MKM Series Is Coming to Your Town... Don't Panic
During the MKM Series Frankfurt, the quiet neighbourhood of Bischofsheim was invaded by hundreds of Magic: The Gathering players. They all came to play, but this is not a story about them. This is a story about emergency kebab sales, empty supermarkets, and a minor garbage crisis.
On January 5th to January 7th in 2018, the MKM Series returned to Frankfurt! Back in 2016 and 2017, the event set registration and attendance records. So, what should you do when hundreds of Magic players come to your town? On Saturday, while the Modern main event was ongoing, I took a walk around the Bischofsheim Civic Centre. Along the way, I interviewed store managers, dog walkers, and had a cup of coffee with a coffee shop owner who was "adopted" by the Magic community.
The Kebab Shop was on Vacation. Then the Magic Players Came.
There was a small sign on the window of a takeaway kebab shop directly across the Civic Centre. It informed me that the shop would be closed until January 15. However, not only was the kebab shop open that day, it was also extremely busy. The line stretched along the entire sidewalk! "We weren't even supposed to be open today," said an employee. "We're all on vacation!" It was only by chance that he and a colleague had come to the shop on Friday to do some paperwork. Then, they were spotted by hungry Magic players who asked them if they were open.
After a few phone calls, the small kebab shop was officially open on Saturday and Sunday. Four employees worked within the confined space. I asked them about the weekend's surprise customers. "They're very friendly," one of them said. "And very hungry!" added another. They both laughed.
The local bakery was ready for the MKM Series.
Marco Reitz doubled his weekend revenue every time the MKM Series is in town. Reitz is the proprietor of Snack & Weck, a bakery and coffee shop just one hundred metres from the Civic Centre. Without any warning, the first MKM Series Frankfurt in 2016 brought large crowds of Magic players to his doorstep. "The first tournament pretty much caught us by surprise," he admitted, laughing. "Hundreds of people suddenly turned up and needed coffee. We did not really know what was happening."
The following year, the Magic community gave him a heads-up. "A few weeks before the 2017 event, players contacted us, telling us about the tournament. For a small business like ours, that was vital information." Since then, Reitz has been prepared for MKM Series Frankfurt. He made sure to stock up on baked goods, and an additional employee staffs the counter.
For Three Days, Magic is the Neighbourhood's Official Language.
Not only were players looking forward to seeing Reitz this year, but Reitz was also looking forward to seeing them. The coffee shop owner was always pleased with the customers he gets during the MKM Series because they are polite and respectful. Players calmly waited in line for a sandwich, coffee, or some snacks. While waiting, they talked about the game. Decks, formats, matchups, plays — Reitz didn't understand the jargon, but he was fascinated by the event's power to bring like-minded people together.
"I have people from France, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and many other countries standing in my shop, and they're all here because of a shared hobby. They all speak the same language. I think that's great!" When it came to ordering sandwiches, however, some need a little translation.
On one of the tables, a player put together a Standard deck for Sunday. He preferred the calm of the coffee shop compared to hustle and bustle of the Civic Centre. Marco Reitz said customers are free to use his tables to play, prepare, or just take a break from the tournament action. He also had tables set up on the patio, but in January, there were no takers.
Magic Players Buy up all the Energy Drinks, Surprising No One
The line from the kebab stand stretched past the entrance of the nearby supermarket. Inside, store manager Christian Funke explained that Magic players mostly buy "convenience products", which meant drinks or snacks. Since he didn't know about the event beforehand, the supermarket wasn't prepared. Funke was nevertheless confident that he could satisfy most of the demand — even without additional employees or supplies.
But according to some players, the supermarket started running low on drinks by Saturday afternoon. The first customers that came back empty-handed trekked to a nearby gas station instead. On Monday, I called the store manager who confirmed that all but one brand of energy drink was sold out. In addition, there were no smoothies, almost no snacks, and there was only one store-brand soda left. From the retailer's perspective, the MKM Series made for an outstanding weekend.
As People Buy, Trash Grows
Of course, with food and drink comes trash and the trash had to go somewhere.
Inside and outside, the garbage bags quickly filled up with plastic bottles, wrappers, paper napkins, banana peels, and much more. Some people didn't bother throwing their trash away into the bags at all, leading an announcement on Saturday around noon. The judges, over the loudspeaker, said, "players are reminded to use the garbage bags instead of leaving there garbage lying on the table." So clearly, it was business as usual here at the latest MKMS Frankfurt stop.
A Fine Event by any Standard
Garbage disposal problems aside, the Magic players left a positive impression on the denizens of Maintal. Every shop owner and resident I talked to over the weekend noted their politeness, especially when it came to international players. Some even seemed surprised. A passerby walking his dog told me he looked for illegally parked foreign cars on Saturday morning, but did not find any.
I called the Civic Centre administration and asked if their had ever been any incidents or any complaints from residents. The administration said no and that it would be happy to host a Magic tournament again – a testament to the maturity and positive demeanor displayed here by the European Magic: The Gathering community.
"I Hope the MKM Series Comes Back Every Year."
After I spent Saturday running around, I finally got to play Magic on Sunday. Between two rounds of the Legacy main event, I saw coffee shop owner Marco Reitz again. After closing "Snack & Weck" for the day, he decided to see exactly what the event was all about.
He just strolled through the venue, taking in the sights and browsing the traders' inventories. Aside from a brief venture into Yu-Gi-Oh, he had never played a TCG himself. But he seemed fascinated by the atmosphere of the event that had brought so many customers to his doorstep.
What was his overall impression?
"It's unlike any other event we get here at the Civic Centre. I just hope MKM Series comes back every year."
Author's note: The names of several people interviewed for this article are withheld at their own request.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily Cardmarket.