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US Nationals

Collin Jackson

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 this event.

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.

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