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Pro Tour Tokyo - HJ Report

Chris Zantides

Pro Tour-Tokyo 2001 took place over March 14, 15 and 16 at the Tokyo Big Site. It was my first experience as a Pro Tour head judge. I have over ten Grand Prix events to my credit, two Continental Championships and four National Championships-the Pro Tour is definitely a different beast.

The format for Tokyo was Invasion Block constructed, the most commonly asked rules questions are summarized below: All players where given a copy of these rulings at the player meeting. This helped to cut down on confusion regarding the rules and I hope that this is a practice that we will continue.

  • For Meddling Mage, if you wish to prevent a split card, you must name both halves. Both halves are prevented.
  • For Void, if you wish to force a split card to be discarded, you should name one converted mana cost or the other. You do not add the mana costs of the split cards. That is because Void is comparing the converted mana cost of the split card with a given number.
  • For Reviving Vapors, Planeswalker's Favor, Planeswalker's Fury, Planeswalker's Mirth, and Planeswalker's Scorn, you get an effect for both halves of the split card, effectively combining the mana cost. That is because these cards don't compare the converted mana cost with anything and just want a number.
  • For Psychic Battle and split cards, you use the higher of the two mana costs. You don't combine them.
  • If Recoil is used on Yawgmoth's Agenda, neither the Recoil nor the discarded card are removed from the game. If Yawgmoth's Agenda is destroyed by Aura Blast, the Agenda is removed from the game and the Aura Blast goes to the graveyard.
  • The damage from Overabundance doesn't go on the stack and can't be responded to. It is effectively immediate.

Team Management

Having received the list of judges from James Lee (the DCI Judge Certification Manager) a week before the event I was able to plan out whom was placed into which teams and most importantly who was to be the Team Leaders.

The system of using "Team Leaders" is something that is used extensively at premier level events. The philosophy behind this system is that the Head Judge cannot be everywhere at once, so he allocates several judges the role of "Team Leader". These judges then take small groups and manage tasks that are required by the Pro Tour or Grand Prix (deck checking or patrolling a set number of tables are examples of allocated tasks). It also allows a judge who may be testing to work closely with a more experienced judge, and for that judge to get a better feel for the skill level of the judge he will be testing in a few days.

The Pro Tour is an educational experience for any judge. Working amongst all that experience is healthy for anyone. I would make the connection that a Pro Tour is similar to one of those intensive computer-training courses.

All judges were given a copy of the schedule for the event. Everyone knew exactly where they needed to be every round. I feel that this one of the strengths of the event. All of the judge staff where focused on what needed to be done as they could prepare for it ahead of time.

Judges from around the world came to Tokyo to take part, as staff in the Pro Tour. The total number of judges was twenty-one from ten countries broken down as follows:

Japan - 5 Taiwan - 2
USA - 5 Canada - 1
Australia - 2 Philippines - 1
France - 2 Italy - 1
Singapore-2 UK - 1

Although the staff was very talented, it would have been optimal to have about five more judges; this would mean that we would have five groups of five judges each, one Head Judge one Tournament Manager and one Scorekeeper.

Deck Checks

I am happy to report that Pro Tour Tokyo set a new record-after all the deck lists where checked we where surprised to find that there where no errors. This is a first in Pro Tour history.

As an advocate of the downgrade of the deck list penalties that happened in 2000, I was happy to see that education is working much better than simply enforcement-ejecting people for clerical errors should not be something that is part of Professional Magic.

Top 96

Of note was the drop from Pro Tour Los Angeles of people who made day two, at LA we had 169 players make day two using the new "Tied for 96" cut system, at Tokyo this number was down to 130. This was mainly due to the drop in attendance, LA is always well attended (327 in 2001 with 52.6% of field making day two) and given the tyranny of distance Tokyo was not as well attended (270 with 48.1% of the field making day two), this drop in attendance is most likely what caused this. With this in mind it will be interesting to look at Barcelona and see if this trend (of about half the players making it to day two.) will continue.

Given that Pro Tour LA was also a draft tournament this naturally lead to a greater than normal level of byes in the event (as people drop from their pods, they naturally give the other people in that pod byes not to mention seven person pods), this also was a factor in the number of people who made day two.

As we saw in LA the number of intentional draws dropped significantly going into round 7 (compared to pre-tie for 96 Pro Tours). For more information you should check out http://www.wizards.com/sideboard/article.asp?x=PTTOK01\876d2stats. For further information regarding previous Pro Tours Collin Jackson (Head Judge of Pro Tour Los Angeles) wrote a great breakdown of this in his Head Judge Report.

Untap or Burn?

This is an issue that plagued us once again at the Pro Tour, what happens when a player cannot legally play a spell? They don't have the correct colour mana, or they sacrificed the incorrect land, there are many situations where this is possible.

This was brought up at L.A and once again at Tokyo. It is a fairly big issue that needs clarification for players and judges. As a general rule for REL 3, 4 and 5, it can be said that if a player tapped mana first, then played a spell, the mana is in his pool and the spell is back in his hand. If a player actually played the spell, then tapped for mana and realized that the spell cannot be played then the card goes back to the hand. In either case this warrants a Procedural Error-Minor at REL 3 and 4 and Procedural Error-Major at REL 5. For information about the Penalty Guidelines please check out http://www.wizards.com/dci/judge/main.asp?x=judge/MTG_DCI_Penalty_Guidelines.

As this photo is taken, the 'Untap or Burn' issues is being discussed by me (right) and Collin Jackson (centre), it has been brought up by Migual Suaco (left)

The DCI is currently evaluating the Untap or Burn policy, so this may change in the future.

To Kick(er) or Not?

Along the same lines of "Untap or Burn?" is what to do if a player has not announced the intent to use kicker, he has tapped 2U and 1B and not said anything. The system that was used at the Pro Tour was that a player who failed to announce the use of kicker was given a Procedural Error-Major penalty.

Problems begin to arise when one player tells you that their opponent didn't announce kicker and the opponent tells you that he did. In situations such as this, a judge needs to use their best judgment. As a general rule, assuming no other factors are in effect, it is better to give the benefit of the doubt to the player who is playing the card, making the assumption that the player knows how to use the cards that he or she is playing with, it goes without saying that if a player has a history of such things then this may not be the best way to rule.

Interesting One-Offs

The Pro Tour is often a place where interesting rulings need to be made, as this level it is very important to consider how these rulings will be filter down into everyday play. I am sure that every judge has heard the phrase "They ruled it <insert random ruling> at the Pro Tour!" so as the head judge for a Pro Tour it is important that I take this into consideration when making rulings.

A situation arose where one player had played and resolved a Worldly Counsel. Then, his opponent had picked up that player's deck and proceeded to cut the deck before he could stop him. At this point, the players called a judge. The decision made was to give the opponent a Procedural Error - Major and then have the deck shuffled by a judge. This way, the chance of the cards placed at the bottom of the library by the Counsel being all near the top were drastically reduced.

During Round Nine a player asked if it would be ok for "someone" to take notes that his opponent could not see. The answer to this question is no, during the ensuing discussion several issues where discussed:

  • What about if the judges/players cannot understand what has been written?
  • What about if it is in some sort of code?
  • What if it is offensive?
We decided to come up with a general philosophy that it is fine as long it does not violate the note taking rules, and the judges can understand what is written and it makes sense.

During round twelve of the Pro Tour a question was asked regarding the order of the graveyard, essentially was it legal to change this order? The answer to this question is no, although there is no actual penalty that is associated with it, a judge would need to use their own discretion to determine the intent. The reason for not allowing players to change the order of the graveyard, even though there are currently no effects that rely on this order, is so that firstly it may be possible to reconstruct recent happenings in a game from this order and secondly to maintain consistency between formats (whereas it does not matter in Block, it most certainly matters in Extended).

Overall Impressions

I feel that the event went very well; the efficiency of the judge staff was very high. I would like to make special mention that no deck check took longer than five minutes thirty seconds, and no time extensions beyond ten minutes where issued for the entire event.

Having a Masters Tournament linked to a Pro Tour can be exhausting to all the judges, and the staff who are working the event, not to mention the players who could be competing for some 12 to 15 hours. I would like to thank Rules Manager and Level 3 Judge Paul Barclay who worked very hard as the Masters Head Judge and Pro Tour floor judge.

I would also like to thank Jeff Donais, who, several years ago, took a fledgling judge and gave him the training that was needed for me to succeed as a judge, and for showing me that there are better ways to do things. Thanks mate.

I would also like to thank all the judge staff from Pro Tour Tokyo who are (in no order):

Collin Jackson, Michael Mason, Stefan Blanchon, Thomas Pannell, Aaron Matney, Jackie Yang, Paul Barclay, James Do Hung LEE, Jim Len, Wearn Ee Chong, David Vogin, James Takenaga, SHINDO Yoshiya, WAKATSUKI Kazuhiro, Ilja Rotelli, KUNIMITSU Masayuki, SUZUOKI Ryo, UOTSU Atsushi

Without your hard work and super human efforts the event would not have run as smoothly as it did. I hope that you have found this report useful, if you have any feedback please contact me.

Chris Zantides
Level 4 Judge

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