Saturday, 3:05 p.m. - Channeling Resources

Posted in Event Coverage on January 18, 2014

By Mike Rosenberg

Mike Rosenberg is a writer and gamer and has been part of the Magic text coverage team since 2011. He joined Wizards as organized play’s content specialist in June 2014.

Grand Prix Sacramento is more than just North America's first Grand Prix of 2014. It is also the first of five Grand Prix events that will be organized by two companies: Cascade Games, the tournament organizer for the west coast Grand Prix events, and ChannelFireball, the Magic article and video home for players such as No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark and Hall of Famer Luis-Scott Vargas.

Grand Prix Sacramento is also kicking off North America's first Grand Prix of 2014 with a bang. At 1855 players, this event has become California's largest Grand Prix main event.

Cascade Games has more than a little experience with handling larger-scale tournaments, as was seen last year when they organized Grand Prix Las Vegas, the world's largest trading card game event of all time with 4500 competitors. And one of the most notable starts to Friday's side events from Cascade Games are the free mini masters events, a tournament that is free to enter for everyone who registers for the main event of the Grand Prix. In a Mini-Master event, players receive one booster pack and must build a Sealed deck with it using the cards from that pack and an assortment of lands, totaling 30 cards. Then, they compete in single-elimination rounds against opponents with these decks. The winners get an additional pack which they can use to modify their 30-card Sealed deck. This continues for a maximum of three rounds, giving players a fun and simple way to start off their Grand Prix weekend. And for many, it's a great way to start off a weekend full of Magic.

The Mini-Masters event that was held this weekend has further cemented its inclusion into the Grand Prix side event schedule for Cascade Games. Yesterday's event brought 413 players to the event site at noon, and assisted in bringing over 500 players into the tournament hall by 1PM. That's a lot of players who jumped right into the Grand Prix experience the moment they could.

Cascade Games knows how to manage thousands of players competing in an event, and their partner, ChannelFireball, brings with it some extra star power and a weekend of coverage from some of the game's top players. Aside from managing the live video coverage for this weekend, featuring commentary from No. 1 Ranked Player Ben Stark and ChannelFireball.com writer Matt Sperling, the Magic vendor and content site also put together a special free seminar that all attendees of Grand Prix Sacramento were invited to listen to.

The seminar, which took place Friday evening, was hosted by Ben Stark as well as Hall of Famer Luis-Scott Vargas, and the two players discussed the very basics of building a Theros Sealed deck from a pool of cards, giving players some extra information and ideas in preparation for this weekend's main event. The seminar brought over 250 people in to listen to the advice that Scott-Vargas and Stark had to offer.

"We're super excited to team with ChannelFireball," said Tim Shields, managing partner of Cascade Games. "This is an opportunity for all of us to step up our game and make the Grand Prix an even more fun experience!"

John Saso, the president and CEO of ChannelFireball, felt the same way and embraced the opportunity to team up with Cascade Games to produce a bigger Grand Prix. "This is the perfect combination of Cascade Games' tournament organization experience and our marketing and content experience," he said. "Tim Shields has been a mentor for me, and getting the opportunity to work with him to make the Grand Prix experience bigger and better is very exciting."

When asked about what the two companies have planned for this and the next Grand Prix events that they'll be covering, Shields ensured that there are some great plans in the works to make the Grand Prix a stellar experience for every kind of Magic player. One thing was certain though: this weekend was big. Players ranging from the Pro Tour competitor to the new fan have something going on that will make this weekend a blast for them.

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