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Santa Clarita is game for Magic

Posted: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 23, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Kyle McCarriher, left, and Oscar Casasola compete in the trading card game Magic: The Gathering at Tapped Out Gaming in Valencia on Saturday.

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Hands fog the glass of protective display cases as eyes scour the contents. Hundreds of dollars are exchanged as products are plucked from their locations in cases and passed across with cautious hands and plastic covers.

The valuables are neither jewelry nor technology. They are Magic cards.

The Santa Clarita Valley hosts a community of “Magic: the Gathering” players, including shops that specialize in the game, clubs dedicated to the game at local high schools, and last weekend a serious tournament sponsored by an internationally recognized company.

Tapped Out Gaming, a card game shop in Santa Clarita, held an invitational qualifier tournament sponsored by an online company that awards over a million dollars a year to tournament participants and is heralded as the largest Magic: the Gathering store in the world.

“The event is a tournament sanctioned under (Tapped Out Gaming) and under the sponsorship of StarCityGames.com,” said Matt Avakian of Newhall, who owns the gaming store with his cousin Tony Iriana.

Players from all over Southern California attended the competition. With 36 participants, there were six rounds of Swiss-style competition with a top eight single elimination.

“This tournament is considered an invitational qualifier. Basically, StarCityGames has bigger tournaments where you either get invited or have to qualify.”

First-place winners of StarCityGames.com invitational qualifiers receive $250 and an invitation to a StarCityGames.com open invitational, which has a first-place prize of more than $ 40,000, according to head judge for the event, Eric Cheung.

“This is a tournament that feeds into a larger tournament series,” said Cheung, who traveled from his Irvine home to help judge the tournament.

Many local residents participated in the hopes of winning the invitation. Hayden Clelland, a participant from Saugus, said he spent more than $600 on the deck that he was playing in the tournament.

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