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PT Qualifier - Tokyo in SLC, Utah

Christopher Scanlon

Event Information :
Pro Tour Qualifier - Tokyo
Salt Lake City, UT
Dec 16, 2000
50 Players
2 Judges (Christopher Scanlon [Level 2] and Tony Lau [NR])

I'm still getting the hang of this. Running little local store tournaments
generates little pressure, but when you get into the premier events there's
more at stake. Boxes of unreleased product, byes to Grand Prix tournaments,
and of course, slots to take on the best players in the world at the Pro
Tour means that the judging must be exact, the rulings correct, and the
explanations foolproof. The largest challenge is still a Pre-Release, when
you have a FAQ and your own wits about you, but Extended tournaments
generate their own problems. Utah's non-standard metagame causes there to
be a larger pool of cards than expected, and gearing up for the standard
Trix, Full English Breakfast, Countersliver, and Sligh decks that are
expected to be seen isn't enough.

Think I'm joking? This is the top eight : Trix/Negator, Straight Trix,
Stompy (using Briar Shields and Bounty of the Hunt), Rec-Sur, Kitchen Sink
(stasis varient), Junk, Control/Pheddalgriff, and a classical Armageddon
deck. To expect a top 8 to contain these eight decks in the beginning of a
tournament might be considered ludicrous and to expect some of these decks
in the field might also be iffy. If there's anything the local players
force me to do, it's my homework on ANY silly deck that might pop up,
because if it's silly, and it's halfway effective, it'll be there.

The biggest problem hit me on Tuesday before the PTQ. Where's the product
to run this thing? I begin to panic and fire an email over to my Tournament
Organizer, William Graham. Before I get his email back, I have a little UPS
sticky note on the door saying they tried, and will try again tomorrow.
Fortunately for me, my roommate (the abovementioned Tony Lau) has vacation
from school, and is there to collect the goods when they arrive the next
day.

That next day however generates it's own problems, such as, what do I use
for a computer. I need a laptop desperately but haven't had funds to get
one, which I do now, and it's my Yule present to myself. However, that is
today, and this is last week, so I ask Tony if I can use his computer. He
asks what we're going to use as a printer and points to a forty pound
ancient BEAST of a printer. "You wanna carry that? Because I'm not going
to." We run to Office Max and pick up an Epson printer which a pretty good
printing rate and nice color resolution to boot. We install the software
and give it a test run, and all I can say is that it's fast. I mean really
fast compared to the printer that was usually used. Funny thing however is
that I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, since Tony has now deemed the Epson
"the printer Nazi" due to it's software LOCKING OUT the old beast. Still,
10 ppm is nice compared to 4 and it allows for far less stress during
repairing.

Friday I take time for myself and head out to meet with friends at a local
nightclub. I plan on getting back at about midnight, and as usual, those
plans turn out to be easily scrapped. I eventually come back to the house
at two in the morning and wonder how I'm going to wake up the next morning
in time to get to the University by 9am. Still, when I don't leave that
time for myself, I end up getting resentful and feel like the game is
trapping me. Running the Black Rose Tournament Series allowed me to become
closer to the players, but at the same time, I needed to take time for
myself and to pursue my interest outside of Magic. For any judge who had
the same feelings I did after nine months of near constant tournament
running, take the time for yourself and give yourself a few weekends without
the game. You'll be amazed at how quickly you'll recover from impending
burnout if you short circuit it early. At least I was...

I'm a terrible morning person and would much rather run tournaments at noon,
but we have to be out by 10pm meaning that we better use as much time as
possible. I wake at 8:15am and my head is spinning. I forgot to drink
enough water the night before and the night dancing has left me completely
dehydrated. I jump in the shower and come downstairs to find that Tony's
already started loading the car. I pull a box of product out and hand it to
him. "One less thing to cart, it's yours." He puts it on the table, we
finish loading the car, and we're off to the U.

We arrive just before 9am, and start carting the computer and boxes into the
tournament site. We post some signs to the new location, as we usually use
the East or West ballrooms, but had to use the Saltair room this time
around. It's a bit further out of the way but it allows for more privacy
for the players as long as they can find the place. I set out deck
registration sheets and finally take a look around me to see how many people
are there. It doesn't look good, people randomly straggling about but at my
count there might be about fifteen. Usually before registration ends, that
number doubles, and thirty people would be a huge disappointment.

If there's one thing I hate about running magic tournaments, it's that they
never start on time. At 10am people are still filling out deck registration
forms, and people are still coming in. When they finish filling out their
forms, more people come in. A car accident nearly caused five players not
to show up in time (blown tire, no injuries) and when I hear that, I'm not
so upset that I'm starting this tournament on what has been considered
"MST". Magic Standard Time.

We finally begin at 10:45am, and I go over initial comments. I put Tony on
the computer, and walk the floor. Walking the floor is the one thing that
I've tried the hardest to work on in the last year as a judge. It's a
matter of being visible and having people know that if they have a question
they can ask it. I need someone by the computer though for results entry
and protection of the boxes, so it leaves me as the one judge, which is fine
since as the head judge, I'm also the final arbitrator of all rulings during
the tournament.

Round 1 Questions :
Winter Orb : Does it still have it's effect if it's tapped?

Ruled that it doesn't. Checked D'Angelo's rulings and found that the
current wording was as I thought it was "If ~this~ is untapped, players may
only untap one land per turn." (02, 2000)

Fact or Fiction and Gaea's Blessing :
This was a pain. Question being if you use Fact or Fiction and let the pile
with Gaea's Blessing go to the graveyard, does it trigger?

I said that because the cards are revealed "from the library" but are not
placed in a different play zone, that it's still part of the library and
when it goes to the graveyard it goes "from the library" thus triggering.
Part me thought that it had to be an effect controlled by an opponent, but
after reading the card and remembering Gaea's Blessing's usage in other
decks, realized the folly before it was too late. My brain must still be
foggy though; it took me a while to get a clear explainable answer to WHY
this works the way it does.

It's important to me that when I make a ruling, I give a clear, complete
explanation of WHY that ruling is correct. It helps the players, and it
sure helps me by not allowing for people to question my authority. The
answer is there, completely explained, and there's no recourse for that
reason which gives me the bully hammer and stops the "inmates from running
the asylum."

Round 2 Questions :

Can I get in?

This question is asked by a player coming in halfway through round two. I
ask if he got my email that I sent out to all of the major mailing lists in
the area and he said he hasn't checked his email for the last month. I give
him the, "And that's my fault?" look and he signs up for booster drafts
instead after a minute of playful ridicule given and taken on both parts.

Can Misdirection change the target of Avalanche Rider's CIP ability?

No, Misdirection can only target spells, not abilities.

Then it's time for Mana Maze. I told you that you'd get cards played in
Utah that you'd rarely if ever see in other areas, right?

What exactly is "played"?

It's played when the spell is announced.

So if they cast a Counterspell, I can't counter it even though it hasn't
resolved?

Correct, you may not.

Ok, so if I play this Cursed Scroll, and they counter it, and I Pyroblast
the counter, they can't counter the Pyroblast?

Correct, they may not.

Sweet, I win. (And he does...)

Urza's Rage and Worship :

Does Urza's Rage kill someone with Worship and one creature?

No, because the Worship isn't a prevention effect but a replacement effect
instead and just changes the life total back up to 1.

The biggest problem with the site on this day is that the cafeterias
downstairs are closed. It's winter break for the University of Utah
students, and I give a full hour for people to get out of the building, get
food, eat, and come back. I get a lot of hypothetical questions during the
lunch break, including:

If I have a Shard Phoenix and there's a Humility in play, do I have a chance
to sacrifice it before Humility removes its abilities?

No, it's a continuous effect and will take effect before priority is gained.

What is the nature of the stack? Does it gain its power from our collective
belief in the stack?

It is stackish, always and that is it's nature. Due to the power of the DCI
and R&D the stack is all powerful, and completely stackish at all times.

So if we stop believing in the stack, will it go away?

Never. The stack is all stackish and will always remain as it is. However,
if the DCI and R&D stop believing it the stack, it will go away, just don't
hold your breath on this since the stackish nature makes the game far easier
for people to understand.

Obviously at this point, I need to go and get food, because I'm thinking
really hard about this question. I run to Chop Suey Luey's, which has quite
excellent and very cheap Chinese food and is much better than the name would
indicate. Another player finds this gem, and he asks me the Humility
question and other questions on the nature of the stack, far less
existential than the previous one.

Now fed and fully awake, it's time to restart this and try to pound out the
next four rounds and single elimination before 10pm when we're going to get
booted out of here. I figure four rounds, three rounds of elim, seven
rounds in eight and a half hours, I can do this without breaking much of a
sweat. Or so I think...

Round 3 Questions :

My opponent forgot to draw! (A precursor of worse things to come...)

Entering the player's first turn (going second) he forgot to draw his card
before playing a land and a spell. I had the player draw a card and take a
warning for "failure to draw a card". Personally, I think it might be too
harsh but at REL 3 it seems to be fair. Unfortunately for this player, I
also figure out who left a Tectonic Break at one of the earlier tables. I
run a quick deck check, and only find two of the three. I have the other.
I issue a game loss for illegal main deck and make them start game two.
Ouch!

Demonic Consultation? How does this work?

The question comes up about when the card for Demonic Consultation is named.
I've played with it enough that I know that it's named when the spell
resolves. No, you can't use Jester's Cap after I call the card and remove
them from my library. Nyah Nyah!

Cursed Totem vs. Avatar of Woe, who wins?

The totem wins, tapping is a cost to the activated ability. Continuous
abilities such as Winged Sliver's (All slivers gain flying) are not
affected. Putting it in this way, by giving the players a way where it
works, and a way where it doesn't, seems to help explain exactly what the
card does and doesn't do.

I have an Engineered Plague, what can I do to make it help me against a
Treetop Village?

Well, you could toss it to Firestorm. Treetop Village has no creature type,
so you can't cast Engineered Plague and call any creature type that will
affect the Village unless Conspiracy is in play on their side.

Help! I've just been Pyrokineses'd?

There's a problem with this of course, since Pyrokenesis can't target
players. Since nothing else had happened, I had the play back up and
restarted them from the active player's priority during first main. Since
there was no further progress in the game since that point I didn't feel
there was a need for a penalty.

Round 4

I finally get the first booster draft filled and send Tony out to start it.
I try to keep my eyes out on the tables while protecting the cards and
computer. Maybe a third person to help out in the future won't be such a
bad thing, but with 50 people, two people seem to be more than sufficient
and it also makes sure that the other judge is going to be compensated well
for his work. And it was a lot of work for him... not to mention the loaner
of the computer.

Not many questions, but a few.

If someone Pandebursts me (Pandemonium and Saproling Burst, taking off to do
6 5 4 3 2 and 1 damage 21 total) can I use Honorable Passage to redirect all
of the damage back?

No, because it'll only prevent the next time the source deals damage, all
other damage resolves normally.

Round 5

Obviously I'm getting tired, because I drop the wrong Richard. I thought
that I dropped the wrong person with the last name since the Richard that I
dropped had someone else with his last name and repaired again. I
eventually put the people where they were supposed to be and repair for a
third time and finally got the round going. I was obviously tired this
morning because I forgot to grab a land box for booster drafts. Tony Lau
heads back to the apartment, only 5 minutes away to grab it and now there
goes the rest of the judging support over to his hands. No cards for me,
but I can't remember the last time I played so it's not as much skin off my
back. Hell, he deserved it, he's busted his tail today and with there only
being one judge other than me, it's over a box of support for his services,
which were well needed. Next time, I need to make sure I have a checklist
and that I follow it completely. Especially for the Planeshift Pre-Release
which will be my first as an organizer AND head judge. (I've been the head
judge for the last six in the area, and have been on staff since Urza's
Legacy, so the judging problems a Pre-Release causes are familiar, it's the
logistical nightmare they cause which I'll need to adjust to.)

Back to the questions :

Firestorm vs. Demonic Consultation, why do they work differently?

Someone casts Firestorm and the opponent asks for them to discard the cards.
He asks why it isn't done on resolution and I say because there's that
little colon there which says that the discard is part of the cost. Also
that you need to know how many targets there are so you know they're all
legal. This is unlike Demonic Consultation which says "Name a card.
(period!)" The naming of a card is part of the effect, not the cost, and is
therefore different than Firestorm in that respect. The explanation is
taken and understood, which is good for me and bad for him when the
Firestorm is Force of Willed.

Side thoughts on Force of Will.

There's been some talk about why FoW isn't banned. It's good, it's
powerful, and it's disruptive but it's able to be dealt with. People have
dealt with it in previous Extended formats and they'll deal with it until
the Alice block rotates out, which will probably come sometime soon anyway.
Should it be banned? Probably not, although it complements the most
powerful decks quite well. People shouldn't have to maindeck Pyroblasts,
but there are other ways around Force of Will, including Mana Maze among
others. More of a problem might be Illusions of Grandeur or Necropotence,
but the environment, although bogging down, isn't as stagnant as it was with
the High Tide/Pox/Sligh-Stompy game of Rock/Paper/Scissors. There's still
some room for inventiveness as the Utah metagame seems to always prove.

Round 6

No, Impulse doesn't do that, even though it says it does.

I found a kid (maybe 13 or so) playing an Impulse, and then shuffling his
deck. I let him know the errata that he never heard of and told him not to
do it in the future. I thought about giving a Procedural Error-Minor for
the infraction, but it didn't look like it was being done to gain any
strategical advantage, and was in my opinion an honest mistake.

Timing is everything.

There always has to be a situation like this during every tournament it
seems. Round 6, final round, winner goes in, loser goes out, and now we're
getting tight on technical terms. A player attacks with a Jackal Pup, which
runs it's poor little head smack dab into a Wall of Blossoms. The attacking
player then casts Shock on the Wall of Blossoms while the defending player
responds by casting Hydroblast on the poor puppy. The problem is that
because this poor little pup has been smacking it's head into the Wall for
the last few turns, they've become lax in what step of damage they're in.

And things get heated, as both start to fire some accusations at each other
of trying to rules screw the other. I wade in and do what I feel I must to
settle it. I place the Shock and Hydroblast back in each others hands and
give them a stern warning about making sure they know where in the game they
are. Both agree and begin to play and I check the computer for what matches
are active. At this time there's only two, and one of them is at a table
where the winner will affect tiebreakers, but not a direct entry into the
top 8. I drop myself at the table and watch the rest of the game like a
hawk, at times slowing the game down when I feel the players are moving too
fast (skipping steps, not announcing time for upkeep effects when there
might be things the other players want to do) and both begin to slow down
and "play nice".

Both talk and resolve the differences after the match, which makes me feel a
lot better about the situation. The last thing I want is for players to get
in a situation where they just want to throw their hands up in the air and
say, "I quit." Not good for the game, and not good for my new position as
an Area Coordinator. It's an interesting combination since I have to not
only act as fair administer of justice, but also as customer service agent
to the players and this poses a new set of problems. Keeping my distance so
as not to seem biased while being approachable to show concern for the
playing environment is a wicked tightrope to walk, but one I try to do as
effectively as I can.

The final round of Swiss ends, and a new problem rises. I print out two
copies of the final standings, read out the top 8, and take the other to a
set of public computer terminals. I link up to the WotC database and do the
best I can with the 1700 flag, going through from 9 down until I find two
players who have ratings under 1700. I have to go down to 16th and 19th
place before I find them, and I don't see a ratings flag disqualifying
either player, so I hand out the boxes. Usually I have a list of flagged
players, but I didn't receive one for Tokyo, possibly because of the new
formation of the Constructed rating, or possibly because my email service
needs to improve. This does cause a bit of a delay, and the top 8 is more
than anxious to get going when I get back.

Finally we get things rolling, but keeping me on the floor as the only judge
I decide I need to figure out a way of keeping an eye on everything at the
same time. I place the players at the corners of the table near each other,
but diagonally across from the people they would play in the next round. I
clear the area between the four tables and tell people if they'd like to
watch, they can do it, but to allow me to go freely between the tables and
have the corners of the tables at all times. I end up having to say this
multiple times as people wandering into the room seem to step directly in my
way since the area is clear and they figure it's a convenient place to pull
up a chair and watch the match. It's not much of a problem, and most
players aren't having any questions, so it's a matter of just being
available and catching whatever I can catch.

I thought that the ninety minute time limit was funny since matches never
went that long. Then I have a Rec-Sur vs. Junk battle that nearly does
exactly that. One of the players had clear path to victory sixty minutes
into the match and during game three which I saw, one of the other people
around me saw, but the player with the deck didn't see. Fortunately the
hammering on, no commentary during sanctioned matches seems to have caught
on as he watches in pain, much as I am as the time limit approaches quickly,
and the window for victory slams shut after four rounds. Twenty minutes
later, a pair of Phyrexian Negators live up to their names and Negates the
opponent.

I allowed the other Semifinalists to get started and kept an eye on that
match as well. No questions again from either player, and the match was
over before the other Quarterfinal was. I give the winner of the marathon a
few minutes to recover his wits, and give myself the same, as my mind is
spinning. Fortunately a speedy Stompy deck finds the forests the opponent
plays very nice, and sends an army of Rancored, Briar Shielded, Vine Dryads
over for a quick kill.

Usually the tensest moments of a PTQ comes during the finals, but both
players inquire if the other is going to go to Tokyo if they qualify.
Neither Aaron Muranaka nor Steve Jarvis think they'll be able to go and
agree to split the prize money and play for rating points and pride. Steve
ends up winning in three games, during which both do a loose and jovial
running commentary that keeps most of the people around them amused.
They're not ready for the Improv, but if they were, why aren't they on the
comedy club circuit?

Things went pretty well, and for the first time I felt completely
comfortable with the way the tournament was run. The things that I think
could be improved are things outside of my control (such as cafeteria
service for the players) but all in all I think that things went very
smoothly. I think the players were happy with the tournament and they
showed excellent sportsmanship throughout.

As for me, it's time for another sabbatical from Magic due mainly to the
holiday season. I'll probably spend the time redesigning the Black Rose
homepage, setting up a new laptop for a new Black Rose season, and getting
ready for a hectic end of January and beginning of February which will
include a Junior Super Series, the Planeshift Pre-Release, a PTQ for
Barcelona, and hopefully a trip out to Pro Tour-Los Angeles to take a shot
at obtaining level three certification. There have been a lot of people
asking me about testing for certification, and it's tough to tell them that
there isn't someone qualified to test them in the area. I think there's a
level three in Colorado, and a couple in Arizona, but that's the closest
level three to Utah, but that's a very long way to travel and a huge
inconvenience that not surprisingly, few players are willing to bear.
Personally, I went all the way to Denver to test for my level two. It wasn't
my intention at the time to do so, but Bill Graham said that while James Lee
was at the tournament, it would be a good idea, and so far it has been.

En gassha,
Christopher Scanlon, Level Two DCI Certified Judge
TO of the Black Rose Tournament Series ( http://www.aros.net/~daroki )
Utah Area Coordinator for Tournament Organizers Limited


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