive structure, and positions WotC to replace it with a new competitve play structure that is a combination of both in-person and digital events.