Magic the Gathering

Grand Prix Hasselt – The Tournament

Before writing about GP Dortmund, I have to wrap up my report from GP Hasselt. So here it is briefly: The event too place in the Ethias Arena in Hasselt. This was a large stadium, the is probably usually used for sports events. The chairs were folded back, so we had a lot of space.

Day 1 I was member of the paper team under Marco Risso. I was on the blue side of the tournament (it was split into two smaller tournaments), where Gis Hoogendijk was Head Judge. Paper is the easiest job. Basically you have to distribute the pairings, standing, and the result slips at the start of each round. We had the additional task of providing the Scorekeeper Shield/Outstanding Tables Manager. While these are two separate tasks, they are usually done the same person, since both require close coordination with the Scorekeeper at the end of each round. The Scorekeeper Shield prevents players and judges alike from bothering the Scorekeeper unnecessarily at the end of the round, when a lot of results have to be entered and the Scorekeeper is usually in a hurry. The Shield also handles drop, by crossing players that want to drop off a list.

The Outstanding Tables Manager receives the list of outstanding tables at the end of each round. He then sends other judges off to check on these tables, and either watch them if they are still playing and no judge is present, or to report back. This way, problems can be quickly spotted (for example, if a match result was lost or not handed in) and it is ensured, that each match playing in overtime has a judge watching them.

I volunteered as SS/OTM and got to work closely with Henk Claasen, the Scorekeeper. Unfortunately there were several scorekeeping-related problems during the day, so that the blue tournament was delayed by more than half an hour at the end of the day. In particular, some results had been entered wrong after round 2, but this could only be fixed after more than 10 minutes had elapsed. By that time some players had already received a win, since their opponents supposedly hadn’t shown up and had left the premises.

I felt very well cared for by my team leader and my other team member and was always supplied with bottled drinks and an occasional chat while shielding the scorekeeper. Nevertheless I think I overextended on day 1 and it came back to haunt me (no pun intended) on day 2. I was assigned to side events, but I already felt weak during breakfast, but it became worse during the day. Fortunately I had secured a spot at the side events table, preparing and managing product the whole day. This meant I could sit and drink a lot, which was very important. It was also good that someone did the product preparation, since side events were huge. GP Hasselt took place one week after the Guildpact prerelease, and we had more Prerelease flights of 32 people each. We managed to have nearly ten flights as well as lots of booster drafts, so it was a very busy day.

Towards the evening I felt much better, and helped cleaning up the site. Late I heard that the WotC guys were still at the site until 4 Monday morning, since they hadn’t finished deconstructing yet. In the hotel the bar was just closing when we arrived, but a after about half an hour discussion and basically refusing to leave the bar, we still got some drinks. It was very disappointing of the hotel that they didn’t have the flexibility to reopen the bar, when a group of about 20 people want to sit together and have a drink.

The drive back home was fairly eventful. I was now sitting in the last car of the ICE 3 and could look back at the track.

Magic the Gathering

Grand Prix Hasselt – Getting There

Last weekend I was at Grand Prix Hasselt. I had to get up early on Friday morning to catch my train. Unfortunately I was about half an hour too early. This gave me ample time to watch the InterCity train on the neighbouring track failing to move on; since Zoo station has only a total of four tracks (two in each direction, not quite enough for such an important station), this caused further delays. My train arrived about 20 minutes late …

After the train had left Wolfburg station, we were in for a special treat: The train preceeding ours had stopped a few hundreds meters before reaching Hannover main station and wouldn’t drive on. So our train got the role of “rescue train”: We pulled up alongside the other train on open tracks. Then small bridges were built between the doors of the two trains and the passengers were evacuated from the other train. This cost us another 30 minutes. Even though our train now contained the passengers from about 3 trains (ours, the evacuated one, and since we were 50 minutes late now passengers from the next train as well), it wasn’t very full.

In Cologne I had to change trains. Actually the delay suited me, since instead of waiting one hour on the station, I only had to wait for 10 minutes. In the train I had a seat in the very front where I could watch the tracks over the shoulders of the driver (ICE 3 rules). I also met fellow judge Martin Golm, who had a seat in the same compartment.

We had to change trains again in Liege and arrived in Hasselt during the afternoon. The hotel was a ten minute walk from the train station, but unfortunately the site was another 30 minutes walk away from the hotel. We helped with setting up the site and had a first judge meeting at 8 in the evening. Head judge Jaap Brouwer (L5) told us the plan for the next day. We were to split up into two tournaments on day 1, since we expected more than 800 players. Gis Hoogendijk (L5) was to head judge the blue half – my half – of the tournament. I was to be part of Marco Risso’s (L2) Paper team. The paper team is responsible for posting pairings and standings and distributing result slips, a fairly easy job that means a lot of floor time and therefore lots of walking around.

After the meeting we helped a bit more with setting up the site – those large banners are quite a hassle to construct and erect. I concluded the evening by having dinner with a few fellow judges, some I knew from previous events, some I hadn’t met before.

Magic the Gathering

Looking Forward to Grand Prix Hasselt

Grand Prix Hasselt is coming. I know because I have to catch a train tomorrow at 7 in the morning. I am really looking forward to the 8 hour train drive, which includes changing trains twice. (As a tribute to a fellow judge and blogger I give you anecdote #1: The second train changing will take place in Liege, Belgium, where I have to change from a German ICE train into … a German InterRegio train. Kind of reminds me of the situation in Berlin during the Cold War, where western subways ran through the eastern part of the city and you could even change trains in enemy territory.) I am also looking forward to the commute from the hotel to the site. It’s a 4.5 km walk. I could also take the (free!) city bus, except that it doesn’t drive Saturday morning or evening or at Sunday …

But there is a second reason why I know that Hasselt is coming. For a few weeks now there is a large stack of postcards at the FUNtainment Game Center (about 50 for the maybe 3 players from Berlin that will go). Obviously Wizards of the Coast has raised the entry price for Grand Prix events from € 25,- to € 30,- (although the web site for GP Hasselt still lists € 25,-, whereas thr web page for GP Dortmund just three weeks later and next door lists € 30,-). But when you bring one of the postcards, you will get a discount of five Euro. Hrm. Now, today, I found another copy of said postcard in my mailbox, sent by Hasbro Belgium. Seriously, WTF? (Also, don’t you think only two days before the event is a bit tight, Hasbro?)