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How to Start a Constructed GP


Hello everybody!

Some weeks ago, we analyzed how to start a Limited Grand Prix and also the similar Team Limited Grand Prix.

Today, we are going to continue our “How to Start” series, with a focus on Constructed GPs.

Grand Prix Kuala Lumpur 2016

Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in South-East Asia, a multi-cultural country (Malay, Chinese and Indians), with Islam as state religion... and a freedom of religion for the non-Muslims (dear world, learn from them, religions may easily coexist everywhere!).

Its capital is Kuala Lumpur, whose international symbol are the Petronas towers, the tallest twin towers of the world.

No, wait, this was a different version!

Here you have the real Petronas Towers:

The place I recommend the most is Batu Caves

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

Some Work… and Some Holidays

I usually say that “I am on holiday 365 days per year, but I also work 365 days per year”.

I am sure that this really sounds like a very weird sentence, but it’s actually true.

It’s extremely unlikely that I spend a full day without working; a good day must be a productive day for me.

At the same time, it’s also extremely unlikely that I spend a full day without an entertaining activity; it may be a simple evening with friends and board games or a couple of hours at an Escape Room, but there must be entertainment every day of my life.

It’s a daily balance of work and entertainment, that’s very simple, and it’s one of the main reasons why I can go on holiday on tropical islands even when I have work to do… because I actually “need” to work some hours even when I’m on holiday!

Where were we?

Oh, yes, in Malaysia!

This was the view from my “office” in Langkawi, a beautiful island at the northern border with Thailand:

The symbol of the island of Langkawi is the eagle (if my memory is good, in the local language “lang” means “eagle”), you can see real eagles in action if you go on the boat ride along the rivers and around the islands (it’s really amazing; I don’t post any photos or videos because they cannot show even a hundredth of its beauty), and in the main town there is this huge statue:

Grand Prix Santiago 2016

Santiago, founded on 1541, has always been the capital of Chile, the “thinnest” country of the world, with its huge vertical dimension that spans an entire continent and the relatively small horizontal dimension that goes from the Pacific ocean to the Andes.

Easter Island, 3500 km away from main land, is one of the most remote (inhabited) islands on the entire planet, and is one of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, with 887 moai

*see below for… well… “different” versions of these photos ^__^

The place I recommend the most is… well… the airport, as it’s the place to go to visit very exotic and special places like Patagonia, Machu Picchu, the Andes and the one I chose for this travel: Easter Island!

*this is the real gate at Easter Island airport, fabulous, gate 1… there is only one gate.

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

… and Even More Holidays

We continue the series “On holiday 365 days per year, and at work 365 days per year”.

The latest episode took place in an even more special place, a place that I had only read about in my geography books (and I actually thought that nobody could visit), the Island of the Big Noses… no, wait, it has a real name: Easter Island, la Isla de Pascua!

What can we do on such a special place?

Take many STUPID photos!!!

Tournament Operations: Logistics Team – Constructed

While the beginning of Limited GPs may look more complicated, as there are more activities and more objects to distribute, I believe that the beginning of Constructed GPs may need more preparation.

The reason is simple: “it looks simple” and “it’s surely faster”.

Well, yes, it’s our goal to have it look simple and to make it as fast as possible.

Let’s analyze what needs to happen at the beginning of all Constructed GPs, from the moment we post the seatings for the player meeting to the moment we begin the first round.

8:30 Post seatings.

The announced beginning of the player meeting is 9:00 and it’s important to begin the day without delays; setting a good pace at the beginning of the day will make the entire day better for everybody.

Seatings should be posted in advance (my recommendation is between 15 and 30 minutes before the moment we want everybody to be seated), so that any last-minute problem can be solved in time.

Several organizers are now also using the online pairings (posting the seatings online may require more work), which allow reducing significantly the traffic in the tournament room.

From 8:30 until 9:00: assist players.

There might be players who need assistance, for various reasons; the most common are:

-“I cann’t find my name”

-“My byes are wrong”

and we always have a team dedicated to assist them: the Stage team (which will be described in another article)

9:00: player meeting.

Assuming that we succeeded in helping all players find their seat before 9:00, this will be the time when the Tournament Organizer and the Head Judge will welcome the players and will give general instructions about the day.

After the “welcome” part, our part begins.

1)     Waivers distribution

Depending on the geographic area, waivers may be distributed at the entrance (most common in Japan, where you can count that *everybody* will take them) or distributed by the judges at all tables.

This is very often the first activity that should happen, as it takes just a minute to fill it out following the brief instruction of the head judge… if every player has it!

2)     Goodies

Everybody is happier when they receive gifts right? Is there a better way to start the day than receiving some gifts?

All competitors receive the GP promo, many tournament organizers offer playmats for the main event, some tournament organizers add special items like personalized tokens, website premium cards, branded bags, deckboxes…

3)     Decklists

The final part of the player meeting is the one when judges collect decklists and waivers. Tip: *always* have the decklists collected as the final step of the player meeting; it appears to be the best way to keep the players in their seat, even better than distributing the GP promo card as last step.

4)     VIP

Not all players participate in the player meeting. Those who purchase the “VIP” or “Sleep In Special” package are allowed to arrive later in the day, and check-in at a dedicated table.

The VIP Table

Underestimating the importance of the table dedicated to the VIPs would be a big mistake.

“They come, we get the waiver and we give them the goodies, it’s easy”.

Yes, it is, but only if you prepare it well. Having a single person with a big pile of bags and playmats and nothing else is going to create delays and difficulties… and we don’t want the promo cards and the playmats to run out when there are still a hundred of people in line, right?

Let’s prepare it in advance.

First, people should know where the table can be found; very often, a map of the entire room is available (at the entrance, at the main and sides stages, next to pairing boards):

Second, unless our table is just next to the very visible signs of a VIP lounge, there should be signs to indicate where the VIP players should go to get their goodies and to hand in their waivers:

Note: VIP and Sleep-In-Special players should have submitted the decklist online or should have given it in paper form at the moment they register the day before, but it can happen that some people give their decklist to the judges on Saturday morning, as the final moment to hand in your list is 9:00. Decklists should be collected and delivered to the Decklist team, who will make sure that all decklists have been collected:

Now, in our preparation, we need to make sure that all the VIP and Sleep-In-Special players will have been served. We need their list, which will be provided by the scorekeeper, who will be able to print it in different formats (he usually uses Excel to sort by name, byes, or status and add any headings we would like).

My favorite system is to first sort by byes (players with 0 byes may be in a hurry to get to their round 1 table more than players with 2 byes; more, if anyone started playing without passing by the VIP table to get their goodies, it may be a good service to bring them to his table) and then by name (simply because it’s much easier to find the names, if they are alphabetized).

Note: VIP players may receive different goodies; in this case, I recommend having two separate tables (with, of course, two separate lists).

The Regular Tables

I want to explain to you the procedures of the player meeting for the regular tables with a copy and paste of the mail I sent to judges:


Each team will be assigned an area; specific assignments will be determined and communicated on Friday; for the moment, you can assume that each team will have a “block” of about 200 tables (400 players).

Each member of the team will take care of a few rows; specific rows will be assigned on Friday; for the moment, you can assume that each team member will have two or three rows, for a total of approximately 40 tables (80 players).


There will be a moment when the head judge will say a sentence like “… and JUDGES will distribute…”. Yes, we need to listen to announcements, and also take a look at the other judges (first, in case we have difficulties in hearing the announcements, so that we can realize that it’s time to start the distribution; then, also to help the judges in the rows next to ours, in case they are slower and will need help).

The head judge will make a few other announcements, and each judge will need to be aware of what the players should be doing at any time, to give them the best assistance.

There will be moments when the head judge will say “If you haven’t received XX, please raise your hand”; if you are still distributing that object, just continue; if you finished distributing that object, please look around you, especially at your assigned buddy, and help him if needed.


1)     Each judge will DISTRIBUTE one waiver to each player.

2)     Each judge will DISTRIBUTE one playmat, one promo, one pen, one deckbox to each player (if there will be other objects, it will be communicated on Saturday morning).

For big objects like playmats, I encourage you to ask players for assistance, like giving two playmats at the beginning of the row and saying “Can you please pass them until the end of the row?”, I am very confident that it’s fast and no playmats will be lost.

For small objects like promos and pens, I encourage you to walk between rows and distribute them yourself.

Write the table number of any missing player on the paper you will receive (we will need to give goodies to that player, if he arrives later).

3)     Each judge will COLLECT decklists and waivers

Please do NOT divide decklists from waivers; grab both and put them together in your pile; the goal is to have a fast player meeting and we will be able to divide them while players are playing the first round (“but it takes only three seconds”, yes, I agree… and with your 80 players it takes 4 minutes and it’s not at all a good reason to keep players doing nothing for 4 extra minutes!)

Smaller table number at the top, bigger table number at the bottom.

Decklists & waivers should be brought to the decklist area (the precise location will be communicated on Saturday morning), where there will be papers with written table number ranges (find your table number range and put your waivers below the printed paper).

And, finally, here you have the map that got distributed to the judges at GP Madrid 2016 (very similar to the one from GP Montreal 2016, in the article about how to start a Limited GP):

Great Judges of the World: Sashi Kumar Balakrishnan

It appears that Sashi, better known as “Loco” or “CLoco”, is a local celebrity, with a past in the Malaysian music scene and a presence in a good number of shows.

You may do some research online to discover more about this part of him; actually, one day I may search for more information… but until today, I have always found it sufficient to know the person, one of the kindest, deepest and most welcoming and caring people you can find in the Magic environment… yes, a great friend!

Goodbye Kuala Lumpur, Goodbye Santiago, Goodbye Easter Island

… and another awesome adventure has come to an end.

Goodbye Malaysia, it has been a great week, and I want to remember it like this!

… and goodbye past adventures, it will be soon time for new ones!

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

The next article will bring us back to Europe, for two very interesting events.

The first one is probably my favorite type of event, the World Magic Cup, where about 70 countries will send their best players, some of them dressed in a folkloristic way, to hold their flag high and bring pride to their nations… let’s call it the “Olympics of Magic”!

The second one is a Grand Prix in what is very likely my favorite country, with my favorite language too: Spain, with the last Grand Prix in Europe for this year, in Madrid.


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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