On Demand Events: Floor Management

On Demand Events: Floor Management

CIAO to everybody!

It’s been a long time since the last time we met, and I’m very happy to start a new series of articles.
The next dozen of articles will have a theme; they will be dedicated to Tournament Operations, mainly at Grand Prix and other huge events, starting with side events.
What we will be discussing is the organization and logistics aspect, while the tournament and rules situations will be mixed with the tales of my travels.
Our first tournament operation topic of the year is “On Demand Events”, and our first travel of the year is Grand Prix Nagoya.
Happy reading.

Logistics Banner

Tournament Operations: On Demand Events – The Floor Map

What are “On Demand Events”?

On demand events, often referred to as ODE (it’s the acronym) and once called “8men” (because the number of participants is eight), are small and quick tournaments, where eight players compete in a three rounds single elimination event (quarterfinals, semifinals, final); they are the fastest type of events and they can be of any format.

Together with GP trials on Friday, the GP main event on Saturday (and Sunday, for those who qualify) and the scheduled Swiss events for all three days, they are the type of events that we run during Grand Prix weekends.


The Importance of Floor Management

Efficiently managing the room is a key aspect of On Demand Events, and I will use a few numbers to help you understand.
All Grand Prix events have a maximum capacity, and some space is always reserved for side events (on demand events + Swiss events); the seats reserved for side events are very often between 15% and 25% of the Grand Prix main event capacity; for a 2000 players main event, it means between 300 and 500 seats. Then, the entire space is used for both Swiss events and on demand events; considering half of the space, it would mean between 150 and 250 seats, which corresponds to approximately 20 to 30 tournaments of 8 people each.
The number of on demand events at a Grand Prix weekend is “some hundreds”, with even very high numbers like “more than 800” at Japanese Grand Prix events. These are the totals of the entire weekend, but I count that you will imagine that there will be moments when there are many more than 30 tournaments happening at the same time. For this reason, an efficient use of the space is fundamental.

In addition to making sure that we don’t run out of space, it’s also useful to reduce the distances that people have to walk between the registration desk, the playing area, and the prize wall.
Like for all tournament operations, each person may have a different preference; today, I am going to describe the “Floor Map”, which is a system of floor management that is done at the side event stage.


The Part of the Process Between Registration and Play

Once the scorekeeper has entered all eight DCI numbers in the software and has launched the print of the brackets and pod seatings (in case of a draft), the floor manager receives two copies.
One copy is given to the prize desk (for prizes preparation and for final reporting) and one copy to the “runner”, who is the judge who will bring the eight players to the table.

The runner gathers the eight players (with buzzers, seated around a table, seated in a line of chairs, or any other method), and then goes to the floor map area, where he receives the product (if it’s a draft) and the table assignment.


The Floor Map

There are different ways to manage the space, and the use of a map at the side event desk is one of them.

Here you have an example (with colors!) of what I call the “floor map”; yes, I like colors, and basic lands with huge symbols are the best.

A full card represents a tournament with 8 people; half a card represents a tournament with 4 people (semifinals) or 2 people (final).
The starting time of tournaments is written on each card. The goal is to have an approximate idea about when those tables would be free.
The colors are chosen with flavor, and here you have a tale:
We are settlers, and we are exploring a new territory. Our scouts create a map, which will be used by the settlers, who will need to build our cities.
Forest/Trees: empty tables, where we can start a tournament. Flavor: settlers will need wood to build houses, and the first area they will go to is a forest, which will provide the building materials (a free table to start a tournament).
Mountain/Flames: constructed tournaments. Flavor: settlers should stay away from fire (the table is already used), it’s dangerous, but it will extinguish and become a new territory to build houses (host a tournament)
Swamp/Death: limited tournaments. Flavor: death is like flames, settlers should stay away from it (the table is already used), and the difference with the flames is that death is more dangerous (a draft takes longer than a constructed tournament).
Plains/Sun: tournament that is about to finish. Flavor: the sun is rising, and the settlers will soon wake up and get to work (the tournament is at game 3 of the final, and the table will be ready very soon).
Island/Water: tables not available. Flavor: settlers aren’t able to build their houses on water, and it’s impossible for them to walk there (the area is used by a Swiss tournament).
This map is very simple and has been created in a few minutes; you can create a better looking version and add any information you want, like pillars, table numbers, and the position of any object in the room that may help judges go to the correct row.


Updating the Map

The map is located at the side event stage, preferably between the printer (first step: receive the brackets from the scorekeeper) and the prize + result station (last step: receive the results from the players and give prizes), and eventually in front of the product table (booster boxes for drafts and any other supply).
It’s necessary that the map gets updated from time to time.

The vicinity with the result station allows checking which tournaments have already ended (Mountains and Swamps become Forests), but it can also be useful to have a scout (hint: one of the runners in a moment when no tournaments are starting) go to the play area with a copy of the map (with all 8-people-tables blank) to mark the status of the tournaments (brackets are left in the middle of the table) and also to compact the playing area, by moving tournaments (have you ever played Tetris? That’s like Tetris, but with tournaments, kindly asking people to move between games. When the scout returns to the floor map, lands are cut in two to indicate that the tournament is already at semifinals, two half lands are moved on a single 8-people-table to indicate that two tournaments have been moved, and some Mountains/Swamps become Plains in case the tournament is at least in game 2 of the final.
Moving tournaments and updating the map helps the floor manager to send tournaments to tables that are as close as possible to the registration desk.


How to Help the Runners (and Other Hints)

At some GPs, the entire room is numbered with a single set of numbers for the entire weekend; in this case, a tournament uses four tables.
At other GPs, the tables for on demand tables are numbered with letters to indicate rows and numbers to indicate the position in the rows (think about the game “Battleship”, that’s exactly it!).
To help judges go to the correct table, you can give them the correct number on a piece of paper (yes, of course, it will be a land and you will use a marker to write the table number on the back!).

Make sure you have enough space on the management table for all the objects you need; the map should be HUGE, you need space for booster boxes, for new brackets, for lands of all types, for pens & markers & tape (keep drinks and snacks below the table).
Keep a trash bin below the table; a clean and tidy management table will be more professional looking and will also cause other areas to be cleaner and tidier.



Banner Travels

Grand Prix Nagoya 2016

Nagoya is one of the biggest cities and one of the major ports of Japan, and is located on the Pacific coast, in the center of the island of Honshu.

Random fact: Nagoya is a twin city with Turin, first capital of Italy and my town of origin ^__^
The place to visit that I recommend the most is the Nagoya Castle!

Here you have a short video to have a glimpse of the city:

Japan, Beautiful Japan!

Every time I go to Japan, I am astonished by their kindness and organization, and I jokingly say that Japanese people are actually aliens, because they are really different from all the others!
Today, I offer you a photo that represents their organization and their precision:

These are signs, very simple signs that you can find on platforms at train or metro stations.
The train and metro systems in Japan are very efficient, and, in the biggest train and metro hubs, you can have many trains stopping and leaving from the same platform.
How can we be sure that we are entering the correct one?
Well, in addition to checking the scheduled arrival and departure times (have I ever told you that 10:16 means 10:16? Not 10:15 and not 10:17… it means 10:16!), there are colored signs.
Do you need to take the green line? Guess where the doors of your metro will open… EXACTLY?
Do you need to take the yellow train? Yes, get into the line that goes to the yellow signs.
Do you need to take the blue metro and all metros stop in front of one of the other two signs? You can be sure that they are not the metros you are supposed to get into.
They are not from our planet, because there is no such precision on earth!

What Do You Mean With “I Can’t Generate the Pairings for the Last Round”?

Sometimes, we have to face emergency situations, we had one in Nagoya, and we had to find the best solution.
The Grand Prix was Limited, which means Sealed on Saturday and Booster Draft on Sunday.
It was round 15, the last round, and maybe too many people had dropped in a few pods (we had 762 participants, divided in more than 90 pods); the situation we had to face was that the software we use to manage the tournament could not pair the round.
This situation happened already once (as far as I remember), at Grand Prix Paris 2004, which had been the first GP that was split into two tournaments on Saturday.
What we did in Nagoya was the following:
  • On the stage: create an Excel file to calculate the final standings (with the correct tiebreakers!) for the end of round 15, starting from the data at the end of round 14
  • On the floor, part 1: ask the players to go back to their last draft pod (we put the pod numbers back to their original table, and we posted the pod assignments, exactly like we did just before the second draft of the day.
  • On the floor, part 2: a judge at every pod created the pairings for the last round. In a draft event, players should be paired only against people in the same pod; in almost all the pods, there were two people who had won both matches (they would play together, at the top table of the pod), two people who had lost both matches (they would play together, at the last table of the pod), and four people who had won one match only (they would play with an opponent who they had not played against in that draft). All pairings, especially in case of draws and multiple people dropping, would be manually created by judges at the pod. All matches would be written on a sheet, one sheet per pod, in two copies; one copy would be left on the table, and one copy would be given to the scorekeepers, to manually enter all matches in the tournament management software or in Excel.
It took some time and some patience, but everybody could play the last round without a significant delay.



Banner Judges

Great Judges of the World: Wataru Hosaka

Wataru Hosaka is a L2 judge from Nagano, and I believe he has been at ALL the Japanese Grand Prix events I judged.
He’s THE scorekeeper of Japan, and you can be sure that he’s one of the most important people behind the success of all Japanese Grand Prix weekends.

Goodbye Nagoya

… and another awesome adventure has come to an end.
Starting a year of Magic, travels and adventures with an event in the Land of the Rising Sun, I couldn’t have asked for a better beginning of 2016!

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