December 2015 Anniversaries

Here are the December 2015 judge anniversaries!

10 years

Jason Lemahieu from Madison, United States
Jason Riendeau from Ayer, United States
Giorgos Trichopoulos from Limassol, Cyprus

5 years

Evan Cherry from College Station, United States
Cesar Morais Rubio from Valencia, Spain
Chris Lohrmann from Norcross, United States
Zachary Borovicka from Huntington, United States
Shawn French from Naples, United States
Javier Perez from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
Leon Strauss from Darmstadt, Germany
Karri Malm from Helsinki, Finland
Trent Novak from Toledo, United States
Jeppe Tarp from Aalborg Øst, Denmark

Congratulations, and thank you for all your hard work!

Can’t chop this tree down

Can’t chop this tree down

This month’s featured judge is Evan Cherry from Texas, USA. Regional coordinator Kevin Binswanger has this to say about Evan:

I think everyone who met Evan Cherry knew he would eventually be a leader in the program. He was smart, hard working, dedicated, and seemed to have no ego about it… even when people were telling him he probably should have. I first met Evan when I was working a convention in Austin, shortly before I reached L3 myself. Even then, I had him pegged mentally as a future L3 in the program. I’ve watched him rise through the Judge Program over the years, taking on more opportunities and impressing more people. In addition to doing great educational work in the program, he’s been an incredible locally. His car must have more miles racked up on it than a post office delivery truck.

The most amazing thing about Evan is that he’s managed to balance all of these responsibilities and achievements in the midst of pursuing an extremely rigorous educational path. The worst thing I can say about Evan is that one day he’s probably going to stop judging as much so he can hurry up and cure cancer. All things considered, I think that’s a pretty good place to be.

Here’s what his fellow L3, David Hibbs, had to say about Evan:
“As you meet new judges, you see a whole spectrum of talent, ability, and potential. Some you are simply willing to give a chance, some seem a good investment of time, and a very small number you can tell immediately will become important members of the community–leaders, teachers, and friends. Evan Cherry is one of those judges that I have had the honor to meet and work with that falls into this last category.

I first met Evan as a member of my floor team at a PTQ. Since then I have had him as a staff member for many events. I have staffed him as a Team Lead. I have discussed who should be tested and promoted. Eventually I had Evan serve as HJ and I was a TL.

Today Evan is one of the recognized leaders in Texas. He has trained many judges. He presents at conferences, helping judges and TOs to work better together. He manages the articles team.

Seeing Evan reach L3 was a great feeling, not only because I had helped him along the way but also because I am pleased and privileged to know Evan and call him a friend.”


At the 2010 World Championships in Chiba, Japan, there was a flurry of Level 3 advancements. Therefore, we get to congratulate SEVEN judges who are celebrating the 5-year anniversary of their Level 3 certification.

Handsome in any country

Handsome in any country

First up, we hear from French Regional Coordinator, Guillaume Beuzelin, about Alexis Rassel:

“5 years already! I remember it as if it was yesterday. Worlds in Chiba, even if I was not there you told many cool stories about this tournament, the way you studied till the very last moment with Claire Dupré and all the cool things you can see and find in Japan. Now that I look at a calendar I realized that many things happened during these 5 years.

The first thing is more personal, but you have been a key actor on my path to the L3. It started with all our discussions which led you to write my recommendation. Afterward, you have been the Venerated Teacher who helped (forced?) me to study the rules carefully. At the time, it was pretty challenging but you succeeded.

At the same period you became the French Regional Coordinator. This role and your love for the game led you to be on the road almost all the week-ends. You judged an incredible amount of tournaments which allowed you to connect to a large number of French and European judges. When, at some point, you decided to slow down your investment in Magic for a year, you have not been afraid to leave your position of regional coordinator. Finally after a year away from the major tournaments, we see you back at the National and European level. At the recent GPs you succeeded at key role positions, proving once again how much of an asset you are at tournaments.”

My favorite Edwin

My favorite Edwin

Next, we hear about Edwin Zhang from fellow Chinese Level 3, Haitao Jia:

“I first met Edwin Zhang at about 5 years ago, possibly during the National Championship. At that time Edwin had just come back from Canada, which he’d lived for more than 10 years. The judge community at that time in China was very small, and was very isolated from the international one. Also we didn’t have GPs in China for years. Thanks to Edwin’s excellent skills of communication and the good relationship with the international judge community, the Chinese judge community started to grow. We began to have more L1 judges, and later new L2s. We started to have GPs, with the explosion of the player numbers in China, and we could know with the help of Edwin that there was a so colorful MTG world out of China. Having been the RC of China for more than 5 years, Edwin has mentored many new bloods for our community, and he’s continue doing so.”

Agent Smith

Agent Smith

Staying in Asia, Wearn Chong, RC for Southeast Asia, had some thoughts about two of his judges, Joel Bantiles and Monsuporn Lauhaphand (Smith Lo), followed by some thoughts from judges in the region:

“Joel and Smith have both been instrumental in leading and developing the judge community in their respective countries from well before their promotion to L3 and since then they have continued to meet the challenges of an evolving and growing Judge Program. Given the different languages and cultures of the countries in my region (and also geographical distance) it is vital for each country to have a local leader. I am truly grateful to be able to count on both Smith’s and Joel’s leadership and support in helping take care of SE Asia. I definitely couldn’t do it alone. Thank you for all you’ve done and your friendship too. Looking forward to many more years to come!

From Yu Win Yew:

“I never really have the opportunity to work closely with Smith in any of my previous GPs before, but I get to know him much better through a very special opportunity. Through one of the discussion we had in our regional group chat, out of sudden Smith personal message me and we had some further discussions on our thoughts and opinions on the topics and it all went from there. On and off, when Smith feels like he have something to discuss I will get a random ping from him. Through my interaction with him so far, he is someone who cares a lot on the local community, he believes strongly in that by building a strong and caring judge community it will help the games growth in the local community as well. He share before with me about the candidates he thinks that is strong and suitable to progress L2 and make more contribution, and recently he even told me that 1 of my recent L1s is a great candidate towards making L2 after met and chat with him from the recent RPTQ. Smith recently had been less active in participating premier events but he still kept himself as active as possible through organizing judge conferences etc. Hope to see you again in a future GP soon Smith.

Some random facts, Smith’s body size is a decoy, he hides a black hole in his body, he can consume more food that you would have imagine by judging on his size.”

From Hans Wang:

“Smith to me is not only a friend but sometimes more like a mentor. I met him almost a decade ago back to 2006 in GP Manila, that was my second GP after being promoted to L2 and he was my team leader, his hard-working impressed me since then still do now. I couldn’t be happier when I knew his pass the L3 panel, and how time flies, it was already five years ago.

I believe most of the judges who knew Smith before know that he’s a little bit geek (in the positive way :p). He’s devoted to rules and always need to find the answer no matter what and how, I could still remember few years ago he poked me on Facebook and said if we can find an example for a barely used rule; He also did a lot to the Thai community, even I can’t read Thai, I still can know that he did a lot of translations into Thai for the local judges; He was also my mentor when I worked for level three last year, he led me to find the answers and philosophy which I never thought of, he shared his experience with me about judging, and he also encouraged me when I failed my first panel.

Thank you Smith for everything you did for the community and for me, it’s my pleasure to know you as a friend. Happy 5th year L3 Anniversary!”

From Phil Pena:

Too cool for Portland

Too cool for Portland

“Joel is the glue that keeps holding the PH judge community. His leadership might be unorthodox, but is quite effective. He likes to joke around as a way of keeping the judges’ morale high.

He will always keep you guessing. Whenever he asks a challenge question, he will make sure that you find the answer for you to learn more. He’s not the type to spoon-feed, because he believes that it isn’t a good way to learn. He is always open to opinions, and he always welcome new ideas he hasn’t tried before. He’s all for equal opportunities for judges, giving other judges their opportunities to grow.

He also rarely asks for help regarding his well-being. I always find him struggling to stand up or sit down, seeing his physical condition. This proves he prefers to be independent. There came one time in GP KL 2014, when we arrived in KL Sentral. Seeing that there are no elevators nearby, we had no choice but to use the escalator. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to support Joel properly as the escalator is moving faster than normal. We ended up trampling him over after getting off the escalator, and he just said, “I’m okay, I’m okay…” just to get some quick laughs.”

Joel is a very good mentor. He will teach you what you need to know, just as long as you work hard for it. He is always full of ideas, never the one to not share these ideas. I remember the time he said that, “I have never regretted the people I certified for L2, because I know their potentials and what they can bring to our local community”. I can say its definitely true, seeing how our local judges are doing well.

The list can go on and on, there are a lot of things to say about Joel, so I’ll end it with something good: ‘He’s a valuable asset to the judge community’.”

The Southern-most RC I know!

The Southern-most RC I know!

Next we move to Australia for a couple more judges. Simon Freiberg put together some thoughts about Nathan Brewer from a few Aussie judges:

“Nathan, as the Regional Coordinator for Australia and New Zealand (and India), is the metaphorical pillar of the entire Oceanic region. Honest to a fault, his leadership has kept our Judging staff well trained, well known and well respected throughout the world despite the geographical isolation.

Former L4 Mark Brown had this to say:

“Whether it was at a Nationals or a Grand Prix, it feels like Nathan has been judging forever. I was always very happy to see Nathan on a Judge team; it meant that whatever role I gave him would be accomplished well. I was extremely glad when Nathan made L3 and it feels like he has been L3 for a lot longer than 5 years. It was also no surprise to me when Nathan was appointed Regional Coordinator and as usual he has worked hard and is a fitting leader for our Judge community.”

More than just his hard work is his attitude to the Judge program, fighting hard to improve it and being outspoken against the things he perceives as unfair, inefficient or just plain wrong.”

The region’s previous Regional Coordinator James Mackay gave his opinion:

“With the entirety of mankind standing along the fence waiting for me to choose someone to play on my team, Brewer would easily be my first pick. A stand-up guy with a penchant for verbosity, his tenacious search for fairness, clarity and realism is not just to be admired – it should be honored, and aspired to.”

Lastly is the personal relationship that he has formed with so many of us. Travel is a remarkably large part of Judging in this part of the world, and friendships grow quickly in that type of environment.

Level 3 Fabian Peck sums it up:

“Nathan has been a leader in our community for as long as I’ve known him, as an L2, then L3, then as Regional Coordinator he’s been one of the driving forces in creating so many great Judges in our region. His no-nonsense approach has set him aside as someone who gets things done, and things fixed, even when it’s hard. He’s been instrumental in L3 certifications, the beginnings of Regular REL, and more recently spreading the Australian Deck Check Method.

Nathan was one of the first Judges I met outside my own city, and the friendship I’ve developed with him has been one of my motivations to travel and one of the things that has kept me so invested in the Judge program. After many late night rants and a few hours spent raging at various Judge Center printing bugs it’s hard to avoid some kind of bond. He’s been there through both joyous and sad times for many Judges.

My thanks go to Nathan, for all he has done for the program, and for me as a friend. Here’s to many more years.”

Steward of the Earth

Steward of the Earth

Now let’s hear from Nathan Brewer about his countryman and fellow L3, Fabian Peck:

“It is safe to say that the Australian judge community would not be the same without Fabian as an L3. He is dedicated and hardworking, with a strong commitment to making the program a strong and welcoming place. In his role as L2 coordinator for the region, he has a hand in the mentoring and development of almost every senior judge in the region. Fabian has always punched well above his weight as a judge, and this is clearly evidenced by him being selected to Head Judge not one, but two Grands Prix, a feat that very few other L3s can match.

Five short years ago, Fabian tested for L3 at Worlds in Chiba as part of the largest ‘class’ of L3s ever. Much of the event is a blur, in part because of the complexities of the event, but largely because of the amount of sake that was consumed in celebration of their success. Since then, Fabian has judged around the world, sharing his infectious positivity, can-do attitude and flailing arms with hundreds, if not thousands of other judges.

I cannot picture the Australian community without Fabian as an integral part, and I am looking forward to writing more words of praise at his 10 year L3 anniversary.”

He’s big in Japan

He’s big in Japan

Finally, we have some thoughts from Joe Hughto about Eric Levine:

“When I first met Eric, I was a doe-eyed L1 that had recently moved to western Massachusetts. He hadn’t been in the area very long, but had very quickly become a pillar of the community. One of the first things that I remember about him was just how easygoing and friendly he was.

At the time, one of the scariest things about the Judge Program for me was these ethereal L3s. They were rare beasts and I never wanted to spook them or raise their ire. Eric wasn’t like that though. He was the first person to teach me that high level judges were people, too. He regularly held drafts at his house and I’ve also been to his place to play some terrible video games. His approach-ability was one of the main things that drove me to move further into the judge program. He impacted people’s lives in such positive ways and I strive to do the same.

Eric has also run literally thousands of events over the years during his time at Channel Fireball and that had led to some truly amazing stories. If you get the chance, ask him about some of these crazy things. Some of my own favorites are “Splicer Guy” and the circumstances surrounding his L3 exam in Amsterdam.

Eric’s now over in Japan and I know that he’s influencing people over there just as strongly as he has over here in the States. I can’t wait to hear all of the great stories he has once he returns.”

Congratulations to all of these fine Level 3 judges on their 5 years as Level 3. We are all looking forward to many more!

Happy anniversary to all of you!  Look forward to many more years of judging from you all.

About Ronald

From Seattle, WA
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