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Washington DC PTQ

Shawn Smith

Event: Pro Tour Washington DC Qualifier -1 Slot
Date: July 10, 1999
Location: GameMasters
6554 Quince
Memphis TN 38119
Format: Team Sealed Urza Block
Head Judge / TO: Shawn "Ertai" Smith, Level III, and WOTC Tournament Organizer

This report is for my Team Tournament qualifier, held July 10,1999. I have divided the report into three main sections. The first outlines the Pre-Tournament and Signup work that was required for the tournament. The second section describes the execution of the Swiss portion of the tournament, and the final section highlights the final four teams as they played for the slot.

I do a fair bit of Pre-Tournament work, as I am both the Tournament Organizer and the Head Judge for my events. Much of the paperwork that physically needs to be brought to a tournament, including the Signup sheets, and the Judge Bible Set (Oracle, Rules & Penalty Guide) have been converted to electronic format, saving me a tremendous amount of physical and mental labor. I do, however, keep a set of each in my trunk, just in case. Once the computer was set up I entered my basic tournament info into the DCI Reporter. I really can't emphasize enough what a good idea it is to run ALL your tournaments on the Reporter. You must keep archival copies of your tournaments for the DCI, just in case. With the Reporter, that amounts to 40K, at most, on your computer, rather than hard to maintain paper copies. The Reporter also lets you provide more information to your players, including constant tiebreaker info and standings. It also relieves a lot of the burden of proof to players off your shoulders. Using the paper system, players wanted complete breakdowns of their final tiebreaker set, if they fell out of the top eight positions. Using the computer, such time wasting questions are not asked.

With the computer set up and ready for entry, I pulled out my ace-in-the-hole for the Signup process, a Team Signup sheet. Since signing up a team involves collecting triplicate Name, DCI numbers and the team name, I created a small slip that the players could fill out with that info. This saved me a tremendous amount of signup time, for all I needed to do was collect tourney money, verify DCI numbers and enter the team into the Reporter. The sheet made it possible for me to do all the Signups myself, and have the Tourney start on time.

Deck construction went fairly uneventfully. I used two separate sheets for deck registration, to allow two players on a team to record, and one to sort. This kept registration going smoothly. Decklist errors in this format require giving all players for both the recording and receiving teams warnings, so players are generally more careful. Once the deck swap was done, and deck construction was begun, there emerged a definite trend in deck building. More than half of the twenty teams in the tournament built a white-blue, a red-green and a mono-black deck. Of the remaining ten teams, half of these produced variants of the above set, usually maintaining the White Blue deck, and splitting either the red or the black cards among the other two players. All four of the finalist teams chose the WU, RG, and B formats. Also of note was that in almost half of the teams, the control deck went to the same player, in position A. This led to many matches that went to time and many drawn matches overall.

One of the best things about the Team format is that, almost universally, players are more relaxed, even in a Qualifier environment. This led to many fewer penalties and rulings based on technical issues. Additionally, many questions were answered by teammates before a judge needed to be called. There were still many 6th procedure questions and more than a couple White Lightning explanations. The only major penalty of note was a rather ugly match loss to a player who had only recorded 39 cards on his decklist. The silver lining to this was that his teammates still carried him to an overall match victory.

Regarding deck checks, since this is a painful and very long process in teams, I give the following recommendation. Dedicate a judge each round to be the Deck Checker. During the round, have the judge check two decklists for the next round. I recommend doing two just in case one of the teams drops. Check the decklists for a match between each player's deck and sideboard and the inventory entered by the listing team. Also check to make sure each player's deck is legal, and that there aren't irregularities on any of the decklists. Then, when the next round is about to begin, randomly pick one of the teams (both if you have the manpower) and bring them to a table away from play. Have them separate deck from sideboard, and break down each for verification. The actual accounting process is very simple, and we managed to do complete deck checks with 20 minutes on average, with only one judge checking all three decks.

Before drafting, the higher seed team chose which team would draft first. In all drafts, final and semi-final, the ranking team chose the opposing team to draft first. The rationale behind this is to give your team six choices of cards after the first three cards are removed. Although typically power cards, even with these three removed, the high ranked team gets to solidify colors first, getting the bulk of the average to good cards through the first three packs, setting the colors they will continue to force throughout the draft. On the whole this seems a fairly sound strategy. It can lead to some aberrations, however, since the third player on the lower ranked team can have three choice drafts in a row, for both Saga and Destiny drafts. In the Semi-Finals, the C player on the victorious team was given two of three blizzard elementals he drafted due to this.

I have seen two basic draft strategies for choosing cards in Team Rochester Drafts. The first draft strategy was the standard format of each player building the best deck they could. The team would fairly quickly decide which colors would be funneled to each player, and barring some slight sideboarding, the team would evaluate the table for best card rather than evaluating their opponent's choices to determine counter choices. The second strategy, which is only realistic in this format since you only play a drafted deck versus one opponent, was to build each player's deck as the antithesis of the opposing player's deck, hoping to choose cards that would foil their opponent's strategy. In the Semi-Finals one of the four teams choose this strategy, and it did not prove successful. In the Finals, both teams choose the standard strategy.

Overall, I have to say this was one of the tournaments I have enjoyed running most. The Team format brings friends together, rather than making them competitors. The atmosphere is livelier as teammates watch their buddy's highs and lows, rather than getting the play-by-play. There is a little more work for the judges, but I think it's more than worth it. So much so, I think I'll find one to play in myself. How about Ertai and his Familiars for a team?

Ertai , Wizard at Large

Tourney Report available at: http://www.thedojo.com/t991/lim.990712bco.shtml

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