The US National Championships for 2000 took place on June 9-11 at Disney's
Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Florida. I was head judge for
The format for Day 1 was Masques-Nemesis-Prophecy booster draft. Players
participated in two drafts, each followed by three rounds of Swiss within
pods. The format for Day 2 was Standard, which did not include Prophecy
card. Day 3 was a modified double-elimination top 8 finals. Four players
would make the U.S. team.
The judge staff for the event included Jeff Donais (tournament manager),
Gordon Culp (head scorekeeper), Beth Moursund (Magic rules manager), Mike
Donais (senior judge), Elaine Ferrao (senior judge), Matt Vienneau, Jeremy
Adams, Chris D'Andrea, Sean Smith, Shawn Jeffries, Tony Sutphin, John
Loniak, Josh Napper, Nick Hable, and a few others. The judges were split
among JSS, US Nationals, and side events, and we continually moved people
around to the events that needed the most attention.
The judge meeting was conducted on Friday morning, just before the draft.
I split the judges into two teams of roughly equal size, each responsible
for their own side of the US Nationals tournament area. Elaine took charge
of one team and Mike Donais commanded the other.
US Nationals was an opportunity to try out the new DCI Reporter 1.5, which
contains a number of new features but also some bugs. Gordon Culp left the
judge stage for about an hour after he drew up pod assignments and round 1
pairings. Unfortunately, for some reason the slips that he printed out
didn't match the master pod assignment list. When the players arrived at
their pod tables, the judges were unable to seat them because the slips
listed the wrong players. After several attempts to repair the problem, we
finally got it right and the first draft began.
I personally called the draft from my microphone on the stage. Players
were given 60 seconds for their first booster, then 50, 50, 40, 40, 30,
30, 20, 20, 10, 10, 10, 5, and then 1 second to select between the final
two cards. I gave a ten-second warning to let players know when their time
was running out. They had sixty seconds to review between packs.
The first draft had no problems. The second draft had only one small
problem: When the prestamped boosters were being constructed, a Prophecy
card was accidentally introduced instead of a Masques card. The player
notified us when the pack was opened and we replaced the Prophecy card
with a Masques card of equivalent rarity.
A player had a medical excuse for missing the first three rounds, but he
wanted to take three match losses and play in the second draft. Even
though he notified us in advance, we decided not to let him play. We felt
that it was a dangerous precedent to allow players to enter tournaments
late because of medical reasons.
We had several instances of suspected deck-stacking at this event, and we
tried our best to consider all the evidence. Elaine Ferrao had the DCI
database to check players' warning histories, and we also carefully took
statements from the judges and players involved. In two cases, I decided
that disqualification was warranted.
A number of players recorded under-40-card decklists on day one or
under-60-card decklists on day two. Although the recommended DCI penalty
for this offense is disqualification, we adopted a different penalty for
this event. Instead, we issued a match loss and allowed players to add
basic land cards to their deck until it was legal.
A player had Vitalizing Wind as the only green card in his deck. The
sleeve of the card had a very distinctive fingernail mark on the side. The
rest of his sleeves were in perfect condition. We decided to issue a match
loss for Marked Cards (Pattern) because of the huge advantage that this
marking could give.
The judges at this event were issued Standard Oracle handbooks, and
consulted with their senior judges if they had rules questions. Thus, I
had very few opportunities to answer rules questions first-hand.
Nevertheless, a few questions did come to my attention:
Q: After the Laccolith Warrior ability goes on the stack, what happens if
I activate Stampede Driver?
A: When the Laccolith ability resolves, it uses the "last known" power of
the creature. That means that if the Laccolith is still in play, it will
deal damage equal to its current power, and if it has left play, it will
damage equal to the power it had just before it left play.
Q: If I have a Spidersilk Armor, can my creatures block the creature that
my opponent enchanted with Treetop Bracers?
A: Yes. Your creatures can block as though they had flying. The don't
actually gain flying, but they have flying for all purposes of blocking,
including Treetop Bracers.
We also had some player interaction issues that I had to resolve. For
example, in one match, a player returned a Waterfront Bouncer to his hand
in response to an opponent's spell. He also said "ok." I had to determine
whether "ok" constituted passing priority; apparently the player with the
Bouncer had another ability he also wanted to use. I questioned the player
about exactly when he said "ok," and his story began to change as he
realized the significance of the word. At first, he said he returned the
Bouncer and then okay; then he said that he returned the Bouncer and said
the word simultaneously; then he said that he meant, "Okay, but not to the
spell that my opponent's casting." I ruled that he had passed priority and
his opponent's spell resolved.
Despite the few tough situations I had to resolve, in general I am very
happy with the way the US Nationals event ran. The judge staff did an
admirable job of dealing with the challenges of such a high-level event,
and I feel that the players perceived the judges as being proficient,
respectful, and fair.