Redefinition of Level 2 – The Area Judge and What That Means

Written by Lexie Mettler

Written by Lexie Mettler

Written by David Lyford-Smith

Written by David Lyford-Smith

Hey everyone! There are new changes to the Level 2 requirements that will be in effect on August 1st, 2014. In this article we take the time to go into detail about what some of the changes mean and why they are happening.

Recently, the Judge Program has been rapidly expanding and the focus has been on acquiring new judges.  Now the Judge Program has decided to restate the intentions for Level 2. These new changes also help address the wide gap between Level 2 and Level 3. Adding a little more structure to the definition of Level 2 not only helps even the gaps between Levels 1, 2, and 3 but also helps make all Level 2 judges stronger without creating an unreasonable barrier to entry.


Pre-Certification Interview Requirements

Let’s look at the new Pre-Certification Interview Requirements:

  • Submit at least three reviews of other judges demonstrating ability to deliver constructive feedback.

This refers to gathering feedback on judges you work with, and your ability to express that feedback clearly. Reviews are done to help improve both the reviewee’s skills as a judge and also the reviewer’s understanding of their own skills. The requirement change from one review to three reviews necessitates more experience assessing your peer’s abilities. Before, there was no ruling on the content of the review you wrote; now they are shared with a Level 3 judge testing you to show them that you can write constructive, helpful reviews. Don’t worry if the Level 3 testing you wasn’t the subject of any of those reviews – you can simply share them with the Level 3 (via email, for example).

Finally, you will be in a mentoring role as a Level 2, and the ability to write constructive reviews shows that you can provide critical feedback to the judges you will be mentoring, whether as a Level 1 advancement review or just feedback from an event.

  • Head Judge at least two Competitive REL events with a second certified judge

Head judging Competitive REL events before you become a Level 2 shows that you have the ability to do so as a Level 2. Head Judging these events will also show that you are confident in your abilities as a judge and also know how to delegate work to judges under your command. Since you are now  Head Judge of Competitive REL events instead of Regular REL events, you have to show that you are comfortable with using the Infraction Procedure Guide and Magic Tournament Rules in a practical setting, not just on an exam. You should have experience mentoring and leading other certified judges, so you need to demonstrate actually working with other certified judges.

  • Judge for more than one organizer or store

You need to show that you are willing to get to know more than just one store and start to expand your horizons.​ ​Level 2 means that you will have the opportunity to travel to bigger events (Grand Prix, PTQs, SCG Opens, etc.). This exposure will make you improve, which in turn will benefit your immediate community when you apply and share what you learned at those events. Your focus should be on improving your local community.​

  • Judge at least six reported events

Get out there getting experience! This shows that you want to be judging and that you want to learn by being on the floor. Experience judging is very important when going for Level 2. It takes everything you’ve learned in the books and puts it to use with other judges.


Recommended Items

For some of you, these will be good for you to do before becoming Level 2 just to get some experience and practice. For others, your Regional Coordinator may require them in your region. If you’re not sure what applies in your region, check with your local Level 3.

  • Level 2 Practice Exam score of 70% or higher (max 80%) as set by the Regional Coordinator

The Level 2 Practice Exam is very much like the actual Level 2 Exam. It has been shown that most people who pass their Level 2 Practice Exam pass their Level 2 Exam. On top of that, judges who take but don’t pass the Level 2 Practice Exam are more likely to pass their Level 2 Exam than if they didn’t take the Level 2 Practice Exam.  A low score on the Level 2 Practice can show your tester that you aren’t prepared enough on your hard skills to pass the real Level 2 exam. This has the added bonus of indicating which areas of knowledge you need to improve.  Remember that the Level 2 Practice has a 2 month cool-down period before you can take it again, so make sure you set aside enough time to maximize your chances.

  • Review from Level 2+ judge recommending candidate for Level 2

This item shows that other Level 2+ judges enjoy working with you, they would like to see what you bring the Judge Program as a Level 2, and they think that you are qualified to work at Level 2 expectations. We want to see that other judges want you as a Level 2 judge. It also helps ensure that no one is tested for Level 2 if they have a bad reputation in their community or attitude problems that they need to improve on.

  • Tournament report from head judging a competitive event

A tournament report is a very powerful educational tool. This might be something new to a lot of people, and it’s important to learn how to write one. Tournament reports help provide detail about how an event was run, what happened (the good and the bad), and your opinions on it, and how it could be improved next time. These tournament reports help not only the Head Judge, but also the Tournament Organizer to see how the event ran and provides a written record they can look back on to see how they can improve. There are some great reports out there from GPs and other events – check them out if you want some guidance. Writing a report is a great way to help you learn the most from your own experiences, and these reports are a way to mentor those who read them and to teach them on tournament procedures, rulings, etc.

  • Multiple WPN organizations/locations willing to staff candidate for future events

Having different locations willing to staff you shows a few things:

  1. You have been working to get yourself out there to work events
  2. You have been keeping good relationships at more than one store
  3. You have been doing a good job at these events and the TO would like to see you work for them again.

These all are great qualities to see in a judge, and these are expected of an Level 2.


Certification Items Required

These did not really change from the previous version of the Level 2 requirements, but they are still things to make note of.  These are the things that will be assessed by the Level 3+ judge administering your test.

  • Pass the Level 2 Exam with a score of 80% or higher

You have to know the rules and policy. As a Level 2, your knowledge of this should be strong.


  • Willingness to mentor and certify other judges

One of the biggest changes from Level 1 to Level 2 is that you can now certify judges for Level 1. Mentoring new judges to help them prepare to be Level 1 is very important. You need to show that you want to help teach and guide people through the process to make the community grow. Help them by answering questions and give them the support they need.

  • Demonstrated diplomacy with players, judges and TOs

A judge must show good customer service. A Level 2 must interact well with players, other judges, and TOs. This is a key point because we are here to help the TOs, work with our judge peers, and make the event enjoyable for the players.

  • Participation in the regional judge community and regional communication channels (e.g., forums, email lists, etc)

Seeing you involved in the judge community is very important. Particularly as a Level 2, your scope should expand beyond just your own store-level events, and you should be involved beyond floor judging. It shows that you are well-rounded and want to be involved in the community.

The certifying judge will show you how to perform a deck check, enter a certification review, and enter a disqualification report.

Try to get the most out of any opportunity – you can do more than one of these requirements at any one event. For example, you could Head Judge a Grand Prix Trial, write a Tournament Report about it, and enter a review of your Floor Judge. That’s three items in one event!

Remember that all of the re-certification interview requirements are on a rolling 15-month basis; this also includes the recommended items that your Regional Coordinator has chosen to make mandatory in your region. You have to keep up these items, not just tick them off once.  If you do reach Level 2, then you will have to maintain these same mandatory items to keep your level.



There are a lot of healthy benefits for the changes. It makes Level 2 more in the middle of Level 1 and Level 3 instead of being closer to Level 1 and it also gives more substance to what a Level 2 is and the experience behind it. Having strong standards for Level 2 helps  Tournament Organizers have more faith in the ability of the staff to run a great event. Adopting these practices will help strengthen the Level 2 judge community and the Judge Program overall.

There is some more work to be done in becoming Level 2 now than before – and more work in staying there, too. But with some preparation and planning, it’s very possible to get there.  Level 2s are the backbone of Competitive REL judging, and the Judge Program wants new Level 2s as ever before.  Reach out to your Regional Coordinator or local Level 3+ if you think you are ready to take on the challenge – or even if you just want to know more about how to become a better judge as an Level 1 and leave the levelling up until later.