Through My Eyes: Judging the Largest Regional in the Country!

Hey guys, I'm back this week to talk about last weekend's record breaking regional in my hometown, Philadelphia. It happened to be the largest regional ever, totaling around 738 players after all was said and done. We had many guest appearances from players like Billy Brake, Shane Scurry, Alistar Albans, Joe Bogli, and Steffon Bizzell, as well as a guest appearance from one of the frequent YCS head judges, Robert Wakeland. With that many players, 10 rounds of Swiss, and that many Yugioh superstars in attendance, it made the event feel more like a YCS than a regional. It seems that as of lately, people REALLY want to play some Yugs. Regional attendance records have been shattering all over in the past few months. This article is going to give you my perspective on judging, which is something that I haven't really touched on in the past, but it's another part of the game that I thoroughly enjoy.

I arrived to the event around 8:30am when registration was just starting. I met up with Billy and Steve (Silverman) before making my way to Philadelphia’s head judge and frequent YCS head judge, Paul Fahy. His first task for me was to make sure that the players in the registration line had their registration forms filled out, valid form of identification, and $20 for the entry fee. He instructed me to have them pull the items out BEFORE they got to the front of the line, which would expedite the registration process. Seeing as how the line was out the door and around the corner, I could completely understand why this would be necessary. It slows things down when players get to the front and have to look for everything while hundreds wait behind them. Registration closed around 11am, but that didn't stop people from entering with a round 1 loss; some people just won't take "no" for an answer!

Round 1 started by 11:20. That's not too bad considering 730+ players. At that time, I walked around collecting decklists from the players in my assigned area. Afterwards, I helped to hand out the match result slips while the announcements played over the loud speakers. There would be no lunch break due to the high attendance and the calculated length of the tournament. If you wanted to eat, you needed to win fast or lose fast. Luckily for them, the game happens to be in a state where you can do just that with ease.

I took note of the decks that were circulating at both the beginning of the tournament, and at the top tables throughout the day. At first, there were many Samurais and Macro Rabbit decks running amuck. This lasted for a good 5-6 rounds. But by the time we reached the later end of the tournament, rounds 7-10, there was nothing but Wind-up and Mermail. Of course there were other decks here and there, but I couldn't begin to tell you how many Mermail mirror matches there were at tables 1-10 during the final round.

One of my personal goals for the day was to find a sharpie before the tournament started. I usually carry one with me to every Yugioh event, but I forgot mine at home this time. I assumed that Billy would have a sharpie with him since he usually carries one as well, but surprisingly he also was without one. Eventually, a group of players who wanted some of their cards, playmats, and deck boxes signed, decided to lend me their sharpie for the event. By the way, thanks again for that guys; sorry I didn't get a chance to get it back to you before you all left. In any event, I was happy to have found one so I didn't have to look around at every individual request.

There were a few choice scenarios that occurred while judging so I thought it would be cool to keep track of them using my iPhone's note-taking app. That's what originally gave me the idea to do an article on the experience since I'd be able to recall each situation with the help of my notes, and the fact that this event was so large. I actually judge just about every Philly regional but I never wrote about it up until now. I'm going to go into some of the specific situations that I had to handle while giving you my train of thought before making my fin decision.

The first thing that happened as far as a rulings question is concerned was Effect Veiler vs. Judgment Dragon. One player had his JD's effect negated by Effect Veiler so he asked me if he could activate the effect of JD again in the same turn. I told him yes, he could activate JD's effect again as long as he had at least 1000 lifepoints, and he decided to do just that, paying 1000 lifepoints and trying to clear the board. Before I could say anything, his opponent quickly responded with ANOTHER EFFECT VEILER! Seeing this made me further realize how much players--including myself--can be completely unaware of how their cards work, as well as other cards that interact with them. Of course this isn't the first time that I've seen a misplay, but they usually occur on newer cards, and Judgment Dragon and Effect Veiler are pretty old. After the second Veiler resolved, the player controlling the JD opted to pay 1000 lifepoints yet again, and I watched and waited for them to start clearing the board before I stepped in and explained that JD no longer had an effect because of Veiler, and that it stay like that until the end of the turn. As if on cue, he quickly told me that I told him that he could activate JD's effect again when he asked me about it a minute ago. I said, "Yes, you did ask me if you could activate the effect of Judgment Dragon after it has already been Effect Veilered, and I told you, yes you can. You can activate it as many times as you'd like, as long as you can pay for it. That doesn't mean that it will do anything." He looked down at his calculator and I reminded him that those payments were made, regardless of JD having no effect.

In round 2, one of my close friends asked to borrow my calculator because he forgot his at home, and he hated to use his phone. He had actually asked for it before the start of the tournament but I was too busy to access my bag behind the judging station. I eventually got it to him and man was it a curse. I use a calculator case with my TI-83. In it, there are several cards in the little slots to the left that represent decks that I've topped with; it was something I did way back when in 2011, and it just kind of stuck. His round 2 opponent showed up to the match a few seconds late so he was given a game loss. Out of spite, he called the head judge to verify the cards in the calculator case since technically you aren't supposed to have any Yugioh cards in it. My friend was given a game loss and then lost the 1 and only game that they got to play. When he told me after the match, I thought it was pretty funny--albeit a little messed up--but funny no less. I had completely forgotten that that was a thing because I always take everything out before YCS tournaments.

In the same round, a player came up to me and said that he had nowhere to sit because the table arrangement was incorrect. Tables 22 and 23 were squeezed together so that there was only enough room for one set of players to sit there. I instructed them to take the results slip and play the match in the other room where they would have plenty of space. Luckily, we had so much room to accommodate everyone. I explained the situation to the head judge, Paul Fahy, but he said there's nothing we can do because we'd have to change every table number just to create space. A domino effect; something I hadn't thought about. In the later rounds, this problem fixed itself because so many people dropped with x-3 records, or just because it was so late, and the tournament still had a couple rounds to complete.

A player walked up to me and asked if it was okay that one of his side deck sleeves was bigger than all his other sleeves. In other words, it was the same color, but you could physically see a difference in size. I told him that it would be better if he just unsleeved that card because if he gets deck checked, he'll certainly receive a game loss for marked cards. It's something that you can cut to and it's a little suspicious since the sleeve matches the other ones in terms of color.

Perhaps the toughest thing that I had to do was make a judgment call on a your-word-against-mine scenario. Originally, Paul was called over to address the problem, but he pulled me to the side and said it would be good experience to deal with it. If I got it wrong, he would correct me so that it was fair to the players, and I would still have gotten the experience. When I addressed the players and asked what happened, they immediately bursted into a yelling battle. It was absolutely insane. You couldn't understand either of them because they kept trying to match each other in volume, and every time one got louder, the other would follow suit. I kept instructing them to quiet down and talk to me--not each other--but I using my "office voice," trying to be nice. They were having no parts of that--probably because they couldn't hear me over their own yelling--so I used a more authoritative tone to grab their attention, and when I say authoritative, I essentially mean I had to get louder than both of them. They both quieted immediately. Next, I reminded them to address me and only me with their remarks. I let the first guy have a go at telling his side of the story and the other guy interrupted him halfway through. I once again used an authoritative voice to stop him before things got out of hand again, and then I let the other gentleman continue. After he told his side, I let the other guy speak.

The situation was as follows:
Player A drew for turn, played Heavy Storm to destroy Player B's Grand Spellbook Tower, thus triggering its effect, but while Player B was searching his deck for the effect of the Tower, Player A drew again. Now here's where it gets tricky. Player B caught him drawing another card from his deck. Player A admitted that he drew another card, but that he also put it right back. He claimed that he got confused since he thought Player B was resolving the effect of his Justice of Prophecy, which was on the field at the time and triggers on the end phase. Player A drew a card because he thought that Player B was in his end phase. Crazy. I know. Read it again if you have to. So basically, he somehow thought that his opponent was ending his turn twice, even though he already drew to begin his own turn. The main issue was whether or not he shuffled his hand before putting the card back on the top. Player B said that he saw him shuffle it, obviously, and Player A said that he didn't shuffle his hand, obviously. I thought about everything for a minute and explained to Paul what my train of thought was before telling him what my verdict would be. What I almost overlooked was the fact that Player A had absolutely no reason to draw again. It was already his turn, he already drew, and you shouldn't be so confused as to forget that you already drew for your turn...seconds after drawing for your turn. He seemed really sincere, and he probably was telling the truth, but he admitted to adding a card to his hand and no one could verify if he shuffled it or not. Therefore, he was given a game loss. It sucked but there wasn't much I could do given the facts. His opponent adamantly believed he shuffled his hand and that the game state was ruined because he drew twice. Since it was his turn already, it could completely change the game state if he drew an extra Black Luster Soldier- Envoy of the Beginning for example.

At the end of the day, judging the largest regional in the country was pretty awesome. The event ran surprisingly smooth to have so many players. It’s always a pleasure to hang around my friends who I haven’t seen in awhile, or to meet people for the first time who I might’ve added to my Facebook page.


  • 730+ players! Largest regional ever!
  • Philadelphia Pretzel Factory
  • Wawa
  • Alistar “Alibear Jones” Albans in attendance.
  • “Billy Freakin Blake” in attendance.
  • Dave Viera for topping with Gravekeepers.
  • Luke Feeney for topping with Wind-ups.
  • Corey Roca for topping again 🙂
  • McCabe for having yet to top a Philly Regional.
  • Paul Fahy for being an awesome head judge.
  • Robert Wakeland for hooking me up with the Yu-Gi-Oh rules app.
  • Getting to sign mad cards.
  • Getting complimented for “drippin swaggu” lol?



  • Not getting to play in the largest regional ever 🙁
  • Wearing uncomfortable shoes.
  • Having to stand for 10 hours straight.

Until next time, duelists! Play Hard or Go Home!

~Frazier Smith

~The Dark Magician

Frazier Smith

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