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Tournament of Champions: Asia Pacific

Chris Zantides

The Fog

Well... This is to be my 6th Grand Prix Style event, my 4th as Head Judge (Australia, Kyoto, Taipei and now Singapore). I was really looking forward to the TOC. The months of preparation and planning where all coming together, now was see if we could dance. The forces of nature often play an interesting part in how one travels, for me, living in Sydney, the weather is normally fine and somewhere between 18 - 23 degrees C. Lets see, the last time it snowed in Sydney was 1826. Fog. The day my flight was due to leave, Fog. I cannot even remember the last time it was foggy. Oh well, my flight is delayed about 3 hours. I met a British backpacker, whose flight was delayed some 8 hours, so I guess I am pretty lucky?

Anyway I get on my flight and arrive in Singapore about 2am. It's very quiet, scary even, I come from a city that is almost constantly alive with atmosphere, even at 3am Sydney still has a vibe that is matched by very few cities in the world. I hope that sometime, some of you get to enjoy Sydney, it's a great place.

Just to fill in some people who may not know what the Tournament of Champions is, it's a premiere event that features $US75, 000 in prize money. It is an invitation only event, where only the best of the APAC Region may win invitations. Players must place in the top 8 of their respective nationals, they must be in the top 100 DCI rated players in APAC, or must have placed in the top 4 of last years APAC Championships. Judges and players from all over the region come along to compete for the title of APAC Champion.

I will be running the event at Rules Enforcement 4, and will hopefully have about 12-15 staff, I expect the turnout to be quite high. This is probably the biggest event on the APAC Calendar, although this year, with the World Championships in Tokyo, the APAC's have kind of taken second place. I guess you can see how important this event is. It is a great honor for me to be Head Judge for this event, this is by far the pinnacle of my Judging Career, for me, the only thing that would could surpass this would be to Head Judge Worlds.

I meet up with the WOTC crew at Singapore Airport, and we cab it to the city. I crash and burn, I hardly even remember getting into my room. I was so tired.

The Morning After

Waking up fairly early we set out for the site, find its closed, and head on into Chinatown for some shopping, its seems that Singapore is great for shopping and eating. I have this very strange drink...I don't know what was in it, but it tasted great.

Setting Up

One thing that I have learned from running events is that registration must always be the night before, it just makes it so much easier to run on the morning. You have more time before the event to make sure that your equipment i.e. laptop, printer, video wall (yes I had a video wall for this event, it was AWESOME) is working. You can input all the players and have the pairings up at 8:45 for the day to begin at 9.

Registration is always hectic, in Asia, language is such a huge problem. Singapore, Aus/NZ and the Philippines mostly speak English, its great. However, the rest of Asia, we are not so fortunate. So it is important to have translators for all the countries at the booths if possible.

Remember too, that these are showcase events for WOTC, they promote the game, the players and WOTC as a company, as DCI Certified judge, you are a representative of WOTC and need to think about all parts of these huge events. You may be the HJ, but you are also the cleaner, the result taker, a demo person and a cameraman. Whatever it takes to make the event special in the eyes of the public and the players.

The Event

Sally & Christy from the International Dept. at WOTC did a fantastic job at organizing the event. It was awesome, Adrian (Singapore's DCI Rep) worked so hard to make the event run smoothly. Months of time and preparation went into this event, and I would like to say, for the record, that these people must be some of the hardest working people at WOTC, from hotel rooms, to tablecloths, nothing was out of place or amiss.

Day 1

The APAC Championships brings the best players from all over the region to it. It is played for 4 invitations to worlds and over 70,000 USD in cash. Day one begin very quietly, with 121 players out of 220 invitations the turnout was excellent. It could be said that the APAC is the best dollar per player event in the world.

Day one is Standard, day two was Rochester draft.

Questions regarding Opalessence were common, as where a lot regarding the 6th edition rules. It seemed to me that not all the players were 100% up on them. In discussions with Dean Alfar (of the Philippines) he said a lot of players revert back to the old rules as soon the judges back is turned.

I was lucky enough to have about 20 judges for the event. Almost all the regions Level 3's where in attendance. For the first time in an APAC, I used the Senior Judge System, It worked so fantastically well, I will trying to use it at all my major events. I just found myself freed up to deal with all the issues. The junior judges where linked to a L3 and each L3 was assigned an area. The L3's where then rotated between the floor, and deck checks.

Dean's deck checking team takes the prize though, when, after about 8 minutes he comes up to me, and says that he has deck checked "two tables". So two games, no two tables, four games, eight players, Dean Alfar you are a machine!

An interesting note for the day is that several players missrecorded the result entry slips. I was amazed at how players keep doing this. You take the form, fill it out, read and then the judge confirms the results with you. Players still screw this up. I just don't know.

Another player was caught was marked sleeves, he had a pattern, and I felt that this pattern could not be made with the card in the sleeve. I had no witness to this effect, the cards that where marked where vital to his strategy, I ejected him from the day. I confirmed this with Andrew Finch, who totally agreed with my decision.

I have not been Head Judge with a tournament manager in attendance before, the TM takes a certain load off the HJ, it certainly makes a big difference. Have the Finch there meant that I had someone to confer with before handing out major (ejection) penalties, and it was good to have his backup when it counts.

Day 2

Rochester Draft. I must say that this is my favorite format to run. I enjoy watching players build decks, play. Draft is awesome. This year APAC Championships was also the first time that the cards have been stamped for an event. Players and judges alike where very impressed by this, and I felt that we cut down level of cheating like never before. I have run three GP's this years and they all have been limited. I am no stranger to draft. The event ran very smoothly, but again players filled in the result slip incorrectly. I must congratulate the staff, not a single data entry error the entire weekend. Well Done. At the end of the day, it was seven Japanese and one Australian (the National Champion no less :) .

Finals

The finals were quite a site, some of the matches where displayed on the huge video wall. Suntec City (where the event was held) is a huge shopping mall. The amount of people that watched those finals was staggering. That mall must have seen over 10,000 people through it. Magic and WOTC was everywhere. Portal Three Kingdoms was everywhere. I would like to digress for a second here, Henry Stern has done a great job with P3K, it is a great set, it has appeal to both beginners with its interesting story line and to advanced players due to some of the funky cards. I was went on my lunch break for the final day, I went to the downstairs food court and there where so many kids and parents alike sitting down and reading the rule book, playing with the new cards, most of them didn't even know Magic or Portal. It was great!

The format for the APAC Finals was Standard Constructed, best of 5 modified double elimination. Mori from Japan was the eventual Champion. During on the games, Doecke from Australia seemed to make a mistake, it looks like he got the 6th Edition rules mixed up. He asked his opponent for a response, when he really need to be the one adding something to the stake, that was he intent, but not what he did. So the Japanese player allowed his drake to resolve, its trigger and its target where added to the stack, unfortunately he had no enchantment in his graveyard because of the way he initiated it. Oh well, he won the match, but it caused some confusion for the table judge and me, as we tried to work out exactly what he wanted to do.

The Breakdown

That is about all, I had one more day in Singapore, and I headed out with the WOTC crew for a day of sightseeing. I had dinner with some of the crew, and ended up at the Tournament Center for some late night mtg. Mark Tedin had a chance to draw on the wall, and he drew Urza and his Angel, its so cool. Anyway, WOTC have told me that I will be Head Judging GP Sendai (Japan, September), GP Fukuoka (Japan, October), and GP Manili (December, Phillipine) If you are around, come up and say hi. See ya there.



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