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YGO Shadow of Infinity Sneak Preview Report
- A Tournament Organizer Perspective
February 20, 2006
By DeQuan Watson

Pojo Note: DeQuan Watson owns The Game Closet, a Gaming Store in Texas.  He also writes regularly for our Magic: The Gathering Site, and reviews our MTG Cards of the Day.  ;-)

Man oh man. This was a crazy week leading up to the event. We set up a line with a message directing people to the website. That line was seeing about 10 calls a day leading up to the event. We were also getting 5-6 e-mails per day. And that was just for the Dallas event. We had several coming in for our Oklahoma events as well.

We had things under control until Thursday. That's when Mother Nature decided to play games with us here in Texas. There was a winter storm that started making it's way down on Thursday afternoon. And it was expected to leave ice and frozen roads by Friday night/Saturday morning. So, that started another round of phone calls. This time it was a bunch of people asking if we were going to cancel the event.

Fortunately, I was able to call a couple of TV stations to find out about the expected weather. The general consensus was that the roads would potentially be slick, but would be easily drivable as long as you weren't going too fast. That was good news. So, we posted on our site, at roughly 4:00 PM Friday, that we were going to go through with our weekend plans. As the day progressed, I kept tabs on the weather. I was at work, so I had someone checking the weather on TV for me periodically and made a couple more phone calls. I got word about 7:30 PM that the freeze warning for Dallas was canceled. However, we were still going to have some bad weather in Oklahoma (that turned out well though).

So, the day gets started with us at the Dallas Convention Center. This is the first time we've used it. I have been making it a point to move out events around the DFW area. This allows us to gauge what areas have more players and is helping us find the best future locations. On an interesting side note, Donald Trump was at the convention center giving a speech and there was a Tae Kwon Do event as well. So, the place was crazy busy. We found our rooms and began to set up.

It's always good to get there early. Because on days like today, we get time to fix things before it's too late. Apparently, the directions didn't get relayed correctly about how we needed the tables and chairs setup. We tracked down the staff on hand and got things fixed. We also setup a trading area and a parents area that everyone seemed to like. This setup worked out, because of how the rooms were broken up in this building.

We were setup and ready to go at right around 8:30 AM. Our scheduled start time was 9:00 AM, so we were right where we wanted to be. I sent a couple of judges out through the line to keep it orderly and explain how things were going to work. I also had another go through and hand out registration cards and entry slips. This helps speed up the process once they reach the front of the line.

We got the line rolling nice and smooth. Once we were about an hour in, I had a judge go out and get a head count in line. With what was already entered, we were looking at about 200 players or so. This would be our lowest attendance so far. I was beginning to wonder if the weather (or weather scare) had done us in. Funny thing is, an hour later, we were still putting people through the line. I have complete faith in the efficiency in my staff, so I was wondering what our status was at this point and why there was still a line. The line should have been finished. Well, to our surprise, the weather didn't keep people back at all. The line was now an additional 200 people long. This was great news.

We locked another one of our staff down at the registration table and we hustled through the line. However, at about 11:15 AM, I realized we were going to have a situation. Product was running low. And I still had to account for the additional packs being redeemed via Open Dueling. At this point, I estimated how many packs we were going to need for the Open Dueling and set those aside. I also took 16 booster boxes and set those aside (as I knew I would be needing this later - you'll see). Then we made an announcement. If you weren't already in line, you weren't going to be allowed in for an additional trip through the line. I made sure we had a staff member watching the line at this point. We needed to get the new cards into the hands of the largest number of players.

This did bother some people that planned on playing multiple times through Open Dueling. We did also, have to make an announcement stating we were canceling the other events on the day. We were obviously not going to have any extra product for Sealed Pack. Most people understood the situation. However, we did have one guest, a mother even, try to make a little scene about things. She was angry that she was initially told that she could get multiple trips through the line to equal a box of product. I politely explained to her that this was not an issue when there were only 200 people in attendance. As the weather cleared and more players showed up, we had to try to please the maximum number of people. I offered her other compensation, such as discounted tournament entry (since her child participates in our Regionals), and even free tournament packs (had some left from previous events) that I had around. She wanted the new cards, and was not budging.

Unfortunately, this put us in a bad spot. We now have multiple other people watching the situation unfold. We also have others that wanted to do what she was trying to do. So, I couldn't give in. So, I politely asked her how she would feel if her, or her child, were at the end of the line, but got to the front and were told we had run out of product, yet multiple people were walking around with boxes full of cards. She then said that wasn't the point. Long story short, she ended up back in line and things were OK. We also had several people commend us on how we handled the situation. Many witnesses also agreed that it was the correct and fair thing to do. We did eventually get an apology out of the lady at the end of the day. If we only get one person that's bothered all day long, that's a good thing.

Other than that, things were great! We had run through all the product (except those 16 boxes) by 12:30 PM. This is great. We went through just about a record number of people for us at a one day event and we had them all through the line 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Our goal was 1:00 PM, because we had originally planned to start taking registration then for the Sealed Pack event.

Now, as for that extra product. I had gotten word, that the weather near Dallas proper wasn't that bad. However, people about two hours north and north east of Dallas were having some iffy weather. I also remembered a couple of e-mails and phone calls asking if arriving at noon would be too late. Most people figured by 10 or 11, the roads would be thawed out enough to drive on. Of course, I told them that it wouldn't be too late. So, I wanted to make sure that any people that drove from far off got taken care of. Also, historically, we get a few people that can't make it until later in the afternoon due to scheduling conflicts (family, sports, doctor's appointments, etc.). I was hoping to not miss that crowd either.

Things did come through as expected. From 12:30 PM until about 2:00 PM we saw about another 60 players or so. And as expected, most of them cited the weather as the cause of their lateness. The good news, in the end, was that we were able to take care of all but the last three people that arrived. Two of them are tournament regulars for us. So for them, I sent an e-mail with a discount entry. Unfortunately, I was out of tournament packs or I'd at least have given that to the last person. I had gone through those too. I had been given those out in place of the promo booklets/cards once we ran out. However, they were totally cool with the situation. They mostly wanted to show up and play with their own cards anyway. I offered them a free entry into our next event they attend though and they (father and son) were happy.

We hung around a little while to let the people play a bit and get some trading in. I had my staff clean up each of the rooms. We obviously had no excuse to leave the place a mess, especially today. We took the time to go through and make sure players were aware of our upcoming events and that they knew about our website where all that information is listed.

We got all of our stuff picked up and were on the road home at just after 4:00 PM. With everything between the contact information situation, the bad weather, and running out of product, it was a classic case of "When life gives you lemons, make some lemonade."

The only true downside in the end, was no shirts. More people asked for these than I honestly expected. But, they didn't seem overly heartbroken. It looks like they wanted a chance to get one, but it wasn't a deal breaker.

Everyone went home happy. Also, getting so many people to use our site for information and getting parents to write the address down will hopefully lead to even better attendance at future events. Our final total was 673 entrants with 508 uniques. This was our largest event by about 80 or so participants I believe. All in all, it was a rough, but good, day. My staff was great. And everyone gave many compliments to them. This is always nice, because without our staff, these events don't run. They deserve lots of compliments.

There are so many things that go on from the organization end of these events. There are so many things that can make or break an event. And the tournament organizer is responsible for all these things. If things go bad, the organizer also has to hear about it. So, it's always a reward wen things go well.

I'm just glad everyone had fun.

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