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Tournament Operations » Post: Over Competitive Players in a League

Over Competitive Players in a League

July 10, 2017 06:17:57 PM

Adi Jian
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

Europe - East

Over Competitive Players in a League

Hello there,
I've been looking for suggestions on how to fix an ongoing problem in my store.

For a while now our Standard FNM league has been running well aside for one problem:
Some players are overly competitive and come only to win. They always net-deck and always put a lot of effort to getting the expensive cards they need on time while keeping track on each pro-tour and any GP.
In Israel we have around two competitive events a year but the attendance to those events is really low so we hardly run them unless scheduled on the WER.

On the other hand, we have the ‘almost casual’ players. They come to have fun, they build their own decks and construct their own synergy yet they do have a slight appetite for prices just to get a touch of glory so they feel their decks are good.

The big clash is when a casual player plays against a competitive player. The competitive player (especially the young teenagers) always gets upset about them missing triggers and never lets the casual player go back, and so there is an ongoing, unwanted nervous feeling in the store. I usually give my ruling and let them put the trigger back or cast a creature if they forgot if it's not too disruptive.

My thought about fixes were:
Writing an article to sum up missing triggers and reversing the play.
I spoke with around 6 players and heard all the complaints (a lot of players were hurt by one another and couldn't express their feelings).
Splitting the tournament to non-competitive and competitive although I worry not enough players will attend the competitive event and it won't work.

How would you handle the situation?
Thanks :)

July 10, 2017 07:19:01 PM

Craig Teppert
Judge (Uncertified)

USA - Northwest

Over Competitive Players in a League

You are always going to have players that want to play the best deck. Stress at the beginning of the tournament that this is a Regular REL event and the emphasis is on fun and education, not competitiveness. Also if missed triggers is a problem emphasize that at the beginning of the tournament as well, stress to the aggressive players this isn't a PPTQ and if caught soon enough they can have their trigger. Also what is your prize structure like? Are you emphasizing 1st, 2nd, 3rd (which is competitive) or paying out to winning records (which is more relaxed). If going by records pay everyone of a specific record the same. By doing this you are putting less emphasis on being the best which helps emphasize fun. You can also hard cap your events at 3 rounds and pay out to winning records. This is beneficial for more casual players because they play one competitive player, get wrecked, but then play against the less competitive players and thus can often go 2-1 and win packs. They might not every week, but they will do it enough to be happy playing so they keep coming back.
You probably don't want to split the tournament. Because there is nothing stopping the Competitive player from insisting he plays in the weaker tournament. The Stores agreement for running events for WotC actually says you can't segregate tournaments.
If the competitive players keep causing issues be very firm with them, and stress the FNM is for FUN. Offer them Magic Online as an option if they want to play super competitively and there aren't many options locally.
I hope this helps you. Good Luck!

July 11, 2017 12:25:15 AM

David Rockwood
Judge (Level 2)

USA - Southeast

Over Competitive Players in a League

FNM is for fun. There are a large portion of players who get most of their fun through winning. They shouldn't be punished for taking an FNM seriously or expecting their opponent to play correctly. Players at any REL will be unhappy about losing, which means everyone won't be 100% happy all the time. Regular doesn't necessarily mean “not a competition.” The difference is that when gameplay mistakes are made, we don't punish as harshly. This leaves room for improvement as a player without fear of penalties. I would be cautious taking an attitude of “protecting” casuals from competitive players and “netdeckers”. Such a stance punishes players for playing well or playing good decks.

But…

I do know of a way that has helped build friendships between super competitive players and newcomers at a local store here, which may ease some tension. Consider having your store put a coaches league together. The basic idea is to reward experienced players who help newer/casual players improve. Let the experienced players sign up as “mentors,” and the casuals as “mentees.” Assign each “mentor” a “mentee.” Depending on numbers, this ratio may not be 1:1, but try to make sure each mentor has a similar number of mentees. From here, this plan can take several different paths depending on what your locals respond to. As an example, for the first week, suggest that the mentors each let their mentee borrow one of their decks and teach them how to play it. (This would have to be voluntary of course.) Then, after an hour or so of teaching, run a tournament allowing the mentees to play a few rounds against each other. You could consider running it like a team event where each mentor can coach his student during games. Finally, give out prizing of a pack per win for both the mentor and mentee whenever each mentee wins a match. This incentivizes a mentor to be a good teacher and build his student up, (and in the specific example above, this might coax them to allow their deck to be borrowed.) The student is rewarded for learning how to play better, and both the mentors and mentees are getting some level of competition out of it.

This may or may not work for your players, and it definitely won't turn competitive players into casuals. It will; however, offer a new challenge for some of your more experienced players, so I think it may be worth a try. If the problem has been a lack of respect/friendship between your players, this also offers a way to improve together and build those friendships.

Edited David Rockwood (July 11, 2017 12:26:28 AM)

July 11, 2017 01:22:47 AM

Adi Jian
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

Europe - East

Over Competitive Players in a League

Thank you both for the answers.
We do have a new players league because new players didn't have anywhere to
go to learn. A newcomer would come to to the store but most of the regular
players have no will to teach unless they get something back (like the full
art foil lands). They have been spoiled by the previous ownership of the
store which handled magic very poorly (the owner stole all the promos and
such).
We did try limiting the prices for drafts and the more competitive elite
players stopped coming. The TO decided newbies stopped coming to the store
because first place would get 4 packs in larger pods so he limited first
place prices to 3 packs (the cost to enter is similar to 3 packs and they
can't snowball their prices to get into more drafts).
I'm considering doing that to constructed tournaments as well. The 3 rounds
solution sounds a bit risky because tiebreakers are harsh, but if we lower
the prices to 3 first place can win up to 2 packs and won't be too hungry
for prizes.
Additionally, saying at the beginning of each tournament that we play
regular is a good idea. I did that last time with reminding the tardiness
penalty as people disappeared from the venue multiple times without say.

On Jul 11, 2017 07:32, “David Rockwood” <

July 11, 2017 03:36:06 AM

Siyang Li
Judge (Level 2)

Greater China

Over Competitive Players in a League

Hi there, I can sympaphize with you, as I used to have these concerns, too. And when I also used to try looking for answers, I realized that we as judges shouldn't take sides. (over-) Competitive plays have their owns ways of having FUN, in ways like winning matches, getting awards, etc. I had one player at my local area, not only he is a quite competitive player (attend as many competitive events as he could), he also have a goal of winning every Gameday Championship playmats of the releasing set (we had 3 local gamestores, so he had 3 shots for every set, as far as I remember, he had not failed one yet). So sometimes, dividing event types or rearranging prizes wouldn't always solve the problem (though this would help a lot, I agree).

What I'm trying to say is that if we are narrowing down the fact of “having fun”, by trying only to look out for those not-so-competitive players, then we might hurt the feelings of those (over-) competitive players, that doesn't feel fair. Sometimes it's just not possible for everyone to be happy (/sad face).

I would try focusing on creating a casual envoirment for all these players. I would make announcement that this is a casual event before-hand, and run it accordingly. For example, missed triggers, as JAR ask us to rule at our discretion, then do it, explain your reasoning for the ruling (maybe you let the trigger to be put back) to both players, and don't forget, to caution the player who missed the trigger to play more carefully from then on, thus I think we not only keep the relaxed mood for the not-so-competitive players, but also ease the feel-bad mood for those (over-) competitive players.

July 11, 2017 04:52:07 AM

Jasper Overman
Judge (Level 2), Scorekeeper

BeNeLux

Over Competitive Players in a League

Overly competitive players are an issue in many places. Especially in places where there are not enough competitive players to give them their own tournament, the competitive players will have to try to fit in the more casual events. If you have 20 casual players, and 2 competitive players, it sounds logical to simply make the prize structure so abysmal for the competitive players that they will stay away. However, that is not a solution.
You need the competitive players. They are the people that spend the most time on Magic, and are a great resource for the more casual / beginner crowd on deckbuilding, trading cards, and becoming a better player. They are as much a part of the community as the more casual players, and their energy and enthusiasm should be encouraged. The JAR focuses on player education, so if casual players miss their triggers week after week, the competitive players do have a point. Use the competitive players to help the beginning players to ‘play a tight game’. The beginners will get better (their advantage) and the competitive players will grow in numbers, so they can get their own tournaments.

Originally posted by Adi Jian:

I'm considering doing that to constructed tournaments as well. The 3 rounds solution sounds a bit risky because tiebreakers are harsh, but if we lower the prices to 3 first place can win up to 2 packs and won't be too hungry for prizes.

A tiebreaker is something you should not use at small events without playoff. A tiebreaker is just that: a method to determine a winner, where 2 or more players have the same amount of points. You need exactly 8 players in the top 8, so you need to determine who is 8th, and who is 9th.
At a small 3 or 4 round swiss event, there should not be a reason to determine who finished at which place. Prizes can awarded based on number of points, random, or at the TO's discretion (sportsmanship prize, bounty on the TO, bounty on last weeks undefeated player, bounty on the judge, guaranteed prize to first-timers, prize for whoever brings cake for all players)


July 11, 2017 11:57:24 AM

Craig Teppert
Judge (Uncertified)

USA - Northwest

Over Competitive Players in a League

Originally posted by Adi Jian:

I'm considering doing that to constructed tournaments as well. The 3 rounds solution sounds a bit risky because tiebreakers are harsh, but if we lower the prices to 3 first place can win up to 2 packs and won't be too hungry for prizes.
Sorry I might of not made that clear. The 3 round thing works if you payout to record not place and don't worry about place thus don't worry about tiebreakers. This is a very basic example. You have an entry fee of $5 with 1.5 packs per player in the prize pool you have 10 players show up at the end of the 3 rounds you have 2 9 pointers and 3 2-1's with winning records. You have 15 packs to work with, so give each 2-1 2 packs, each 3-0 4 packs, and since you've got an extra pack sitting there randomly give it to one of the other 5 players.

July 11, 2017 01:16:40 PM

Emilien Wild
Forum Moderator
Judge (Level 3), Grand Prix Head Judge

BeNeLux

Over Competitive Players in a League

At our LGS, the constructed casual events are free to play and mainly give out as prizes the prize support that WotC sends for free from the WPN, which is deemed unappealing by the competitive players.

That had two consequences:

- The only competitive players who continue to come to these events are the people who enjoy the social interaction and meeting beginners.
- The casual players don't feel bad showing up with planeswalker or otherwise casual decks, and shaky knowledge of Magic, because they have nothing to lose.

That did wonder for making our LGS a meeting place for beginners and reinvigorating Magic organized play.

On the other hand, if the prize structure is encouraging people to win, I wouldn't blame players for being competitive. You can't both make winning more appealing than losing and then expect them to not try to win.

- Emilien

July 11, 2017 02:57:27 PM

Adi Jian
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

Europe - East

Over Competitive Players in a League

So I gather limiting prices is a good thing. I will try it this Friday in
standard and limit the prizes to 3 packs for the winner.


On Jul 11, 2017 19:01, “Craig Teppert” <

July 12, 2017 02:29:12 AM

Adi Jian
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

Europe - East

Over Competitive Players in a League

On one hand, I agree with you. No prizes, no urge to win (as much). That's
great.
On the other hand, no prizes - less people that come to these events.

I can hand out promos very very easily to people so they come. I did that
multiple times on the Sunday League and some people came just to grab the
full-art foil lands and went, some people came to actually teach people how
to play (that's how the WPN wanted me to do it and I did it just like they
instructed).

I had a modern competitive player come all the way from far away to bring
his new friend so he could get two lands. People got mad at him for doing
that, but I was just happy I had a big gathering and not a big tournament
for once.

Also, the other stores in Israel distribute standard showdown prizes on
bigger events and that encourages people to come to tournaments to win the
free stuff they're supposed to get only casually. I don't do that in my
store but the other stores misuse the prizes and it damages the casual
vibe.
There is even a store that does “competitive EDH” (without a judge). It's
ridiculous.

July 12, 2017 02:48:32 AM

Emilien Wild
Forum Moderator
Judge (Level 3), Grand Prix Head Judge

BeNeLux

Over Competitive Players in a League

Originally posted by Adi Jian:

On the other hand, no prizes - less people that come to these events.
Our LGS tripled its FNM attendance since it removed most of the booster pack prizes and went to a free to play model. Competitive players are a minority of the Magic community. Appealing to the casual crowd have the potentail to attract far more people.
But at this point, this is beyond judging, it's about making commercial decisions that makes sense on a business model perspective, and a lot of factors can apply.

- Emilien

July 12, 2017 04:46:33 AM

Lars Leenen
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

BeNeLux

Over Competitive Players in a League

My LGS has chosen to go with a low entry fee, low but wider distribution of booster prizes approach for FNM, which has led to a less competitive, more casual/new player friendly environment as well. For drafts, 2-1 records get a pack, and 3-0 records get two packs, the FNM promos going to the winners of each table, and the left overs being distributed randomly. For constructed 3-1 records get a pack, and 4-0 records get two packs, the FNM promos go to the top two players (sometimes on tie breakers), and the other three are distributed randomly. Generally speaking, we hear few complaints from players about this, and the atmosphere is very friendly in general.

July 12, 2017 11:10:11 AM

Jonas Eriksson
Judge (Uncertified)

Europe - North

Over Competitive Players in a League

As a Judge I don't think you can really do much, but if you are a store owner or have good relations with him you might look into diversifying.

My LGS goes with low prices on limited (basically 1 booster/player) and free to play Standard. Then have a decent payout for eternal(not played as often). We had a lot of problems before with the clash of the crowds, but to a lesser degree now, since the more “serious” guys usually invest their bucks into eternal formats they usually show up with a budget build to Standard.

EDH is only rewarded through FNM. He usually tries to get some fun offsite events happening, BBQ and Conspiracy drafts coming up.

Through networking with other hobbies they usually hold some mini-convents where he over two days usually hold something like FNM, one Legacy tournament, one EDH tournament and Trios Sealed Deck(That people from all levels usually participate in).

July 12, 2017 05:08:55 PM

Adi Jian
Judge (Level 1), Tournament Organizer

Europe - East

Over Competitive Players in a League

Originally posted by Jonas Eriksson:

As a Judge I don't think you can really do much, but if you are a store owner or have good relations with him you might look into diversifying.

My LGS goes with low prices on limited (basically 1 booster/player) and free to play Standard. Then have a decent payout for eternal(not played as often). We had a lot of problems before with the clash of the crowds, but to a lesser degree now, since the more “serious” guys usually invest their bucks into eternal formats they usually show up with a budget build to Standard.

EDH is only rewarded through FNM. He usually tries to get some fun offsite events happening, BBQ and Conspiracy drafts coming up.

Through networking with other hobbies they usually hold some mini-convents where he over two days usually hold something like FNM, one Legacy tournament, one EDH tournament and Trios Sealed Deck(That people from all levels usually participate in).

Eternal formats are non existent in Israel. They're too expensive to play and we have more kids playing because most of the adults in Israel think games are for little kids or freaks.

The kids in the store did want to have a legacy proxy league which I wanted to support but quickly said no to because they were being pigs and throwing booster packages around the store when I told them not to. Not too long ago I told them I was going to print out decks but didn't because of what they did and they realized their mistakes. Looking to see if they're going to behave now.

We do have a really nice EDH play group of adults. We had low priced conspiracy that went really well until we finished all the cases (it was that fun) and I organize 2HG draft events that people LOVE (we get to 30 people easily).

The problem is the weekly events that are too competitive, which I'm looking to fix right now.

July 12, 2017 06:00:29 PM

Lyle Waldman
Judge (Level 2)

Canada

Over Competitive Players in a League

I feel like you're coming to a judge support group as a TO and asking for help. Which is fine, but a lot of us are not TOs and don't have the same types of experiences and concerns as you do, so there may be a mismatch of experiences contributing to a lack of viable assistance. That being said:

1) As has been suggested above, having a “casual event” and a “competitive event” and a clear delineation between them might help. The “casual event” should have a cheaper (or zero!) entry fee and minimal prizes; good players should be rewarded, but minimally so, perhaps only with promos and such as prizes. This event should be made known to be a more casual event where you can apply the JAR more liberally. My advice for this event would be to lean more towards the casual players with an eye to encourage them to play more tightly, rather than forcing prison rules on them. Conversely, the “competitive event” should have an entry fee and a prize pool and should have the rules enforced a bit more forcefully, although still with an eye on encouragement rather than forcefulness.

Aside: Regarding the issue of “fun”, speaking as a competitive player, my goal is to win, that's true, but also to make sure I can think through my lines of play with a clear understanding of what's going on. If I think you've missed your trigger and I've taken actions and lines of play based on that and then “whoops, trigger wasn't missed after all”, that makes me really really upset, because I crafted lines of play and made decisions based on that assumption. Both groups of players have the right to “have fun”, but while others have focused on what makes Magic fun for casual players, I haven't seen this competitive point of view raised and I wanted to raise it.

2) You mentioned you like to do packs as prizes, but store credit as prizes can help your business. In particular, let's say you have a casual player who is actually pretty good and they're becoming more and more competitive. That player really wants a Glorybringer for his deck, but Glorybringer is expensive and the player is young and doesn't have a lot of money. You keep giving that player more and more packs, but that player doesn't want packs, that player wants a Glorybringer to put in their deck and beat up the competitive players with. You want to sell that Glorybringer and get it out of your showcase because it's merchandise you want to get rid of. So both of you want the same thing, but the rules you put in place are preventing the transaction from taking place, and meanwhile this player who wants to win more is hitting a brick wall because they can't drop the money on a Glorybringer and getting discouraged. This would also help your admitted issue of having little to no support for Eternal play, because the cards are too expensive; rather than giving away packs, if you give away store credit that players can use to buy into Eternal formats, then you can run tournaments of those formats which will bring the players out.

Aside: Competitive players don't want packs; they've bought all the cards, they've built their decks, and they don't need more cards. What they want is store credit that they can use to buy more cards at the next set release so they don't have to spend as much money to build their decks next time. Having a store credit system for your competitive tournament will make that tournament more attractive to more competitive players while also providing a reward for the up-and-comers who want to play.

(Of course, there are business decisions to all of this, and I don't want to sound as though I'm trying to make your business decisions for you and I apologize if I came off that way. I am speaking from the perspective of a competitive player myself to a store owner who seems to be asking for support as to how to handle competitive players)