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The Challenge: Organized Play, the Overview
Ian Estrin

Welcome back, campers

One of the benefits of having a column that doesn’t have any constraints is that I have the latitude to write about whatever I feel like. The downside is that having that leeway can also lead to having some very sporadic column topics. This column has jumped from deck building to card previews to my insane ideas for Limited play. However, one thing I have never touched on is Organized Play (OP) support for Yu-Gi-Oh! and all other Upper Deck games and how important it is to keeping and making those games successful. I am going to keep the column on this topic for the foreseeable future and focus on OP and the various facets that make up the OP support system. I have no set timetable for how long I am going to stay on topic, but there is enough information available to keep The Challenge on OP for a few months. I will do a minimum of one month on OP, and then more as my brain allows. These next few articles are going to be chock full of information, so everyone grab a piece of paper (who I am kidding, use Word or your PDA), some coffee/tea/Sobe/Red Bull, and let’s do some OP deconstruction.

To make sure that everyone is on even footing and knows what is going on, let’s start out by answering, “What is Organized Play?” Organized Play encompasses all of the programs, events, and support that a company provides for its games. Organized Play is designed with one goal in mind: to give players as many ways as possible to play the games that they love while fostering and supporting the gaming community that each successful TCG develops. The short version of all that is that OP is the backbone of any good game, and good OP turns a good game into a great game.

Imagine life without OP. There would be no weekly tournaments or leagues, no Regional Events, no National Championships, no Pro Circuit, no Judge Program, no Demo Team Program, and no Prerelease Events. It would basically be you and your buddies playing games and never getting any additional exposure to other players and events. Let’s face it—no matter how great a game is, people will eventually get bored unless they have different ways to play and interact with the game. OP is designed to give players a myriad of alternatives to just playing at their local stores, and helps to keep the game fresh. Without OP, there is no real incentive to push your game to the next level and nothing to aspire to. It is OP that drives you to want to become Store Champion, study hard to pass the Level 2 rules knowledge test, or push you and your deck to the next level and earn that invite to Nationals. How many times have you heard someone say, “How cool would it be to go to Nationals, or even Worlds?” or “Man, I can’t wait to head to the Pro Circuit stop in New Orleans and see how my Doctor Doom Deck fares.” Alright, you may not have heard those exact quotes, but you get the idea. Organized Play works to make sure that players have all the opportunities in the world to experience the game to the fullest.

While there is something to be said for checking every Friday and not knowing what you are going to get, I think it will be good to add a little structure to this column. Let’s do a little scheduling, shall we?

Week 1: You’re reading it now
Week 2: Premier Events
Week 3: Judge Program
Week 4: Pro Circuit
Week 5: Mantis and Rankings

Those are rough guidelines, but I will do my best to stick to them. Some weeks might carry over into the next week, while others might be a little shorter, but they should all average out to a week or so. If more topics come up that should be touched on, I will add them in, and if there are enough questions/comments on certain articles, we can go back and dive into that topic a little deeper. OP has so many facets that there is no way I will be able to cover it all. My goal here is to give everyone a little exposure to OP, how it functions, and how it is going to make the gaming experience better for everyone playing UDE games.

I think that is going to do it for this week. My brain is pretty much shot right now, and once the fog clears, I will set to work on hammering out the next five weeks. I apologize for the brevity this week, but I think that it was enough to whet your whistles and get the dialogue rolling about the future of Upper Deck OP.

Until next time . . . think OP thoughts.

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