Once your Swiss rounds have ended, two judges can set up the draft area in a matter of minutes. Using three rows of tables, with 6 tables in each row, judges create a corral for the players. This will isolate the players from spectators and give the judges ample space to stand and observe the draft. Two tables are put next to each other, long sides touching, to allow for a closer-to-square draft table. Two tables from each side of the draft table are turned 90 degrees to complete the corral.
For draft formats containing double-faced-cards, it is best to have a designated spot for players to put all their drafted cards. Players are required to maintain a single face down pile of their picks, and may not attempt to obscure their picks from their competitors. The best method for this is a hard plastic 100-count card case placed at the top edge of a play mat in front of the player. Alternatively, something slightly larger than a Magic card can be used, such as a table number. Use a piece of paper (11” long) to measure the distance from the edge of the table to ensure all players are on equal footing. Also, everything else needs to be removed from the table and the unopened boosters are not obscuring the view of the draft picks.
Top 8 drafts, per MTR 10.4, are sat randomly and paired based on their seat. The modified play-draw rule is also applied. This will cause scenarios where a player that finished in the Top 4 at the end of Swiss may not be the higher seed in their matchup.
After players have been seated, the first thing to do is to clearly explain the drafting process to all players and answer any questions they may have. The most common issue is players not putting their cards in the correct location after being picked, since it is not normal for them. Most players in Top 8 drafts prefer the draft to be called, and I personally do it every time. It is not a requirement, but I do recommend it because it makes the players feel like it is a more professional draft and guarantees a fixed time for drafting. Using an app on your phone is the best way to time the draft. MTR Appendix B contains booster draft timing.
Each player will open their pack, then count it out face-down to ensure they have the proper number of cards. For drafts formats containing double-faced cards, the players will then reveal their DFC to the table. After about 10 seconds of reveal, players should pick up their pack and begin drafting.
The most important thing for players during a called draft is that you are consistent in what you are saying. The phrases I use are:
“Pick up your pack, you have X seconds.”
“You have 10 seconds.” (Once picks get to 15 seconds or less I no longer say this.)
“Please lay X cards out to your (Left/Right).”
After three packs have been drafted, explain the deck registration and construction portion to the players. Explaining it to the players before they move to their construction seats allows you to not have to yell, and all players can look at you while you talk.
Using this setup, players will then turn their chairs 180 degrees and move to the outer tables of the corral. This allows for a quick transition, while ensuring players are unable to see what their competitors drafted. Players will then register their pools and build their decks. When players need basic lands, they will call for a judge who will bring them basics (plus a couple extra for sideboard). The judge will then perform a courtesy deck list count to prevent any clerical errors from determining match outcomes. Note: you are only counting the list and if you are extending this courtesy to one player, you must extend it to all players.
When players have finished and submitted their decklist, have them remain in their seat until you are ready to begin the quarterfinals. If they need to go to the restroom, ensure that they just go there and come back. This prevents players from talking to friends that watched the draft. After the quarterfinals are over, this is no longer a concern. Players can freely talk to friends about what they saw.
Playing the Top 8
Almost every event awards prizes that cannot be split, and the Sunday Super Series is no exception. This means that there can be no prize splits until the finals of the event.
Seat players in a row with match, judge, match, match, judge, match. This allows for a judge to be close at hand for each match. Check out Efficiently Watching Magic, by Kevin Desprez, to read more about the importance of judges paying closer attention while watching Magic games. After each match has been completed, record the results in your printed bracket. Once one semi-final is ready to go, let the players begin playing as soon as they are ready. Since there cannot be a Top 4 split, there is no reason for the players to not be playing immediately. Once three quarterfinals have been completed, you will only have two matches ever playing simultaneously, and this can easily be covered by a single judge.
Ending the Event
After the finals of the SSS have finished, the Grand Prix weekend is officially over. It is also likely that your scorekeeper is already at the GP after party. Take a picture of the completed bracket before turning it in the event staff to ensure there is a back-up in case it gets lost. Event staff will also have an envelop with all the details on how to claim their flight.