Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Just Another Grand Prix Weekend

Saturday at GP Charlotte started out for me just as many others before it.  The big task of my day was Head Judging what would be a rather large Sealed Challenge at 1pm. The challenge? About one third of our event was expected to drop before ever opening a single pack. The goal? Minimize the amount of players waiting for opponents that will never arrive during Round 1. The solution? Make players drop before they can receive their packs.

I set out to accomplish this goal with four judges (Meghan Rickman, William Blanks, Tim Zimmerman, and Zach DeLadurantaye) who all put on their best rock star faces. Two took point with me on setting up our area and getting paper ready, two took charge and helped get our product ready.  The plan? Set up a zone where players could line up to drop and collect their packs.
It was basically like this but with less Gary Busey. 
No big deal right? We set out with 300 players registered for our event. A handful of other judges are brought on to help us with product. I make the announcement for players to form the queue off to the side of our event. They did so in a very fancy line made by pulling chairs away from the row of tables and turning them around. (Credit to Emilien Wild for that technology.) Over the course of our 30 minute build 74 players drop from our event. In Round 1 we had 6 no-show drops, 2 in the same match. Which means the system we put in place and the judges that worked with me made sure only 4 players of the initial 300 registered had to wait til Round 2 to play Magic. This was an event where SCG expected between one-third and one-half of the event to want to drop before ever playing a land. Challenge accepted. Challenge completed.

Our day continues, players are playing, judges are judging. I take lunch. I am up in the judge room overlooking the venue when the Fire Nation attacked Jared Sylva makes the announcement that WLTR, Wizards Large Tournament Reporter, had experienced a critical failure. (My friend Jennifer Dery wrote a highly informative post about the back end of this issue and her experiences on the day. It can be found on her blog.) The announcement continues to say that any player who drops from the event now will be given an "Infinite Challenge" badge, allowing them to play in scheduled side events for free for the rest of the weekend. They will also be adding additional challenges to the Saturday schedule, including a Sealed Challenge at 6:30. 


I finish my lunch and watch as roughly 700 players form multiple lines to drop from the event and make their way toward side events.
It was basically like this except with Magic cards instead of soap.
This is the part of the film where the score flares up and our heroes try to escape. This is the part of the film where asteroids fall from the sky and we watch New York (Charlotte?) get razed. This is the part of the film where everything falls apart.

Except it didn't.

This is the part of the film where I watched my friends, colleagues, and coworkers go to work, This is where the staff at GP Charlotte did what they were brought on to do: Handle it.

Nicholas Sabin, Level 3 Judge and Rap Battle Regional Coordinator of the Mid-Atlantic, takes the helm of what is about to be a Grand Prix within a Grand Prix. A satellite station is set up for our scorekeeper, the aforementioned Jennifer Dery.  Product is prepped (Kudos to Sean Heath and the judges he drafted for getting SO much product ready SO fast), teams are made, a drop station is created, and we launch the event. Build starts with 680 registered players, product is distributed, players begin to drop. Round 1 is paired with only 436 players, the lines for players to drop were quite long. We pair Round 2 with under 300 players and things have calmed down considerably.

At no point during any of this process did I see panic. At no point did I see anyone discouraged. At no point did I hear anyone complain. Every step of the way every single judge wanted to know how they could help. People took initiative, people showed hustle, people showed drive. The judges assigned to this task helped keep a bad situation from getting worse and I was proud to work alongside them.
It was basically this except without bowling.
WLTR threw our event a curveball that broke harder than any I've seen in 12 years of judging and 3 years on the GP circuit. WLTR broke and we didn't let it break us. When people in Richmond have asked me about Saturday in Charlotte I've been able to tell them about working with my friends to fix a problem...just another Grand Prix weekend.

1 comment:

  1. For you, the day that GP Charlotte blew up was the most important day of your life. For us, it was a Saturday.