The Most Broken Tournament Mechanic, Ever

As I get older and, by default, wiser, I find that there are things that really bother me. If I had a craw (maybe I’ll get one for Christmas!), there is definitely one "thing" that would stick in the aforementioned craw more than anything else. As it is, this "thing" just sits in my head…

As I get older and, by default, wiser, I find that there are things that really bother me. If I had a craw (maybe I’ll get one for Christmas!), there is definitely one "thing" that would stick in the aforementioned craw more than anything else. As it is, this "thing" just sits in my head for now, perplexing me.

The fact that the certain "thing" is not only widely accepted, but occasionally glorified, just baffles me. It is a "thing" that most, if not all,* tournament players seem to view as the be-all, end-all answer to life itself. A status symbol of sorts.

"Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?"
-Gary Coleman as Arnold, Diff’rent Strokes.

And that "thing" is…

The Intentional Draw. (ugh)

The simple act of typing that line made me feel all violated and stuff. Really. It did.

Now, I read the "Wizards Pocket Monster Guide to Tournaments and Stuff," and Intentional Draws (cringes) are hinted at in a "wink,wink" manner, as Wizards cannot realistically legislate them in any manner or form whatsoever.

FrigginRizzo: <—Thinkin’ bout becoming a senator and stuff.

But, they also have quite a few things to say about "collusion." What I can’t understand, for the life of you, dear sacrificial reader, is why the hell an Intentional Draw – and here I have one of those "almost pukes" where the vomit comes up like to the back of your throat and then goes back down, but you still get to go through your day with puke breath no matter how many times you brush your teeth or how many packs of <insert random yummy gum here> you chew in a most voracious manner – is NOT collusion? Or, at the very least, frowned upon with a furrowed brow?

FrigginRizzo: <—Staring at self in mirror, attempting to "furrow."

Magic tournaments are designed to allow players to compete.

Compete: v.i., to strive to outdo for acknowledgment, a prize, supremacy, profit, etc.; engage in a contest; vie. COMPETE implies having a sense of rivalry and of striving to do one’s best as well as to outdo another.
-The Random House College Dictionary, Revised Edition, pg. 274.

How does an Intentional Draw (I just had another "almost puke," but this one reached the back of my teeth) not just violate every word in the above definition?

Well, it does. It takes competition, breaks its glasses, rubs its face in the dirt, steals its lunch money, and smacks it on the butt and calls it Sally. Or Missy. Or any feminine name with a "Y" at the end. Or even, for you trendsetters, an "I" with a heart drawn over it at the end.

How can you "outdo" another if neither of you even bother to "do" in the first place?

"I wanna show you what I’m capable of."
-Johnny Brennan as Jack Tors, The Jerky Boys’ first CD.

After reading about two million tournament reports, I have noticed a prevalent, and not so encouraging, trend in many Winners, or at least Top Eighters, reports.

"So, I’m 5-0. I only have to win or draw next round to ID into the Top 8."

"I’m now 6-0. My ‘opponent’ is Richard Nixon. ID."

"I’m 5-1, but Joe, who is 4-1-1, feels he can’t ID in. Damn! We have to play."

"I’m 4-1-1, but my tie-breakers suck, so I don’t think I can ID in. Damn!"

Will a time come when someone figures out that, by winning their first two matches, they can safely Intentional Draw (chokes self with a nylon rope, lying, conveniently, a little too close to my grasp) into round six, win another match, then Intentional Draw (tightens rope, watches forehead begin to bulge – wow, there are a lot of veins in the human head!) into the Top Eight?

Math is hard, so I don’t foresee this happening until Starter Decks include an abacus.

"I’m in the Math Club."
-Anthony Michael Hall, muttering to Judd Nelson, The Breakfast Club.

You only have to go 6-0, or perhaps 5-1 or 4-1-1, to Intentionally Draw (runs to bathroom, as my bowels have just slackened) your way into the Top Eight. So why doesn’t the tournament organizer mention this during his/her/hoi-polloi/Alfred E. Neuman obligatory "Glad yer here, Round one, FIGHT!" speech?

"Welcome to our happy little tourney. We have some players, which leads to eight rounds of swiss, after which we will cut to Top Eight. Except, of course, if you do like, real good, like, you can just chill out and stuff after round six cause you get, like, two byes and stuff. Dude."

FrigginRizzo: <—Finds that most organizers rarely utter "dude." They should.

I understand that many players are quite excited little bunnies upon going 6-0, but does that mean they should just spit on the wonderful philosophy of "May the best man/woman/zodiac sign/single-celled protozoan win?" To win, you should have to WIN. THEN they give your cookie and pat you on the head.

"Spoils of war, man."
-The fat kid in the unforgettable MacAulay Culkin masterpiece, Richie Rich.

If you are 6-0 and Intentional Draw (now has severe leakage from all bodily orifices) into the Top Eight, how do you know that you deserved it? You could have easily lost your next two matches and finished ninth. Or worse. Moreso, if you play out your last two matches and stink up the joint, you may allow someone who actually PLAYED EIGHT ROUNDS to squeak into the Top Eight. I guess this is the exact reason that players will Intentional Draw (flesh begins to melt), as resting on your laurels, along with quitting while you’re ahead, are rapidly becoming the Standards of World Mediocrity.

How can a person acquire pride, or honor for that matter, when he/she/veni vidi vici/bingo was his name-o, knowing that one of the possible reasons for their impressive showing was successful circumvention of tried-and-true rules/laws of competition?

I, for one, would always have to wonder. Did I just get really luck in those first six matches? Good matchups perhaps? Too many opponent mana-screws? If I played rounds seven and eight and still made Top Eight, I would not have to wonder. I would KNOW. That I deserved it. That no one can belittle my performance. At all.

"I’m not the first person to [sleep] my way to the top."
-Pia Zadora, in some movie I saw once.

I really expect to receive a major amount of hate mail from this. I welcome it. As I am a minority of one,** it comes with the territory. Let me save you the trouble of actually writing your e-mails. Most replies will sound like this:

"Ur just pissed cause u suck so bad that u never even made a %&*$ top 8! I hope u choke to death on ur own ID-induced puke! DIE!"

Some-a smaller, but more civilized- minority will sound like this:

"I understand your intolerance of ID’s, but you must realize that a chance to make the Pro Tour is too great of a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity for many players, and as such, they are not willing to risk their shot by playing out the entire eight rounds."

To the first reply, I can say this. Whatever. Dude.

To the second reply, I can find a logical reasoning. And it does make sense. I do not condemn those who Intentional Draw (Rizzo flatlines…okay, people, on my count…one, two, three – CLEAR!), but I do wish that when the situation arises, you seriously consider playing it out. You will feel better in the morning, I promise.

FrigginRizzo: <— Usually feels all sticky in the morning

As I get older, and by default, wiser, I find that there are things that really bother me. This is just one man’s opinion. Do with it what you will. Just remember that, if we meet at table one, seat one in the seventh or eighth round, roll that die chief – ’cause we gon’ play some cards.

"Ok, Misteer sun-uv-a-beech, let’s play sum carrrrrdz."
-John Malkovich, to the toothy Matt Damon in Rounders.

I will NEVER Intentional Draw. EVER.

Respectfully, really,
John Friggin’ Rizzo
[email protected]

*- In all the tournament reports I have EVER read, I did come across one fella who was in an Intentional Draw situation, and played it out. He stated, in his infinite wisdom and character, that he Intentionally Drew ONCE, and would never do it again. EVER. Much kudos to that Rogue.

** – With my own voting bloc