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Category Archives: Magic Grand Prix Las Vegas

Grand Prix Las Vegas is the largest TCG tournament held and the GP with (4492 players). I think it’s fair to say that over all the weekend was a success, but it was not without its challenges. Overall the main event ran smoothly but there were issues in the side events.

I was expecting a relatively slow Friday of about a thousand players and for most of the players to leave site on Sunday to explore Vegas. To my surprise the vast majority of players stayed on site and we were flooded with players in side events all weekend. This unexpected number of players combined with software and hardware issues created data corruption and loss of paperwork.  For the most part these problems had minimal impacts actual tournaments, but they did affect tournament reporting.  In consultation with Wizards of the Coast we have reviewed backup paperwork and enacted a solution that addresses reporting issues as well as possible for affected players.

The area of concern is Planes walker Point (PWP) totals.  For most players there is no issue at all.  The vast majority of the 12,000 entry’s have been reported with no problems. However due to file loss, a comparatively small number of players’ PWPs hadn’t been updated.  For openness and clarity, the affected events and solution are listed below.  If you weren’t in one of those events, you’re already fine.

–                MMA Draft Masters #2 (all players receive 15 points)

–                All Modern Trials (all players receive 9 points, the winner receives 45)

–                All Sealed Trials except Sealed #12 which did not experience the issue and #6 (all players receive 9 points, the winner receives 45)

–           Sealed Trial #6 (winner receives 45 points)

If you were in one of those events, this fix provided is what we and Wizards reasonably believe is the best balance between personal fairness and tournament integrity.  To the affected, I apologize for the inconvenience.

I am reviewing all of our processes and will do my very best to insure this does not happen again.


At GP Las Vegas, we had a last minute change of vendors.  Since that vendor wasn’t going to the event they obviously were not going to provide the Mox Pearl prize they had been planning on sponsoring for a saturday side event at the GP.

Then I made an error. The change in the event prize was made on the printed schedule but not everywhere on my site. I was rather busy at the time, but after the event I found out that a small number of players though they were playing for the pearl when the prize had been changed.

I though about it some and decided to find the winner of the event and take care of him.

However, I don’t have contact information for the player in question. Complicating it more, He also signed up under an incorrect DCI number. So I contacted Wizards, after a good deal of work, they were able to figure out his correct DCI number but don’t have his current contact info. Complicating this is the rules about privacy. I can’t post players names without their permission. So I can’t  just post his name.

So I need to reach out to you all. If you are or know a Michael F.  who won the saturday mini-master at GP Las Vegas please send me a quick email.



I’m back home in Portland and wrapping up Grand Prix Las Vegas.

I really can’t describe what it was like. Most GP’s start slow on Wednesday with set up and receiving product. Thursday we get the space into shape, deal with the internet issues (there are always internet issues). Greet the artist and vendors and then everyone sets up Friday AM.  Speaking of Friday, Friday is usually our easy day, not the 2786 player event that the mini master turned out to be.

This event, just didn’t fit the usual timeline. Add on the massive heat and other complications and you have the most complex Magic event in history. If feels like an avalanche that we were just ahead of, just barely able to direct and shape as it emerged.

I was on site, without internet from 6am to midnight or later every day so I didn’t get a chance to answer emails or post here. Once I get the corrupted files fixed, double check the uploads and process the refunds for the people who didn’t make it, then I will write up a longer discussion of the story of the event.

I do know that lots of people have questions about the event. Some of which I can answer. I will try to discuss this in depth.


Minor factoid – the Friday minimaster alone gave players 232 boxes of Modern Masters.

We will take registration starting at 10:00am and closing reg at 11:00am for a draft event at Cashman Center. This event is only open to people with who did not have an opportunity to play in the main event. This event is intended to help out the players who wanted to sign up for the main event but were not able to due to the attendance cap.

The entry fee is $30. Players will draft 3 packs of Modern Masters. Prizes, number of rounds and other details are subject to change based on the number of players who sign up.

Specifically, people in the main event, with or without BYE’s are not eligible to play in the event. You may not sign up for the main, drop and play in this draft event.

We have no way to anticipate the number of players who will sign up for this event so in the case of extraordinary attendance it may be necessary to transfer MMA from on or more of the scheduled side events to this event.

A couple days seems like forever now. Planning a Modern Masters GP has been a wild ride. I started this journey by renting a hall bigger than two football fields. As one of my judges who used to work at Home Depot pointed out last night, the building is bigger than his old Home Depot store.


I then made plans with my staffing manger to recruit 151 staff people. (Judge + Admin staff)

My goal has been and continues to be, to create a great experence for the players in the event. Unfortunately, I didn’t anticipate the attendance continuing to grow at the incredible rate it did. Take a look at the chart that shows the actual registration and then the light blue area that is the projected attendance if this rate continues.


GP Vegas Attendance Projection

I like to think that I’m good at my job. I know that some might disagree. However, I do know that there is a point where I cannot deliver a good experence with the room and staff we have. I want the players in the event to have a great time and that degrades as we pass 4500 and it completely falls apart in the 6000 person range.

If attendance continued at the current projected rate we end up with at least 6629 players and it is possible that it exceeds 7000 players. I just can’t serve that many people.

So I had to make one of the hardest decisions I have faced. Do I cap the event, knowing that this will create hardship and disappointment for some players? Or do I keep registration open and be sure that the event is going to be a bad experence for everyone?

So I made a decision. Yes, I reversed myself. Yes, I was wrong and I’m sorry. If you would like a apology in person I will be happy do that. I really am sorry. But I made the best decision I can under these conditions.

The good news is drafts are easier to run than GPs. It’s just straight up easier to manage the player experence in a draft based event than a huge GP, especially if that GP is the largest TCG event in history. So I’m working with my team to create a draft based event using Modern Master packs for anyone who I am forced to turn away from the GP.

Details ASAP.

And sorry.


I had a long conversation with the folks at Wizards of the Coast this PM. We were discussing how to make and event that is currently 3205 players strong a great experience for everyone.  We explored all the facets of the event. We discussed space, we discussed number of judges and most importantly we all agreed that it is critical to give all the players a chance to play as close to “on time” as possible.

So how do you do that? How do you get the event to fire on time?

Before you answer there  is one key fact that you need to know. Last night we were trying to enter the DCI numbers of players into the event software and more than 10% of the players who registered online gave the wrong number. Thats right over 10% of the players were wrong about their DCI number. Think about that for a second.

So obviously we look them up and fix the numbers. However it can take 5 minutes to go through all the Mike Smith in zip code 972XXX (made that name up I have no idea if there really is a Mike who doesn’t know his DCI number). So now we have a math problem. Lets say we get 4000 players and more than 400 of them give the wrong DCI number. And further lets say it takes an average of 4 minutes to fix the number. Thats 4 X 400 = 1600 minutes of labor or 26 hours of getting data fixed.

Yes we have a team working on it now. But this means we need to close registration early so we have time to process the preregistration on Friday and be ready for all the players on Saturday.

So it has been decided Not to take registration on site Saturday AM.

Please tell all your friends. Preregister NOW. On line registration closes at 9pm Pacific time Thursday. Register on Site Friday. You must register in person. There is no registration either online or in person Saturday.

Please help me get the word out – Tweet, Facebook or whatever. Tell the guy a you game store, yea the one without a twitter account. Tell him to preregister. I really need your help on this one.


I’m getting at  5-15 emails every day asking me if we are “going to limit the number of players for GP Las Vegas?”. Some of these emails are in all caps or very bright colors and those guys are very, very worried.  So, I am going to try to have a frank conversation with you all.

I keep saying we have plenty of room, but I’m not answering directly enough for some of you so please let me take another shot at this question.

First where are we at for the GP? This has two answers, Answer one, we have 3050 players preregistered 600 of which are VIP’s, answer two, we are in a 98,000 sq. ft. box of a convention center that is also the back side of a baseball diamond for the Las Vegas minor league team.

The relationship between the two is that we have a ton of space. Yes 3050 is a lot of players but it doesn’t fill the hall. Also fill is a relative term as it’s pretty easy to find more places to add in a room that big. Move each row 2 inches, slide a row of tables in and now we have seating for 500 more. Remember, this room is much bigger than any GP has ever been held in. So I don’t think were going to cap anything. I have 4500 chairs on order and can get more in a hurry if I need.

The  indirect part of the question really is “do you have enough packs for me?”. “I don’t want to drive 500 miles and be sent home empty handed.” These writers don’t know me, don’t know I have been running Magic events for literally longer than they have been alive and don’t know that I don’t screw my players. Period.

But the most direct answer is … Yes, I have more packs to run the event than I have chairs to put people in. And even if I ad more chairs I will still have more packs than chairs.

But let’s all be adults here. Is there a risk?

Modern Masters is the best thing since sliced bread. Players love it, drafts great, tons of fun. And yes, it sells for a bit or two. So sure, there is a very small risk. Very, very small. But there is also a risk that  Galactus will show up and eat our world unless the Fantastic Four stop him.

Please trust me on this, I have enough packs. Unless roughly 3000 MORE players (remember that would be way more than have ever played in any card event ever) show up in person on Friday/Sat AM were fine for chairs. And to reassure you, I do have a plan in case that happens but we would have some round 1 delays if we have over 6000 players. Could that happen, I think were in the Galactus eating the world range but yes there is a small risk.

So what should we all do. There are two options. Option 1, Panic. The post that Tim said that chairs a physical items and that there are limits to them all over social media.  See if some crazy story goes viral. Freak out and create drama. Might be fun, who knows.

Or we can take option 2, Preregister. If you are worried. please just preregister. Then you know you have a spot in the event and I know how many of my 5500 chairs to set up in the room. If in the very unlikely event we have more than 6000 players preregister. Then on Friday afternoon while you all are playing in the FREE minimaster I will take a truck over and pick up the chairs I have on hold, swing by Best Buy and get another laptop for my long line of back up SK’s, add more rooms to the GP from the meeting rooms down the hall from the GP and things will be fine.

I’m hoping that wasn’t to much attitude. But I’m trying to say, preregister and were all fine.



VIP Draft

Congratulations on snagging a VIP spot before they were sold out!  VIPs at a Cascade Games Grand Prix have access to a free VIP-only draft at 4PM on Sunday.  At 4PM, interested VIPs will congregate by the side event stage.  Our VIP concierges will arrange everyone into 8-player pods to draft and play single elimination 2-of-3 games matches.

For Grand Prix Las Vegas, the draft format is RTR-block.  The winner of each pod in Vegas gets a free entry into a MMA draft.  Be sure to have for VIP-only pin on you on Sunday to show the concierges, and feel free to ask them if you have any further questions.

VIP Artists access
VIPs will gain preferred access to artists from 11:30AM to 1:30PM on Sunday. Rather than wait, VIPs will have front-of-line privileges. Simply put, a staff member in the artist area oversees VIPs cutting in line just behind whoever is actively with the artist (and behind earlier VIPs, of course).  This way, VIPs don’t have to wait but artists don’t have the complication of moving or having their lines shut down entirely.
All the VIP needs to do to participate:
Show up at your favorite artists’ tables
Come prepared (including de-sleeving cards) with whatever you’d like to get signed
Arrive in the time frame above with your VIP pin attached and visible on your shirt
We’ve tried to make this an easy process.  Keep in mind, this preferred treatment for VIPs is a front of line upgrade and artist’s should be appreciated for their time and work—Tips are welcome and recommended, and in some cases required

One of the logistical issues we face as we are in the process of running the largest Magic event in history (“It just never get old writing that) is how to provide a high level of service for the VIP’s.

When we were originally planning the event  I assumed we were looking at 50 – 75 VIPS. A group we could recognize and track just by names. I really had no idea that 600 VIP’s was possible. Thats part of the reason we had to cap the VIP registration. We needed to cut it off before the numbers increased by hundreds or perhaps a thousand.

So my question to the team was how do we identify and support the VIP’s when there are so many of them. Carter came up with a stroke of genius. Lets create a commemorative pin for the event and give it to the VIP’s. As long as the VIP’s wear their pin we can know who to give the water to and who to help with the artists.

So if I’m not a VIP why do I care. This is one of the long list of little steps we have taken to make the event run smoothly. This reduces the burden on staff an allows us to help everyone. Logistics are like that. There are few huge wins, It’s a series of small improvements that result in a great event.

VIP pins

Not the best photo since it’s from a phone but you get the idea. They are pretty cool.

I’m going by the motto of the Boy Scouts (yes I was a Boy Scot) and we will “Be Prepared” for GP Las Vegas.

It is now clear that GP Las Vegas is going to have over 3000 players registered before we get to the venue to start taking reg on site. It’s almost at 2800 right now and adding 130 players a day all week.

We are calling in addition judge teams that we have had on call and forming more on call teams as well. I fully expect a staff of 150 people working to create a great GP for everyone.

I need to make a last minute change to make the event logistics just a bit better for the judges who will be putting in very long days. Last Chance Trial or “Grinders” are a great way to get BYEs for a Grand Prix. I’m a fan. However  I need to fire the last Trial or “Grinder” at 6pm. That way the staff can be out of the hall at a mostly reasonable time and then get ready for the largest event in Magic history.

Yes it’s a bummer to fire one or two less “grinders” but a rested judge staff will make for a far better experience for everyone.

What to do – Go to your Local Game Store (LGS) and go crush your GP Trial. Get the Byes there. And/Or show up early on Friday to win one Friday.