(Metagame Archive) Here Comes Pro Circuit Amsterdam

By Geordie Tait

We sometimes forget how lucky we are.

Don’t get up and leave! I’m not here to scold and cudgel you about the shoulders with my walking stick, as garrulous old codgers from days of old have been known to do when they wax memorial and bring back the old days for another round of conversation. No, I’ve planned nothing so sinister. I only want to point out that organized play for collectible card games has come a long way in the last few years. You remember how things used to be, don’t you?

It was a handsome age but a hard one. “Sanctioned” events as we know them were but a twinkle in the eye of some ivory towered, Jedi-council think tank. “Tournaments” were almost mythic events—convocations of misfit collectors held in dusty, chilly little curio shops where participants would hunker down on the floor, Indian style, and do battle with cardboard weapons that were more novelty than accepted medium. At the conclusion of each “round” (if it was even named as such), they would rise, their knees clacking twin pistol shots from the strain, and report their results to whoever was in charge—usually the swarthy, T-shirt clad guy behind the register.

There was no Swiss pairing system. Tiebreakers were copper and had two sides. Ratings, now a concrete number carved in immaculate Internet marble, were subjective and issued via word of mouth. Often, assessments of skill were made up out of whole cloth, and the categories that emerged in that way—titles like “Cheater” and “Moneybags”—have long since fallen into disuse, swept aside by the a juggernaut of four-digit numbers. People used to tell tales, I say. Sometimes I yearn for the days when “2100” was meaningless and “lucky” was the verdict.

Lavish sets? There were no sets. There were false-topped tables stippled with cigarette burns, their ragged corners glazed with the circular ghosts of a thousand sweating beverage containers. Players would be book-ended not by the gleaming, antiseptic steel of a Dr. Doom-themed “pit,” but instead bracketed on each side by boxes of comics or a ponderous, leaning mountain of rules supplements. There were no match reporters, only gawkers, kibitzers, and loudmouthed louts.

Hazy, watercolored memories . . . That’s the way we were.

Prizes? Store credit, or a wadded-up handful of fives with the texture of a used tissue. For a bonus, you might get your palm sprinkled with quarters, those shiny circles so useful for bus fare. Restroom? Better hope the mall across the street is still open. Rules? Call customer service, or just make something up.

Drafts? Limited play? Sealed Pack? Nonexistent!

Cheating? Rampant, shameless, pervasive.

Times have changed.

You know what’s coming up, don’t you? How could you not? It’s your time to shine, your time to tune in and be our man in Amsterdam, like Vincent Vega. You need look no further for a shining example of the evolution of organized play in this industry than the upcoming Pro Circuit, which will be located in the favored locale of gamers and scoundrels alike. And what better place for a cosmic throwdown?

You feel like going, don’t you? I know, man. You’d dig it the most. Of course, you can’t just walk into a restaurant and start playing—they want you to play it in your home or in certain designated places. We here in the industry call those designated places “tournaments.” And there’s a big one coming.

PC Amsterdam. ’Dam soon. ’Dam good. ’Dam right.

Even if you can’t make it, we’re going to do our best here at Metagame.com to make you a part of it. As a contingent of dedicated and somewhat jolly souls, pulling out all the stops to help you follow the events of the weekend is a task near and dear to our hearts. Our Amsterdam coverage will feature input from an All-Star team that includes Toby Wachter, Jason Grabher-Meyer, Ben Seck, Gary Wise, Brian David-Marshall, and Rui Oliviera. For representation of the local European contingent, we’re including TCG veterans Stan van der Velden and Victor van der Broek. I can personally vouch that the second of these two men is a goodly soul who should be given a lifetime pass to attend any event simply because of the waffle cookies he so often brings with him. We’re going to have features, match coverage, photos, interviews . . . the whole works. It’ll be good times, and there’s going to be info by the bushel, so tune in from minute one to get your peek on.

This shindig will have all the trappings that were absent back in the early nineties. The venue will be a gorgeous, spacious cavern of gaming delights. Classy. Hundreds of tables, stretched as far as the eye can see, will form an eye-pleasing mosaic. My instinct tells me that the floor will be virginal white marble. In my most intimate imaginings, I fantasize that the restrooms will contain toilet amenities of only the finest silk. There will be a judging staff unparalleled in the industry—a crack team assembled to administer an avalanche of effective adjudication. Dudes with appeal. Dudes to whom you can appeal. The best of both worlds!

There will be gargantuan set pieces and statuary—feats of engineering that will make you stop and marvel at the ingenuity of man, that utilize the same brute force and know-how that built the pyramids. The monolithic constructs will bring a tear even to your cynical eye, that oft-glaring orb that wouldn’t squeeze a drop during “Sleepless in Seattle.” Dr. Doom’s feature match area will fly your imagination away on wings of immersive fantasy. If you’re the chocolate-smeared child of card gaming, this place will be your candy store.

And oh boy, the tech! The new ideas and combinations! It’s a brand new format—when you tune in to check out Amsterdam, it’ll be like watching a hundred top-secret science projects all being unveiled at once! A cacophony, if you will, of spine-tingling surprises. What decks will dominate? Which ones will crash and burn? What will be the big story of Amsterdam? Almost as fun as the decks will be the players themselves. Who will prove worthy of the title “Best in the World?” Will it be a seasoned, salt-encrusted pro? A brash newcomer? A downy-faced youth with hope clinging desperately to his freckled brow?

Who will be the hero, the man or woman who overcomes all odds and pulls off that last-second victory? Who will dazzle the tournament with a winning streak that leads to the final tables? Who will be the goat? Which unfortunate soul will formation him or herself right out of the money? Who will ’foon up his or her registration badly enough to start off with one “L” in the hole? Who will be the guy (there’s always one) who misses his wake-up call and arrives during round 3?

The microphones will be out in force, too, ready to catch every quip and complaint, each gripe and guffaw. Who will be quotable? Who will be ice cold? Will there be tension and arguing during a pivotal moment? Will the players in the spotlight be able to shake hands like men and women, or will it be the second coming of Ivan Drago and Apollo Creed? What rivalries will emerge and what old scores will be settled? I’m excited, like a kid on his first date. I have a million questions that I want answered, and each second I have to wait makes me hungrier.

The greatest one, though, is this . . .

Who will walk home with a big trophy and forty thousand freshly minted dead presidents? You know what they call $40,000 in Amsterdam?

First place. Even with the metric system.

Don’t miss it.

===

GT

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