GP Shizuoka, lets get ready to rumble!
Wait, what’s a GP?
Ok, GP stands for Grand Prix (Pronounced “Groan” without the ‘a’ or “Gone” with an ‘r’ and “Pre” as in Preordain or Preposterous), like the F1 Racing Cars in Monaco; except, it’s a massive card game tournament open to all players that grind it out swiss style to win the prize at the end of the gauntlet. It’s free to walk in, trade with other players, play games, shop and what not; but it usually costs to enter any tournaments or events. The first day usually involves about nine time limited games, depending on the format spanning over about 12 hours with tiny breaks between, lest you finish a game quick. That’s the main event. If did well, you’ll land a place in what people commonly ask “Did you make day two?”
Day two usually has more side events, even some funny ones and if you did make it to day two, you’ll probably have cameras on you which would most likely be streamed live on some website, just to add a little more pressure.
To sum up it’s a massive tournament, thousands of competitors, big prizes, free trade, shops, sometimes cosplay, card signing and an unhealthy gruel vendor.
I’m in. What should I bring?
- A toothbrush,
- Fresh clothes,
- Lots of extra cash, should your budget allow,
- Explicit directions to wherever you’re staying,
- Your phone charger, if you have one,
- And, your cards. No bulk stuff, it’s just weight.
I explicitly recommend to pack in this order. Should you do the regular, reverse order; numbers 6 through to 1 will achieve a rather likely chance to be neglected, then forgotten.
What can I expect?
Fun. Lots and lots of fun. I recommend going with close friends and procure a meeting place or a way contact each other. The venues are large and it’s easy to detach from your attachment should you go AWOL. The announcements can be loud and annoying, so earplugs or an iPhone may be a plus. Toilets usually have a long cue so time your visits strategically. Buy bottled water if you want to keep your wits. Battle wise and true but most of all, have fun.
Welcome, welcome, welcome my fellow MTG fans. This is GP Shizuoka in Japan on the early parts of the month of January of the 2015th year of the outdated Gregorian scrolled calendar. Take a peek inside and be marveled at the hoards of beautiful creatures gathered in a single venue and breath in the flavor of what is a Magic the Gathering Grand Prix, Shizuoka.
I don’t need to tell you about results, deck techs, general event information and what not. You can find those things like, everywhere else.
Skewered rules are conjured for games to be played in an artificial but settling and comfortable setting. In this case, a typical Japanese dining room. Tatami mats, Shōji screens, Kotatsu and some Fuji wall hangings. Not so hard to pull off in Japan. It’s the ‘how to get it there (and back)’ that’ll kill your wallet.
The brave guy in the picture was well dressed for the event and there needs to be more people in Japan doing this. This is the damn Cosplay capital of the world and he seemed to be the only one in uniform.
After a brief ‘hello’, ‘how are you?’ and a ‘can I post your photo on my blog?’ I came to a realization that this was actually no cosplay. He was dressed up for the event as attractive as he could be. Regrettably I didn’t get to know her so well but this wonderful human being is a genuine Lola and she wore it proudly among maybe some of the most judgmental and possibly inverted stereotypes that roam this planet. Damn proud to be human when I meet people of this caliber.
My friend spotted it first and yeah, the inner geek wouldn’t allow him to let it go. Me too though. He had to get the photo with her, and he did get it too. For those of you who haven’t spotted it yet, here’s a clue:
I went the extra length to get that shot. Now, this is a DCI version of the card I made for her so I could get a more decent shot of the dress she wore. It’s Bitterblossom. A Bitterblossom dress and she printed it herself. She had a Liliana costume she would have loved to have worn, but she was too embarrased / considerate to flair? This is where it gets slightly complicated. As I mentioned above, there was no one else cosplaying; particularly, no girls cosplaying. If she were the only one to go as Liliana there would be a LOT of attention around her in which she most likely wouldn’t be able it make it through a game without a drooling nerd begging her for a photo (like me haha). Not only that, but the organizers may take offence as the ‘attention’ wouldn’t be part of the ‘plan’ therefore disrupting the event which may conclude with the T.O. asking her to either change or vacate the premises, worst case scenario of course. That’s what I got from my crappy Japanese anyway. Rules are rather bureaucratic here in Japan and there’s no exception for a Magic The Gathering tournament held here. I’m sure, being around this game long enough, you’d have tasted a bit of that poop in your life.
Oh how pompous of me. Her name is Hydra. Yes, like the creature type, Hydra. Why Hydra? Because, Hydras. It was lovely to meet another person who showed love for the mythical beauty and tribe should Wizards keep up the good work of releasing them in almost every set. Hydra’s are awesome. If you don’t cut off their heads too fast, they just roll over things. Way better than dragons! Hydras!
She presented me with some card sleeves she designed herself. Thank you so much Hydra! Keep up the awesome work!
Selfie!! There was an attendance of around 2800 for the main event and a crowd of around 4000+ so you can imagine the hotel owners looking at the books that weekend and remarking “…and business is ‘a’ boomin’,” and of course all the people who lost out and had to slump over a McDonalds table and call it sleep. This time I was a little more smart though. I booked a quiet little guesthouse on the outskirts of Shizuoka that was a little more difficult to find on the net (Good guesthouses usually are). It came with a fireplace, lounge, leather couches, large screen T.V. wonderful decor, interesting books, !!!Feijoas!!! and a comfortable sleep and for 2500yen (around US$20) muahahahahaha ahem. Yeah, we had the place to ourselves. Here’s some more photos to show off:
Ok, that’s enough. I’d post more but WordPress has a kind of a limit thing. It was really nice. The photo’s don’t do it justice. So after a bunch of beers, four hours sleep and a sore head in the morning we were fully prepared and ready to take out the event and crush our squirming opponents and step on their heads and mount our flag on their deceased carcass’ in raging and glorious victory.
So the usual things happened, announcements thumped into our skulls every few seconds and in every language as we frantically tried to build a deck and list them down on the paper we were handed. I must admit, I got handed a very positive pool of cards which included synergy and a few combos. Of course none of those would be included in my mainboard because within my self inflicted state of brain hurt, I made five color abomination of puke and turds in which I won almost no game, except for when I actually bothered to side out 17 of the 23 card mainboard and insert something a little more playable. Head hurting, high energy and fun all around. Oh, this was before I had to sift through the crowd to find my chair:
On the way to my seat, I saw a few interesting faces so naturally I pulled out the snapper. This guy plays Magic the Gathering and was situated quite comfortably waiting for his packs of cards to be cracked:
I din’t ask him for permission to have his face here but it’s ok, cause he’s from Australia and I’m from New Zealand. We always do nice things like this for our friendly neighbours.
After came the grueling games, most of them, kind of grindy which inconveniently helped my hang over and impaired vision. But who cares? It was fun and I got paired up with two girls during the battle royale. 2800 competitors and about 10 of them being girls. Very sad. Not enough girls play this game and I intend to change that… somehow, I don’t know how but I’ll make it happen.
Hmm, the name doesn’t come to mind but she works at a cafe in Hamamatsu in where everyone in that cafe plays Magic the Gathering. Very cool. I wanna open one of those in Amsterdamn 😉 Pumpkin Dumpkin, Culture Cafe. Free advertising guys!
After my complete and utter failure at getting any kind of respectable rank, I gave up and floated around trying to take interest in some of the more prominent matches taking place under the spotlight:
After all the excitement settled down and people started clearing, I rendezvoused with the guesthouse friend who introduced me to some interesting characters I unfortunately didn’t take any photos of. One, a nuclear engineer, a logistics expert and a biochemist all taking a break from the boat to game it out. So naturally as a Kiwi, I kidnapped them and took them back to the guesthouse for beers and geek. I’m telling you, that was one interesting experience I… we experienced.
Hung over for two days in a row didn’t help my game aptitude at all. Yes it was my fault but that’s just cosmetics. Yup, I completely shippered out so I couldn’t do day two main game and my brains were too dysfumptional to take up in any serious side event, so I just went around interviewing and meeting interesting people and stuff. Please note, I’m doing this off warped memory so some of what I spit out may be a little off target.
Photoed here, on the left is one of the only Level 5 judges that exist here on Earth and to the right, a familiar good looking fellow. I was told that before he took up being a Magic Judge, he used to be some kind of detective or spy? Someone important anyway. He is very famous amongst the French Magic the Gathering community and I would love to know more about him. It was very inspiring to see them in action so I inquired and got the low down. Thank you so much, Stuart for giving me inspiration and showing me the door to become a judge. Here’s one of the red shirts in action:
Judges do a great job and service to the magic community and deserve more credit for it. They give their time and expertise voluntarily for a game that they love and follow. Admiration. Gratefulness. Awesomeness. Thank you guys!
No Grand Prix is without vendors. I’m gonna pick on Tokyo MTG because we spoke briefly but when we did, it was on a mutual level, light, funny, friendly and welcoming. Here is their little stand of foily greatness:
This may seem like no biggie but consider, this is Japan. These young men opened a shop in a foreign country where the native language is worlds apart from English and have been recognized among the card trading giants in Japan as one of the major players in this entanglement of sharks and barons called ‘The magic industry.’ They work hard and without sleep to get you those shiny cards you need. And they are based in Japan.
That little piece of paper is probably worth more than the car you drive. And this is the business they have taken on. It’s cardboard crack and trades like it too. Bundles of notes being transacted for something that is literally four grams and to shuffled and flicked on a tabletop is an opener for the uninitiated.
Ryan (almost bottom right), who I finally met, organized a cube from the Tempest set in which he’d been hanging on to for some time. There was even a pro tour winner amongst the players. I opted out so another could join, but wow. That looked like so much fun. I’m in next time Ryan for sure! Ryan is also a super hard worker who supports the Magic community in Japan. Go to his blog here and support him. The Japan Hobbyist. I order you.
He did well, explaining in Japanese and in his American accent – the rules and how the cube works. So much fun, thanks Ryan – see you in Kyoto.
And of course, there’s the usual Japanese shenanigans, this guy lifting up his ‘skirt’ apron to suggest a type kinkiness to attract people to the shop. I like it. Judging by the looks on peoples faces and rolls of eyes I can safely deduce that the locals grow tired of it… but they’re boring. I’d encourage and endorse it. Magic is a fun scene and things like this make the venue seem like entering an enchanting circus as a kid would see it. I guess this would be the only cosplayer here, but it doesn’t really count. He’s shop staff. It’s actually his uniform for a pack open type tournament they held that day. There should be more of this stuff. Enchanting. That was the word I was looking for.
One of the many boxes of free cards littered all over place. Yes I grabbed as much as I could carry. There were even crappy rares in there. Still haven’t looked through them all yet. I swear, the guilt that comes when I think of the amount of trees that get sacrificed to keep this game prospering.
A cool playmat that was a tournament win only mat that eventually came to be on sale. I figure it was some kind of Manticore but then remembered the house guardian doggies called Shisa from Okinawa. You can decide for yourself. If finance allowed, I would love to get my hands on one of those. I would trade a Japanese foily Vexing Devil for that 😉
Later I would actually meet a beautiful couple from Okinawa that I will hopefully meet again in the following GP. We shared stories of our dordles and travels. One of the couple members, Shawn left me dry on a story of how he almost met the Grim Reaper himself. As he neared the climax of the story the announcer posted the next event and Shawn’s story was cut short. Dammit. Here’s a whole team of judges waiting for Shawns partner to end a super grinding game. There were six judges there. Three missing off to the left.
Lastly I’m going to leave you with one of the best memories of the tournament. This marvel of a beautiful being was single handedly the most positive, warm and humorous auras I encountered at the tournament. I don’t know his name or his judge level but he had me in fits of laughter every time he walked past. If you ever read this blog, whoever you are, thank you so much for giving me the pleasure of your presence and just general awesomeness. If you’re at the next event, I’ll have an expensive, cultural, Japanese square watermelon ready for you to stab your umbrella into.
And that’s it. If you’ve wanted to go to a GP but felt intimidated, short cashed for the payoff or just lazy; just go anyway. You’ll be glad you did, I guarantee it. I had the time of my life. I want everyone else too as well.
Thank you all the organizers for putting on such a great event. Thank you to all the people who came and most of all, thank you for reading this far. Hmmm, I feel like I should be handing out a prize or something. Ok, I’ve got it. Like my Facebook page and I’ll put your name into a randomization robot and post you the following foily vexing devil pictured below free of charge. The conditions are, you have to take a selfie of yourself holding the card to prove that you received it… and humbly for blog flair 🙂 Good Luck and don’t worry, I don’t post much so it won’t flood your Facebook page. Thanks again!
Deadline is February the 1st. Then I’ll announce the name. LIKE!