[Outdated; Inaccurate] Overview -- Tournaments

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Originally by John Carter:

Tournaments are structured series of Magic matches that determine a champion. The largest organization for the running of tournaments is the DCI. The DCI certifies judges that are trained to run events sanctioned to adhere to guidelines prescribed by the DCI. Only premiere events have level requirements for their judges. Any level judge including uncertified judges may run local events. Regardless of the event size or the certification of any other persons, the head judge’s ruling is the final authority at a given Magic event. Judge levels range from 0 (uncertified) up to 5. Judges level 3 and up are trained and able to prepare and test candidates for certification.
Most Magic tournaments are single elimination if they are small or Swiss style often with single elimination rounds of the top players. Events must have at least eight players to be DCI sanctioned. The number of participants determines the number of Swiss rounds.

Up to 8 players = 3 rounds
Up to 16 players = 4 rounds
Up to 32 players = 5 rounds
Up to 64 players = 6 rounds
Up to 128 players = 7 rounds

In Swiss tournament play, players are not eliminated and may continue until the prescribed number of rounds concludes. Matches are usually played best 2 of 3 games. A player winning the first two games ends the match immediately. Matches and games are scored as 3 points for a win, 1 point for a tie, and 0 points for a loss. If time ends before a match is over, the “five-turn rule” is invoked.

The Five-Turn Rule:
At the conclusion of time in a match, the active player completes his or her turn. A player is the “active player” if he or she has untapped any permanents as part of his or her Untap step. Then game play proceeds as normal until a total of five additional turns has been completed (not five turns each). If a game is completed before the additional turns are consumed, no additional games are started.

In Swiss rounds, incomplete games are not recorded (not even as a tie). Instead, if the match was in the third game, the match will be a 1 game to 1 game tie. If the match is in the second game (or in the third game if one of the first two games is a tie) then the match will be a win for the player with the 1 win (or the 1 win and 1 tie) because that player has the higher game score at the conclusion of the match.

Players in Swiss rounds are matched with other players in their same ranking group based on their match points. Some players will “play up” (play a player in a higher match point bracket) or “play down” (play a player in a lower match point bracket) when these groups have uneven numbers of players. If there is an uneven number of players, a player in the lowest bracket is awarded a bye-- a 2-0 win. A player’s ranking is based on his or her match points.
Players with the same match points are then ranked based on a series of tiebreakers in this order (byes are not included in the match or game win percentages):
Opponents’ match-win percentage
Player’s game-win percentage
Opponents’ game-win percentage

This method rewards players who faced opponents in higher brackets (and theoretically are therefore more skilled). Therefore, if two players have a 5 - 2 record, the player who lost the last two rounds will usually have a higher ranking than the player who lost the first two rounds. Tiebreakers should always be calculated for determining rank though. Judges are very strongly discouraged from commenting on a player’s ranking given that nothing is guaranteed until the calculations are completed and finalized.

The DCI has created an application to assist tournament judges and organizers in running and reporting tournaments. DCI Reporter (DCIR) allows data to be entered into an event database. Round by round DCIR tracks players and automatically handles pairings and tiebreakers with the click of button. Warnings and tournament info are also recorded in DCIR and the entire event can be uploaded via the internet directly to the DCI. A feature many organizers or storeowners would enjoy is the Local Players List. The local players list allows staff to save the information of participates in a tournament into a file for retrieval later (like at the next week’s event). Further events can be merged into that player list so that a store or organizer only has to click on a player’s name as he or she registers.