A Guide to winning a PTQ (and surviving the whole thing)

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A Guide to winning a PTQ (and surviving the whole thing)

Post  Eelco1972 on Tue Feb 05, 2008 8:57 pm

Hey !

You want to go to the Pro Tour and experience what it's like to be in a tournament with the best Magic players in the world. This sticky thread might be able to help you plan world domination and become the next Kai. From scratch.

First of all, i'm not here to tell you how to end up 7-0 in the swiss and from there on dominate the top-8; there are enough websites that will tell you which deck to play and what card to firstpick. I'm also not going to tell you to go to bed early and to eat and drink a lot during the tournament. That's a lot of BS anyway, because i have seen people win PTQ's with zero hours of sleep and living off Red Bull all day.
This is about how to take care of the less known facts you need to know about winning a PTQ (or planning a trip to a Grand Prix; a lot of things i'm about to discuss can be used for that matter too !) and make sure you'll actually be able to attend the Pro Tour without too much problems.

The first thing you should know is when the Pro Tour of your choice is being played. And where. As an organizer of PTQ's i have experienced a lot of top-8's where people came up to me before the semi's and ask me "So what date is that PT anyway ?" only to find out that the date WotC planned the event is in the exact same weekend as their sister's wedding or their exams.
Also keep in mind, that PT's aren't exactly a weekend thing: travelling to a PT on a different continent adds at least two days to the actual dates WotC publishes on their website and also keep in mind that there is this little thing called jetlag. For your first Pro Tour it might be a safe choice to book your return flight on the Sunday of the PT or somewhere in the evening, but don't try to arrive on Thursday evening (and miss the player meeting) and think that you didn't need sleep to win a PTQ, so why would you need some before a PT. It's not the sleep or jetlag you should be too worried about. It's more this century's Customs Departments all over the world. 2 Hours to make it to a connecting flight seems enough, but don't count on it. Especially not when you're from Holland or look like a terrorist. Those are usually two different things, unless you're StanV.

The next thing on your to-do list would be to check if you own a passport and find out how long it will take your local government to make you one if you don't own one. It happened only twice in my life that i had to tell WotC that a slot for a PTQ would not be filled, but that's more than enough.

So you have a passport, you have no exams around the time the PT is being planned and you don't have to disappoint your future opponent in the finals of the PTQ with a slot being won by you, but not being able to actually use the slot because of some other stupid reason. Congratulations ! You're almost halfway arranging that fabulous trip !


Halfway ?!


Why, yes. Almost halfway, by the way.

You see, it's always nice to win a PTQ in your home country of Slovenia and be able to attend that PT in Berlin because you happen to have an uncle living there for a while now, but that's usually not the case. Most of the time you were playing in a PTQ for a PT halfway around the world and you don't even know how you're going to get there. Allow me to present you with a couple of options here:

1. You live in a country where WotC organizes the PTQ and made arrangements for you to be able to fly to the PT on their account.
2. You live in a country where there is an official local importer of Magic; the Gathering rpoduct that takes care of the PTQ Cycles, reports the results of the PTQ to WotC and takes care of your ticket to fly to the location of the PT. Sometimes they only pay for a part of the ticket and sometimes they want you to pay for the ticket yourself and you get reimbursed.
3. You live in a country where a local shop organizes the PTQ and takes care of everything. Or nothing. Or something in between.

I'm sure there are a lot more options possible, but these are the three major possibilities that we're going to work with here. If you were able to think of more options that you ran into in your PTQ career, let me know through PM.

Whatever happens: make sure you know a couple of things up front.
a. When am i able to leave my house, take a ride to the airport and do the same thing on the way back ?
b. If i have any friends or know Pro's that are already qualified which are attending the same PT; when are they flying ?

It happens sometimes that you win the PTQ and a pile of boosters is being built right in front of you while your carbuddy is hammering you on the shoulders. Or your boy/girlfriend puts away her book and lets go of a big sigh of relief and not so much because you just won, but because it's 1 in the morning and she finally gets to go home.
And then the Headjudge comes along and asks you for what date you want the airfare to be ordered...
It's no rule that you have to answer that question immidiatly, but it's just so much easier for everyone when you can reply with something else than just "eh ?". Sometimes the HJ doesn't ask that question and that's not good either, because every winner needs to be reported to WotC in some cases, so you might as well sit down for a minute and exchange some contact information.

Like i mentioned: it might happen that the ticket is going to be obtained for you. Again, they will need the dates you want to fly. Sometimes the responsible organiser has different ways to take care of your ticket. It might happen that they want you to take care of everything and that they will repay you once you bought the airfare. In that case: don't be stupid and start looking for a ticket the very next day !
I have bought quite a bunch of airfares in my life and the rule is usually: the longer you wait, the more Euro's/Dollars/Zlotty's will be added to the total cost of the ticket compared to the moment that you first started to search. There are always stories of people that were able to buy a ticket the weekend before the Pro Tour they aimed to attend and got a better deal than the person that bought one a year ago, but that's blatant luck. Who says luck doesn't have anything to do with Magic is wrong ! It happens a lot when you're ordering a ticket...
If a local WotC office or an official importer takes care of the ticket, also make sure that they try to book a.s.a.p. In case you are aiming for a flight with some buddies that already qualified or if you're looking forward to be in the same flight as Olivier Ruel, the people in charge of booking should try to take care of it fast, because certain flights are always full. So be ready to provide the person booking the flight with as much information as possible. And don't forget to tell them what your exact name in your passport is written like. You yourself usually will book your flight with all the interesting nuances of your full names and the added Von, Van, Auf, Vander's surrounding your last name, but others might not be so informed. Again: Custom Departments usually won't laugh about those kind of little mistakes...

Almost there...


No way; what else can there be ?!


Well: it's probably fun to sleep on the beach when you Q'ed for PT Hawai in the first two months of the year, but i'm sure that pretty much anywhere else you'll freeze to death when you try to do that.

Hotels ! Sometimes you end up in the best possible place to stay. And sometimes you sleep on a bench in the parc for three days.
With hotels it doesn't really matter when you book when it comes to prices, but it will happen that the hotels are fully booked when the weekend of your Pro Tour nears. So the best tip is to book something fast and try to upgrade into a better deal later. Make sure that you don't book anything that you can't cancel, though... It will happen that you'll be able to share a room with some friends later on or that your boy/girlfriend decides to come along, so it's best to make it a double room if your wallet allows it.
From that moment on try to figure out if there are better places to stay at near the venue. The Troll and Toad Europe crew had a great experience in Valencia last year because we were able to rent some sort of a penthouse. It was not really near the venue, but it was a 2 story appartment with 3 bedrooms, a large livingroom, a kitchen and a patio (with shower !) on the 10th floor of a nice complex near a busstop that would allow you to drive to the venue within 10 minutes. Walking was also possible, just not on the first day of the flood...
In all i think that my boss had to pay 500 Euros for 5 nights and we were with 3 people. In the end another 3 players stayed at our place for 2 nights because there was enough space.
The best part about that stay was that my girlfriend was able to do shopping every day and make us some quality food in the kitchen that she brought to the venue around lunch. And don't even get me started on dinner...

If you are able to figure out better places to stay than the hotel you booked don't hesitate to do so. Don't do it too soon though, because you might find out that other people are less fortunate in finding a place to stay and the appartment you booked is (obviously) full because you invited local beauties to party from Thursday to Sunday. But now you're paying maybe a little bit too much attention to your stay, so maybe it's time to do something else...

To conclude: try to make your first Pro Tour experience a good one. Feel free to ignore this thread as much as possible if you're more of the adventurous type, but in case you want things planned just a little bit take some of these things into consideration.

If you have good tips and URL's that will allow someone to figure out great ways to book tickets and hotels, please share them with the rest of the forum in the thread that i'll make soon and try to keep this thread on focus with the intention it has: usefull tips on how to survive your first trip to the Pro Tour.


Eelco van Ruth

Posts : 57
Join date : 2008-01-23
Location : Luxembourg

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