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Report 2012 - GP Manchester - George Gavrilita
Articolo del 10-6-2012 a cura di Gavrilita George
Gavrilita George

George Gavrilita

I don't know about you, but when I happen to be within train distance of a PTQ in Manchester (and it doesn't happen all the time to people who live in Italy), there's no way I'm letting such an opportunity slip away. That's how this last November I got to know Raymond Fong and Ross Silcock, a local judge. Five months later Ross would tell me about a hostel called Hatters, and that's the place where I, Andrea Avedano and Luigi De Simone would check-in Friday 20th April 2012, just eight hours before the beginning of Grand Prix Manchester 2012.

Day 1

Our story starts with me running under the adorable English rain towards the GMEX, an old railway station transformed into a convention complex. Soaked and already tired, I button up my shirt while Kaja Federowicz briefs me, Joel Krebs, Diarmuid Verrier and Raymond on our responsabilities as Team Logistics. Once we deal with some 200 players the TO didn't expect, Round 1 starts, and we're pretty much done for the day. When I'm on the floor I have plenty of time to meet new judges and catch up with the ones I've already met at previous GPs, and talk with Diarmuid about ABBA songs and Irish onomatology. Both Andrea and Luigi make Day 2, and I skip the Brasilian Judge dinner because we're all too tired to go out. After a fast, mediocre meal near the hostel we hope our sacrifice is worth at least a good night's sleep. Yeah, sure.

Day 2

In case you didn't know, hostels are not known for being very silent on Saturdays. It's not like once you turn the light off, no one else will turn it on later during the night. Or slam the door. Or get back drunk at 4 in the morning. Still, they do allow for nice encounters, like having breakfast with a player named Alexandre. He doesn't look very rested as well, but he's pretty friendly and we walk to the venue together. Once there we have to separate: there are draft sets to distribute, burocracy to carry out, and clocks to set using Dutch-only software (which can be a bit overwhelming the first time you do it). Thank God I spend the rest of the day mainly in the Feature Match Area, because every time I'm on the Floor something seems to happen.

GP Manchester Staff


At the end of Round 12 I leave my safe haven before the beginning of the second Draft. We're all gathered in front of the Judge Station, and while Carlos Ho talks to us I notice a strange twinkle. At a closer look I realize there are actually drops of rain falling on a table from the ceiling of the old railway station. Luckily, there's one extra table in the Main Event and so we decide to skip that table and renumber half of the pods. Joel solves this problem so efficiently that not all the judges on staff even notice that we skipped a table, so when David Larrea starts calling the draft, he is immediately interrupted because an entire pod is missing boosters. We on Logistics are startled, since we double counted everything before asking all judges available to help out, but Raymond realizes that someone must've distributed the product also on the rainy table. David tries to ask the players to count fourteen cards face-down, but a judge stops him again because all the cards in a booster are bent. I am close and I was given an extra booster just in case, and we fix it in no time, so David can finally say "You can look at the cards". Everything goes smoothly until he hands the microphone back to Carlos, who instructs the players to find their seats for Construction. Anyone could understand that something is very wrong when only half of the players stands up and starts moving around, while the others remain seated. Amidst the chaos a judge confesses he's picked up by mistake some of the Seatings for Construction thinking they were those for Draft, but he still has them and we manage to contain the damage.

As I start the clock for Round 13, I'm glad I can go back to my dear and safe Feature Match Area, but the peace lasts only until the end of Round 15. Ciro Bonaventura, an Italian player who would go on and make Top 8, is playing a tense game against my breakfast-mate Alexandre. They've already had Extra Time twice in this match, and when Carlos calls time in the round, they still have 15 minutes left. For yours truly, it's the perfect situation to utterly screw up. Ciro has a Screeching Bat token made with Back from the Brink, and in his upkeep he asks me, "Can I pay to transform him?". I immediately answer, "No, it can't transform because tokens are not Double Faced Cards". Alexandre stares at me and answers back, "He didn't ask you if it transforms, he asked if he can pay! He could've spent four mana!". I freeze, with all the spectators looking at me: I've just given strategic advice at Table 1. Both players are really stressed now, but there's little I can do. I tell Alexandre I'm really sorry and I talk about what just happened with Carlos and Kevin Desprez. They repeat to the players that I didn't do it on purpose and everybody calms down. The spectators are asked to leave the play area and a third Extra Time is given, but the match finally ends in a tie.

Alexandre Darras, GP Manchester Champion
I'm really exhausted by now, but Kaja brings the sunshine, reminding me there is one good thing about having the early shift. After the last Team Meeting and some one-on-one talks about what I'm going to write in the reviews, I leave the GMEX with Andrea, Luigi and three boxes of Innistrad that will never fit inside an already full hand luggage (take this into account next time you fly with low cost companies). I'm sad I also missed the Sunday Judge Karaoke and didn't spend a lot of time with the other Italian Judges, Riccardo Tessitori and Giuseppe Tufo, but even my regrets can't stop me from falling asleep, and when I wake up, I'm already back in... London?!

DVD Bonus: Deleted Scenes

The Green Man
The second part of our trip starts with me, Andrea and Luigi running once more under the adorable English rain, this time after a double-decker bus, and we get off at one of the best places in London, the Green Man Bestplace Inn (I told you). The hostel has a pub downstairs, and a charming lady welcomes us with a pint before we even start filling in the papers. I also love the music, but it's not the kind of music you'd expect to listen to in a pub. The girl tells me that when the pub starts to empty she can put what she likes, and it just turns out we both like Skrillex. Sadly, her shift ends, so we check the GP Coverage and find out that none other than Alexandre is the winner. We realize at this point that there are only five people left in the pub: a guy talking with two girls, and what looked like a couple. Two minutes later, a girl comes out of the restrooms and sits next to the couple, so we start joking about a "2 to 1 rule" in London. We finish our free beers and head towards our room, hoping our roommates won't be as noisy as the ones in Manchester. We open the door, but we close it immediately. We double check the number, we open it again and we start making friends with our roommates... six girls. Talk about Bestplaces.

We wake up on Monday and have one of the best breakfasts ever, in pijamas and slippers inside an old-fashioned British pub, with a dance soundtrack and the complete Avacyn Restored Card Gallery freshly spoiled. The weather forces us to spend the day indoors, so we visit the National Gallery and the British Museum, we eat some Fish and Chips under the Big Ben, and we learn stuff inside the Science and Natural History Museums. After a quiet night, we're off again on Tuesday, still rainy in the early hours but better later, which leads to an intensive tour of every possible famous landmark you can think of.

After a night spent clubbing, the wake-up on Wednesday 25th is neither easy nor pleasant, but we are rewarded with Camden Town. This centre of alternative culture has an unmistakable atmosphere, great scenery and something for everyone: the shops sell anything from shoes and t-shirts to music, paintings and food, and talking about food, there's almost no need to buy lunch. Dozens of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, and Turkish shops literally shout at you and beg you to take a sample of their food: "Sir! Sir! Wait a minute! Take one! Take one! Also for you, Sir!" In the afternoon we come across the only place that could possibly be better than the Green Man, and mark my words, if you go to London you can miss Buckingham Palace but not this. Cyberdog is a huge cyberpunk-themed shop with a live DJ and two underground stories. It specialises in futuristic clothing, clubwear and accessories, displayed in rooms filled with androids and neon lights, and unlike most clubs, entrance is free.

Time to get back to the hostel and pick up our luggage. The return flight to Milan is very late, but we manage to be home in Turin by 2AM. The plan is to go to school on Thursday, but once I lie down on my bed I realize there's no way I can get up just 5 hours later. I close my eyes, and I start dreaming about planes, trains and convention centres.

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