(Metagame Archive) Taking the Next Step: The Organized Play Guide for the Stay-at-Home Vs. Player

By Melody Maysonet

For someone who regularly attends Vs. System tournaments, it’s hard to imagine why a Vs. player wouldn’t be chomping at the bit for a chance to compete in some incredible Vs. events. Sure, it’s fun to play Vs. at home with friends and family, but organized play opens up a whole world of opportunities and takes the game to the next level. Organized Play events allow you to meet new friends, trade your Vs. cards, show off your collection, get free stuff, win prizes . . . and they also provide an opportunity to polish your playing skills by learning from players outside your circle.

Organized Play involves playing in a structured environment—one that is organized and endorsed by Upper Deck Entertainment (the makers of Vs. System). Organized Play also means standardized Tournament Policy, so players can expect a very similar tournament experience anywhere in the world. Regardless of how big or small the competition is, the event is run by officials who have been certified by UDE. And certified judges are present to answer rules questions and settle any disputes between players.

But maybe you don’t know what kinds of Organized Play events are out there. Or maybe you know they exist but don’t know what to expect, and you think you might not enjoy yourself. Never fear! Underdog is . . . (Never mind . . . wrong comic book world.)

Here’s the lowdown on UDE’s Organized Play.  


Hobby Leagues are ongoing competitions at your local hobby store. Each event lasts one month, and during that month, all the players who joined the league play each other in scheduled league sessions. The Hobby League organizer will usually poll the potential players to see if they prefer Constructed, Sealed Pack, or Booster Draft for the league format.

The winner of each match receives three points, but you receive one point even if you lose, just as a reward for participating. In other words, the more games you play, the more points you receive. At the end of the month, the four players who have the most points receive collectible Vs. cards with extended art (the frame around the picture is larger, allowing you to see more of the original painting). In addition, the first place winner gets a Vs. System t-shirt. Also, some Hobby Leagues hand out prizes if you participate in three sessions each month, or they may award prizes at the end of each week instead of at the end of the month.

The competition in Hobby Leagues can be fierce or moderate depending on the skill level of the participants, but either way, they’re great venues for getting regular practice and polishing your own Vs. skills. They’re also a fantastic way to meet and form lasting relationships with other Vs. players.  


There’s something deliciously sweet about tearing open a booster pack of a brand-new Vs. set. And what if you could open those never-before-seen cards weeks before you’re able to buy them in stores? Even better, what if you could play with these spanking-new cards in a tournament with a chance to win some awesome Vs. prizes?

Actually, everyone who registers for a Sneak Preview tournament is a winner, regardless of how you perform in the tournament. Not only do you get to keep the new cards, but you also receive a foil extended art promo card. Door prizes of exclusive Vs. deck boxes and playmats are often given out at Sneak Preview tournaments, and of course, the top finishers in the tournament win prizes, too. Moreover, Sneak Previews are an excellent way to get your feet wet for the more competitive $10,000 Championship events, Pro Circuit Qualifiers, and—if you qualify—the Pro Circuit.

For the Sneak Preview tournament, players are given five booster packs of the new set from which to make decks of thirty or more cards. Building a deck with all new cards is a definite rush, but even more exciting is the feeding frenzy of flying paper as contestants rip away the foil wrapping and examine their cards. Some players may have heard buzz about the new cards from Metagame.com, but many players will be seeing these cards for the first time. Whatever the case, the room is charged with excitement as players chatter about what they opened to anyone sitting nearby (and sometimes to anyone seated across the room).

For me, Sneak Preview tournaments are the most fun of all the Organized Play events, mainly because they’re all about the excitement of the cards and the joy of playing. Sneak Previews are held all over the country, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding an event near you. (The most recent Sneak Preview tournament, which was for the Justice League of America set, took place on October 29–30.) Because different “flights” are held throughout the day, you can play in multiple tournaments. Playing in multiple tournaments means that you get the extended art foil promo card each time you register (as long as supplies last), and at the same time, you get as many cards from the new set as possible. You can’t buy the new cards before their release date, even at the Sneak Preview tournaments, so the only way to get them is to play. Throughout the day, you can also play in Booster Draft side tournaments using the new cards.  


The $10,000 Championship events offer a more serious level of play, mainly because there’s more at stake (like fame and fortune). The Top 10 players receive invites to the exclusive Pro Circuit. (Actually, they receive ten Pro Circuit credits. Credits can be earned in other ways, but you have to cash in ten PC credits to qualify for a Pro Circuit Championship.) Moreover, the champion is awarded $2,500, twenty-four booster packs of the latest set, a beautiful championship trophy, and a spot in the UDE Hall of Fame. Players who finish in the Top 24 win cash, and players who finish in the Top 12 win cash and booster packs. Everyone in the Top 64 wins a collectible metal deck box, a Vs. System t-shirt, and an extended art foil promo card. In addition, the Top 4 ranked players who have nine or fewer PC credits win $250.

Anyone can compete in a $10,000 Championship event, regardless of skill level. The $10,000 Championship events are held over two days, so come ready to play! Even if you don’t do well in the main tournament, there are tons of side events (like Booster Drafts) in which you can get involved. Retailers set up booths and players everywhere trade cards, so if you’re looking to fill a hole in your collection, this is the place to be.

Many players get a hotel room and stay the entire weekend, playing in as many tournaments as possible. The main tournament starts in the morning and goes into the evening, so if you do well, plan to eat your lunch and dinner between matches. (But don’t worry—there are usually food vendors, or your buddies can make a fast food run for you.)  


Like $10K events, Pro Circuit Qualifiers offer a more serious level of play. Players get to choose whether they want to play Sealed Pack or Constructed, and the winner of each format wins $250, a collectible Vs. System metal deck box, and of course, an invitation to the Pro Circuit Championship of his or her choice (ten PC credits). The Top 8 players of each format also win a foil extended art promo card.

Unlike $10K events, Pro Circuit Qualifiers last only one day. The tournament starts in the morning and usually ends in the late evening. As with all Vs. System tournaments, you need to register an hour before the tournament begins.

Let’s say you don’t do well in the Qualifier and drop out after round 3. There’s a good chance you can enter the alternate PCQ format, since the Cosntructed and Sealed tournaments in the PCQ usually follow each other. Aside from that, you can still have Vs. fun by participating in side events. And if you’re really disappointed that you missed your shot at qualifying, don’t give up. Qualifiers are held often enough (every weekend at various locations around the world) that you can compete in multiple tournaments to increase your chances of qualifying. You might do poorly at the Qualifier in Orlando, for example, only to drive to Tampa the following weekend and win.  



They don’t call it the Pro Circuit for nothing. These tournaments, held in various locations around the world, award $1,000,000 a year, and the people who compete in them are among the best players in the world. The events last three days, with the top tier of players duking it out on the second day, and the Top 8 on the third day. If you manage to qualify (either by earning ten PC credits or by having a high enough UDE rating to automatically qualify you), you’re in for long days of tough competition. But you’re also in for a treat.

There’s a lot of glamour involved with the Pro Circuit. Colossal displays of Vs. characters frame the play area, and the Bat-Signal makes a continuous sweep over the vicinity. Photographers and reporters walk around shooting pictures and interviewing players for various print and online publications. Websites such as Metagame.com have regular updates of the event, including some in blog format. The reports, player spotlights, and commentary elevate the game to another level, and make players into suprstars.
Each round of the Pro Circuit presents a “feature match” in which two players (usually big-name players or players who are doing particularly well in the tournament) sit in a special section where spectators can view their game from an elevated area. The players’ mug shots are put up on a viewing screen so that everyone near and far can see who is being featured. Most feature matches are covered by Metagame.com reporters.

Even if you’re not playing in the event (or if you get knocked out early), you’ll find plenty to do, and you can even win door prizes just for showing up. The Pro Circuit Championships are usually held in a convention center or similar type of building, so there’s ample room for a variety of food vendors, and of course, card and hobby store vendors. You’ll also find a continuous stream of side events, such as Booster Draft and Sealed Pack tournaments. Pro Circuit Championships are where Vs. players from all over the world gather to compete, trade cards, talk shop, make friends, and immerse themselves in the culture of a truly great game.  


Scholarship Tournaments are like scaled-down versions of the Pro Circuit Championships and are aimed at encouraging younger players to (a) play Vs. and (b) focus on getting a good education. Instead of giving out large cash prizes like at the Pro Circuit, the Scholarship Tournaments award $1,000 to be used toward college or private school tuition. Only players age eighteen or younger can compete, and players are divided into two age groups so that an eighteen-year-old won’t be playing a ten-year-old. The Scholarship Tournaments are a series of events that take place all year long at locations around the world. Every year, Upper Deck awards $1,000,000 in scholarship money, but players can also win extended art promo cards, metal deck boxes, and leather deck cases.

It’s a Vs. System Universe


Of course, you can also participate in Upper Deck–endorsed tournaments at your local hobby or game store. Even these smaller tournaments are a great way to meet new friends, refine your Vs. skills, trade cards, and just have fun playing. See my article “Playing in Your First Vs. Tournament” in the Metagame.com archives for more information about what to expect at tournaments and how to find tournaments near you. And for more information on all of Upper Deck’s Organized Play events (and to find out when and where events will be held), go to ude.com/events.


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