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Grand Prix-Sendai

Chris Zantides


GP Sendai was the first major event in Japan that moved us beyond the major areas of Tokyo and Osaka-Kansai. I was very excited about this event. I was really looking forward to this event, pre-registration numbers were over 400. It looked as if we would have a huge one on our hands. I also was planning on trying to run the GP, as much as possible, in Japanese (you'll note that I do not speak Japanese ;) ). On the flip side I was very nervous, Jeff Donais would be in attendance, and I would be taking my Level 4 retest at this event (I am very please to say that I passed, and am still level 4)

Japan and The Bullet Train

One of my favourite things about Japan is the Vending Machines; literally, on every free bit of space you can find a vending machine selling something, from ice cream to hot chips (french fries). The Japanese have this drink called "CC Lemon", the advertising claims it has the "power of 50 lemons" I don't know about that, but it is very good, if you ever in Japan, try it. Also, try "Pocari Sweat" it tastes like sweat, but you have to try it, just to say you have.

If you have to get around in Japan, then shinkansen (bullet train) is a very cool way to do it. I had to catch a train from Tokyo to Sendai. The train reaches speeds in excess of 200-km/h-. The 350 km trip took about an hour and half, it stoped only once and it was the most fun I have ever had riding a train. They even have these people who come through the train to sell you food and drink.

Grand Prix Sendai - Day One

The Hobby Japan staff is very professional and after having done two GP's and a World Championships, they seem to have setting up venues down pat. Three hundred and seventy-seven players, not a bad turn out. It is interesting to note that the event was using Japanese product on day one. This caused a bit of a dilemma in that we had eight people who did not speak Japanese. I decided to let them play with English product, and they would trade decks with each other. This does exactly allow for a great deal of randomisation, however, I think it was very fair.

We (the Level 4 judges) are currently discussing timing on Sealed Deck construction time, and registration. I am an advocate for 20 minutes for registration and 40 minutes for construction, this allows for the pre-play part of the event to be over with in about an hour and 20 minutes, I have found this to work through many events and Sendai was no exception, I run APAC GP's at Rules Enforcement 3 on day one, and Rules Enforcement 4 on day two, this gives me some leeway for newer markets, where over 20% of the player population is "new".

Day one went well, with no real major issues.

Grand Prix Sendai - Day Two

This day begun well, the draft was run well, with Ron Foster (an American who lives in Japan, and speaks Japanese very well) handling the time calling. If you are to run a draft of any kind, I have found it very useful to make up a set of cards (as in write on some land with a sharpie) that has the time for this pick, the amount of cards remaining and what should be said at the appropriate time. I used 35 minutes for deck construction, the extra time was given because English Language cards where to be used and there where over 95% Japanese native speakers. It is very important to remember to provide that little bit of extra time if you judging in non-English speaking country.

With the second draft, we had a few hiccups, but nothing major, and things smoothed out as we moved through it. At the end of the day we had the top eight:

  1. Toshiki Tsukamto
  2. Satoshi Nakamura
  3. Kazuyuki Momose
  4. Masayuki Higashino
  5. Ayumi Hidaka
  6. Hiroshi Harada
  7. Yuichi Taguchi
  8. Itaru Ishida

These players moved on to a top eight draft, they then played in a best two out of three single-elimination playoff. Following this the top eight looked like this:

  1. Higashino Masayuki (also Japanese National Champion)
  2. Kazuyuki Momose
  3. Satoshi Nakamura (1998 APAC Champion)
  4. Itaru Ishida (already invited to London)
  5. Toshiki Tsukamoto (already invited to London)
  6. Ayumi Hidaka
  7. Hiroshi Harada
  8. Yuichi Taguchi

The following players also won invitations to Pro-Tour London:

  • Masahiro Kuroda
  • Fumihiko Sano

That's all folks

The event finished about 10:30pm. It was fantastic, and I would like to thank Jeff Donais, Ron Foster and Robin Aida for the fantastic amount of effort they put in. I would also like to thank all the staff that helped out over the day. This event would not have been possible without everyone's help. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me at chris.zantides@wizards.com. Thanks and see you at PT-London.

Chris Zantides,
Level IV

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