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More Sleep For Everybody


Grand Prix Atlanta 2016

Atlanta is the capital of Georgia, one of the states on the east coast of the United States... and it looks like it’s a popular city for Magic Grand Prix and Pro Tours.

In the previous article about Atlanta, I had recommended you to visit the Coca Cola museum… this time, I followed my own advice, and I went to take more photos:

Here you have a short video to get a glimpse of the city:

The Organization of Kala…StarCityGames

In Limited events, there is an extra service called “Sleep In Special”, which has mainly the two following benefits:

-You don’t need to register any pool; as soon as you arrive and are seated, you receive a preregistered pool, and you can begin building your deck

-If you have byes, you don’t need to arrive before 9AM for the general meeting; you can arrive some hours later, just in time to build and play your first round

Globally, this service is very valuable, as it allows people to sleep more (we agree that, if you slept longer, you will have more mental energy and you will play better, right?) and to avoid wasting time.

OK, this time, to duplicate the level of organization of the Inventor's Fair of the Kaladeshi, StarCityGames decided to offer this service to everybody AND at any time.

Everybody could come at any time, from 8AM to 45 minutes before the beginning of their round, receive a pool, build and play… without wasting time, and waiting just a few minutes in line to receive the pool.

Another amazing improvement by this wonderful tournament organizer.

Here you have the two people who took care of this Grand Prix: on the left, in the blue StarCityGames shirt, Jared Sylva; on the right, in the red Magic Judge shirt, Damian Hiller.

The Good Balance Between Work and Entertainment

Today, I would like to offer you a glimpse of what creative minds can produce.

Andrea Sciarrotta is an Italian judge with a brilliant and humoristic mind; from time to time, he creates videos from events, in which he shows the local culture, describes the tournament operations and most interesting facts, and gives a glimpse of the personal adventures of him and his mates.

At the moment, his audience is national; all the writings and dialogues are in Italian, but he’s adding more and more scenes that are enjoyable for a foreign audience too (note: the video is quite long).

The first episode of 2016 was from Shizuoka, in winter; the second from Rimini, in summer; here you have the autumn episode, from Atlanta:

Tournament Operations: Sleep In Special

With “Sleep In Special” we refer to an extra service for Grand Prix events.

At Grand Prix, depending on the Planeswalker Points, on the Pro level and on the GPtrials won, participants may have up to three “byes”, which are free wins (3 points without the need of playing the match).

Normally, all participants, even those who would begin playing in the fourth round, are required to be present from the beginning, the “player meeting”, at 9:00AM.

The “Sleep In Special” is the possibility of arriving to the tournament room only at the moment they are about to play their first rounds.

Sleep In Special – Constructed

This case is easy.

What happens during the initial player meeting:

  • Decklists are collected
  • Waivers are collected
  • Promo material is distributed

What Is Needed for the “Sleep In Special”:

  1. Decklists: participants with a “Sleep In Special” need to provide their decklists before the player meeting (usually, the last moment is 9:00AM). The Sleep In Special service can be bought on the website of the organizer or at the tournament venue on Friday. For online registration, there is usually a mail address provided to which decklists should be sent, and sometimes there is a field where the decklists can be copy pasted into. For onsite registration, decklists are usually given in written form at the moment of registration.
    In both of these cases, decklists can still be modified, as anybody is allowed to make last minute changes. The concept of “last minute” is usually “nine in the morning”, which is the moment of the official beginning of the player meeting (at the end of which, decklists are collected); the last-minute change can be done by submitting a new decklist or by indicating only the changes, if few.
  2. Waivers: participants may download the waiver from the registration website, fill it out, sign it, bring it to the tournament and give it to any of the officials (staff or judges) before the beginning of their first round. To make sure that all waivers are collected, judges should verify that they received (by the organizer, by the staff at the customer service desk or at the VIP lounge, by players directly) all waivers; if any is missing, they should go to each individual player (at their table for their first match) to collect it.
  3. Promo material: each Grand Prix has a VIP lounge or a Customer Service desk; in addition to the other services, participants who bought the Sleep In Special service may redeem their promo material.

Note about decklists: in the general index, VIP and SIS players are listed after all the others (for example, they are assigned to inexistent tables 1001, 2001, 3001…).

Participants are informed to arrive before specific times, depending on the number of byes, to make sure they have enough time to build their decks before their first round.

Here you have an estimate of tournament times for a Constructed Grand Prix: (times may vary depending on the size of the Grand Prix and on the continent)

Seat all: between 8:30 and 8:45

Welcome: 9:00 to 9:05

Distribution of promo material and waivers, boosters: 9:05 to 9:10

Collection of waivers: 9:10 to 9:15

Round 1 pairings posted: 9:15

Round 1 begins: 9:20

Then, each round has an average length of 1 hour and 10-15 minutes (the first couple of rounds and the last couple of rounds tend to be slower).

Round 2 begins: 10:35

Round 3 begins: 11:50

Round 4 begins: 12:00

Here you have the common reporting times:

1 bye: 10:30

2 byes: 11:30

3 byes: 12:30

Sleep In Special – Limited

This case is more complicated.

What happens during the initial player meeting:

  • Decks are built (and decklists are collected)
  • Waivers are collected
  • Promo material is distributed

What is Needed for the “Sleep In Special”:

1)     The first part of deckbuilding is the pool registration. For the Sleep In Service, pools are always registered in advance by the Tournament Organizer.

The second part is the actual deckbuilding, which has the same length of the regular deckbuilding (30 minutes).

The aspect that is more complicated is the fact that participants may arrive at different times; though players get told to report to the SIS deckbuilding area at specific times, they are free to build their decks at any time. To keep track of building times, judges usually start deckbuilding:

-at intervals of five minutes, keeping track of times with a sheet like

9:25             tables 1001-1014

9:30             tables 1015-1021

9:35             tables 1022-1043

9:40             …

-when a row is full, keeping track of times with a simple post-it at the beginning of rows

-only at specific times, posting all seatings, like for the regular deckbuilding (not recommended, as it misses the value of “come and build when you prefer”)

2)     Waivers: together with pools, waivers are distributed and immediately filled out and collected, before the beginning of deckbuilding.

3)     Promo material: some organizers prefer distributing the promo material together with the card pools, others prefer giving it out at the VIP lounge or Customer Service desk.

Participants are informed to arrive before specific times, depending on the number of byes, to make sure they have enough time to build their decks before their first round.

Here you have an estimate of tournament times for a Limited Grand Prix: (times may vary depending on the size of the Grand Prix and on the continent)

Seat all: between 8:30 and 8:45

Welcome: 9:00 to 9:05

Distribution of promo material, waivers, boosters: 9:05 to 9:15

Collection of waivers (organizers often require this before deckbuilding): 9:15 to 9:20

Boosters opening: 9:20 to 9:25

Pool registration: 9:25 to 9:45

Buffer: 9:45 to 9:50

Deckbuilding: 9:50 to 10:20

Bathroom break: 10:20 to 10:25

Round 1 pairings posted: 10:25

Round 1 begins: 10:30

Then, each round has an average length of 1 hour and 10-15 minutes (first couple of rounds and last couple of rounds tend to be slower).

Round 2 begins: 11:45

Round 3 begins: 13:00

Round 4 begins: 14:10

Here you have the common reporting times:

1 bye: 11:00

2 byes: 12:00

3 byes: 13:00


  • Though the rounds have an average length of more than 60 minutes, giving reporting times “at the hour” is easier to communicate and remember
  • The time to be calculated for deckbuilding is 45 minutes: 5 minutes for check-in and waiver fill out and collection, 30 minutes for actual deckbuilding, 5 minutes for bathroom break
  • An easy way to remember the reporting times: “start at 9, one hour to build is 10, add one hour for each bye” (half an hour less for Constructed)
  • There is approximately half an hour before round 1 begins and the very last moment participants with one bye must report and begin deckbuilding; it’s very important to prevent that all people with only 1 bye have been served before 11:00; having separate check-in lines depending on the number of byes is an effective system, and calling over the microphone the few people eventually missing (ten minutes before 11:00 at the latest) is recommended
  • A specific area should be dedicated to deckbuilding for VIPs and SISs; ideally, it should have tables for all participants with a Sleep In Special, but there might be cases when the space is limited; having an area of dimensions lower than 75% of the maximum needed may cause unwanted delays. In any case, the area should not be accessible to the public, with the goal of providing a quick service and a quieter space for building
  • Product (boosters, decklists, waivers, lands, pens, players’ lists) must be well prepared in advance, and the number of judges dedicated to the area should be higher (50% to 100%) than for the normal deckbuilding, with a minimum of a team of five people.
  • Depending on the number of players with VIP or SIS status, a variable number of check-in stations should be prepared; the photo below is from GP Atlanta 2016, where all participants were offered this service, and where we had 15 check-in stations

Great Judges of the World: Jared Sylva

Jared Sylva is the face of StarCityGames and a former L4 judge; his activity as Tournament Organizer and his busy private life prevent him from travelling to other events and continents to judge, otherwise, he would be able to be the most professional and effective judge of all of us!

Goodbye Atlanta

… and another awesome adventure has come to an end.

Goodbye Atlanta, goodbye United States and goodbye StarCityGames; I’m not sure about when we will meet again (maybe in warm Orlando in March?), as the next adventures will bring me to Asia and Latin America. In the meantime, keep making us proud of your level of organization!

I hope you enjoyed this article, and I’m looking forward to reading your comments.

The next article will bring us back to my favorite continent, Asia, and specifically to Malaysia, where we will stay a full week, first for three days on an island with beaches, palms and hikes (almost at the same time there is a Pro Tour in Honolulu, with other beaches, palms and hikes ^__^) and the last three days with one of the three simultaneous GPs of the new Standard format.


About Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori
Riccardo Tessitori

Riccardo Tessitori is a level 3 (former level 5) judge from Italy (and former Pro Player ^__^); he judged more than a hundred professional events, headjudged more than 40 Grand Prix events in Europe, the United States and Asia and has been headjudging Pro Tours and World Championships since 2009:

  • Pro Tour Kyoto 2009
  • Pro Tour Austin 2009
  • Worlds Chiba 2010
  • Pro Tour Philadelphia 2011
  • Pro Tour Barcelona 2012
  • World Magic Cup Indianapolis 2012
  • Pro Tour Dublin 2013
  • Pro Tour Valencia 2014
  • Pro Tour Brussels 2015
  • Pro Tour Madrid 2016
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