This year's event is taking place in Chiba, Japan and if you haven't already been checking out the coverage I urge you to do so now by going here. Most of the coverage team arrived a few days early to get used to the time difference and to take advantage of a trip to Japan. More than a few hours were spent at the local arcade trying to figure out how to play the games. Here we see Ray Walkinshaw and Tim Willoughby trying to decipher the rules to playing this maze of lights.
Fortunately food products are a little easier to decode. Milk Tea is a favorite beverage for the coverage team when in Japan—even if Bill Stark seems a little dubious.
When you walk up the steps of the Makuhari Messe convention center the first thing you see is a towering banner for the event featuring a familiar—but disturbingly different—face. Perhaps his identity will be revealed in a soon to be released expansion?
Before the tournament itself can get underway there are the opening ceremonies and the induction of the new members of the Hall of Fame. The incoming class was greeted by anime caricatures of themselves on the stage where they were going to be inducted.
Brad Nelson thought that Bram Snepvangers looked like the anime character who would knock the heroine's books on the floor ...
Nelson pegged Brian Kibler as the jock of this particular anime story ...
... with Gabriel Nassif cast in the role of the hero of the story.
While the players were waiting to be inducted they still needed to make sure their deck lists were filled out correctly. Here we see Nassif making his last minute adjustments.
Brian Kibler has worn suits before for Pro Tour events but this may be the first time he has gone as far as cufflinks.
Pro Tour Statistician and commentator Rich Hagon gave the opening remarks while Japanese commentator Koichiro Maki translated for the hometown crowd.
Next up was Pro Tour Tournament Manager Scott Larabee for the flag ceremony. There were more than sixty represented nations with players coming from everywhere—from Argentina to Netherlands.
All of the National Champions get a chance to step on stage and represent their people ...
... with the home country center stage. Former World Champion Katsuhiro Mori seemed perfectly comfortable in the spotlight.
One of the perks of being the Pro Tour Historian is that I get to introduce the incoming class of the Pro Tour Hall of Fame each year.
Brian Kibler got a huge laugh as the video presentation took him down the memory lane of funny faces he has made while playing in Feature Matches with his older brother to one side and Nassif to the other.
Gabriel Nassif—along with his girlfriend Liz Lempicki and mother Lilian—was all smiles as player after player raved about him being one of the three greatest players to ever compete on the Pro Tour.
The obligatory "Green Lantern Corp" shot after the induction ceremony as the players show off their shiny new rings.
Rings are hardly the only trophies being given away this weekend with many races still up in the air coming into the event. Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, and Team Champions will all be determined no later than Sunday.
Not to mention the main event hardware ...
Brad Nelson was hoping he could hold onto his 15-point lead in the Player of the Year race by the time Sunday rolls around.
It would be the first time that trophy went to an American player in a decade. It would be the first time a non-Japanese player has won the trophy in half that time. Previous winners include Kenji Tsumura, Shota Yasooka, Tomoharu Saito, Shuhei Nakamura, and last year's winner Yuuya Watanabe.
Speaking of last year's winners. Andre Coimbra was back to defend his title. Once again he came armed with a Mike Flores creation for Standard—Blue-Green Genesis Wave.
Dave Williams was also playing the deck built by the Top Decks columnist and did a Deck Tech on the build after going 4-2 on Day One.
Fresh off of winning a Grand Prix and the StarCityGames.com Invitational Gerry Thompson was looking to keep his winning ways going in Japan. A Top 32 finish would level him up for next season. He played an almost identical Valakut, the Molten Pinnacle list to the one he used to win the Invitational.
Rich Hagon and I are not planning anything evil—I assure you—in this photo ...
... we are just excited to see one of our favorite Japanese players competing in the main event—Masashi Oiso.
Bing Luke—a member of the December Dozen—had only one sanctioned match win in his meager career with paper Magic. As part of his invitation to compete in the Magic Online Championship Series he got to compete in Worlds. His second career win came against none other than Hall of Famer Olivier Ruel.
I can understand being loathe to ask Liliana Vess for her height and weight, but if you got one of her cards out of the Lord of Vermillion 2 video game you could find out.
Magic card artist Chris Rahn shows off his handiwork before being mobbed by a crowd clamoring for his signature.
Lotus Cobra has been seeing a lot of play in Standard this weekend and card artist Chippy will be on hand to sign them all throughout the weekend.
Worlds would not feel complete without a visit from Magic's creator Richard Garfield, who will be playing one of the Massive Magic decks this weekend—rumor has it that there is a surprise or two lurking within those oversized decks.
3-D card sculptor Okubu continues to amaze with his detailed handiwork.
Players attending Worlds are among the first to get their hands on the manga version of Jace vs. Chandra. I grabbed mine right before they opened the doors.
There is a lot going on this weekend and none of it would be possible without the hard work of the judging staff. Here we see Head Judge Riccardo Tessitori and his troops.
Judges work hard and as a result they often get special foil versions of cards not available to you or me. Here Riki Hayashi shows off his swanky new Sword of Fire and Ice.
Make sure you check out the coverage—and come back on Sunday for the live webcast with me and Rich Hagon—I am going to head back outside to where the action is and watch some people play Magic!