Ironies' Grand Prix
The Ironies' Grand Prix, or IGP for short, is a widely-televised, semiannual vyozha tournament held in Triple Mesa. Though skill at vyozha is nominally the focus of the tournament, the event is is better known by its audience for its entertainment value, star-studded cast of competitors, and relaxed atmosphere.
The advent of radio - and, later, early televisions - brought about the concept of broadcasted events funded by advertisers through ad engagement with listeners and viewers. This contributed to the rising interested in competive sports and games, such as Cube Conquest tournaments and Terraceball championships, as a pathway to widespread broadcast fame for the participants.
While vyozha followed the New Voxelian colonists into the Elovisian-held lands which would eventually become the Free Faces League, the concept of gambling with the game or hosting tournaments was still considered sacrilege against the House of the Unexpected at that time. It wasn't until Voxelia's grip on their expeditionary colonies began to loosen as a matter of long logistical trains that vyozha began to lose its religious connotations in these regions. While the Church of the Unexpected would eventually re-establish ties in the fledgling Leauge, the tradition of gambling-hall vyozha in the region never really faded away.
The Burnhearts were forced to concede that their own pubs (being club- and male-exclusive) were not broad enough as venues to engender wide in-person audience attendance. To solve this problem, the club members worked with the revenue-hungry Triple Mesa tourism industry to create of IGP Tournament Committee. The legacy of this collaboration was the relaxed, informal atmosphere of the IGP, a trait which has persisted into modern year of 10,000 AR.
Though vyozha lacked much of the heady appeal of these aforementioned pasttimes, being a tabletop card game which had hitherto been consigned to home or pub play, all it took to convince broadcasters of the profitability of public vyozha tournaments was a well-worded pitch by well-connected members of the Burning Hearts Social Club.
Unlike most professional gaming tournaments, such as Cube Conquest competitions held by the various Navigator's Guild guild halls, the Ironies' Grand Prix is an overwhelmingly informal affair. Contestants are encouraged to chat with one another and are asked audience questions by tournament commentators, promoting a relaxed air that listeners and viewers have been found to enjoy; indeed, audience members have been quoted as saying that watching the IGP is like vicariously hanging out with friends at the pub. Groups of four IGP contestants gather around tables stocked with cocktails and cigars to play the 'Mesa Mistake' variant of vyozha, in which the act of successfully emptying one's hand requires the player who does so to take a drink. The connection between skilled play and increasing drunkennes serves to balance the skill levels of the players as the night goes on. Tournament matches consist of several games, where the players play until one of them has won three games altogether. These winners, in turn, move onto the next bracket. The size of the tournament bracket tends to expand over time, with the result that modern tournaments often span two or three days. After the official games for the evening are finished, the commentators and some of the competitors who didn't 'make the cut' participate in the slower-paced 'After Hours Bout' while discussing the events of the tournament so far.
Components and tools
Early events were held in local pubs and taverns, but as the event expanded, the IGP was able to afford convention space and, eventually, their own broadcast set. The current IGP set - formerly a rail freight warehouse - is soundproofed and set with polished wood furnishings to evoke its roots in Burning Hearts pub culture. The tournament tables are set in depressions on the central floor to make it easier for the audience and broadcasting teams to watch over the games as they unfold. Because the IGP works on Mesa Mistake rules, a full-service bar attends to the needs of the players as well as the audience; suffice it to say, IGP events are adult-only affairs. The buy-in for the tournament is 1,000 NGC per competitor, though those working for charities or who are selected as special guests by the Tournament Committee often have this buy-in waived. All contestants at the final table recieve 4,000 NGC, while the ultimate winner of this game also recieves half of the remaining buy-in money as a purse in addition to the title of IGP Champion. The remaining buy-in money is combined with advertising revenue to provide for the overhead of the next event.
The organizers of the IGP go out of their way to pick convivial contestants who might be interesting to listen to in a casual context - the real entertainment value of the IGP comes from the conversations held around the smoky tournament table. Comedians, high-ranking members of the Burning Hearts Social Club, and radio personalities are put into the tournament alongside skilled competitors to enliven the affair. Verified Seekers of Misfortune are sought-after guests for their storytelling potential, and always have an open invitation to attend, if not directly participate in, the tournament.
The IGP Tournament Committee - based in the Free Faces League capitol of Triple Mesa - works with members of the Burning Hearts Social Club and Navigator's Guild to organize the event and gather potential contestants from all around the Manifold Sky. Voxelians are hypothetically welcome to attend IGP events, but, due to the ongoing War of Reunification, very few ever do. Most contestants hail from the Coalition of Breakaway Colonies, though the ever-perceptive Rostran peoples are known competitive threats when they belly up to the tables.
Both IGP tournaments take place on the second Gakuni in their respective months, with the IGP Summer Series occuring on Absunten 19th and the IGP Winter Series occuring on Abseldun 19th. Tournaments begin late in the day to allow workers coming off the last day of the workweek to enjoy them via radio or television transmission.