With thousands of players reaching for the trophy at a Grand Prix (GP), it’s considered one of the largest types of Magic tournament one can participate in. At a GP weekend, there are up to 18 rounds to play and they demand your best technical play, complete knowledge of the format in question and high levels of endurance. This article will cover the 6 most important things you need to know of how to survive a GP.
1. Test well for the format you are playing.
Yes, it sounds so simple, but it is essential to your success. For constructed formats, especially those with larger card pools like Modern or Legacy, it’s very important to know all of the most played decks. Knowing what deck your opponent is on just by seeing their first turn lets you adjust your subsequent plays accordingly. Also, writing down a well thought-out sideboard plan for each of the top decks and reviewing it frequently will pay off in match wins. This way, you don’t need to think about it during high stakes matches and can focus on the plays. For Limited, you need to learn all the cards in the format, know all the combat tricks one could represent with open mana and consider the strengths and weaknesses of the different archetypes. Testing a lot will get you into the groove. Know your prefered style to draft and look at many different sealed pools and solve the puzzle of the correct configuration of deck to build.
Now we are getting away from gameplay to focus on the day of the GP. Day 1 means 9 fun but exhausting rounds of Magic. With 50 minutes per round, time for players going to turns, time for posting seatings and time to actually go to your table, the total time spent amounts to about 10 or 11 hours of pure Magic.
2. Pack your deck (or sleeves for limited), pen, paper and dice.
Yup - be prepared with the materials you need to play with. No one wants to scramble for supplies during and between rounds - that’s precious time lost! Don’t put yourself in a situation in which you have to worry about extra stuff.
You really need all your energy on GP day. If you traveled far to get to the tournament, and even if you didn’t, we have a few pieces of advice.
3. Arrive early and get a good night of sleep.
Trust us on this, you will really feel those 4 hours of sleep in the later rounds. It will get tough to concentrate on your plays and there will be moments when you misplay.
Just like you need enough energy to start the day, you need to keep up the level of energy throughout the rounds. Here’s how. After a wealthy breakfast you
4. Stay hydrated and sustain yourself with fruits, nuts and or sandwiches.
Or whatever the tournament center has to offer. We encourage you to make healthy choices as a healthy body makes healthy plays!
If you have some time between rounds, take a quick trip to the restrooms even if the urge isn’t high. You never know when the next time you’ll get the chance will be, as your next rounds could potentially go to timeout and pairings come up shortly after you finish. It’s also sometimes just nice to just splash some water on your face to refocus. [Editor: and stare at the mirror while you’re at it.]
This brings us to a key element to keep in mind:
5. Enjoy your tournament.
GP’s are a great experience and it’s simply incredible to see so many individuals gather to enjoy their favorite game and hobby. Talk to your opponents about their tournament experience and wish them good luck after the match. It always pays off, because your tiebreakers get better when your opponents are winning their other rounds. Even if you don’t make Day 2, don’t let that get you down. We suggest you discover new things about Magic culture by visiting artists booths or having a chat with some Magic cosplayers. To learn a bit, stroll around the room and watch some matches of professional players.
That’s all the basics you need to know to survive your first GP. Well, one last tip. You can do all the things we just described above and have a wonderful experience yourself. However:
6. Share your experience with friends.
Traveling with people you like and testing with ones you trust is a priceless experience. Getting while giving advice and cheering for friends between rounds is as memorable as it gets. Everything gets better when you do it as a team.
We hope you enjoyed this article and hope you have a great time at your next big tournament.
Written by Malte Smits