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Neutral Ground Type 2 Championship

Steven Zwanger

Saturday December 11, 1999 we held the Neutral Ground Type II Championships, at Neutral Ground in New York City, in which the winner and runner-up got a qualifying spot for the Neutral Ground Championships to be held in January. The tournament was scheduled for 1 pm; at 12:30 we had about 4 people and I was a little worried, but we ended up with 18, which wasn't too bad. I was the only judge for the tournament, but a constructed-deck tournament of that size is manageable for one judge. With 18 players I did a 4-round Swiss tournament, cutting to Top 8.

All the players filled out deck registration sheets before we posted pairings for Round 1. One player had a photocopied decklist; I like to see players who are prepared! Players at Neutral Ground are used to filling out decklists for our weekly Type 2 tourneys -- we've trained them well-- so there wasn't any explaining to do.

I had a couple judge calls each round of the tournament, which is actually more than we usually get; I've had entire tournaments finish with no judge calls at all.

The first judge call came from a match where one player had 2 Repercussions and his opponent had one creature. Player #1 had cast Cave-In and the other player asked whether he would take 4 or 2 damage from the Repercussions (4; each trigger is played individually). I also had to remind the first player that when using the alternate casting cost of Cave-In he should announce the spell, then pitch the card; he can't remove a card from his hand without a reason.

I then passed by a table where a player had 2 Karn, Silver Golems in play. Oops! I guess "Legendary" isn't as obvious as "Legend." :-)

Then I got my first toughie -- one player cast Diabolic Servitude and played the trigger, choosing a Deranged Hermit from his graveyard to put into play. In response, his opponent Disenchanted the Servitude, causing the Servitude's leaving-play trigger to be played before the Hermit came into play. I ruled that the second trigger couldn't remove the Hermit from the game, since the Hermit was not yet in play. Then the Hermit came into play even though the Servitude was gone, since the effect putting into play was already on the stack. Result: One un-Servituded Hermit in play. A suboptimal result for his opponent, who realized he should have Disenchanted the Servitude after the Hermit came into play.

Then I had a judge call where one player accused the other of looking at the top card of his library, which the second player denied doing. No sooner had I dealt with *that* (with a Caution) then they called me back a moment later with a Failure to Agree on Reality. Player #1 had cast a Vendetta on Player #2's Ticking Gnomes. Player #1 said Player #2 had sacrificed the Gnomes in response; Player #2 said he'd merely said "OK". No way to know who was telling the truth. I figured the most likely explanation was that the first player had misheard or misinterpreted the second, so I gave them both a warning and told the first player to lose 3 life.

The last judge call was another tough question. Don Lim, playing a Bargain deck, had 3 lands, a Claws of Gix and an Academy Rector in play. During his draw step, his opponent used a Mishra's Helix to tap Don's lands. In response, Don tapped his lands for mana, sacrificed his Rector, and played its ability to put a Yawgmoth's Bargain into play. So what happened to the draw step he was in the middle of? It didn't make sense to me for the Bargain to skip a step that a player had already entered, so I told Don he was still in his draw step. (It mattered because if his draw step ended right away, he would lose 2 life for mana burn).

Only one match during the whole tournament went into the Last 5 Turns, a black/green Plaguelord deck versus a blue Tim/Bribery/Treachery deck.

We cut to a Top 8; some of the 2-2's even made it. Before the Final Four we deck-checked the four remaining players. One of them, unfortunately, had a sideboard card switched for a main deck card and got a game loss.

After the second playoff round the last two players, Mike Pustilnik and Max Alicea, chose not to play the final match -- no point, since they were both getting a spot in the Neutral Ground Championships in any case. The tournament ended at 7:30 -- just in time for the Neutral Ground Booster Draft Championships to start. :-)


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