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Magic: The Gathering’s Commander format saw its player count triple in two years, Wizards of the Coast says

Based on in-store event attendance, when that was still a thing.

Magic: The Gathering in-store event
Image credit: Wizards of the Coast

Magic: The Gathering maker Wizards of the Coast has released some rare new figures on the card game’s audience, revealing the recent growth of one of MTG’s most popular formats: Commander.

According to Wizards of the Coast, the number of people playing Commander in stores belonging to its Wizards Play Network of retailers tripled between early 2018 and February 2020 - when it put a freeze on statistics due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on in-person attendance.

Approximately 9,000 people took part in a Commander event each week at the beginning of 2018. By February 2020, weekly attendance had risen to around 28,000 - a jump of more than three times.

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Individual WPN Premium stores ran 61 Commander events on average each year, according to the data, with stores that ran Commander events selling over 2,000 event tickets on average.

The latest figures mark one of the few times Wizards of the Coast has cast a light on the current state of Magic: The Gathering’s audience. Its last major info-dump about the trading card game’s popularity was for its 25th anniversary in 2018, when it revealed that MTG had more than 35 million players - a figure that’s likely to have risen in the wake of MTG Arena’s free-to-play release on PC.

Originally devised as a fan-made variant of Magic: The Gathering known as EDH, Commander has since seen official support from Wizards of the Coast in the form of events and releases. Next month will see the release of the first full set designed for the format, Commander Legends, followed by a reprint collection, Commander Collection Green, in early December.

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Matt Jarvis avatar

Matt Jarvis


After starting his career writing about music, films and video games for various places, Matt spent many years as a technology, PC and video game journalist before writing about tabletop games as the editor of Tabletop Gaming magazine. He joined Dicebreaker as editor-in-chief in 2019, and has been trying to convince the rest of the team to play Diplomacy since.