Magic the Gathering

Magic Regionals in Germany

This year the Regionals in Germany are in a format I am not comfortable with. They are played as swiss tournaments with one additional round of play, but no cut to top 8. Instead there is a number of invitations given out based on attendance and these are handed to the leading players after the swiss is over. Also, already qualified players can’t play in the Regionals.

I don’t like this format for various reasons. To me the main purpose of the Regionals is to crown a Regional Champion (similar to what the Champs do in the US). And of course the Regionals Champions and all other players that placed high enough should be invited to the Nationals. But the way the Regionals are currently played out, it is just one more (big) Nationals qualifier. And many players can’t reasonably attend.

  • There is no top 8. This means that the Regionals Champion is determined by swiss standing. But swiss standings have the disadvantage that many players just draw into the top ranks during the last round to ensure a Nationals invitation. Also, the thrill of watching elimination rounds is missing. There is no real champion, just the player that ended up first.
  • Invitations for the Nationals are also given out based on rating or Pro Points. Now the rating cut is after at least some of the Regionals. But this means that players with a high rating will not participate in the Regionals, because they might threaten their rating with a poor performance at this K-32 event.
  • And finally people who are already qualified can’t participate. This means that for example the reigning German Champion can not participate in the Regionals and can not also become his Regional Champion.

In my opinion it is a better idea to move the rating cut before the Regionals, allow all players from that region to participate, even if they are already qualified, hand down invitations if necessary, and play out the top 8. This would solve all the problems I mentioned.

Magic the Gathering

Saviors of Kamigawa Prerelease

This weekend was the prerelease for Saviors of Kamigawa. As always it took place at the Magic Center, now under new ownership. I judged Saturday. It was a fairly uneventful tournament with 125 players. We were three judges plus scorekeeper, which was just enough. Personally, I would have preferred one more judge on the team. The best part was that we now have a preliminary agreement with the representative of the new owner about judging. I hope this helps to ensure that we will keep the high standard of judges we have and will enable all judges to judge if they want to.

On Sunday I planned to play in the team events. Unfortunately I only had one team member and we weren’t able to find another one. Fortunately we found a team for Carsten who needs the experience, but I had to watch the others play. There was no single event on Sunday, since I was the only person interested in one and we didn’t even manage to get a booster draft together. But I had fun nevertheless, talking and joking with all the people I know there.

I will probably play the in-store prerelease next Saturday and was already asked whether I want to judge Sunday’s event, which I will do. I really hope to get a bit play experience with the new set. Getting into the Magic Online Beta for Saviors could help here as well.

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PTQ London

Yesterday we had a PTQ for London in Berlin. Two days before the event Huy, the scheduled head judge called me and asked whether I could do the HJ, since he had to leave early. Of course I happily accepted.

We had 68 players, which was a low turnout. Kamigawa seems to bore people. Personally I liked Mirrodin block much better and I hope that Ravnica with its multi-color theme will be more interesting.

Anyway, the tournament was not a success in my eyes. We had many problems with unsporting conduct, especially in the early rounds. During deck construction my scorekeeper told me that a player had given him the finger. On the request of the SK I didn’t do anything, but I asked him to call me if something like that should happen again.

And it did. Later I was told the following story by the SK: A player had approached the judge’s table and put a result slip onto a stack of already processed result slips instead of the box designated for result slips. This was certainly out of bad intent by the player, but it could have caused problems if it hadn’t been caught. Fortunately the SK noticed it and asked the player to put it into the box next time. The player asked whether he could get the result slip again and when the SK handed it to him, he deliberately put it onto the wrong stack of slips again. Then he turned away, mumbling something unfriendly, according to the SK.

After I heard of this situation, I called the player over to the judge’s table and asked him about what just happened. But instead of telling his side of the story, he immediatly began attacking the SK directly. “I can’t believe you make a scene out of this. I am at least five years older than you, … If you have ego problems, …” etc. pp. I was so baffled that I told the player right there: “Well, originally I was considering a Match Loss for Unsporting Conduct – Major, but currently I am really asking myself if I shouldn’t disqualify you.” Not very diplomatic, I agree, but I was reallybaffled.

After he had left, I discussed the appropriate penalty with the SK and another judge, but in the end I decided to give a Match Loss for Unsporting Conduct – Major. We tried to pair that player against the eternal loser BYE, so that no other player would get a benefit from this, but we failed. (It seems that it is not possible to give somebody who’s got a bye a Match Loss.) So at the beginning of the next round I went over to the table where that player was supposed to play and told him about the penalty. He argued for quite a while with me. While he kept a friendly tone, he was saying some “suboptimal” things. For example, when his opponent showed up and I told his opponent that he had already won his round and could leave, the ML’ed player interfered and said that he should stay, since things were still being discussed. (This wasn’t the case. The player had been given his chance to argue his case, but instead had used it to attack the scorekeeper.)

Later during the discussions he requested that I send a report to the DCI since he would do that as well. I refused (and I am sure that this is a good for him). He asked me how long I’ve been a L2 judge (four months now) and then told me that he is a L2 judge for eight years, so he must be right. (I checked, he’s not a judge anymore.) He asked me how I would look if this incident was publically discussed in Web forums, etc. etc. After I made it clear that ruling stood and that I didn’t see a point in discussing it further, he dropped from the tournament.

During the next round I observed a match where a large crowd of spectators had gathered around. One of the spectators was the player I had ML’ed last round. I observed the following situation: Player A has a creature equipped with a Shuriken. He announces that he would like to equip it to another of his creatures and then looks up expectantly at his opponent (lets call him B). When B said something or made an affirmative gesture (I don’t remember exactly), A said: “In response shoot your guy.” B was already putting his creature into the graveyard when I interfered. I ruled that since he had looked up at his opponent, he had passed priority and that it was too late to shoot his opponent’s guy.

A was clearly not happy. But when I asked him why he looked up, he agreed that it was because he was waiting for an reaction of his opponent. He later modified this story and claimed that he just wanted to confirm that his opponent had understood what he was doing. Things became heated and A’s behaviour was bordering on unsporting. Well, it was actually not bordering on unsporting, but was clearly unsporting, but since I didn’t want to heat up the situation more, I refrained from giving penalties. Some other players (friends of him probably) tried to calm him down and told him not to worsen the situation. Fortunately they were partially successful. Unfortunately the ML’ed player also interfered and complained loudly about the bad ruling etc. I should have given him a string reprimand at this point, but I didn’t. I left the table and asked another judge to watch the match.

I came back a minute later to tell the spectators retroactively not to interfere in rulings in the future. To which the ML’ed player replied: “You are right, but it’s hard to keep quiet when you know stuff better than the HJ.” I should have kicked him from the premises right then. (Remember that there was a crowd of players standing around.)

Towards the end of the round, the match wasn’t finished yet, so I went over there again to watch the match. It was going well into the extra turns. (No wonder, this was the cursed table 20 – every round the match at this table seemed to be the last one to finish.) Especially player A was playing extremely slow. In retrospect I think that he was deliberately playing slow for a reason I can’t fathom. He got a Slow Play warning in the end.

Rounds going well into the extra time were a problem during the tournament. One match was still not finished five minutes into the extra turns. When I went there to the judge observing the match, I misunderstood him and thought that they were in the third extra turn. I told the judge that he should award Slow Play warning if the play continued to be slowly and left, thinking that this situation was taken care of. When I went there again seven or eight minutes later, I learned that they were only in the second extra turn right now. At that point Slow Play warnings should really have been issued. No matter how complicated a board situation is, it is not possible to hold up a tournament for more than 15 minutes for just five turns.

During the later rounds things became more quiet and the top 8 were okay. But all in all this tournament was not a pleasant experience.

Magic the Gathering

Grand Prix Leipzig

I came back from Grand Prix Leipzig yesterday evening. A friend had asked me not to judge at this event, so I did her the favor and did play instead. Day 1 competition was split into two separate events, head-judged by Jesper Nielsen and Gis Hoogendjik respectively. The layout of the tournament site was suited very well for this event, since it consisted of two big halls, joined by a smaller hall so that each event was held in a separate hall.

I went 5-4, which surprisingly wasn’t enough to make day 2. So instead I chatted with a lot of people, mostly with other judges. I met Johanna Knuutinen (flame-) from Finland for the first time. I also chatted a bit with Jasper Overman (Mercator) from the Netherlands and Thomas Ralph (Island) from Ireland, who I had only briefly met at Grand Prix Vienna before. Finally there were many German judges present, most of whom I know from other German events, like the Rodgau PTQs at the end of 2004. Johanna and Thomas also brought me Euro coins from their home countries, which I will hand on to my colleague Nicole, who collects them.

I am glad that one of the local Berlin players, Rosario Maij, made the finals of the Grand Prix. He is a nice guy and someone who has really earned success at this level. Also, Gabriel Huber, who joined us on our ride to Leipzig passed his L1 judge test. Congrats to both of them!

I really enjoyed the weekend. I was travelling with nice people, met and chatted with nice people, and did play some Magic (although i would have preferred to judge some Magic) at a very well run event. Props to the whole staff!

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German Magic League

Today was the first day of play of this year’s German Magic League. My team Istari 2 played host for three other teams. We played at the Magic Center here in Berlin, where the other two teams of my league were also playing. Since one of my teammates, Frank, who was scheduled to play Block cancelled yesterday, I had to play and couldn’t judge. Fortunately Sascha Wagner, an employee of the Magic Center, member of Team Karl Marx (TKM), and a level 2 judge himself took over judge duties for all matches today.

We won against the Beastmasters, drew against TKM 1, and lost against the Heldenwelt Titanen from Magdeburg. This was an okay start, although Constructed didn’t run as well as we hoped. The red-white Samurai deck I played in the Kamigawa Block Constructed slot won against a Honden deck, but lost against a green-white aggro control deck as well as a red-black control deck. But I don’t feel too bad about it, especially since the latter matchup is basically an auto-loss. But in retrospect I blame myself for not sticking with the green-black deck that I planned to play and instead taking the Samurai deck that we had prepared for Frank.