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Israeli Nationals 2000

Cyril Grillon

Hi folks,

With my new position in the DCI, I had the opportunity to visit another country for their National Championship. This time was Israel. It's a country with 6 millions citizens on the east side of the mediterranean sea.

One certified judge, one smiling scorekeeper, and one staff were on site with me to run the tournament. No, let's look at it the other way : I was with them. They were efficient and the tournament went well. Cards for the booster draft were not stamped.

The tournament was held on 28 and 29th of June in Tel-Aviv downtown in the Dizengoff Center, a pure shopping mall such as one you can find in North America. It was an open event and 67 players showed up.

The Joke

As on every open Nationals, there is a bye structure that was designed by the DCI: Every returning player from the National team and the Top 25 from the composite ranking receive 3 rounds byes. In practice, it seems that DCI Reporter is not designed to award 3 byes in a Pod pairing system. Well, it gives away byes properly, but it still assigned those players to a draft pod (which is fine for a 1 or 2 rounds bye but not for a 3 rounds bye). So when three players out of eight are not going to play the full draft, you are sure that it's going to be a big problem in terms of pairing. In addition, those guys may completly alter the draft since they know that they will not play at all and give away good cards, counterdrafting or... whatever you want. It's a bad(tm) thing.

So after a couple of doh-second, I choose to not award any bye on this competition. This is a very good lesson I took. We always advise to run some test with DCI Reporter before any event with a particular structure (multi-format event, bye or...both). But maybe I felt experienced enough to not go through tests before the event. This is a big mistake. Do what I say, not what I do!!!

The Environment

The only girl enrolled in the tournament left in the middle of the first round when the army called her for an emergency. A 3 years mandatory duty (20 months for girls) in the army have a very strong impact on the organized play activity. Most of the long term players leave organized play when they turn 18. And most of the time, they do not come back.

The average age of the field was incredibly low, more than 20% of the players were under 13 (this is certainly another consequence of the army situation). Imagine that we have created 17 new members out of 67 competitors on a National. Between young and unexperienced players in a mall, the "metagame" (from a tournaments organizator point of view) is not the same in Israel. Far from the regular clean and calm PT.

Let's fall again in the well-known statement. After the first draft, the top table was made of experienced players. And the level of play on those tables was a very good one. Once again, no matter where you are, Magic is a good game played by good players.

Q: What if I sacrifice an Academy Rector that I've stolen from my opponent with a Treachery?
A: Well, the controller of the triggered effect (that is to say the controller of the Academy Rector, not the owner) will search for an enchantment if he chooses to remove it from the graveyard.

It appears that the Israelian players community is not used to our regular tournament administration such as entry slips or even decklists. Imagine my surprise when I saw half of the field raising their hand as soon as they've made their pick during the draft, ready to pass as soon as everybody on the table is done. You know, like at home for the sunday night draft... In such situation, I think that the only solution is to forget the strict rules enforcement that should be used and go for a more educational event. I will never kick out half of the field in a tournament. Instead I went for a lot of discussions with top players, trying to describe what is a professional environment, what to do and not do.

And the Winner is...

Finally, after 12 rounds and a single elimination top 8, Uri Peleg (member of the 98 National team) beat the returning National champion Orr Bildner. Note that 3 members of the 99 Israeli team made top 4 again.

We had a little judge certification session, and 6 people went succesfully through the test and the interview. Judges are the key element in a good implementation of organized play in any region.

Cyril Grillon

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