GP Charlotte: An Impression

This isn’t my tournament report.  That will have to wait until tomorrow.  This is more so about GP Charlotte as a whole and just what I saw and experienced .

Friday was a great evening.  We got to the hotel, threw everything in the room, and then went to the convention center. At first, we thought we were in the wrong place. There were ten million signs for a motorcycle show, but nothing regarding the GP.  The rest of the group and I meandered for a bit, rather cautiously as though we were waiting to be attacked.  

We went to the back of the center and found some people that looked kinda like they were there for a GP.  You know, hoodie, backpack, and throwing out names like Boros Reckoner and Thragtusk. So we followed them to a table with convention center staff hanging out. 

At this point we were arm banded and then had one with a matching number put on our bags.  At first, I kinda felt like cattle…they one that would be hunted by a coyote.  Only reinstitution our unease from earlier.  Which for me is really weird since I’ve been to more motorcycle shows then I can count.  But I guess I was there with motorcycles in mind.  

Anyway, we then descend into the basement where the GP room starts to come into view. Nothing like putting the nerds in a basement with little ventilation and so they won’t be seen by the rest of the world, right?  And you walk in and wind up face to face with this huge StarCity Games Booth.  They made sure to remind you who was running this show.  However, unlike an Open, there were many other vendors there to shop from.  

We also found out around this time that the tags were to make sure that you weren’t removing bags you did not own.  While such things could still happen, it was a great way to push that from happening.

Trev bee-lined for that while I made my way up to side events.  Friday evening they held a really cool event called ‘Foiled Again’.  It was standard and you got a foil card for playing, and then an extra foil card for each round you won.  Now, mind you, they were FNM promos, but they were still cool!  I got a Searing Spear and Evolving Wilds, while Trev got the rest of his set of Gitaxian Probes.  He came in 52nd out of some 180 people.  I was at 132, mostly due to still not quite knowing what to side board in with the Zameck Persist deck.  But, I saw its weaknesses and came out with a lot of information.

What I really loved about this event was how laid back it was.  I was able to talk and get to know my opponent rather than just going from one match to the next.  In fact, we spent the whole weekend with one of the guys!  The people I played with were interested in getting deck ideas and swapping stories rather than cut throat kill machines.  I felt encouraged since people weren’t dropping after just losing one round.  This event really made things relaxed and open.  It was perhaps, one of the greatest events I’ve ever participated in just due to the atmosphere it created.

Saturday was the big day.  Everyone got up relatively early(around 8 am) and walked to Panera before heading to the convention center.  There, we were able to meet up with some other people from out store as well as see other friends.  10 am rolled around and table numbers weren’t down.  11 came and went much in the same fashion.  We started to get announcements saying that they were completing registration.  Then more word that they were starting to bring in more chairs.  We eventually got started around 12:30 with Round 1.  I was already exhausted from all the people and moving around that day.  I built pretty awesome, but played shitty.  I was pretty disappointed in myself.  I dropped after Round 2 hoping that 2HG would still be taking sign ups.  They launched it pretty fast and didn’t give any time for people who were still waiting on how the tournament was going.  

Both Trev and I were super bummed.  We asked if there would be another on Saturday, but…no go.  Only Sunday.  At noon…which would mean we wouldn’t leave until nearly 5…which would have put us home at like, midnight.  So no 2HG that weekend.  We played some draft instead, but with people who you don’t know, not as fun.  In fact I just got annoyed during that draft since the people were marginally rude and had no sense of space.  

Sunday was much of the same.  We got our shopping done, picked up some awesome stuff.  Got a lot of pieces to a modern deck together.  Played another draft.  However, with as many people who were drafting on Sunday it was becoming unwieldy.  They were firing off the drafts before Judge’s were prepped to take us over, causing just block of people everywhere.  Tables were kind of hard to come by and they didn’t have anything sectioned off for drafts. People would just not show up for one reason or another and then you would have to find another person to fill the spot.  Once it got started, we just ran ourselves but that time period in between was pretty awful.  

Now, this isn’t against any one group that was helping out.  Nor is this to say I didn’t have a good time.  But as someone who does planning and worked previously in event services, well, there should have been some other things done in some of these situations.    They should have cut of registration when the event started running late.  When it was going into the second hour, they should have announced any changes to schedule or if there were side events happening at certain time.  I would have gone and asked for my registration fee to be put towards side events if I had known we were going to start so late.  

A lot of people were saying that you couldn’t plan for that many people.  And no, you can’t do specifics.  You don’t need exact specifics though.  However there needed to be a pre-determined cut off, chairs pre-positioned, extra sound, or some sort of visual feed in the room of what was happening.  The judges did great, acting quickly to the changes, but the execution was perhaps lacking.  Then there is even more issues when the event had to be split into two and then DCI crashed and lost people, leading to extra delays due to having to repair. 

Overall, the event was great and the judges were spot on.  The organization staff needed to really consider what they were doing and the impact it was having on players on the whole.  On top of that, I feel that rather than WoTC leaving planning to other groups, they need to consider an in house management section that can work closely with places like StarCity and TCGPlayer in organizing these events.  

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