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Chris Zantides


Nagoya - the city is located in the industrial heartland of Japan. It is home to Toyota, Yokohama and countless other manufacturing giants of the world. Over the weekend of 29th and 20th of May 2000 it was also home to 217 teams (651 players) competing for $15,000 in prize money. Grand Prix Nagoya was to be the first premier event of its type to be held in Japan, indeed Asia. The event was Head Judged by me, with an excellent staff of 17 judges. Scorekeeper was Robin Ida from Hobby Japan. Grand Prix Nagoya was the largest team event held so far.

The Team Grand Prix... What does it all really mean?

I have run more than my share of events in my six years as a Magic: The Gathering Judge and Tournament Organizer (I organized my first tournament in November of 1994, at the Bexley Scout Hall in Sydney) and later as the DCI Coordinator for Australia I have never encountered a more challenging type of event than a team Grand Prix. One of the greatest challenges involved in running a team event stems from the form itself. During a team Grand Prix players can and do register and construct a deck twice on day one, and three times on day two, then twice more during the finals. It is by far the most gruelling format that we have ever seen both on players and staff

In order to minimize the luck factor of sealed deck new decks are registered and distributed every three rounds of the event. With the number of players involved at GP Nagoya, it was best to run seven rounds on day one. It was a long and gruelling day, especially since DCI reporter will not output the team pairings alphabetically by team. This meant that we had to copy the pairings (which where sorted by table number) into a spreadsheet and then have to manually sort them. This delayed the tournament approximately thirty to forty minutes over the course of the day. I would like to thank Robin Ida for doing an amazing job with DCI reporter.

I have head judged four Grand Prix in Japan and the constant challenge for me has been the language. It was especially apparent for me this weekend. With a team event you are required to be giving almost constant instructions to players. Your most important judges are the bilingual ones; these are the people that you need to keep close to you when head judging events in countries where your language differs from the local one. Another factor to consider is what to do with English or non-local players who turn up. Japanese limited grand prix use Japanese product; this presents a challenge to the Head Judge as to deal with this issue. My solution to the problem is to supply those teams with English product. The next question is how to deal with a deck swap in this case? The simple solution that I have found is to collect back all the decks from the English-speaking players and then randomly give those decks out.

Day one on the whole was very successful; thanks mainly to registration on Friday night. This was a vital in insuring that the event started in time at 9:30am. Players where given twenty minutes to register the deck and boosters, then they where asked to swap with the team sitting opposite them. Although this isn't a fantastic solution of how to get 650-plus players to swap decks, it is the fastest. I also kept this fact secret until I made the announcement; I feel that this went a long way in deterring any potential cheating. The players where then given fifty minutes to construct their decks; they then played three rounds and then we did it all again.

At the end of the day (around 9:15pm) the event staff set the tables for day two, with a separate draft and play area; this allows you to set up the next draft while the round is underway. All product that was used during the draft portion of the Team Grand Prix was stamped product.. I was really beginning to feel exhausted, I don't even remember going what happened when I got to my hotel room and crashed out.

Day two of a team Grand Prix consists of five team Rochester drafts; not an easy task in the best of situations, let alone this being the first time for most players and judges alike. However I must thank and congratulate all the players, they did a great job, with only a few hiccups to speak off. An interesting side note for team draft is the use of hand signals; this certainly adds another element to the whole drafting process. It is important that you, as judges, monitor the situation; do not allow the players to talk during the draft, do not allow the players to obscure the cards in any way.

Day two was the most interesting day of magic I have seen in a long time. The dynamic that is involved when your must attempt to function as a team is a fascinating spectacle to watch. I think that the team format is by far the most interesting from a judges point of view. Day two was went very well, the day was over by 9:30pm with Team New Wave defeating Team Club Masato. Congratulations them both, they both performed extremely well.

Wrap Up

I learned a great deal over the weekend; I learned that team events are whole new kettle of fish, and that traditional theories on efficient tournaments don't necessarily apply. I feel that with teams events you need to be prepared to for a whole lot more surprises. I would like to thank Ron Foster for his help with translations and judging, Laura Waniuk for being the ever-present event manager, doing whatever it takes and Jeff Donais who did an amazing job for the Sideboard (check it out at http://www.wizards.com/sideboard). The event would not have been possible without the help of the many volunteer local judges and the Hobby Japan staff. Thanks and congratulations on a great event.

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