While the future of organized play is uncertain, one thing we know we have, at least for the next several months, is Set Championships, and the ability to qualify for them through online tournaments. The structure and nature of these qualifying tournaments is varied, and often not immediately obvious, and I spent a lot of time over the last year figuring out what I think is the optimal method to qualify for championships. While there is no single universally optimal path to the Set Championship, there are a few different approaches you can take based on what suits you best, and some general strategies that will be useful regardless of how you attempt to qualify.
The most important step to take if you’re looking to qualify for a Set Championship is to play a lot of Magic. This may seem fairly obvious, but I assure you that you’re almost certainly undervaluing just how much better playing 20+ hours of Magic a week makes you, even if it’s entirely different formats from the events you’re playing. Playing regularly makes sure you keep all your fundamentals strong and are continuously learning more about the game, which is quite important to eventually qualifying. Additionally, while it’s not really possible to get a nuanced understanding of every format and every deck, playing this much will definitely give you at least one format which you both understand and play very well, and that’s where your highest likelihood of qualifying will come from.
As an extension of playing a lot, it’s also important to pick and choose the formats you play to maximize qualification chances. There’s going to be a lot of variation in format qualifier prevalence from season to season, and making sure the format you’re playing is one of the more relevant ones for the current season is very helpful. Since so many of the details on tournaments are available beforehand (I’ll get into it in depth later), you can not only make sure the formats you play are generally relevant, but also relevant to the specific tournaments that work well with your time zone and schedule. It’s frequently even possible to cycle between formats from week to week, to make sure you’re up to date for the specific qualifier you’re playing.