English Nationals 2018

English Nationals 2018

I started this blog to talk about my experiences judging, scorekeeping and working at Grands Prix. I posted recently about my judge career high point when I was selected to head judge Welsh Nationals. This post is about my scorekeeping career high, being selected as the main event scorekeeper for English Nationals.

English Nationals is one of the bigger events world wide, with 2017 seeing around 380 players in the main event. When the applications opened I threw in an application to scorekeeper the main event or, more realistically, the side events that run over the weekend. You can imagine the shock when I received notification that I was going to be looking after Nationals main event, especially as it was expected to be big enough again to be run on WLTR.

Whilst I had been doing my research and planning for the event for a few weeks, work in earnest began about two weeks out when I started building the event in the software and prepping my various tools to make sure we could import players from the TOs web store, check eligibility and then deal with any issues as quickly and as conveniently as possible. What blew me away was the volume of players, with a week to go we were over 400!

The key to scorekeeping with WLTR is being prepared. Setting up the event in advance, ensuring all your players are enrolled as early as possible and then making sure that you know what you need to print and how to make that happen. I knew this going into Nationals, I had done it when I ran my last PTQ and I planned to do it for this event. However, as the event itself unfurled it became apparent that I hadn’t done as much as I could have done.

The weekend itself was a bit of a blur. Following an afternoon’s travel down to Watford from Preston on Friday I popped into the event hall to do some final preparation and say hello to some of the team. One of the big draws to working large regional events is the fact they are one of the few opportunities to see a lot of in-region colleagues and friends. Nationals is even better as these people are not just working but also playing. I eventually got to my hotel after 11pm and grabbed some sleep before my 8am start the next day.

The Saturday of Nationals was hard. I was anxious yet excited when I woke up and ended up skimping on breakfast as a result. This was mistake number one. Scorekeeping is a sedentary job and it’s easy to lose sight of the mental fatigue that can build up over time with big events. We had lunch paid for at this show and I made the bad assumption that this would get me through, but sixteen hour shifts all take it out of you even if you’re not up on your feet like judges.

The crunch point on Saturday was that I had not planned how I was going to organise pods, especially when we ended up with a large number of players with fixed seating. This caused a lot of headaches for me and meant I was scrabbling around trying to get things done manually whilst the drafts were going on. Luckily, the judge team and the other scorekeepers on site were amazingly supportive and managed to cope with all the manual fixes I threw at them and the fruity language that I probably used to explain what I wanted.

Sunday was easier because I was in my groove. I knew what I was doing and fixed a lot of the issues that caused the stress on Saturday. I learned how important it is to communicate with everyone with a stake in the event – the head judge, the tournament organiser, the key team leads (papers, logistics and EOR) to ensure that you understand everyone’s needs and can properly set expectations. Sometimes you have to disappoint people because the software, time constraints etc don’t allow you to meet their needs but explaining that and offering a workable alternative is key to the smooth running of your events. This applied at small events too. Too often the real weakness in new scorekeepers is their unwillingness to say no and then the subsequent stress or even failure of their event as a result.

Having just said that, I added to my own stress by taking over the closing of all the side events from the weekend so the other scorekeeper could get on the road at a reasonable time. Having your RC owe you a favour is always useful!

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