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Russian Federation Nationals

Cyril Grillon

Sorry, this report will not be helpfull if your looking for tips to run your tournaments or increase your rules knowledge. No rulings, no DQ, no computer crash. Just some thoughts and notes.

Before the event

-Hi Cyril. It's Felix. Have you ever been to Russia ?
-What are you doing on the 20,21 of may ?
-Do you want to...
-Yep...yawoulahidehe....yiihaa ! ! (insert a picture of me in my famous aquatic Roborally Dance)

During the ten days prior to the event, I dreamed of it every night...thinking about the most unimaginable situation. Just take my place few seconds...you're going to head judge a tournament in a country you've never been before, with a totally unknown staff, and some potential great joke with the langage barrier. I was so excited ! !

Two days before the event, I received the full list of qualified players for the tournament. Some hours of preparation are a minimum if you want to avoid troubles. Setting up the tournament file, searching for limited rating, making sure that your version of DCI Reporter will do what you want (my experience from the 99 French Nationals teached me to double check some feature in the software such as the - Switch to another pairing method -).

I met Felix Huybrechts in the Moscow airport on Friday afternoon. There, another Felix from Sargona (the local distributor) was waiting for us. We had a meeting with Sargona's staff in their brand new office, in order to check again the tournament preparation. Three certified judges will be there and a bunch of volunteers. There'll be a printer. The cards for the booster draft portion have been stamped by Sargona's staff, everything seemed to be perfect (and finallly, it was perfect).

Taking a cab in Moscow is ...hum...funny. You just raise your arm and wait. Then a random car stops, no outside sign, it may be anybody, you don't know (well, I think that russian people know, but with our western european eyes, no way !). The cabdriver lost himself in Moscow while searching for our hotel... - 'know what, Felix ? I think we're lost... -

The tournament

Out of the 164 invited players, only 90 showed up.

I am going to write down a stupid statement, but they are playing exactly the same Magic in Russia than anywhere else in the world (yes, it's Magic...). Well, after the event, it seems to me that the event went smoother than the average tournament of that importance. A very good atmosphere. Players and judges were smiling and respectfull.

The first draft was a little bit too friendly for such tournament, however, sometimes you have to be lenient on things that you feel you can't change in two minutes. In the other hand, the second draft was much more professional.

In the other hand, the average level of rules knowledge on the field was amazingly high. Nearly no rules questions during the week-end. Just note that out of 26 candidates, 24 went succesfully through the judge test. I never run such an intense certification program in three years.

Another great point is that the 5 extra turns never took more than 10 minutes. We've all seen players fighting during twenty minutes until the end of the last extra turn then signing a draw on the slips. This was not the case in Moscow. They are playing fast...and fair. It's the first time that I was on hour late on the schedule at the beginning of the first draft and thirty minutes behind the same schedule at the end of the day.

The final was played between the exact two same competitors as last year. Konstantin Firsov (former Russian Champion) won his match against Alexander Strakhov. Both were playing a Replenish deck.

After the event

Running an event in a non-typical environment is exciting. I hope that we'll all have the opportunity to get this experience. I think that this experience is a very good milestone on the road to the level 4, so if you're a level 3 for a couple of months, start thinking about it. The Pro Tour is one thing on this road, but this event type is very stable. No more funny jokes about the Tour, WotC has reached a high level of professionalism with more than five years of experience. This may not be the case for foreign Grand Prix or Nationals, specially in new countries (in terms of organized play) such as Russia. I know that it's not so easy to show up at events far away from home, but note that WotC just increase the number of GP throughout the world, doubling the opportunities for you to stay on target.

The tournaments activity in Russia is going stronger and stronger everyday. With two game centers in Moscow and two others in Saint Petersbourg, they ran more than 200 tournaments since the beginning of 2000. They are one of the most active countries in Europe. In addition, they are using the online sanctionning system turning them into autonomous Tournaments Organizators (more than 70 percents of their tournaments are sanctionned and processed on-line).

If I have to thank people in the usual Props and Slops section, I'll write down a twenty pages directory. If you would have appeared on this list, you're certainly already aware of it. So thank you, it was a kind of dream for me, but I was awake.

Take care

Cyril Grillon
DCI Manager - European Territories

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