Reporting from Madrid. | The Irish Duelist

Reporting from Madrid.

I haven't done a tournament report in a while, but then again I haven't been playing in large events for quite a while either so I may as well do a quick write-up on my experience in Madrid for the year's European Championship, which took place last weekend. Hopefully you'll find it interesting to read about the event from the perspective of somebody who travelled all that way to not even play.

Friday, July 15th

My weekend started with a 5am alarm and a lift into Limerick Station an hour later, before hopping onto a train to Dublin to catch my flight. Like any sane person I'd rather fly from Shannon (which is only 30 minutes away from Limerick) than having to travel across the country to get to an airport, but sometimes with specific dates and flight routes that's just not possible, and the only flights to Madrid from Ireland I could book were the ones going in and out of Dublin. Anyway, I got on the train, slept for a bit and then took some artsy-fartsy photos with my iPhone as I sped through the countryside.

Arrived at Heuston Station at about 10-11am and got the first bus out to the airport where I pre-wrote a few articles for Madrid. Then I got on the plane and that's when things started to feel awkward. Halfway through the flight one of my teeth started acting up. I've always had bad teeth (was pretty much addicted to sugar when I was a child) and they're falling to bits, 2 were pulled out towards the end of June. Anyways this third tooth towards the back started hurting me and I just drank a bunch of water to numb it until I landed in a very hot Madrid.

When I landed I picked up the luggage and got on the Metro to my hotel (Madrid's Metro network is amazing by the way, and dirt cheap too) and got off at the stop right before my hotel. Unfortunately Madrid's street labelling isn't as awesome as their subway system so I took a wrong turn at the crossroads and wandered around for 20 minutes (while getting overtaken by 4 Segway riders that were playing with the traffic) before making it to the hotel, where a whole bunch of players were getting in some last-minute Deck testing and trading before the main event kicked off on Saturday.

After heading upstairs, unpacking and assessing the damage of that toothache I headed back down and spotted a few Judges and Konami staff having some quiet games in a seperate area to where the players were being a lot louder. Trevor (one of the top UK Judges) was amongst them and he was awesome for loaning me a card I needed to take a picture of for the event coverage, as well as some mild painkillers. I hung out with this group for a while and also met up with my fellow event writer Oliver Gehrmann before the staff dinner took place (I just munched on bread rolls all evening since I'm a terrible eater). The evening finished with me mingling with my fellow Duelists so that I could soak in the atmosphere of the event a little before it kicked off in the morning. Got to my swanky bed just after midnight.

Saturday, July 16th

Alarm went off at 6am, got everything ready and headed downstairs to have something resembling a breakfast (Spanish milk tastes terrible) before getting the staff bus to the venue. We got there and it looked quite nice, very big and spacious, with lots of cool signage and the (now regular inclusion of a) Stardust Dragon statue for Duelists to admire. After getting used to what would be my home for the next 2 days and finalising the setup of the coverage area and all the technical stuff I completed a few articles and sent them to Peter (the administrator, awesome guy) who put them up on the site. (here and here)

Soon after this the coverage team (consisting of myself, Oliver, Peter and Karin) got to grips with the few minor and major changes to the coverage system (all of Konami's European sites were under maintenance for the past few weeks to make everything more secure) and we found out that the gallery feature was "damaged". At YCS Paris we used this to add another 20-30 images to the end of each article, usually the ones we couldn't add to the main body but still had relevance (sample here), but it wasn't going to work for us this time. No big deal in my opinion, as it now meant that the main images we used could be stronger since we concentrated more on getting the right shots (fun fact: I've been using my iPhone 4's Camera+ application for the past 2 events as a camera and it works amazingly well) for the right moments.

The event then kicked off with the player briefing and Round 1, and Oliver was handling the first Feature Match. In the meantime I added photos to the Deck article I pre-wrote and it went live. The Public Events update went live as well and I finalised a few more drafts (boom boom) before getting ready for my first Feature Match. We were concentrating on National Champions for this event and looking through the pairings I saw that the UK & Ireland Champion was playing off against one of Europe's finest so that was worthy of a mention. That was the game I decided to feature and it was an exciting one to watch. Once it was over I added the images (and the captions, one of my favourite parts of writing coverage since myself and Oliver have a lot of fun with these) and it went live.

It was around this time that the toothache started acting up again, only much worse. Took a painkiller and was then drinking water every few minutes to help numb the pain but it was getting worse. Nonetheless I kept writing and struggled through Round 4's match, trying to keep up with Fabio's crazy combos while feeling dizzy. While writing this up after it finished (I usually write in semi-short-hand during the match so that I don't have to ask the players to slow down) I downed more water but my body was full, and the Spanish heat didn't help either. I told Peter and Oliver that I needed to take it easy for the rest of the day as I was feeling terrible at this point, so Oliver being the soulwarrior he is did the rest of the Feature Matches while I wrote up whatever I could while fighting the pain (I didn't want to stop working as I was determined to bring the readers the best coverage possible). Halfway through Round 6 I had to rush to the bathroom as my body had taken enough abuse and I was quite weak for the rest of the evening (could barely lift my fingers to type but I got in some content that was ready for Day 2). This is why there's such a big gap in the Saturday where there's seemingly no content coming from me by the way, hope you all understand. The day ended at about 10pm for everybody and after briefly chatting to Duelists in the hotel I retired to the relative safety of my bed.

Sunday, July 17th

Another 6am start, dodgy Spanish breakfast and bus to the venue (but not after meeting some Duelists who were just after coming back from a nightclub!). I was feeling a lot better this morning and got to work right away on the content for Day 2. As Peter and I were finalising the Deck and country breakdowns of the 580 players at the event, (I think I did about 100 total between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, Peter was awesome with the rest) Oliver was doing the first match of the day. Once we had our final numbers I put the fancy graphics together and the article went live (pics below also).

Once that went up (I love doing stat articles like this by the way) I powered ahead and got another article in before the next Feature Match, and one more before the Top 64 playoff. That particular match was the quickest I've ever covered and I pretty much had it all written up before I even left the table, just added images, did an error check and it went live. I even had enough time to do a quick photo article and get a chance to leave the Feature Match area, which was nice. The Top 16 match was next and it took a while to get going as one of the players was late. The game lasted the full 40 minutes and was decided on the final turn before sudden-death play.

After this myself and Oliver split our duties for the rest of the day. He would work on all the remaining Feature Matches (he's a faster typer than me so it makes sense) while Peter and I would write out the Top 16 Decklists. I got a few in and previewed them on the site for error checks (we use shorthand code to save us the time of writing out full card names and formatting them) before the site started acting up. As is usual at this time so many people from around the world were trying to access the site and read the coverage, so the site crashed in its vulnerable state after the maintenance and I couldn't get any preview checks in. Regardless I powered through about 13 of the 16 lists and they went up mere moments after the Finals had ended. There's one or 2 errors in the lists but we'll get those fixed soon.

With some time to spare before the event was completely over I decided to power ahead, make up for yesterday and get in as many articles as I could to make the "score" between myself and Oliver (it's a fun little thing we challenge each other with, who can have more articles published over the weekend) and got it back to a respectable 23-21 in his favour. First up was something I've been wanting to bring back to Yu-Gi-Oh! coverage for a while ( had this back in 2008 before the site was decomissioned); a Top 16 playoff bracket (above). With this you can easily see who won each match in the Top 16 and how each finalist had made their way to that table. Looking at it now the green is a bit much but we'll improve on that for the next event. After that was another breakdown article and I signed off to the readers around the world with an article "passing them over" to the North American team who were also covering their major WCQ this weekend.

That was us done for the weekend and despite being "The Writing Wounded" (Oliver was nursing a cracked rib and my teeth resemble a warzone) we pulled out all the stops and can be proud of what we (and the rest of the team) achieved. After receiving some nice thank you gifts from Peter the 2 of us headed back to the hotel via the Metro and (with me being Irish and him German) kicked off a drinking session with our fellow Duelists from Germany and Holland in the hotel. My teeth weren't great so I switched to juice and water after the first 2 glasses and had a few games with various people as the crowd died down. By the end of the night it was just msyelf and a few British and Dutch players chilling out on the sofas until 5am when I finally called it a night.

Monday, July 18th

I got up at about 11 the next morning and packed before checking out of the hotel and hung out in the lobby, playing a few more games with the remaining British Duelists before catching my flight. Unfortunately it was delayed and by the time I landed in Ireland I had missed the final train back home, so I was stuck in Dublin for the night. That was okay though as I know of a decent hostel and I paid the measly €14 to spend the night there (but not before running to the nearest pharmacy to get the strongest, fastest painkillers I could as the flight had caused my toothache to assault my pain barrier once again). I hung out there for the night, had an epic Table Tennis session with some Germans, watched TV and made use of the bed before getting home late on Tuesday afternoon.

The entire weekend (despite the pain) was amazing and while I can't give mentions to everybody I met (you all know who you are anyways) I had such a great time as always. Many thanks to Oliver and everybody at Konami for being so awesome over the weekend, and I hope to be at the next event in Amsterdam in August!