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PTQ/GPT Alaska - Judge Report

Sheldon Menery

Fairbanks came, they saw, they did all but conquer. Anchorage youngster Genesis Garcia walked away with an impressive win in the farthest-north San Diego qualifier, and David Phifer rode his Forbidian deck to victory in the Grand Prix Las Vegas Trial on Premier Event Weekend in Anchorage. The Fairbanks contingent, coming from 360 miles away, managed to place four players in the PTQ Top 8 and three in the Grand Prix Trial, but couldn't push past either semi-final. It was the first Pro Tour qualification for Garcia, whose best previous finish was 2nd place in the qualifier for Pro Tour Barcelona. Anchorage player Brent Yocum managed to finish as runner-up in both events of the weekend, his best-ever results.

Pro Tour San Diego Qualifier

Format: Odyssey Sealed Deck Judges: Sheldon Menery (Level 3); David Phifer (Level 1); Bryan Woodward (in training). Scorekeeper: Lisa Menery Attendance: 26

Clerical errors marred an otherwise clean event. Despite repeated pre-tournament reminders from the staff on the importance of double-checking decklists before turning them in, eleven players received penalties of one kind or another for decklist errors. A few were for mistakes during the pre-swap registration period, but the majority came from players failing to list enough cards in the "played" column. Players can easily avoid making mistakes like this. The time allotted for deck construction/registration is more than sufficient to double-check totals before turning in the list. The game itself is difficult enough; giving away matches is a sure way of missing the Top 8.

Other than the decklist difficulties, the qualifier was relatively easy from a judging standpoint. There were no questions my crack judging staff couldn't handle. Here is some of what came up:

  • Tapped creatures still do their combat damage.
  • Spells that require targets must have a legal target (or a complete set of legal targets, like with Decimate), in order to play them. Several times, there were players with cantrips (like Afflict) that wanted to play the spell just in order to draw the card; obviously, they couldn't.

  • Odyssey has definitely increased the interest in graveyard manipulation.
  • Cards that remove other cards from the graveyard (such as Coffin Purge) can't prevent a player with priority from announcing a Flashback spell. Once the Flashback spell is announced, it goes to the stack (409.1a), and is therefore not a legal target for the Coffin Purge. If the Flashback spell is an Instant, Coffin Purge can't prevent it from being played at all. Played in response to the Coffin Purge, the Flashback spell will go on the stack and the Coffin Purge will be countered on resolution because its target is no longer valid.
  • An announced Burst (like Muscle Burst) doesn't count itself as one of the cards in the graveyard for determining the power of its effect. That's because it's still on the stack when the instructions on the card are being followed. The Muscle Burst doesn't go to the graveyard until the last part of resolution (413.2h).

Grand Prix Las Vegas Trial

Format: Extended Judges: Sheldon Menery (Level 3); Eric Sturgeon (Level 1) Scorekeeper: Lisa Menery Attendance: 30

Like the Extended portion of Worlds 2001 in Toronto, where there was truly no completely pervasive deck type, the range of decks was wild, from the ever-popular White Weenie, to Counter-Oath, to the very brave Corey Buckingham's Fluctuator deck (despite what many people think, Fluctuator isn't banned in Extended-we checked numerous times).


Fluctuator can still be played in Extended.

As previously mentioned. the Fairbanks contingent once again had good representation in the Top 8, with 3 players making it in, two of whom had made it the previous day. Mike Braniff was the only one to make it past the quarterfinals, piloting his white men past William Nucero's Secret Force, before running into Brent Yocum's Sligh-one of two in the Top 8. Interestingly enough, Yocum hadn't intended on playing at all; at the last minute, he borrowed a deck from a friend and entered the tournament. Phifer, who had made the Top 8 in the last round with a thrilling 3-game victory against Chris Donn's Turbo Land deck, marched past both of the Top 8's Sligh decks for the win.

Again, from a rules standpoint, the tournament (run at REL 3, just as the qualifier) was moderately smooth, unmarred this time by the clerical errors that had plagued Saturday's event. The majority of the penalties nonetheless came from deck checks, with nearly every deck checked getting caught with Sleeves, Marked-No Pattern. I attribute this mostly to the fact that there are few Premier Events in this small market. Players aren't used to playing under the stricter Rules Enforcement Level; again, despite repeated reminders from staff, they tend to think of Premier Events of little more than Friday Night Magic with better prizes.

Conclusion

Small market events have both advantages and disadvantages. Fewer staff are necessary, giving more people the opportunity to play, but the lack of familiarity with Premier Events (other than Prereleases) presents a new set of difficulties. A higher percentage of players are unfamiliar with the workings of a DCI tournament, requiring more staff intervention, and the higher likelihood of otherwise-avoidable infractions. Small market judges or TOs may consider hosting some kind of "tournament training" classes in preparation of important events.



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