Attending Your First… PPTQ (Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier)

So you’ve never been to a PPTQ before?  You need some help getting prepared for one?  Not sure what to expect?  I’m here to help.

PPTQ stands for Preliminary Pro Tour Qualifier and it’s likely to be your first foray into the world of competitive MTG.

PPTQs are run at something called competitive rules enforcement level (REL) which means that there’ll be greater expectations on you to not make mistakes and there’ll also be a judge there whose job it is to make sure that everything runs smoothly.  This means that they’re there to answer any questions that you may have, so don’t worry if you feel the need to call them over and ask them a question if there’s anything that you’re not sure of.

Competitive REL also means that there’ll be penalties if you do make mistakes, but they’re more often than not going to be learning experiences which you can use to help improve your skill.

These events are going to more than likely be bigger than the FNMs that you’re used to, and will often have lots of people there that you won’t know.  That just means that you’ve got new people to talk to and get to be a part of the MTG community on a larger scale, which are both good things.  Whilst this may seem daunting, there are few events now in which I don’t know most of the players there, of which many I’m now friends with.

What can you do beforehand to prepare?

Almost all stores will have pre-registration available, which I would recommend doing if you’re able to.  This is because spaces may be limited and you don’t want to miss out and sometimes there’s a discount for signing up early too, which is a great way to feel good going into the event.  Another way to make sure that the start of the day goes smoothly for you is to find out exactly where you’re going to and how to get there, as you don’t want to be worrying about that the morning of.  It’s a good idea to also check out the likelihood and amount of traffic there will be on your route if you’re driving or if there’s any big events going on nearby as I’ve spent enough time in unexpected rugby traffic trying to get into Cardiff to expect it now.

My morning ritual for a big event now includes me setting multiple alarms to make sure that I don’t oversleep, having a proper breakfast and making lunch before setting off with plenty of time to get there.  You’ll be surprised how much your win percentage can go up if you’ve made sure that you’re well fed and rested, and it’s probably the most important thing for you to do.

What should you bring?

There are some things that are indispensable to a magic player at any level and that list grows slightly when you start going to competitive events.  You will most likely already have most of this, so it’s just a case of making sure that you’ve packed it all.

Playmats are a great way to protect your cards and sleeves from anything that may be on the tables as well as a nice way to start conversations with other players.  Using dice and/or beads are a great way to represent any counters that you’ll need.  Bring along a deckbox, or two if it’s a limited event, to make it easier for you to carry your cards and keep them safe.  Also for your decks, I’d recommend that you bring along some extra sleeves as some are sure to break at some point during the tournament.

If you’re going to a competitive event, I can’t recommend enough writing your decklist before you get to the event as you may not have time to when you get there or want to take your time looking around the store and get settled.

Similarly for your deck, make sure that you’ve got everything that you need for it before you leave, as you may not be able to acquire replacements when you get there.  At competitive events, it is expected that you use a pen and paper to note down both you and your opponent’s life totals to make it easier to keep a track of what’s been going on and to prevent any mistakes from occurring.

Other thing that I’d recommend that you bring with you are lunch, as you may not be able to get it during the day, money to pay for anything extra that you need and, as you’re going to a place a lot of different magic players than you’re used to, bring your trade binder too.

What’ll be there?

Beyond other players, tables and chairs, it’s hard to say as every store is different.  Some places will have hot food and drink in store whilst others will only have snacks.  If they don’t have food, they’ll be able to tell you where you can get it nearby and they’ll be happy to help you do so.

A lot of stores will be selling singles, but some don’t, so be aware that you may not be able to pick up any cards that you need on the day, so make sure you ask them beforehand if you need anything put aside.  Even if they sell singles, make sure you put in any orders early, because there may be others looking for the same cards that you are, and stock may be limited.  Most, if not all, stores that’ll be running PPTQs will have booster packs and other games for sale that you can pick up to help ease any losses with some good old fashioned retail therapy.

What if I lose?

Losing happens sometimes, no matter how good you are, and it’s what you do after that which is how you’ll find the whole experience.  Some stores will be running side events, and if they’re not, I’m sure they’d be happy enough to get a draft started.  Also, by knowing the area, (you did that in your preparation, right?), you’ll know if there’s anything nearby that you’d be interested in.  The last PPTQ I went to, people went to the cinema to see a film and we all went to an escape room afterwards.  What I’m trying to say is that just because your event is over, doesn’t mean your day has to be too.

What if I win?

As these events are run at competitive REL, if you do well then you’re likely to be part of the top 8.  This consists of the top 8 players based on Swiss rankings which becomes single elimination.  For constructed events, you’ll play your matches as normal, but with limited events, you’ll get an extra booster draft and the deck you get from that is what you’ll use for the rest of your matches.

If you win the entire PPTQ, well done!  You’ll likely some nice prizes from the store in the form of many booster packs.  More importantly, however, is that you’ll be qualified for the Regional PTQ, where you’ll be playing against some of the best players in the country.  Attending that event will get you a nice and shiny promo card, (it’s currently Emrakul, the Aeons Torn), and have a chance of making it to the pro tour.

We will be running a Sealed PPTQ on June 3rd at 9:30 at Atlantic Games. Please let us know if you’re planning on attending and making sure you book your space before the weekend.

If you have any questions about going to a PPTQ, please feel free to comment below or send us a message on Facebook.

You can also find our events calendar here for any future PPTQs we run, as well as all of our FNMs, Standard Showdowns, Prereleases and other non-Magic events.

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