Constructed Grand Prix and Pro Tour Deck Check Procedure

General Philosophy

It is important for a tournament’s integrity that players play all day long a deck that matches exactly the list they submitted prior to the beginning of the tournament.

While there is little doubt that most Deck/Decklist problem infraction are genuine and that there is no Cheating involved, it is important that the associated penalty is a Game Loss so that this is a deterrent against players not caring about the decklist they submit. A penalty lesser than a Game Loss could be perceived as an incentive to modify a deck throughout the day since there would be no “physical” penalty associated to it. You can find more details about this penalty in this article by Kim Warren and Paul Smith.



General Policy


In general, we would like that Deck/Decklist Problems Game Loss are issued before the Top8. Indeed, these penalties are perceived as being very administrative and therefore do not ensure the greatest promotion of the game.

While players may feel that a Game Loss at that stage of the tournament has much greater consequences than a Game Loss during Swiss rounds, it is important to apply the rules consistently so as to run fair tournaments.


We are well aware that, at the PPTQ or RPTQ level, the much lower amount of staff available makes it nearly impossible to verify every player’s deck legality before the Top8 starts, and some players may receive a Game Loss in the Quarter Finals because they play a deck that doesn’t match their decklist.


While it ultimately remains a player’s responsibility to present a deck that matches the decklist they submitted, judges are encouraged to have checked prior to the start of the Top8 that Top8 players have at some point during the Swiss portion of the event presented a deck that matched the decklist they submitted and that the decklist is legal.

This way, there is no ambiguity that the player played the same deck during the Swiss portion and the top8, which negates any possibility that a player modified their deck in prevision to have a better deck for the Top8.

Therefore, judges are encouraged to have deck checked all members of the Top8 prior to the start of the Top8.

If achieving this goal was in the end not possible, the responsibility ultimately remains on the players’ shoulders, who have nevertheless committed an infraction according to the MIPG. Again, applying penalties consistently is important to maintain the integrity of an event.


Be organized!


While Deck Checks are sometimes regarded as a boring activity, this goal goes way beyond the traditional “just do some deck checks”. Achieving it is far from being easy and does require a good organization through the day.


Keep a clear list


Tracking who has been deck checked already seems to be best achieved with Standings.


However, since they can change a lot through Day 2, do not hesitate to take a brand new and updated copy of Standings halfway through the round to have a clearer view of who is still in contention for Top8 and hasn’t been deck checked yet.


Update the list every round and don’t forget to check players off once they have been deck checked.


Work with Others


From the early rounds, you want to do many deck checks, but even if you focus on the “top players”, everything can change after 6 rounds of Swiss. Even an undefeated player after Day 1 isn’t guaranteed to make Top8. Nevertheless, you need to optimize your chances as much as possible, from Day 1!


The Day 1 Deck Check Teams

Your job starts from the day before! Ask them to accurately track on the decklists who they have deck checked so you have the information available on Day 2.
Also, if they can deck check (at least some) undefeated players in Day 1 Round 9, that can only help.


The Scorekeeper

Ask for Standings to keep track of who you have deck checked already

Also, ask for Pairings by table, which conveniently allows to see where to target midround checks.


The Coverage team

Let them know before they announce Feature Matches which players you would need to deck check. If there is video coverage at the event, they will often be able to place a different match under camera.

Indeed, You cannot deck check video-featured matches as this creates a lot of downtime which is bad for the online audience and puts a lot of pressure on the commentators.


Another Team

The last two rounds can be hectic depending on how that tournament’s results evolve. You might need reinforcement to be able to deck check all players. In this case, ask for another team’s help and pair each of their members with one of of yours for maximum efficiency!



Focus on the correct things!


Focus #1: Intentional Draws

While there officially are seven rounds to check everyone who might be playing the Top8, we know that some players will only actually play five or six rounds, since undefeated players are likely to ID as soon as they can.

Your efforts should be focused on these players first, so their decks have been checked before they start making Intentional Draws. Indeed, when players intentionally draw, they do not present their deck and therefore Deck Checking becomes pointless as even if they have an illegal deck, this is not an infraction.


Focus #2: Tables where no player has been deck checked yet

In the first rounds, you want to cover as many players as possible to maximize efficiency in the last rounds. Therefore, primarily deck check tables where no player has been deck checked yet!


Tips and tricks are available here! (But keep on reading this article before switching to the other 😉 )


A few counter-intuitive principles


Performing multiple mid-round Deck Checks

At most events, you usually stop performing midround checks at about 30 minutes left in the round to minimize the risks of delaying the event. While this is indeed a crucial aspect of a GP Day 1, this is less of a concern on Day 2, where the days are shorter.

Therefore, feel free to run another check or two: First, they’ll almost always be needed. Then, this will allow you to check some of the control/midrange matchups where players take a little longer, even if you didn’t get them at the beginning of the round.



Deck checking the same player multiple times

You are going to check the same decks a lot. Towards the end of Day 2, when you’ll only have a few potential Top 8 players left, they will often be paired against someone who has already been deck checked.

That’s totally okay and it even has inner benefits, since it goes again the idea of some players that they can’t be deck-checked two rounds in a row, which as a result prevents them from trying to game the system.

Obviously, while deck checking the same player three times in a row may undermine their experience, you will sometimes have to!



Keep the higher tables in mind

While this whole article is about the top players, this doesn’t mean the other players gained Deck-Checks-proof. Keep on running a few deck checks. Be loud so players realize you’re still deck checking there. Players playing a win-and-in for prizes are a very good range for these!



Failing to deck check all Top8 players in the Swiss Rounds


Despite all your efforts, it might be that the combination of external elements prevent you from achieving this goal. If this happens, check with Coverage if it’s possible to not stream that table and deck check them at the start of Quarter-Finals, after they presented their decks.

But before you’re reaching this point, proactively engage the Head Judge to evaluate the situation!


Kevin Desprez.