UPDATE: Seems like only some BGs are experiencing fixed queues. Also, the code setting alone didn't seem to fix anything, it was 4-5 days later that queues finally started to feel normal. Enjoy if your BG is fixed. If your BG isn't fixed, hopefully they know what the problem is now. =/
It wasn't a hardware issue, just a setting in the code, which we found and fixed very early this morning. We'll monitor the queues throughout the day to see if we need to make further adjustments.
Because of the tournament issues early in the week, the practice for the first round has been extended an extra week. It now ends April 22 instead of April 15. The first round still ends on the same date, May 20. In addition, the blue gave a bit of clarification to things we probably already know, but here it is just in case you are curious.
The practice period will end on Tuesday, April 22, 2008 when the servers go down for maintenance and at this time, all teams will be reset to 1500 rating.
The 200 games must be played by the end of the first qualifier which is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday, May 20, 2008 when the servers go down for maintenance. Players will have 4 weeks to play the 200 games that count toward their final rating. Hi Trance. The same length of time will apply to the second qualification round though the dates for the second qualification will obviously be different.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008 is when the first round of qualification completes. You will have to re-register to continue to take part in the Tournament Realm past this date.
There is no numerical value we can attach to this question [Approximately what rating is needed to advance?] right now. It depends on how well players do and where they are at when the four week period finishes.