Grand Prix Charlotte - A First-Timer's Recap

This was the largest tournament in Magic: the Gathering history. 2,700+ people gathered at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina for this event. The format was Limited - Gatecrash sealed, followed by drafts on day 2 (assuming you were one of the skilled and/or lucky ones to make it that far). And considering this was my first Grand Prix/competitive event as a Magic player, I was totally expecting to learn a lot about the tournament process. For the most part, I did. First off, because of the large number of people that decided to enter/visit the event, Grand Prix Charlotte fired approximately an hour and a half after it's original time. This was partially because Star City Games wanted to keep taking in registrations, rather than cutting off the event at a set number of players. I've heard arguments for both methods, but I don't pretend to know what was best for the players, staff, and Wizards of the Coast. The other downside to the registration extension at GP Charlotte was the way they had to cut players for day 2 and beyond:

  1. If any player wasn't X-2 (2 losses) or better by the end of round 9, they were cut from being able to participate in day 2.
  2. If any player was X-2 and then lost the first round of day 2 (still sealed), they were cut.
  3. Players that weren't cut after round 1 of day 2 played one more round of sealed, then proceeded on to draft events to eventually cut to a top 8.

This method caused some upsets, as players that went X-2 after day 1 were likely leaving the convention center at around midnight or later, only to have to be back at 8AM for at least one more round (and only one if they lost in the first round of day 2). Brian Kibler, for example, voiced his frustrations with the cuts on Twitter:

And manascrewed to lose my 8 AM single elim match.I don’t get mad at getting unlucky, but this structure makes me furious.#GPCharlotte

— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) February 24, 2013

I’m actually shaking I’m so mad I woke up at 6:30 to play and now I’m out before 9. #GPCharlotte

— Brian Kibler (@bmkibler) February 24, 2013

Some suggestions from friends to prevent issues like those faced at GP Charlotte, were to cap the number of participants ahead of time (announcing that Magic number when you went to pre-register online, as an example) or when people were still in line to register on day 1 (Saturday). Again, I don't pretend to know the "right" answer, but I'm sure Wizards will take some important lessons from this weekend and have many meetings about it.

GPCharlotte - Play

All things considered, I still had a fucking blast. First of all, I've never played so many games of Magic: the Gathering in one day. While I went 3-3 and dropped, I played in drafts and some standard afterwards. The decks I lost to just had better curves, more removal, or better bombs, and in retrospect I might've considered building an Orzhov deck (splashing Dimir) instead of the mediocre/good Gruul deck I ended up building:

GPCharlotte - Sealed Pool

Aside from playing Magic: the Gathering, a large number of dealers (including Star City Games, the main sponsor of this particular Grand Prix) were present to buy, sell, and trade cards (and related goods). This came in handy as I randomly opened a Nether Void (pictured below), a card from Legends valued at about $100-130. I opened the card as a part of the "Gold Rush Envelopes" that Star City Games handed out to every participant of Grand Prix Charlotte. In the Gold Rush envelope, you could open a card worth money, or a card worth nothing. There was very little "middle ground." Luckily, I opened Nether Void. Since I didn't need this card for any purpose (I don't currently play older formats like Legacy, and my friend Clint has a powerful Cube pool already), I used it as trade value at one of the better vendors - I got 3x Cavern of Souls, 1x Sphinx's Revelation, 1x Blood Crypt, 2x Slaughter Games, and 1x Detention Sphere. Since I play quite a bit of Standard, these were more useful to me.

MTG Nether Void

All-in-all, these kinds of events serve one purpose: to offer a central location for a shit-ton of people to play a shit-ton of Magic. And I think that's pretty sweet.

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