This weekend is the Central American World Championship Qualifier, and next weekend is the North American WCQ! These events are what everyone's been preparing for all year; play your cards right and you can represent your continent in the World Championship in Italy! But, like any other endeavor in TCG's or real life, preparation is key to success.

This week on Black and White: Preparing for the WCQ! I'll go over the best practices and what you need to be prepared for when you enter the tournament hall.

First: It's Just Another TCG Tournament
The WCQ, while an important event, is still just another TCG tournament and you should approach it as such. Know your deck inside and out, know the possible matchups, and practice practice practice. Most of you will need to travel a great distance to get there, so plan out the trip and your sleeping arrangements well ahead of time. I wrote a lot about traveling to events last year, so give that a look if you need to refresh yourself on how to get from a place to another place.

Second: Read the FAQ page for the event you're going to! For Central America, read this. For North America, read this. For any big tournament you go to, reading the official FAQ is a good place for information.

General WCQ Things
The following few paragraphs apply for either the CA WCQ or the NA WCQ.

If you already have your invite don't enter a Last Chance Qualifier. You'll forfeit your previously-earned invite if you do so. The biggest thing you don't want to do is accidently give up the invite you earned months ago.

Both WCQ FAQ pages list the following statement multiple times: Your Deck List will be collected at Registration. Make sure your Deck List is ready before you reach the front of the Registration line. You must have your list ready to hand in when you register, and that has to be before 9:45am the day of the WCQ. But speaking honestly? Plan to register way before that. Assuming there's no one waiting to register at 9:45, it gives event staff the best opportunity to prepare the tournament for Round 1. As I was on Event Staff at last year's WCQ, I can say with certainty that merging over ten Registration stations' data into one computer and printing the necessary paper for Round 1 pairings and results slips doesn't happen instantaneously. The quicker we get everyone registered, the quicker the tournament starts.

A big rush of players at 9:40 ultimately delays the tournament. I highly recommend getting in line no later than 9am on Saturday. Ideally, you'd be best served registering on Friday and skipping the rush entirely, but for those that can't make it on Friday, 9am on Saturday is what you want to shoot for.

If you know what you're going to be playing while you have access to a computer and a printer, you can save even more time by printing out your fully completed decklist. There are two easy ways to do this:

-Editable PDF, which you can find on the official site here.

-Card database. You'll need to log into the database using your COSSY ID number and the same password you use to get into COSSY, but after you do that, you can edit ten different decks and print them as completely legal deck lists!

If you do either of those, print out multiple copies of your list – it makes signing up for Public Events way easier. It also lets you have a reference available in case you forget what cards are supposed to be in your Side Deck going into game 1.

You'll also want to have all materials ready for play before you get to the venue. That includes the following:

Your deck: Yes, this seems obvious, but I've seen players register a deck they didn't have all the cards for thinking they were going to trade for what they needed before the event. And then they had to Round 1 drop because they couldn't find all the cards they needed and couldn't play the match at all.

Dice or other ways to randomly determine who goes first: You can't always ask the person next to you for dice. Bring your own.

Pen and paper for Life Points: I'll keep saying it: Policy Documents say you have to use paper to keep track of Life Points. Calculators can assist in the math, but there has to be a paper record.

Using paper will protect both you and your opponent from miscalculations, and it's in both players' best interests to keep track of both players' Life Points and to confirm what the totals are after every change and at the end of every turn. Mistakes will happen, but by confirming totals this frequently, errors will be caught early and can be easily corrected. Remember: once you call for a judge, it comes down to what the judge believes is the correct total. Having paper will not only help the judge reconstruct the duel, but the use of paper will make a judge call completely unnecessary if an error is caught right away.

Minimal Trades: If you don't have it, you can't lose it. Bring only the cards you need to bring to the venue and should something unfortunate happen, your losses will be reduced.

NA WCQ Specific Things
The biggest question I'm expecting to be asked is "Are Pendulum Monsters legal?"

The answer is a big, emphatic NO, the cards in SUPER STARTER: SPACE-TIME SHOWDOWN will not be legal for the Main Event or any Public Event at the NA WCQ, except for the Super Starter Sealed Events. Any rule changes that are included in the Starter Deck won't apply for this weekend.

A similar release occurred for the 2011 NA WCQ, in which Starter Deck: Dawn of the Xyz was released the Tuesday before the WCQ, but its Konami Tournament Legal date was the following Monday. Having a brand-new Summoning mechanic dropped on everyone just before the most important tournament of the year would've been a nightmare for everyone, and this year would be no exception. We can learn and deal with Pendulum Monsters after the WCQ's, as I'm sure there will be a ton of rules questions about this new kind of monster in the coming weeks.

If you're going to the NA WCQ, there's another thing that you'll want to keep in mind when you're planning your trip: there will be a livestream for this event! If you're playing in the WCQ, there's a chance that you may play in a match that will be broadcasted on the internet! Prepare for the possibility of being seen by a lot of people; you'll probably want to wear appropriate clothing (by that I mean, don't wear inappropriate clothing), and you'll want to go get a haircut the week of the WCQ. If you're a dude, it'll be a good idea to shave or otherwise trim the facial hair. You don't want to take the chance that someone's going to see you and decide "yeah, no, we're not putting you on the stream wearing a T-Shirt that says 'F*ck Bitches, Get Money'." Will that happen?

Probably not, but don't leave it to chance.

The North American WCQ will have voice actors in attendance. This time around, it's Dan Green and Marc Thompson. Dan Green's been to a few WCQ's and YCS's, but this is Marc Thompson's first official appearance at a Yu-Gi-Oh! TCG event. There will be autograph sessions during the weekend and a live duel as well! Keep in mind that Marc provided the voice of Raphael from the original series and currently voices Astral from Yu-Gi-Oh! Zexal. If you're looking for appropriate cards for him to sign, Rank-Up-Magic Astral Force seems appropriate for an Astral-themed card, but you'll probably want to get your Soul Charges signed because Raphael.

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I'd personally go for Guardian Eatos. Have extra of these cards? I'm sure there will be people around that don't have them. You may be able to get favorable trades from people looking for character-specific cards to get signed. (Jason's Note: Seriously, this happens every year. The vendors sell out of the character's cards and trades become ridiculous. –JDG)

In addition to the Main Event, there are also a bunch of Public Events with unique prizes of their own. Of note are the 16-person Single Elimination 2015 Regional Qualifiers. The Top Cut Game Mat is still for the PRIO season, so if you missed out on a beautiful Bujin Game Mat, now's probably your last chance to win one; there are no scheduled Regionals after the WCQ and the next batch of Regionals will most likely be during the Duelist Alliance season which will have a different Game Mat for Top 8. And getting next year's invite out of the way early is certainly not a bad thing.

And, of course, there will be a bunch of the usual Public Events on site: Battle Pack Sealed and Draft, Structure Deck tournaments with Game Mats as prizes, Win-A-Mats and the ever-popular 3v3 event and ATTACK OF THE GIANT CARD!!

Next week will be one final Court of Appeals before the North American WCQ, so if you have any last-minute questions, send me an e-mail (one question per e-mail please!) to askjudgejoe@gmail.com and if it makes the cut, I'll answer it in Court of Appeals!

-Joe Frankino