Level 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Written by Alfonso Bueno
Level 3, Spain

Written by Alfonso Bueno
Level 3, Spain

Written by Julio Sosa
Level 3, Argentina

Written by Julio Sosa
Level 3, Argentina

Written by Bryan Prillaman
Level 3, Florida (USA)

Written by Bryan Prillaman
Level 3, Florida (USA)

Written by Sean Catanese
Level 3, Washington (USA)

Written by Sean Catanese
Level 3, Washington (USA)

Earlier this year the redefinition of the Judge Program named New New World Order, this redefinition affected in different degrees all levels in the Judge Program.

The most significant changes for Level 2s were related to the certification and maintenance process, the Team Leader Certification and the L2 Tester Certification. Those articles did our best to cover every single detail and potential question, but we know this is impossible, so we organized a survey on every region to ask doubts about this, merged similar questions, and answered them.

If you made a question that is not answered here or you have a question you never asked before, please, ask me.

On that survey we also asked for suggestions about future development of the Level 2, we’re still in the process to analyze all of them. They were many and each of them requires a careful consideration. We hope to get back to you on those earlier in 2017.

The process

  • What happens if someone gets a passing score on the Level 2 test but fails the interview?

It’s a best practice to conduct the interview prior to administering the test. But for the sake of covering this possibility, let’s propose a situation where all of these things happen:

  1. The Level 3 or Level 2 Tester administers the test prior to interviewing the candidate to determine whether they’re suitable for Level 2; and
  2. The candidate achieves a passing score on the exam, and
  3. The candidate does not meet the prerequisites or does not demonstrate appropriate diplomacy or judgement for advancement.

In this case, the candidate has failed to advance. The judge administering the test should be clear about the outcome of the advancement attempt in the review they enter in the Judge Center and notify their Regional Coordinator for potential follow-up in case the candidate is erroneously advanced within the system. This should be a highly unusual circumstance.

The test score is not hold for future testing attempts, the candidate will need to take the test again.

  • Is it possible to test remotely for Level 2?

Yes. Regional Coordinators are empowered to do this. If you believe this is appropriate for you, contact your Regional Coordinator.

  • Is there a different process to become Level 2 for lapsed Level 2s?


  • Is there any kind of follow-up from the Regional Coordinators in case of failure?

It’s up to the individual Regional Coordinator based on their workload and availability.

  • Could you provide examples of what “Diplomacy with players” and “Basic Investigations” mean?

Diplomacy with players is the skill in managing players, handling rules, and give instructions so that there is little or no ill will. An example is informing a player they have a Game Lost for Deck / Decklist Problem in a way that they understand the ruling, the need of the penalty and learn from it.

Investigation is the ability to detect suspicious situations, search inquiry for ascertaining facts, detailed examination of the game state and the infraction strategical consequences. An example is when a judge is called over for a spell paid with the wrong mana (Game Rule Violation) and he realizes casting that spell at that point is the only way the offending player has to win the game and make Top 8, then asking the appropriate questions to get enough evidence to disqualify the player.

Level maintenance

  • When will be the requirements reviewed? Does the Level 2 has to pass a test for maintain the level?

Requirements will be verified during the month of January. For 2016 there is not maintenance exams created yet, in this year this requirement won’t apply.

  • Since when should I start to meet the requirements to maintain the level? Is it since my certification?

The natural year you certify you are not subject to maintenance, from that year on you’ll need to meet the maintenance requirements every year.

  • How will rules maintenance be assessed?

We’re creating a Level 2 Update Exam, we hope to be able to provide more information in the near future.

  • Why is reviewing another judge required?

One of the abilities of an Level 2 is to create Level 1s. Creating a Level 1 isn’t just giving a test and seeing if they pass. There is an evaluation and an interview. The review allows us to see that you have some evaluation skills. Also as Head Judge of PPTQs, you may have other judges working with you. We want to see that you can provide meaningful feedback to those judges that you will be working with. And finally, we want you to prove that you can and have logged into Judge Center and used it.

Yes, the quality of the review is evaluated for that purpose. A superficial review only shows that you know the mechanics of writing a review, not the thought process behind it.

  • What happens if I don’t pass the rules test?

Failing the rules test will trigger a conversation with your Regional Coordinator. The outcome of that conversation determines your path forward. That may include demotion in order to align your level back to your demonstrated rules knowledge or it may include a plan to address this deficiency at your Regional Coordinator’s discretion.

  • Why there isn’t an interview with the Level 2 to maintain the level?

Interviews like this would be a significant administrative burden, especially for Regional Coordinators. We expect every Level 2 to maintain the quality they demonstrated when testing for Level 2. Any dramatic decrease on quality or major problem will be addressed by the Regional Coordinator as appropriate for the specific situation.

  • How can I keep my level if there are more Level 2s than events available in my area?

Talk to local Tournament Organizers and other judges about opportunities to keep your skills sharp. You could present to Tournament Organizers the idea that having extra Level 2s in their area can be a bonus giving them more flexibility in scheduling, and more backup plans if another judge is unavailable for an event. You could also talk to other judges to see if they’re happy with the number of events they’re working at, if they feel under pressure then giving you some more opportunities could keep the pressure off them in the future.

  • Why the rules test is yearly instead of more periodically?

We’re still working on the details of this test. We may require taking the tests twice a year, when it gets updated after a documents update, but this will be checked once the year is over during January to allow a wider timeframe to take the test.

  • The Regional Coordinator can waive pretest requirements. Is it the same for maintenance requirements?

No, but as noted above a failure to meet the maintenance requirements does not result in an automatic demotion, it results in a conversation with the Regional Coordinator. The outcome of that conversation determines a judge’s path forward.

  • Why the maintenance requirements are less than the level requirements?

We want to find a balance between maintaining a good quality level amongst the Level 2s and the workload maintaining the level becomes. When we test someone for Level 2 we must check this candidate has all necessary skills. Instead, when checking for maintenance we know the judge already has those skills and we only need to check the judge is up to date.

Judging opportunities

  • What should I do if I don’t have Competitive REL judging opportunities?

These types of situations are as unique as judges themselves, and as such specific advice can’t be given to a general question. We recommend forming a good working relationship with your local Tournament Organizers, and develop a plan to create those judging opportunities.

  • Is it OK if don’t attend Grand Prix as a Level 2?

Yes. Most Level 2 judges are not staffed for a Grand Prix in a given year.

  • Which are the events that must have a Level 2 as Head Judge?

PPTQs. http://magic.wizards.com/en/protour/preliminaryqualifiers

  • Due to the low attendance at some PPTQs, there are times when only one judge is needed. Are there other possibilities to get experience, as a candidate or a new Level 2?

Opportunities vary widely by region, community, and organizer preferences, feel free to contact your Regional Coordinator or local leaders about learning opportunities available in your region. In the Level 1 & Level 2 Sphere we have started working on international formation projects, but unfortunately it’s too soon to say anything useful about this. Stay tuned, we’ll be publishing about them as soon as we can.

Level 2 Certifications

  • If I hold the Team Lead Capability check, does this automatically grant the Team Lead Certification?

No. The Team Lead Capability check is still good for the Level 3 testing process. However we recommend you test for the Team Lead Certification, as the extra experience will be beneficial for you and once you have the Team Lead Certification you are eligible to be Team Leader on day 2 of Grand Prix without been subject to evaluation.

  • In Team Lead Certification all of the Excellent points are “as you would expect from a senior Level 3 judge”. Can we have more details on that?

Excellency is very wide and subjective. And may vary a lot from one Grand Prix to the next, based on the specific circumstances of the event. We’re planning a revision of the Team Lead Certification in February (6 months after it’s release) we’ll try to be more specific in that update.

  • A Level 3 is expected to be able to lead a Saturday team. Why is it not asked for a Level 2 to manage this after they got their Team Lead Certification?

Leading a team on Sunday is very different from leading a team on Saturday. For Saturday, the tasks are more complex, the teams are often larger, and the consequences of failure are more significant. Level 3s have proven their capability and expertise in a broader range of skills and in more depth than a Level 2 who achieves the Team Lead Certification, and that makes a difference for this assignment.

  • Will there be limits on how many Level 2 Testers are certified in a given region?

That’s up to each region’s Regional Coordinator based on their perception of the need and how they wish to manage the administration of the process within their region.

  • Do I need to become Level 2 Tester if I want to be Level 3?


  • Why does the Team Lead Certification need 80% on a Level 3 preliminary exam but the Level 2 Tester Certification doesn’t?

The Team Lead Certification and Level 2 Tester Certifications serve very different purposes. Level 2 Team Leads need to be able to instantly apply rules knowledge on the floor of a large event, while Level 2 Testers have less immediate demands on their knowledge and have the luxury to look things up in the course of mentoring.

  • Are there any plans to include more certifications for Level 2s?

Not at this time. If you have a specific idea or need which is program-wide, let the sphere leader, Alfonso Bueno, know.

  • What is the difference between a Level 2 that holds the two available certifications for Level 2s and a Level 3?

The process to become a Level 3 is much harder than the certifications and includes evaluation in other qualities not checked in either certification.

A Level 3 judge can do some things that a Level 2 Tester and Team Lead cannot do, such as lead a team on Saturday of a Grand Prix, serve on the Judge Conduct Committee, and apply for Advanced Roles such as Grand Prix Head Judge, Program Coordinator, and Regional Coordinator. Level 3 is also a certification looking at all of the qualities of a Level 3 judge rather than just focusing on particular areas, like the certifications.

Level Requirements

  • Why is 80% the passing score for the Level 2 test?

The passing score represents an acknowledgment of a variety of factors. The desired level of rules and policy knowledge that Level 2 judges should demonstrate in their various roles, the length of the exam, the presentation of questions in a written format, the testing environment, etc. While Level 2 judges often work alone at PPTQs on the floor of high profile events, such as Grand Prix, this is the minimum score that balances these factors and satisfies the necessary rules and policy knowledge to act as Level 2.

  • Why does the recommendation from a Level 2 have to be from working an event together, as opposed to having observed the Level 1 work at Competitive REL?

Working with a judge gives you a completely different insight into that judge than passively observing them during the 10 minutes per round that you aren’t playing Magic. After becoming Level 2 this judge will likely work some PPTQs without any support and we need to make sure the candidate is ready for it. In the case the candidate is not ready the Level 2 judge can inform him and start mentoring the him during the event, as a player you won’t be able.

  • What sorts of things would constitute the ‘exceptional circumstances’ under which a Regional Coordinator can waive requirements?

‘Exceptional circumstances“ are not the same as ”difficult circumstances“. In general, we want Level 2s that can recognize a problem, create a plan of action to resolve that problem, execute that plan, and get the desired results. Not getting along with the only Tournament Organizer in your area is not an ‘exceptional circumstance’. This is typically reserved for situations when the judge lives in an extremely remote area where there are no other judges.

Describing what qualifies as ‘exceptional circumstances’ in more detail can create more problems than it helps. We don’t want to try and list all the ways this might occur. Regional Coordinators are trusted to understand and apply this appropriately.

  • Why does the requirement of becoming a Level 2 also includes reviewing other judges? Is the quality of the review evaluated?

One of the abilities of an Level 2 is to create Level 1s. Creating a Level 1 isn’t just giving a test and seeing if they pass. There is an evaluation and an interview. The review allows us to see that you have some evaluation skills. Also as Head Judge of PPTQs, you may have other judges working with you. We want to see that you can provide meaningful feedback to those judges that you will be working with. And finally, we want you to prove that you can and have logged into Judge Center, and used it.

Yes, the quality of the review is evaluated for that purpose. A superficial review only shows that you know the mechanics of writing a review, not the thought process behind it.

  • What constitutes an “article, a conference report or a written report from an event with multiple judges”? For instance, would a blog post count? A long Facebook post? A profile on Judge of the Week? A post in JudgeApps? Are there length requirements?

The goals of these requirements are checking the candidates are able to produce useful content and share their knowledge in written form, as well as producing useful content to benefit the community.

An article, conference report or tournament report doesn’t have to be on JudgeApps. But ideally they have be posted in a public place where people can read it and get value from it as well as evaluate your ability to write intelligently about a topic or event. A profile on Judge of the Week is not sufficient. A forum post on a JudgeApps thread or Facebook post will typically not sufficiently cover one of the required topics. It’s not impossible to achieve, but you are creating unnecessary barriers that you have to overcome, and so it is not recommended.

  • Is the quality of the article, conference report, or event report checked? Who decides whether it’s good enough and how?

In school when given an assignment, the students would ask “how long does it need to be?” the teach would answer “long enough” – the same answer applies here. Content is more important than the quantity of words. We’re looking for more than just a recount of the number of players and rounds, and that nothing interesting happened. There needs to be content that other judges can learn from, or use to give you feedback.

The candidate capacity to determine what is useful and positive for the community is part of what is evaluated by this pre-test requirement.

  • Why knowledge and use of JudgeApps is not a requirement for advancement to Level 2? Should online participation be a requisite for Level 2 candidates?

It is checked, and the tester decides if it is sufficient as part of the pre-test work.

  • Why 6 sanctioned events in 6 months, as opposed to 12 sanctioned events in 12 months, or 2 Competitive REL events?

Some level of activity in tournaments is needed to set a basic understanding of your familiarity with interpreting and applying rules and policy. Rules and policy shift enough that more recent events are a better indicator. Judging a lot in a short period and then stopping judging for a long time afterwards will make you lose many abilities a Level 2 must have.

  • Should additional requirements be added before someone Head Judges a PPTQ besides just being a Level 2?

The main purpose of the levels system is for organizers to be able to staff their events. Level 2 is a certification of competency at Competitive REL, and an organizer should be able to expect any Level 2 to run a PPTQ for them. For in-store events we don’t expect organizers looking for judges to know any difference between judges other than their level.

The recommendation review requirement encompasses the “do I trust this person to run a PPTQ” goal. It should only be given if you do believe a person is capable of running a PPTQ. Furthermore, the Level 2 Tester should not test a person that they feel is incapable of running a PPTQ. All the requirements that exist to become a Level 2 are designed to answer the question: “Can this person Head Judge a PPTQ?” So yes, becoming Level 2 should be sufficient.

  • How will people who test Level 2 candidates can confirm that the candidates have met all the requirements?

The Level 2 candidate is expected to provide evidence they have accomplished all the requirements to the Level 2 Tester. Screenshots of reviews in Judge Center and links to forum posts is sufficient.

Other questions

  • How can I get a name tag and a judge shirt?

Name tags are created for new Level 2s on a periodic basis. Then they’re distributed to Regional Coordinators, who distribute them within their regions as they’re able. Judge shirts are provided at Grand Prix. Some regions have ways of creating their own name tags and/or judge shirts. Contact your Regional Coordinator or area captain to understand how this works in your region.

  • Is there an “official recommendation” for Level 2 compensation?

No, but you should ask for compensation which you feel adequately reflects your time and effort.

  • Is there a place for Level 2s in regional leadership?

Yes! Area captains are often Level 2 judges. Many regional leaders evolve naturally by extending help to other judges and becoming someone that is relied upon outside of events. A title is not necessary to be a regional leader. If you have time and you feel qualified to take some leadership on you contact your Regional Coordinator.

  • What is an expected level of regional community involvement as a Level 2?

A Level 2 is expected to have some community involvement and create positive outcome for their community in the form they prefer. Each region (and even different countries inside the same region) is very different from each other. It’s impossible creating international standards for this. As usual, your Regional Coordinator is the best person to ask about the specifics of your region.

In a very generic form we can state: Level 2 judges must have, at least, some involvement in their local community to keep up to date with what is going on and the must be able to provide benefits to the community in the form they prefer.

  • Why there were changes in the definition since the NNWO was announced?

The NNWO was designed as an skeleton, with vague definitions and just a philosophy to guide each part. Then each piece of the NNWO has to be evaluated in depth and worked in the details by the leader or group developing it. In this process (putting organs, muscles and skin, to continue with the skeleton metaphor) we may detect something that doesn’t really work well and we fix it.

  • Is it possible to implement roles as “Area Captain” in JudgeApps?

It is possible. We’re now checking the details and that may be soon a real thing.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the Article Discussion forum.