|Pro Tour New Orleans - Judge Report
I was selected to attend to Pro Tour New Orleans, I was very excited, and before travelling Sheldon Menery posted the article "Your First Pro Tour", this was my first, so after reading the article I took into consideration the three basic points he discussed: know the game, know the environment and know yourself.
Know the game
I think I know the rules very well, but of course I'm not a guru, I'm just a level 2 judge in a small city, and a relatively small but growing country referring to magic players. So I studied the rules again, then the new update came out just a couple of days before my travel, so I made sure I knew the changes.
I think the two most important areas were the issues of drawn games and taking notes. No match in the PT has played a fourth game, but the taking notes issue was asked by a lot of players, and many of them were surprised that they could takes notes of almost everything.
Know the environment
Here in Argentina, extended is a very popular format though there are not that many extended tournaments, so I looked at the most popular decks, the difficult card interactions, and then prepared myself to look at some changes when Odyssey arrives. Fortunately there weren't a lot of changes though Odyssey made a big impact in the format with cards like Call of the Herd and Zombie Infestation.
As I said, I can be good at something, but not so good in other things, that's when the question of asking comes out. Being afraid of asking another judge about rulings, doubts, organization or just anything you need to know to work better is a BIG mistake. If you only stay with what you know just because you're afraid of playing fool in the eyes of other judges, you'll never grow, you'll never learn from your mistakes, and of course, you've got the chance of making a bad ruling and that's bad for the entire tournament.
After reviewing this points, I came out with other 3 points of myself: have fun, learn as much as you can, and teach as much as you can.
I quote Mike Guptil "when Magic stops being funny, I'll quit", and he's absolutely right. Magic is about having fun when you play and when you judge. If it wasn't fun at all then there wouldn't be so many players and so many judges. Those serious rude looking players called Pros, that you may think only think about card strategies, sideboards and stuff, they have fun too. You can see them joking with each other in the middle of a game; you can see them dressed in the most unexpected outfits, having toys with them, etc. etc.
You should enjoy yourself while you are judging
You may thinks those are lucky charms, I think that stuff is just for fun, just to make the environment a little less tense.
And of course, the judges, if a judge doesn't have fun while judging, or outside the event with other judges and/or players, that judge will be in a bad mood, tired, and not willing to work. That's not what the players need, in any type of event not only at the PT.
Learn as much as you can
The idea of working with level 3 and 4 judges is basically to achieve experience, and that comes through learning. Personally, I learned a lot, from my team leaders and the head judges as well (I said head judges because I was working also at Masters).
I learned new ways to approach a player to solve a situation, I learned how some rules or penalties should be applied, I learned that making feel the players as if they're our friends is a great way to keep them satisfied.
Pro Tour New Orleans judging staff headed by Mike Guptil
Teach as much as you can
And the last point, teaching. Don't you think that because you're a level 2 judge you don't have anything that other higher judges can learn. Every judge is different, and each one can learn new work mechanics from another one, no matter what level you are. Sometimes, you are teaching them just to smile at the players, sometimes just willing to work harder, or apologizing about a mistake made.
Every tournament is an opportunity to learn and to teach, but don't try too hard, these things come when you're not expecting them, and that's the satisfaction of realizing that just learned something new, or that another person learned something from you.
If you do your best, you have to be proud of yourself, not because someone comes and tell you how great is your work, but just because you know you did it. If you think you did not do your best effort, try to think about it, and see what you can improve, so the next time you judge in such a big event, you'll feel better about yourself.