Previously on Black and White! Joe explains how to prepare for judging a Regional and how NOT to prepare for Judging other Tier 2 events. Those Tier 2 events I mentioned before included everything from Regional Qualifiers and beyond, but since then, there have been two new types of Tier 2 tournaments to be offered by Organized Play: Official Tournament Store Championships and the YCS Very Important Player (VIP) Qualifiers.

These tournaments are worth noting because they're Tier 2 tournaments held at the local level. While it may seem just like a smaller Regional, this may be your players' first encounter at a Tier 2 event, and it may also be your judges first Tier 2 event as well. Preparing for this unique type of event is key, which is why…

This week on Black and White: How to Prepare for OTS-Level Tier 2 Events! We'll be addressing OTS Championships and YCS VIP Qualifiers exclusively this time around.

What Are They?
Since they're fairly new, I'll explain what these tournaments are…

An Official Tournament Store (OTS) Championship is a Tier 2 event which gives out WCQ invites, normally only awarded at Regional Qualifiers, YCS's and Extravaganzas, at the local level. These tournaments are much smaller in scale than a Regional Qualifier; an OTS Championship only gives out four invites no matter how many people attend; they're not done for every Regional season; and when they are, they all take place on the same weekend. The prizes for these events are only the invites given to the Top 4 and an exclusive Game Mat to first place after the top cut playoff. The Game Mat's usually the same design as that season's Regional Qualifier Top Cut Game Mat with an "OTS Championship" logo instead of the "WCQ Regional" logo.

An OTS Championship requires deck lists and uses the same End-Of-Match as Regionals and YCS's. Deck checks can occur just like at a Regional, penalties are given out for infractions… the whole nine yards, but on a much smaller scale. Both OTS Championships I've Head Judged drew 20 to 35 players where a Regional Qualifier for that same area a few years ago drew around 150 players.

An OTS Championship is the perfect opportunity for judges who want to volunteer at Regionals, to get a feel for the logistics of a Tier 2 event without being overwhelmed by the number of players and the size of the tasks at hand. An OTS Championship will run for four to six rounds of Swiss, while a Regional Qualifier can have seven to ten rounds depending on the size of your player base.

A YCS VIP Qualifier, however, is a little bit different. This event is only run weeks before a YCS and only at select OTS's within some distance from said YCS. A VIP Qualifier is also run as a Tier 2 event, except the playoff cut is only to Top 8 and is conducted after running a Battle Pack draft. Yes, this is the same Battle Pack draft that's done at the Top 16 of a YCS, which is fitting since if you win the YCS VIP Qualifier, you get a bye for the two rounds of the YCS, a special section where you will always sit – removing the need to lookup pairings every round – and a player profile as part of event coverage! Of course, in order to enjoy any of these benefits, you have to take 1st place at the YCS VIP Qualifier and attend the YCS it applies to.

How To Prepare: As A Player
Preparing for an OTS Championship or a YCS VIP Qualifier is pretty straightforward from a player's perspective.

First, read Konami's Policy Documents. They tell you the rules for the tournaments and what you're expected to know going into the event. You can find the most current versions of the policy documents here. Take note that End of Match procedures for Tier 2 events is current turn player finishing their turn, then five additional turns are played, and match draws are possible under End of Match procedures. Check out the policy documents for more info.

Then, you'll want to know exactly when and where the event is located. You can check the official site's events page for locations. Times can vary between venues; if the time isn't listed on the page, you should reach out to the individual store (either by phone or by looking at the store's web site or facebook page if available) to confirm what time the event starts.

Otherwise, prepare for these events in the same way that you would prepare for a Regional Qualifier: get a fresh set of sleeves, confirm they're all uniform and consistent with each other, have all other supplies with you such as deck box, dice, pen and paper for Life Point tracking, and so on. If you want to be more prepared, print out a deck list and fill it out at home then bring that with you, but if you want to be even more prepared, you can use the official card database to fill out your deck list!

You can log into the database using your COSSY number and the password for your COSSY account to store up to ten different decks, and each deck can be printed as a PDF file. All you have to do is write in your name and event info on the top of the page after it's printed. This is even better than filling out a list by hand or with the editable PDF on the main site since card database validates for correct spelling and checks against the current Forbidden and Limited list when you save it. If something is wrong, you'll see a conspicuous warning before you attempt to print the list. Of all the options of filling out a deck list, the card database method is the one I recommend the most.

As these events will likely be all-day affairs, you'll want to plan out your meals as well. If you're not familiar with the area, do some online searches for food places around the tournament before heading out.

How To Prepare: As A Judge
First, read Konami's Policy Documents. Yep, it's so important I have to mention it to both players and judges. It's bad enough when players don't know tournament policy. If the judges don't know policy, the tournament doesn't get run correctly and no one knows it's wrong until way later after it's too late to fix things.

After that, treat this like a Regional Qualifier that's at your OTS instead of somewhere else. Know what time you need to be at the venue, what the appropriate dress is – usually black pants and black shirt- and be ready to work. Granted, you won't be on your feet from 8am to 9pm like at a Regional, but you'll still be working and need to come into it with the attitude that you'll be ready to do what needs to be done to get the tournament running and keep it going at a good pace.

Since YCS VIP Qualifiers use a draft in the Top 8, you'll want to educate yourself on the drafting process. There's some info in the policy documents, but you'll also want to read what I said about draft play last year. I know a lot of people haven't experienced limited play in Yu-Gi-Oh! unless they played in Public Events or topped at a YCS, so a YCS VIP Qualifier is a good way to get everyone warmed up to the idea that limited play isn't just a novelty.

And as always, during the event, pay attention to the players while you're on the floor and follow the directions given by your Head Judge. Get through the day and you'll get some compensation from the Tournament Organizer plus you'll get a Judge Token card from Konami! These tokens are only given to judges of Tier 2 events at OTS locations and for other judge-related tasks performed. I need two more to get to five tokens, which should theoretically be enough for any strategy. I mean… just in case I engineer a situation where I can have five Mecha Phantom Beast Tokens on the field at the same time, I'll be covered.

#####CARDID= 11909#####

Update at the last minute! The newest Judge Token cards have designs that closely resemble previous Judge mats designed by Konami! For those keeping track, those are the Tiras, Keeper of Genesis and Adreus, Keeper of Armageddon mat from 2011; the Gagaga Girl mat from 2012; the Harpie Channeler mat from 2013; and both the Vampire mat and the Dark Magician Girl the Dragon Knight mat from 2014.

Mind you, the tokens don't have the monster designs on them, just the background designs from the judge mats they came from. Regardless, they're absolutely stunning. You can show it off to your non-judge friends and make them super-jealous that you, as a judge, can get fancy Token cards and they can't. At least, that's what I plan on doing anyway.

Other Things
Even though these two events happen at OTS's, they're not just locals and shouldn't be treated as such. An OTS Championship gives out WCQ invites that are just as valid as the ones earned at Regional Qualifiers, so a judge needs to approach an OTS Championship in the same way regardless of the setting. Yes, you'll likely see your same player base plus some others who live close by but don't usually go to your local, but even though the players are the same, the integrity of the event comes first.

If you see infractions take place, it's your responsibility as the judge to go through the motions. Give the penalty and mark it appropriately on the match result slip. Remember, this is training for you, as the judge, for Tier 2 events, and this is also preparation for the players who've never entered a Regional or a YCS. Of course, it would be ideal to enforce infractions all all levels of play, but considering how often I see basic Mistakes at Regionals and YCS, I have the feeling the behavior isn't corrected at the local level, and as I've mentioned in the past, the local level is where duelists play the game the most; if they're not doing it right at locals, they're going to be in for a shock when they get to a Regional and are penalized for something they've been doing the entire time.

If you have a question about YCS VIP Qualifiers, OTS Championships, game mechanics, card interactions or tournament policy, send over an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and your question could be answered in a future Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino