The Junior Super Series challenge tournament is perhaps the most
satisfying tournament at which to judge. I had the privilege of
organizing the JSS challenge in Fairbanks on April 8th and we had average
turnout (18 people), but I can say with complete assurance everyone there
had fun. For two-thirds of the juniors there, this was the first MTG
tournament in which they had ever participated. As the Tournament
Organizer and Head Judge, it was important that these players both learned
about the game and had a good time.
I was fortunate to have such good support for this tournament. The local
newspaper ran a story about it, probably because a scholarship was
involved. The local comic shop included it in their regular display
advertising and rented an adjoining room to hold the tournament. Some of
the local adult players helped juniors build and tune their decks.
Everyone wanted it to be a success.
This enthusiasm poured over into the event itself. There was a friendly
and sociable atmosphere all day long. We played 5 rounds of Swiss with a
cut to the top 8. I was able to wander around and watch many of the
games. The juniors all had smiles. Needless to say, I had to answer many
simple questions. It seems that the interaction of creatures with
protection and trample damage needed to be explained a number of times.
The most difficult time was at the beginning. We had not gotten many
people preregistered so there was little possibility of running a deck
clinic the week before the event. Consequently, I had a adult player
checking deck lists as I registered players. There were many
irregularities and a few deck had to be completely rebuilt before the
tournament. I had told everyone that we would take as much as an hour to
run a quick clinic, check decks, and fill out deck lists. If you have
never run a JSS, be prepared to help some players completely reconstruct
there decks. I brought a box of land and a box of commons with me so that
I could help young players revise their decks. The juniors who had worked
with local adult players on their decks did the best in the tournament.
Perhaps the JSS challenges could have a prize for the local adult who most
helped players. There were a few decks that included Nevinyrral's Disk,
Shivan Dragons and other older cards favored by young players.. Obviously
these had to be replaced, but they was also one young man who thought it
was OK to play with 5 Cloudskates. When I made him take one out he said
"but they are so good!"
Also I found myself reviewing many of the basic rules before the
tournament like the minimum number of cards, the order of turns, mulligan
rules, points, tiebreakers, and the idea of two out of three games versus
single elimination. One really has to be ready for a JSS to start slowly,
but all the instruction is necessary to bring young players into the game,
and it is very rewarding.
The winning junior played Stompy featuring Squalmongers and Masticores.
The top four were rounded out with a rogue B/G deck featuring cards
Phyrexian Reclamation / Attrition / Deranged Hermit, a Stompy with Might
of Oaks, and a rogue Red with much burn.