Daddy, are we L3 yet?

Hey all,

I hope you had good summer vacation, or at least had a blast at a few events. For my part, GP Taipei was one of the most interesting events I’ve ever been to – thanks to how well run it was but also because I got to know a great number of judges I usually never meet.

Planning L3 panels has become a bit more chaotic than it should in the past few months. While most of the fault is mine, because I try to make things work even for regions which don’t have a GP a month, your experience can be improved by better planning your L3 application. Too many applications arrive very shortly before the panel GP, which might be arranged but not always, and usually gives everyone a bad time.

Here are the steps that normally happen after an L3 checklist is submitted:

  • the Verification Committee validates the checklist (2 weeks)
  • a Questionnaire is sent to the candidate to fill (2 weeks; there are 10 questions which demand attention and well-argumented answers)
  • the pre-event interview (PEI) follows the Questionnaire (2-4 weeks, depends on how detailed the first answers are),
  • the pre-interviewer sends the panel members a report and the panelists prepare (2 weeks)

As you see, all steps take about 8 to 10 weeks to complete, and this is the time you should provision between the moment you submit your checklist and the event you actually test at. Of course, if the checklist is missing items, more time is needed as you’ll need to fill those in before proceeding.

There have been some instances where the PEI has been waived. While I’m all for speeding up the process when possible, time has shown that no PEI leads to a significantly higher failure rate at the panel. Since July 2013, 9 candidates have had their PEI skipped – only 3 of them passed on the first try. Of the 17 remaining candidates, 11 passed. That’s a 64% success rate with PEI vs 33% without!

I don’t have a complete explanation as for why, but one thing is certain: the whole L3 process is a learning opportunity, and after a PEI the candidate has a chance to think and correct anything they struggle with before the panel. The time spent in direct contact with an experienced L3 pays off in as short a time as one month. So my message is: ask for PEIs! More PEIs! PEIs are good for you! :)

Thanks for reading.


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Hi, everyone! First, I want to point out that within the next week or two, the article series on the Qualities of Regional Judges will be complete! Check out my sphere page to see them all. I think these are going to be an excellent permanent resource for judges attempting to get to L3. Thanks to all of the authors who wrote the articles, as well as Jason Lemahieu for suggesting the idea in the first place.

Of course, calling it “my sphere page” is now incorrect, because, as of a few days ago, it’s not my sphere anymore. The management of the L3 testing process is now in the capable hands of Daniel Kitachewsky, and I’m excited to see the fresh perspective he will bring to the job.

As for me, you’ll still see me at events, but I’ve decided to step down to L3 and reduce my role in the program outside of events. In my time in charge of the L3 process, I’ve had a great deal of help and support from a very large number of people in the program. You all have my gratitude. Working together, I think we’ve left the L3 process in better shape than it was when I took over.

It is now my great honor to rejoin the L3 community that I’ve helped build over the past several years.

Thanks everyone!


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Supplemental Activities – Part Three

Well this is the final stretch. In part one we talked about Supplemental Activities in general and then last week we discussed how Supplemental Activities are created and assigned. Now it’s time for the candidate to start completing them.

Completing Supplemental Activities

Once a candidate has been assigned Supplemental Activities, they can get to work on completing them. Each activity is designed to take no longer than six months to complete, and most can be completed in a much shorter time.

When a candidate completes (or makes significant progress on) an activity, he or she should  contact the supervising judge to let them know that they are submitting the activity for evaluation. In many cases, this will be an actual submission of reviews, an essay, or a seminar for evaluation, but for other activities it may just be a discussion at the end of the event.

The supervising judge is responsible for a full and fair evaluation of the candidate’s submission. Once they have reached their determination, the activity is either marked as complete, or an e-mail (CCing the Supplemental Activities Adviser) detailing the concerns remaining should be sent to the candidate. In many cases, the candidate may be able to simply clean up a few things to address the supervising judge’s concerns and finish the activity, however, in the case where the candidate feels that they have not been fairly evaluated, he or she may request that the activity be reviewed by the Supplemental Activities Committee.

One of the hallmarks of the Level 3 process is that the evaluation of each candidate is collaborative and, at no point does a single person have the ability to prevent an advancement. The option to have the committee review an activity is that failsafe for supplemental activities.

Final Evaluation

So a candidate has finished all of his or her Supplemental Activities, now what? There are two options:

  1. A discussion with a Level 4+ judge focused on the Supplemental Activities as well as the deficient qualities identified in the candidate’s initial panel. At the end of this discussion, the Level 4 may promote the candidate, or recommend that a panel is needed to come to a proper decision.

  2. A follow up panel focused on the deficient qualities identified in the candidate’s initial panel.

The choice between these two options is made during the development of the Supplemental Activities and included in the review. For candidates with only minor deficiencies, a Level 4+ discussion is preferred, but major deficiencies, or deficiencies in qualities that require more hands on evaluation (Stress & Conflict Management, Investigations) lend themselves to a supplemental panel.

Time Limits and Withdrawing from Supplemental Activities

Supplemental Activities is a continuation of the Level 3 process and, as such, its value degrades as time passes after the panel’s initial evaluation. There are three timeframes that will put Supplemental Activities into review:

  1. Three months pass with no significant progress on any activity. (Significant progress is determined by the supervising judge of each activity)

  2. Six months pass without the completion of any activity.

  3. One year passes without the completion of all Supplemental Activities.

Reasonable extensions may be granted at the candidates request, but the maximum time allowed for Supplemental Activities, including granted extensions, will be eighteen months.

If a candidate’s Supplemental Activities go into review, the Supplemental Activities Adviser will contact the candidate to determine if they wish to continue, request an extension, or withdraw. If the candidate wishes to continue, there must be a plan in place to make progress within one month. If the candidate chooses to withdraw, or if there has not been the planned upon progress after one month, the candidate is considered withdrawn from Supplemental Activities. Candidates who withdraw from Supplemental Activities are welcome to test for Level 3 again, but they will be considered a new candidate and material from their previous Level 3 process (Level 3 Recommendations, GP Team Lead Recommendation, Level 3 Assessment Exam) will not be valid for inclusion in a future application for testing and will have to be completed again.


Well, that took a bit longer than I thought it would. For a fairly straightforward process it looks pretty complex when you break it down. Really, it just breaks down to – “Here’s some ways to work on the areas where we want to see you improve!”  The structure is just there to support the candidate and give them a team of judges to work with as they hammer out the last few dents before they are ready to assume the role of a Level 3. It’s always easier with friends and this process is designed to give the candidate people to lean on along the way.

If you have any questions about the process that I did not answer here, I encourage you to contact me at Also, if you are Level 3 or higher and would like to be involved in the Supplemental Activities process, I’d love to hear from you. There are many opportunities to get involved ranging from supervising an activity to becoming a Supplemental Activities Adviser.

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Supplemental Activities – Part Two

Last week, I introduced the idea of Supplemental Activities. This week, we will take a look at the philosophy and design of an activity. We will also look at a real activity and break down the structure as it is presented to a candidate.

Designing a Supplemental Activity

Now that we know what areas we will focus on, we have to design activities to target them which leads us to the question: What makes for a good Supplemental Activity?

1. Action

Sitting and thinking about a quality isn’t enough, we expect the candidate to put their skills to use. While we want to make sure that the candidate really has to engage in the activity, more esoteric skills may need to draw on a broader base of experiences. Depending on the activity, this part is sometimes implied or actually occurs before the activity officially starts.

2. Reflection

The candidate should process their experience and draw conclusions about the applicable skills. Although never explicit, a candidate will have a hard time being successful without properly reflecting on their performance and development during the activity.

3. Presentation

The candidate must present their thoughts in some format to be evaluated. This usually takes the form of an essay, review, e-mail exchange, at event performance, or seminar. It is not enough to simply do something, as a learning activity it is important that the candidate is able to articulate their improved understanding of the quality.

4. Evaluation and Oversight (Supervising Judge)

Although not the candidate’s responsibility, this is a very important part of the activity. A Level 3+ judge or the candidate’s Regional Coordinator is assigned to oversee and determine the success of each activity. If a candidate submits an activity as complete and the supervising judge disagrees, the Supplemental Activities Committee will review the activity and rule on completion.

A good Supplemental Activity challenges the candidate to grow and improve, then gives the candidate an opportunity to demonstrate their improvement in a concrete manner. It also sets down clear criteria for success so that both for the candidate and the supervising judge know what is being evaluated.

The Anatomy of a Supplemental Activity

Now that we have a good idea of how Supplemental Activities come together, let’s take a look at a Supplemental Activity as it is presented to a candidate, then we’ll talk about how we tailor them to each individual. Let’s look at a recent Supplemental Activity:

Supplemental Activity #2 – Assessment of Other Judges

Supervising Judge – Jason Flatford

Write at least three reviews from a single Grand Prix event, including at least one of a Level 3+ Judge. The review of the Level 3+ should focus on at least five of the official traits of Level 3 judges and should identify both strengths and areas for improvement. Upon completion, please send the review ID numbers to Jason. Jason will determine success by evaluating the reviews for content, accuracy and insight.

There is a lot here so let’s take it one piece at a time.

  • Supplemental Activity #2 – Assessment of Other Judges

This identifies the quality that the activity is designed to help the candidate improve and gives the activity an identifying number for easy reference.

  • Supervising Judge – Jason Flatford

The supervising judge for each activity is responsible for overseeing and evaluating the candidate’s performance in the activity. The supervising judge will ultimately determine whether the candidate successfully completed the activity. In this case, Jason Flatford will be responsible for the evaluation, as well as staying in touch with the candidate about their progress. Supervising judges can be any Level 3+ judge, but are often panel members, Regional Coordinators, experts in certain areas, or other judges with a specific interest in the candidate.

  • Write at least three reviews from a single Grand Prix event, including at least one of a Level 3+ Judge. The review of the Level 3+ should focus on at least five of the official traits of Level 3 judges and should identify both strengths and areas for improvement. Upon completion, please send the review ID numbers to Jason.

The meat of the activity is the description. This should clearly lay out what is expected of the candidate to complete the activity.

  • Jason will determine success by evaluating the reviews for content, accuracy and insight.

Finally, it is important to provide context for what constitutes success and what the supervising judge should be focusing on during evaluation. In this case it is the content of the reviews and the judge’s ability to collect and deliver relevant feedback that will guide me in determining whether the activity is successfully completed.

The overall goal of the format of the activities is to provide the candidate with a concrete, achievable activity as well as criteria for success. While this activity is event specific and will probably take no more than a couple of weeks from start to finish, all Supplemental Activities are designed to be able to be completed within a maximum time frame of a six months.

Supplemental Activities Review

The final list of Supplemental Activities is submitted as a review by the Supplemental Activities Adviser.The list of activities is also posted as a Google Doc for the supervising judges to use to communicate and coordinate. Progress and completion of activities are kept up to date by the supervising judges using the comments feature with the Supplemental Activities Adviser overseeing them and keeping an eye on the big picture.

So we’ve covered a lot in the first two weeks, but there’s still one more left to go. See you next week when we talk about how candidates go about completing their activities and becoming Level 3!

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Supplemental Activities – Part One

Hello everyone, Jared Sylva here! Jeff has kindly lent me the keys to this blog for a few weeks to talk about a topic that is dear to my heart – Supplemental Activities. Over the next three weeks I’ll lay out everything that you need to know about how we handle candidates who do not pass their first Level 3 Panel.

Since I was promoted to Level 4, one of the areas that I have focused is on the candidates for Level 3 who do not pass their panels. Now that we are starting to hone the process, including the first successful transition from Supplemental Activities to Level 3, I wanted to share the structure that we have developed publicly.

First off, what are Supplemental Activities? These are new goals set before a candidate who does not pass his or her Level 3 panel. The point of these activities is to offer the candidate a structured and measurable way to address the deficiencies identified during the initial Level 3 process. The idea of Supplemental Activities predates my direct involvement, but I have been able to provide more hands on support than was previously available.

The Level 3 process is an exhaustive evaluation, but for a long time, we would often be confounded by what to do with the information that we gathered along the way. If we were uncomfortable promoting someone, we told them what areas they needed to improve, but there was little direction in how to do that. With a more structured Supplemental Activities process, we are able to lay out a better, clearer path for candidates who fail a panel.

Assigning a Candidate’s Supplemental Activities

As I mentioned earlier, the Level 3 process has changed a lot during my time in the Judge Program. Transparency and clarification over the past few years have really helped both candidates and panels to frame their feelings and concerns about complex issues in terms of qualities. If you haven’t read the description of the 12 qualities of Level 3 on the Judge Wiki, you should hop over there now. I’ll wait.

Back? Good.

Throughout the Level 3 process, candidates are constantly being evaluated on these qualities. Level 3 recommendations, the Pre Event Interview (PEI), and the panel itself, can all be stripped down to evaluating the candidate on each of these qualities. By the end of a panel, it is the Panel Lead’s responsibility to lay out any concerns with the candidate’s readiness for Level 3, and to do so clearly in terms of minor and major deficiencies.To pass a Level 3 panel, a candidate must have no more than two minor deficiencies and may not have a major deficiency in any area.

If a candidate has a major deficiency in any area, or three or more minor deficiencies, then they will be recommended for Supplemental Activities. At that point, a Supplemental Activities Advisor will contact the panel, the Level 3 Testing Coordinator, the candidate’s Regional Coordinator, and the recommending Level 3 judges, as well as any local level 3+ judges who may have a special interest in the candidate. Together, they will start the process of creating Supplemental Activities for the candidate.

The number and focus of the Supplemental Activities are determined by the deficiencies. For every minor deficiency, that quality will be assigned one Supplemental Activity with every major receiving two. Rules & Policy is the only exception to this. Failing the written exam is considered to be a major deficiency since a candidate is not allowed to pass without it, but it only warrants a single, consistent, Supplemental Activity: Pass the Level 3 Assessment Exam followed by passing the Level 3 written exam.

Next week we will talk about the design and anatomy of a Supplemental Activity as we look at a recent example.

Part Two | Part Three

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Self-Review Now Valid for 12 Months (and other topics)

Hi, everyone. We’re making a small change to the application requirements for L3. Your self-review is now valid for 12 months instead of 6. However, if, at the time you send your application to me and your RC, your self-review is more than 6 months old, then your application must include a brief update on the various Qualities of Regional Judges. For example:

Assessment of Other Judges: After attending a seminar on reviews, I have learned some new techniques for giving specific and useful to other judges after events. I have put this knowledge into practice for several of my more recent reviews.

Investigations: Since my self-review, I have conducted three more serious investigations, one of which led to the discovery of a cheater that I probably would not have caught a year ago.

…and so forth.

We believe this will give applicants a bit more flexibility and a bit less time pressure, while maintaining quality and ensuring that our L3 candidates are not “stagnant” judges who will stop improving as soon as we promote them.

Other Topics

But wait! There are several more things to cover today!

In a previous blog post, I talked about my team. There’s been a small change to it: Nathan Brewer has stepped down as leader of the Verification Committee, so Ben McDole is now the lead. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nathan for his work and thank Ben for taking the reins. Thanks, guys!

Speaking of Ben, he just put a very useful article on his blog about snags we’ve seen among recent L3 candidates. Many of the rejected applications that we’ve seen recently are rejected for one of two reasons:

  1. Insufficient review quality
  2. Insufficient participation in the judge program outside of events, or insufficient detail in the application about that participation

Read Ben’s blog post to find out more, and to learn how to avoid having your application rejected by the Verification Committee!

Speaking of blog posts, one of our newest L3s, Rob McKenzie, wrote a very informative post about what the L3 interview is really like. It helps demystify the process, so check it out!

And remember that article series about the Qualities of Regional Judges? Here’s the next one: Investigations, by Ryan Stapleton. And more articles are on the way, so stay tuned, either here or on my sphere page.

Whew. Lots of reading material for you all today, but if you read it all, you will increase your chances of having a smooth road to L3. Thanks, everyone!


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New Article Series: The Qualities of Regional Judges

Hey, everyone! It’s my pleasure to announce a new article series on the Qualities of Regional Judges. Our hope is that judges who are interested in L3 will learn a little more about the “soft skills” that we require our Regional Judges to have.

First up: Attitude and Maturity, by Jurgen Baert.


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Meet my team!

Over the past few months, I’ve formalized my “executive team” for handling the processes around L3 testing. I thought it would be a good idea to introduce them and their roles.

Pre-application assistance: Jason Reedy

Jason is in charge of several things. If you submit a self-review for approval, it goes across his desk. If your L3 application is rejected for whatever reason, he’s the one charged with helping you improve it so that it’s accepted the second time around. Finally, he’s in charge of monitoring the progress of some quality L2s in areas where we’d like to encourage program growth by trying to make an L3 there.

Verification Committee lead: Nathan Brewer, and assistant: Ben McDole

Australia’s Regional Coordinator Nathan is in charge of the Verification Committee, so L3 applications eventually find their way to him. And while Nathan steers the committee, Ben steps in from time to time to make sure that the committee is moving along at a decent pace. Together, they ensure that L3 applicants meet our standards, and that they get an answer soon after they submit their applications. When an application is approved, it gets passed along to the…

Pre-Event Interviewers lead: Gavin Duggan

As if being Canada’s Regional Coordinator wasn’t enough, Gavin also helps immensely with the process of making new L3s around the world. After an application is approved by the Verification Committee, he finds an available L3+ who will handle that candidate’s Pre-Event Interview. It’s his job to ensure that the process goes smoothly and relatively quickly, so that a candidate can be scheduled for a panel interview.

I am the one who arranges panel interviews at Grand Prix events. In some cases, these interviews result in a new L3. However, when they don’t, the candidate is handed off to the…

Supplemental Activities Manager: Jared Sylva

Our newest L4 is already plugged into a number of important areas of the judge program, including this one. When an L3 candidate fails their panel interview, it’s Jared’s job to work with the panelists and other stakeholders to craft a set of Supplemental Activities that are designed to help the candidate improve on their weak areas. These Supplemental Activities are linked to the Qualities of Regional Judges in which the candidate was found to be deficient, and are meant to be actionable, objective, and focused on helping the candidate improve. Constructing these Supplemental Activities can be a difficult task, so I’m very glad to have Jared leading this effort.

So, that’s my team! In addition to each of us having our areas of influence, we also have discussions around L3 testing policy. Finally, we talk a bit about what we are all doing and help each other out. For example, Jason is leading a PEI for Gavin right now, and Jared recently worked with Ben on a set of Supplemental Activities. By helping each other out, we are all getting a good view of the other parts of the process. This is very important in a volunteer organization, where it is not uncommon for someone to have to disappear for a little while due to work or family obligations.

And speaking of volunteer organizations, let me take this opportunity to give a big, public THANK YOU to each of the guys I mentioned above. Each of them not only has a day job and a life outside of Magic, but, in fact, they all do substantial other work for the judge program in addition to what they’re doing for me. Thanks, guys. I really appreciate it.

Anyway, I hope this article has shed a little more light on what we do and how we help get people to L3! As always, if you have questions, post them here or contact me privately!


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GP TL Recommendation Now Valid for 3 Years

As you probably saw on the [O]fficial announcements, we made a change to the requirements for an L3 application.  The change is one that we believe will help candidates put together their applications without having to worry too much about schedule-juggling.

If you receive a recommendation from an L4+ Head Judge indicating success as a Team Lead at a Grand Prix, that recommendation is now valid for three years instead of one year, as it was before.

So, why did we make this change?  Mainly to ensure that we don’t use GP day 2 TL slots on candidates who we already know are capable of success.  As you may know, we typically choose two advanced L2s to TL on day 2.  At the end of the event, those L2s will receive either the TL recommendation or extensive feedback on how to improve for next time.  Those TL slots tend to be in high demand: it is not uncommon for us to receive six or more requests for those two slots.

People who received the TL recommendation early on (around the time the new L3 advancement policies were put into place) are now seeing a problem.  Their recommendations are, in some cases, expiring while they are trying to put together the rest of their L3 applications.  As a result, they are requesting new TL opportunities at GPs.  Honestly, we don’t have any real doubts about those judges’ ability to be effective TLs, so we’d rather reserve the TL slots for candidates we haven’t observed yet.

We believe that this change will make it easier for qualified candidates to apply for L3 with fewer bureaucratic requirements.  Whenever we can streamline the process without sacrificing the quality of the candidates we get, we will endeavor to do so.

As always, if you have comments or questions, post them here or contact me privately!


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Advice for Prospective L3s

A few days ago Jason Lems emailed me with a great suggestion for a blog post.  He suggested that I ask all of the L4+ judges for a few sentences of advice for people thinking about going for L3.  The result is this post–useful stuff!

“If you’re gunning for Level 3, the first thing you have to do is make sure you’re on track to be a Rules and Policy expert.  Not only will judges and players alike be going to you for rules questions, but on the floor of a Grand Prix, a Level 3 Team Lead essentially acts as 6-8 floor judges.  Why is that?  Well, when L3s are approving back ups and game losses, you’ll be the judge signing off on these big decisions for the members of your team (and others).  For these, and other, reasons – it is absolutely imperative that Level 3 judges are rules and policy experts.”

-Jason Lemahieu, L5, USA

“As an L3 (candidate), you’ll need to think about your behaviour. Be calm and in control. Be firm yet friendly. Be forceful when needed, but don’t be aggressive. Act maturely. Consider others, do not just think about yourself. A true leader is someone people want to follow.  Think about the people you consider leaders and think: what in their behaviour makes them a leader?”

-Jurgen Baert, L4, Belgium

“Going for L3 is not a short road but it is one that will bring a lot of satisfaction and growth to you as a judge. My advice is rather general: don’t focus on filling your checklist as if it were a grocery store shopping list. That will only lead you up to a certain point in the process but probably not all the way. My recommendation for you all is to rather focus on the 12 Qualities of Regional Judges and try your best to be from very good to excellent on each one of them. By working on that you’ll probably also advance in your checklist; not solely on the quantity aspect, but also on the quality side!”

-Damián Hiller, L4, Argentina

“Achieving L3 is not an end point.  The activities and requirements on the checklist are there to both demonstrate that you may have the qualities we are looking for in an L3 AND to get you ready for what we expect an L3 to do.  We have you test people for L1 because you will continue to do that and test candidates for L2.  You need to write a self review of yourself before testing, and we also want you to write an annual one once you reach L3.  You’ve been involved with work outside of events, this is something we expect to continue if not grow.  You may end up being asked to be in charge of a project.  Team leading on day two of a GP was just a start, because an L3 does it more often and on day one as well.  In other words, make sure you keep the bigger picture in mind about what you are working towards and the expectations once you get there.  Doing that may even help you get there.”

-Chris Richter, L4, USA

“A L3 is a leader, so you’ve got to understand what leadership is.  Here’s a tiny piece of advice: there are almost infinite ways of being a leader, and the one each person uses is the one that’s effective in his or her case.  You’ll learn a lot from what other leaders do, but in the end, you’ll have to find your own style, the one that suits your personality.  Don’t try to change your personality, that’s likely not going to work.  Instead, use your strengths, find those things that work out well with your personality.  And don’t forget, leadership is more than being assigned to a leadership role at a tournament.  You can show leadership as a floor judge as well, and quite importantly for a L3, you can show it outside of tournaments.  Take care of your community outside of events.  Even if you’re the kind of judge that enjoys logistics challenges and doesn’t like dealing with people a lot, you can do it, by motivating the right kind of judges in your community to take care of the social aspects of it, mentoring, etc.”

-Carlos Ho, L4, Panama (currently residing in Spain)

“Believe in yourself; when you do, you exhibit confidence, and confidence is a foundational trait of a leader.  Be honest with yourself; know your weaknesses and work on them; know your strengths, and exploit them.  But most of all, be honest with yourself – and others will see that, too.  Be prepared to work hard – it stands out, and is greatly appreciated.  Work on the right things, of course – but work hard.  Listen.  The best leaders hear what their people are saying, listen carefully, and act in consideration of what they’ve heard.  Finally – enjoy what you do.  If you don’t, maybe you should consider a different approach, or even a different endeavor.  But when you enjoy what you’re doing, so will those around you – and that’s priceless.”

-Scott Marshall, L5, USA

“As an L3 candidate and future L3, never forget to have the vision and conviction that a dream can be achieved. Be inspired by someone or something and be an example to follow.  A leader is seen as someone positive, cooperating, ready to change.  A person whose glass is always half full. Remember to build quality relationships based upon trust, respect, cooperation, and teamwork. No obstacles can prevent you from achieving your goal. Be aware that there are and will be challenges to be faced, to be overcome, and to be learned from. Always believe and teach to others that failures present the opportunity for self-improvement. Always remember that you are not alone, we all have a common goal and your promotion will be a success for all of us.”

-Cristiana Dionisio, L4, Italy

“Always schedule a gathering with fellow judges for the night after your interview. If you pass, you get to celebrate. If you don’t, you get a good reminder of why you’re trying.”

-Toby Elliott, L5, USA

“Never forget you are a judge. There are many opportunities within the program on which you can spend a lot of time. There are many things you can do at events that are different from working the floor. All these things are very nice and great for learning many skills; however at the end of the day you always need to be ready to go on the floor and give it your best. That means your rules and policy knowledge should always be there, you should always be ready to take a judge call and of course you should always be pushing in chairs.  On your path to becoming a better judge you should excel at this and it should always be something you just do!”

-Gis Hoogendijk, Judge Emeritus, Netherlands

“Levelling up is not what makes you into an expert nor what entitles you to act as a leader.  It’s because you’ve become an expert and are acting as a leader that you’re entitled to level up.  When you level up, the level is the only thing that radically changes: It won’t make you a different person, you’ll still be the same person you were as a L2. If you believe you need to reach L3 to be able to act as such, you’re setting up hurdles on your own path.  Oh, and never instruct the judges you lead to do something you would have never done yourself in their place. You may have been in their positions in the past, why would you have them live the same situation you hated years before?”

-Kevin Desprez, L4, France

“Pass the Level 3 exam. There is nothing else in the process that is more under your control or that has more wide-reaching benefits as a judge than developing the rules and policy expertise that allows you to pass the Level 3 exam. Other parts of the process are designed to evaluate a wide range of criteria, many of which require complex life skills often developed away from events, but the exam is on specific material that is concretely defined. Know the rules. Know the policy. Pass the exam.”

-Jared Sylva, L4, USA

“You will understand that you are on the path to Level 3 when…

  • you find yourself rereading the Comprehensive Rules and IPG because you care about maintaining your own high standard,
  • you are making L2s before you are capable of testing them,
  • you answer ‘why we do’ and not ‘what we do’,
  • you have as much presence in your community outside a tournament as you do when judging in one,
  • you find yourself involved with L1s from anywhere in your Region,
  • you feel the desire to write a review simply because you feel a judge is deserving it, not because it is a required task,
  • you treat organizers and players as your partners and teammates,
  • you anticipate problems instead of reacting to them.”

-Andy Heckt, Judge Manager, USA

“The next level requires quite a bit of work to get there, and quite a bit of work to stay there. Make sure you understand why you want to walk that road. It will only be sustainably rewarding if your motivation is primarily internally driven, e.g. that you want to be there to serve your community. If the motivation is primarily externally driven, e.g. because you think you deserve or need the recognition, then the price to pay can turn out to be too high and the reward too little.”

-Jaap Brouwer, Judge Emeritus, Netherlands

“My primary advice to prospective L3s is to change your field of vision.  It’s time to move your primary focus from inward to outward.  Up until now, you’ve been concentrating on developing a skill set while helping some other folks along the way.  Now it’s time to flip that around and concentrate on helping your community develop those same skills while maintaining your own personal progress.”

-Sheldon Menery, Judge Emeritus, USA

“If as an L2 you find yourself limited in what you want to achieve, become and experience as a judge, you will find that the road to L3 and being L3 will show you all you are looking for. As an L3 you can dive into an specific area of judging, whether that’s translations, rules & policy, being a mentor or just judging events.  At L3 you are the one changing and shaping the program. At the cost of merely your time, you will get a challenge and the resources to complete it.”

-Frank Wareman, L4, Netherlands

“The path to perfection never ends; in every situation, we have to give the best of us, and in every situation we have to find a way to improve.  To improve the practical result of our actions, to improve the perception that other people have of what we do, to improve the impact we have on the others… there are many ways to measure the quality of what we do.  There will always be something to learn, somebody to learn from, something to learn from anybody, be it a hard skill or a soft skill, be it a technical procedure or a different opinion; we have to keep our mind open.  We have to be proud of what we are doing, we have to make the others proud of what we are doing, we have to give our heart to our passion, we have to look forward to realizing our dreams, we have to work hard to make them come true… and they will come true.”

-Riccardo Tessitori, L5, Italy

Thanks guys!

My own advice?  Go for it.  Over the course of your road to L3, you will learn a lot about yourself and your place in the program.  If you are willing to put in the work to improve yourself, you can get there.  So go for it.  You’ll be doing a big favor to the judge program and an even bigger one to yourself.

-Jeff Morrow, L4, USA

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