2023 World Championship

"Few have gained such a victory."

This year in October, the Player's Council will run its first World Championship and determine who is worthy to call themselves the best player in the world.

As the LOTR-TCG community hails from all over the globe, the event will be digital and hosted on GEMP, with live commentary streams for key matches including the Finals. Prizes (both physical and digital) will be awarded to the best players, and the best player of them all will be crowned World Champion for a year.

The event will consist of three parts: a series of Walk-on Qualifiers and other events for players to earn invitations, a Group Stage filtering down invitees via a Swiss tournament, and the Championship Tournament in which the best of the best will go head-to-head in an elimination bracket to crown the Champion. To enter the World Championship, players will need to register, qualify, and obtain a Championship Ticket. Details on each of these are below.

Prize Sponsors

Prize support for the 2023 World Championship has been generously provided by the following donors:

Individual donors:

  • Chuck Ward
  • Harry Duff, Custom Craft Awards


The Registration Form will be published and provided starting in August, and all players who wish to enter the World Championship will need to complete it. It will require the sharing of an e-mail address and a physical mailing address for the shipment of prizes. If a player chooses to waive prizes (or if they live in a location which cannot be easily shipped to), then their prizes will be forfeit and will be distributed to other players, with no cash replacement or other equivalency.

Fill out this form here to receive an email once World Championship Registration is open, as well as to subscribe to reminders for this year's event.

After registration, each player will need a Championship Ticket to enter the Walk-on Qualifiers or Group Stage, and will require a Championship Invitation to attend the Group Stage.

Tickets and Invitations are discussed below.

Championship Tickets

Each player who enters the Walk-on Qualifiers or who otherwise qualifies to enter the Group Stage must register and obtain a Championship Ticket as part of their registration. Tickets will cost $5 USD.

Members of the community can also opt to become Contender Sponsors. Such sponsors can purchase as many Championship Tickets as they like, which will enter a pool available for players to claim. Players who do not have access to PayPal or for whom the cost of tickets is a financial burden will be able to request a sponsored ticket from the pool. If you would like to become a Contender Sponsor, donate any amount (in $5 USD increments) to this PayPal account here: tickets@lotrtcgpc.net.

Ticket sales will be used to pay for shipping of physical prizes, and the excess will be used to pay for Gemp server costs. The community is thus encouraged to purchase as many sponsorship tickets as they like, as any extra will not go to waste.


Players will be able to secure Championship Invitations in four ways:

  • By coming in 1st place at any monthly PC Weekend Qualifier League
  • By coming in 1st place during Format Championships to be ran in August 2023
  • By coming in 1st place at qualifying physical events run by the community
  • By entering and performing well within the Walk-on Qualifiers in September 2023 (which will make up the majority of the available slots)

See the following sections for details on each.

Weekend Qualifier Leagues

PC Weekend Qualifier Leagues are ran monthly in the 3rd or 4th weekend of the month and run for 72 hours, from midnight UTC Friday to midnight UTC Monday. Leagues rotate between the three PC formats, PC-FOTR, PC-Movie, and PC-Expanded. The player who comes in first is issued a Championship Invitation. In the event of a tie, then Strength of Schedule (opponent win percentage) is used to break the tie, and further tiebreakers as used by Decipher will be used as a fallback.

In the event that a previous invitee is the winner of a Weekend Qualifier League, then their invitation will be passed to the player in 2nd place, but only if that individual achieved the same score (which is to say, the only difference in their performance was Strength of Schedule).

Weekend Qualifier League Invitation Slots:

Format Championships

Format Championships will be ran during weekends in August 2023. Each of the PC formats has a time allocated for players to enter an automated Swiss tournament, the winner of which will receive a Championship Invitation. There will also be some time allocated to some Decipher formats, one each for FOTR, Movie, and Towers Standard.

Format Championship Invitation Slots:

Community Events

Certain community-ran events will also award an Invitation to the winner. If you are interested in awarding an invitation at a community event that you are running, please send an email to the Player's Council.

The Walk-on Qualifiers

If you weren't able to secure an invitation via one of the above events, never fear! The majority of the available invitation slots will be reserved for the Walk-on Qualifiers, which will run across weekends in September 2023. These automated Swiss tournaments will be scheduled to be accessible to multiple time zones, and will run all three PC formats, which will permit skilled masters of each format to earn their place, regardless of location or time zone.

The number of Swiss rounds will vary based on attendence, with a minimum of 3 rounds (~2 hours) and a likely maximum of 6 rounds (~4 hours). The PC-Expanded rounds will have a little more time allocated to them due to the complexity of the game state in those matches.

The following Walk-on Qualifiers will be ran targeting availability in the following time zones:

Invitations to the Group Stage will be issued as follows:

  1. Invitations will be awarded to all Weekend Qualifier League winners, community event winners, and Format Championship winners (~16 slots)
  2. Invitations will be awarded to the 1st and 2nd place ranks for all individual Walk-on Qualifiers
  3. If a given Qualifier had at least 8 participants, then its 3rd place player will also receive an invitation
  4. If a player participated in multiple Qualifiers, then the best performance will be used and all others dropped
  5. The remaining results of all Qualifiers will be sorted according to a normalized formula (2 points per win, 1 per loss, total divided by the number of rounds in the Qualifier), using the Modified Median method for calculating tiebreaker Strength of Schedule. All remaining invitations will be awarded according to the resulting ranking until they run out.

If your time zone is not represented here, and you and at least 4 friends will attend, then please contact the Player's Council for us to consider a new slot.

Remember, attendance at the Walk-on Qualifiers will require registration and a Championship Ticket. Players who attend the Walk-on Qualifiers will automatically be entered into the drawings for the Group Stage door prizes (see below).

Group Stage

The Group Stage will be a modified Swiss tournament with 64 slots available. 8 rounds of Swiss will be played, with 30 minute time limits, 10 minute breaks between matches, and a 1 hour break in the middle. This means that the event as a whole will take 6 hours, starting at 17:00 UTC on Saturday, October 14th, and will end at 23:00 UTC.

The first 4 rounds of Swiss will use the PC-FOTR format, and the second 4 rounds will use PC-Movie. This means that players will need to prepare 2 different decks.

Once all 8 rounds are complete, players will be sorted according to their track record and Strength of Schedule, and the top 8 will move on to the Championship Tournament. If any of the top 8 are disqualified or otherwise unable to attend, then their position will be awarded to the player next in line.

Some door prizes will be awarded to random Group Stage + Walk-on Qualifier attendees (prizes provided by Card Game Geek and CategoryONEGames, among others), including:

  • 6x DGMA T-shirts

Drawings will occur throughout the Group Stage and Championship Tournament live on stream.

Championship Tournament

The Championship Tournament will be a double-elimination tournament for the Top 8 players from the Group Stage, played one week later. These players are dubbed the World Competitors. Matches will once again be limited to 30 minutes, with a minimum 10 minute break between matches. The finals between the undefeated Upper Bracket winner and the survivor of the Lower Bracket will be a Best of 3.

This means that the event as a whole will take 5.5 - 6.1 hours, starting at 17:00 UTC on Saturday, October 21st, and will end at 22:30 UTC (if the finals ends with 2 matches) or 23:10 UTC (if the finals ends with 3 matches).

Double Elimination means that players will have to lose twice before they are knocked out of the tournament. Anyone who loses a match in the Lower Bracket is eliminated from the tournament, and anyone who loses a match in the Upper Bracket is moved to the Lower Bracket. Thus, a player who loses their first match could theoretically still make it to the Finals, so long as they drop no more games in the grueling 5 match gauntlet that is the Lower Bracket.

Upper Bracket matches will be played using the PC-Movie format, and Lower Bracket matches will be played using the PC-Fellowship format, meaning that players will need to prepare 2 decks to use for the duration of the Championship Tournament.

After both brackets have run their course, there will be a 60 minute break before the finals, which as a Best of 3 will operate normally with a 30 minute time limit and a 10 minute break between matches. All matches in this best of 3 will be PC-Movie. The winner will be crowned the World Champion, and the loser will be the World Challenger.

Prizes will be awarded to each of the Top 8, as follows (prizes provided by Card Game Geek and CategoryONEGames, among others):

  • Competitors (3rd - 8th Place):
    • 1x DGMA T-shirt
    • 4x Top 8 Competitor Promo (Physical + Digital)
    • 4x World Championship Promo (Physical + Digital)
    • 1x Competitor Plaque
  • World Challenger (2nd Place):
    • 1x Custom World Challenger Deck Box
    • 1x DGMA T-shirt
    • 4x Top 8 Competitor Promo (Physical + Digital)
    • 4x World Championship Promo (Physical + Digital)
    • 1x Challenger Plaque
  • World Champion:
    • 1x Custom World Champion Deck Box
    • 1x DGMA T-shirt
    • Choose and help design the Top 8 Promo
    • 4x Unique Top 8 Competitor Promo (Physical + Digital) (This will be branded "2023 WORLD CHAMPION" to be distinct from all other Top 8 promos)
    • 4x Unique World Championship Promo (Physical + Digital) (This will be branded "2023 WORLD CHAMPION" to be distinct from all other WC promos)
    • 1x Champion Plaque


Matches will be played according to the rules laid out in the Comprehensive Rules 5.0 Rulebook, as implemented on GEMP. This means that if a bug is encountered where the implementation of a card on GEMP is inconsistent with the official rules, the bug will stand as the legal interpretation for the duration of that day's events.

Matches will be limited to 30 minutes. If at the 30 minute time limit the game has not yet ended, then a winner will be declared based on Decipher's Tournament Guidelines. To quote those guidelines:

Distance traveled on the adventure path determines the winner. A site is earned only after all skirmishes are resolved for that movement. The player who has traveled the farthest wins. In case of a tie, use the following tie-breakers (in this order):

  • Ring-bearer with the most resistance remaining
  • Fewest companions in dead pile
  • Fewest wounds on companions
  • Random determination

Players may concede at any time for any reason. Any player who concedes is considered to have lost the match.

Matches will be configured to permit up to 10 minutes of total inactivity from a player, to account for outages or necessary computer restarts. If a player hits this 10 minute inactivity timer before the match has completed, then that player is considered to have conceded.

Players are expected to make a good-faith effort to play at a reasonable pace. Manipulating one's gameplay actions for the purpose of stalling, "roping", or abusing the timer to excessively delay the game is considered cheating and may result in disqualification. If a player suspects their opponent of stalling, a judge may be summoned to evaluate the situation.

During a match, players are encouraged to keep their communication between each other to a minimum, and to be polite. Any player who engages in hateful or extreme language towards their opponent may be disqualified at the discretion of a PC judge, and may be banned from GEMP.

At any time a player may request a PC Judge explain the result of a card action, but players are advised that actions cannot be reversed and any explanation time will be "on the clock".

If a game crashes mid-match due to a server issue or a game-breaking bug, then the resume-from-replay feature will be used to restore players to the point just before the crash, and an alternate action must be selected to avoid the crash. If resume-from-replay cannot be utilized, or if the game is unsalvagable, then a judge will determine if a rematch is to be played, or if a winner will be declared, which will fall back on the time-limit guidelines if the game was too close to call.

If any unforeseen circumstances arise before or during an event (such a game crash mentioned above affecting multiple parties), then the PC may postpone the remainder of the event for a later date.

Players will need to create a pair of decks before any day's events, one for the PC-Movie format, and one for PC-FOTR. Decks cannot be changed for a given day's events once matches have started, but decks may be altered between events. Full decklists from all participants will be published after the conclusion of the event, but it is up to players to not share their own decklists before that time if secrecy is desired.

Only individuals may enter the World Championship. If any entrant is found to have collaborated as a group during a match, or consulted with another player during a match ("coaching"), or otherwise received information that they should not have had access to, then that entrant will be disqualified. Group collaboration is of course allowed between matches or between events.

Invitations are not transferrable, and neither are Gemp accounts. The entity being invited is the player, not the account. Championship Tickets are also not transferrable once claimed, although if a player obtains a Ticket and then later discovers they cannot attend, the player can request the ticket be returned to the pool for use by another player.

Matches will be played privately between two players, with specators being restricted to PC Judges and approved Commentators who must delay any recorded broadcasts until after the event has concluded. Replays and decklists will similarly be restricted until after the event has concluded, and any player who is found to have reviewed an event replay or to have received information on their opponent's decklist before or during a match will be disqualified.

Sockpuppet accounts are not allowed. If multiple actual individuals will be competing from the same IP Address, then this information MUST be disclosed during the registration process, or BEFORE a day's events have started if the circumstances were unforeseen. If multiple entrants are discovered to have originated from the same machine or IP address during an event without disclosure, then all affected accounts will be disqualified immediately.

Finalists may not agree to simply "split the prize". Either player may of course concede as is their right, but if both players refuse to play the Finals, then neither player will be crowned Champion and they will both be disqualified. In such an event, the two previously most-recently eliminated individuals will compete as Finalists.

PC members are permitted to enter the World Championship. In such a case, those individuals will be treated as normal players and will not be permitted to spectate or judge matches that involve themselves or potential opponents. This means that such PC members will not be permitted to judge any matches for any Walk-on Qualifier that they themselves entered, and if they make it to the Group Stage they will be recused from any further judging for the remainder of the event.