The Super Sunday Series Championship is a unique event in the premier play offerings. Originally an idea that came from Pastimes CEO Alan Hochman and was adapted by premier tournament organizers all over the world, the Super Sunday Series had humble beginnings in Grand Prix Indianapolis 2012, offering players who missed out on Day Two of a Grand Prix main event the chance to play in something with a once-in-a-lifetime prize on Sunday.
Now, the Super Sunday Series takes place on—you guessed it—Sunday of every Grand Prix all over the world. The winners of a Super Sunday Series event earn an invitation to a special tournament that takes place in January of the New Year at Wizards of the Coast HQ in Renton, Washington. The tournament has a $20,000 prize pool, with the winner receiving a $6,000 first place prize. All 58 of this year's invited competitors have shown up for a weekend of drafts, meeting new friends, drafts, a tournament, drafts, dinner, drafts, a Top 8, drafts, bowling, and maybe even drafts. Did I mention drafts?
However, the Super Sunday Series Championship is more than that. Players who compete in this event are flown in and given hotel accommodations near Wizards HQ, all paid for as part of their prize for winning the Super Sunday Series event. When they're not playing in the championship tournament, they are hanging out with their fellow competitors, playing Commander, side drafts (in case that wasn’t clear), and more. Wizards of the Coast R&D members and employees from a few other teams also hang out with the competitors each weekend, giving players in the Championship a memorable weekend filled with cards, new friends, and plenty of paid-for entertainment.
For many, the Super Sunday Series Championship is offering a particularly special opportunity: A very first trip to the United States.
One such player here this weekend is Hyuma Ishiwata. Hailing from Japan, Ishiwata first started playing the day after the release of Journey into Nyx. Ishiwata earned his invitation through one of the Super Sunday Series events from the lively Modern Masters Weekend event, Grand Prix Chiba…his first Grand Prix.
"It [Chiba] was my first time playing in a Grand Prix," Ishiwata said. While Ishiwata had won a Grand Prix Trial for Shizuoka 2015, a Grand Prix that took place back in January last year, new commitments prevented the Japanese player from attending the show, making Chiba his very first GP. While he did not make it to Day Two, the Super Sunday Series offered a second opportunity to play in something with a memorable prize attached. Ishiwata managed to take the whole thing down, earning his flight to Washington and his first trip to the USA.
However, this trip isn't about sightseeing for him. Ishiwata was just here for Magic. "I am looking to draft with people I don't know and to try out the new Standard format," Ishiwata explained.
His favorite memory of the weekend so far was indeed a game against something he never knew, but it wasn't draft. It was during Commander. The opponent?
"Mr. Marshall," he said, referring to a game where he borrowed a Commander deck and got to play against Marshall Sutcliffe, who is doing some video content this weekend. The highlight of the game also ended up being how he was dispatched, which you can see for yourself in this tweet.
Ishiwata will be reporting on his experiences this weekend on MTG-JP, the Japanese equivalent of DailyMTG, where he has become a regular contributor.
Ishiwata is just one of many players here with interesting stories and memories both made and waiting to be created. Turns out, the Grand Prix isn't simply about the main event. It's a weekend of opportunities, and sometimes Sunday can go from, "Out of the main event," to "A trip to Wizards of the Coast HQ and an opportunity to make new friends and see new sights."