Sunday, 1:00 p.m.

Posted in NEWS on February 9, 2014

By Marc Calderaro

Sunday, 1:00 p.m. – A Buddies Weekend

by Marc Calderaro

 

There are many amazing things going on here at the first-ever Super Sunday Series Championship. There is $20,000 on the line, sure; we're at the Wizards of the Coast headquarters, yes; but for many players here, the joys are much simpler. Some as simple as the ability to see the glorious motherland covered in snow.


Snowy WoTC

 

For Hokkaido, Japan native, Takahito Kobayashi, the word of the weekend was "comfortable." After competing in only tournaments with a large number of players, the intimate setting and the relaxed environment is a truly welcome change. Though during the games, there is a strong sense of competition, between rounds, players wander into the lounge area, and converse with the player that just crushed them. And this was emphasized by the giant restaurant trip that all the players took last night.


Gamers gonna game.

 

For Colin Miller, it's something as simple as the accommodations. He enjoyed the restaurant, but for him, the best part was the hotel. "This is the best hotel I've ever stayed at for any tournament, ever." Yes, when the tournament is this small, not only is your food and your flight taken care of, but your beds as well.

Along the accommodations line, for many players, it's about the flight itself. When you have 19 different countries represented here, the travel is a big portion of the event. When I talked to the man who made this all happen, Pastimes, Alan Hochman, he emphasized that this is the furthest many people have traveled to play Magic—and much further than many of them could have even dreamt. For example, Tan Gao, with his innovative Azorius Control deck splashing for Kiora, the Crashing Wave, has never been to America before. Ipank Aziz Riphat, an Indonesian National Champion from Jakarta talked about how isolating his region can be, and how thankful he was that he could travel halfway across the world to play in this event. Heck Adelaide, Australia's Oliver Jenner-O'Shea had never seen snow before. So last night at the restaurant, he ran amok, making his first snowballs, and even got all the Canadians in attendance to shake a snow-filled tree while Jenner-O'Shea stood underneath it.

I talked with MTGMadness owner, Fernando Corenstein, who had an interesting variation on the idea. The Ra'anana, Israel resident isn't doing the greatest at the tournament, but the Super Sunday Series Championship means something totally different to him than merely an undefeated record. "I travel a lot, so the hotel and the flight is unimportant, but for me, it's the friends." Corenstein continued, "I mostly play cube; with the business I just don't have time to play often, so this is the tournament for me." For him, this was also an opportunity for a vacation. And unlike other Magic "vacations" where the anxiety kicks back in once the weekend tournament begins, the extremely low stress of the tournament—that "comfort" that Kobayashi was talking about—means the vacation extends throughout the entire week, including the weekend.

"Vacation" is the best way to describe this event for all players, regardless of how high-profile you are. Owen Turtenwald and Reid Duke showed up early to the lounge area just to sling some cards as R&D member Sam Stoddard watched.


Sam Stoddard, Reid Duke, and Owen Turtenwald

 

Hochman, to whom everyone here owes their thanks, told me his goal was to make a "buddies weekend." And that extends not just to the players and the Wizards of the Coast members, but even for him and the four national tournament organizers here. When you're used to running thousand-person tournaments, " the things you're concerned with, just don't happen here ... I've been able to interact with everyone in a way I'm just not used to." He continued, that everyone at the restaurant last night (and again tonight) rubbing elbows—competitors, Wizards employees, tournament organizers, even coverage staff (*wink*)—was a big impetuous for the event. It's been a shining success, and the mood at the Magic mecca couldn't be more estatic.


Alan Hochman

 

This is the first iteration of Hochman's brainchild, but far from the last. The Super Sunday Series qualifiers for next year have already begun! There are a few people who have already secured themselves a spot for a visit to the Wizards of the Coast head offices for 2015. The weekend to mark on your calendar is January 23–24, 2015.

Have you carpooled to a Grand Prix with some friends, and they all luck-sacked into the second day, while you drew poorly for five rounds in a row? The Super Sunday Series qualifier is your ticket to this whole swanky shindig—free flight, plush hotel accommodations, hanging at the Wizards of the Coast office, playing Commander with the likes of Reid Duke and other top Magic players, all that jazz. Get in on the action now. Then your friends who thought they were so cool scrubbing out in the second day of the Grand Prix will be staring at their computer screens, watching you having the weekend of your life. All this awesomeness and being able to stick it you all your Magic friends? Sign me up!