The War On Byes
by, 10-06-2015 at 12:12 PM (2372 Views)
My store's attendance is in a constant state of flux. At one point we consistently drew 10-16 players, but as of late we've been lucky if we exceed 6 on regular events, but we can pull in 10+ on special events. I believe from the start our store has suffered from an issue of contrasting play styles with some very good, very competitive players squaring off against minimally competitive and very casual players. When you have a larger scene such as Friday night magic, there's more room for these contrasting styles, and even when these competitive vs. casual face-offs occur, the competitive players quickly tend to bubble to the top and the casual players can usually salvage a fun night of it in the later matches.
This brings me to the point of this post: I have recently taken over Tournament Organizer (TO) duties at my local game store and I quickly noticed what felt like a bit of a problem. In small events, WizKids does not discourage TOs from competing in their events. That being said, if there is an odd number of players, I would strongly encourage TOs to sit out of events for the good of their store and the health of their player base.
Try to put yourself in the shoes of a new player. You created your first team and you're off to your FLGS to give it a try. Your first match you take on a seasoned veteran and you get absolutely crushed. You come away from the match unsure of what you did wrong or if your team is even remotely viable and generally feel like you didn't even get to play your team. The next round of pairings are put up and tragedy occurs as you find that you've gotten a bye. You are now sitting and staring at your failed team for 30 minutes trying to figure out what went wrong. When the next (and possibly final) round comes up, over an hour has gone by and you've still learned nothing about your team. You may now finally get the one match you were hoping for to really give your team a workout, but it's already hard to not feel like you've wasted your time even bothering to come out.
Situations like this are why I feel it is important for TOs to sit out when there is an odd number of players. You want your events to be welcoming and your players to feel like the event is worth their time regardless of them being competitive or casual. This also makes you more available to those new players, so they can ask the questions to hopefully help them grow as players. I'd only decided to start this personal war on byes in the last couple of weeks, so it's too soon to know if it will make any difference on attendance or not, but it can yield other rewards.
I put my money where my mouth is for our DC Rainbow Draft Weekend event and despite really REALLY wanting to compete for that full art Joker card, I sat out to keep our numbers even for the draft. One of our seasoned veterans walked away with Joker, but our second place full art Robin prize went to one of our very young, more casual players. Seeing the pride in that boy's face, the joy he got from his father's pat on the back, and how thrilled he was to of done that well made my sitting out sting just a little less.