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Grand Prix Las Vegas 2017 – What a trip

Grand Prix Las Vegas, what a week! For those of you in the Magic community you know what I am talking about. Those not in the community, let me fill you in. Grand Prix Las Vegas took place June 14-18. It was a massive event hosted by Channel Fireball that included three Grand Prix (Legacy, Sealed, and Modern). To my knowledge, this is the first time this has happened. I, like a couple hundred other people, did not play in any events. Instead, I was there to work as part of the CFB staff. Specifically, I was part of the Special Operations team.

What does that mean? Well, as a member of the spec ops team my job was to make sure everyone had what they needed to do their job. This means I was running pens across the event hall from one stage to another, chasing down hand carts and pallet jacks, moving cases of paper, sitting for artists when they needed a break (no I won’t sign your card, you will be sad when you find out I am not the artist.) and even extinguishing a smoldering ashtray, just to name a few things.

Nadine Grendelmeier as Nicol Bolas

This also means we do a lot of walking. In total, I walked 42 miles over the course of four days. While that’s a lot, it’s nothing compared to what our team leader Joseph Sapp and Matthew Johnson walked – those two killed it. My feet hurt for a couple days after it all wrapped up.

When I arrived at the event Thursday morning I was immediately struck by the size. Sure, it was smaller than GP Vegas 2015, but it was much larger than other GPs I’ve worked. I checked in with Sapp, got my credentials and bright orange staff shirt, and proceeded to get to work. At first, I was simply meeting artists as they came in. I made sure they had their name badge, as well as any extra badges they may need for people helping them.

After that was complete and the main doors opened, my day truly began. Running all over the place for the first couple of hours was crazy. It’s amazing how quickly teams realized they were missing things to do their jobs. We covered them nicely. A highlight of the day was when Nicol Bolas made an appearance.

While sitting for artist Anastasia

Justin Rix as Sorin.

Ovchinnikova, I was visited by a solemn visitor in Sorin. Cosplayer Justin Rix looked fantastic!

Day two saw me working in The Arena – which was awesome. Here I got to spend time with content creators like Evan Erwin, Erin Campbell, and Reuben Bresler of Magic Mics, a panel’s worth of cosplayers, including L3 judge Jess Dunks (judgecast podcast), and even see a massive game of Magic, with all new cards from Hour of Devastation, between Nicol Bolas and the Gatewatch! What a day.

At the end of the Magic game (Bolas’ won of course), Bolas and company destroyed a massive sand sculpture to reveal a card from the upcoming Hour of Devastation set.

The sculpture before Nicol Bolas and crew destroyed it.

The Scorpion God was revealed to be hiding inside the sculpture.


Saturday was more Arena work. I met Jimmy Wong and Josh Lee Kwai, the hosts of Game Knights and the Command Zone podcast who were joined by Seattle Seahawk player Cassius Marsh and cosplayer Mel Li.

Commandzone podcast featuring Jimmy Wong, Josh Lee Kwai, and Cassius Marsh of the Seattle Seahawks.

They were followed by The Professor and Wedge doing a reunion show of sorts of their popular series Dies to Removal.

Of course, there was more cosplayers. Seriously, these folks do awesome work.

Cosplayers sat in on a few panels over the weekend offering tips and tricks.

Sunday, was my least exciting day as I worked to tear down the side rooms in preparation of the events end.

This Grand Prix was the sixth one I have attended. All of them I have attended as a member of the staff where I work as a judge or support. Working spec ops was something completely different for me.

My friend, and spec ops team lead, Joseph Sapp keeping the breakdown team engaged.

Spec ops is a grueling, painful job. You are on your feet all day long running around the event hall. You have a radio that you monitor so you know when and where you are needed. And typically, those calling on you, are tournament organizers themselves, the heads of Channel Fireball. When you aren’t being radioed for, you are checking in with artists, providing customer service, and making sure the vendors have what they need. You get a bird’s eye view of the tournament.

Being a part of this team was incredible. Not only was the work rewarding, but the members of the team were awesome. Further, our team leader, Joe Sapp, was top-notch. A highlight of the weekend come on Sunday when the team, along with the breakdown crew had a rare break. To keep everyone engaged, Sapp had everyone explain their best interaction of the weekend. It was cool to hear what happened to the staff members throughout the weekend.

My hat is off to the entire staff of GP Vegas. Everyone worked hard and did an awesome job. My hat is also off to John Saso, Mashi Scanlan, and Jason Lems. What a weekend.

Patrick is the Publisher of The Forge Herald. When he is working his day job, he can be found judging Magic tournaments, slinging spells, and hanging out with his family. Contact him at pcossel@gmail.com

© 2017, Patrick Cossel. All rights reserved.

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About Patrick Cossel,

I am a journalist and gaming enthusiast.

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